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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: A Robinsonade Desert Island Story

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by Mary Kline
Posted on Sunday, November 19, 2017



In 400 words or less, describe a situation in which a protagonist is
cut off from civilization and shipwrecked or marooned on a
primitive desert island. He/she must find a way to survive using only
the limited resources of this isle and his/her own wits. The hero or
heroine of this adventure plans to not only survive but to someday
escape the island.

__________________________________

The Desert Island Story, or Robinsonade, has been a staple of fiction
for centuries. Although the genre is named for Daniel Defoes Robinson
Crusoe, it predates Defoe by centuries. Classic Robinsonades include:
The Odyssey, The Tempest, Gullivers Travels, The Wizard of Oz, Lost
in Space, The Swiss Family Robinson, Cast Away, and The Martian.

These elements typically characterize a Robinsonade:

1. The protagonist(s) finds him/herself in the situation by accident,
or without intent. A Robinsonade is not a captivity narrative.

2. The environment is isolated, unfamiliar, and/or challenging.
Survival is the primary short-term goal, but escape remains a
realistic possibility in the mind of the protagonist.

3. The environment is the only consistent antagonist. Active threats
may present themselves, but they are not the primary obstacle facing
the protagonist.

4. The protagonist may find allies, real or imaginary, indigenous to
the new environment or to the protagonists native environment.

__________________________________

In 400 words or less, describe a situation in which a protagonist is
cut off from civilization and shipwrecked or marooned on a
primitive desert island. He/she must find a way to survive using only
the limited resources of this isle and his/her own wits. The hero or
heroine of this adventure plans to not only survive but to someday
escape the island.

__________________________________

When you critique, remember that the Robinsonade is an account of
optimism and resilience in the face of an unfamiliar, potentially
lethal challenge. Consider the four elements above did the story
show you someone who is caught unawares by a dire situation? Did the
protagonist react with resilience and courage? Did he or she come up
with a realistic plan to escape? Were you intrigued by the adventure?


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Modified by Greg Gunther.