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Exercise: The doorway

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.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Florence Cardinal
Posted on: Sun, 21 Oct 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 6 Oct 2002

Imagine yourself standing in front of a door. Describe the door. Now open it. Do you need a key? Do you knock, ring the bell, or just turn the knob and walk in? Or is there a knob?

Read the instructions carefully. Don't get lost in excess wordage. The door and what you see need not be anything fantastic (although it can be if you so choose.) Make sure you take the time to fully visualize the door before you start writing.

Once you open the door, what do you see, hear, smell? How about the sense of touch? What do you touch? Does anything touch you? The wind perhaps? Describe it all so your readers can experience it along with you.

For this exercise, in 300 to 500 words, write a few paragraphs describing the door and what's on the other side.

Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 28 Oct 2001

Unfortunately, many people got off on the wrong foot with this exercise, and, if they described a doorway at all, it became lost in the midst of other prose. Towards the end of the week, more people seemed to be getting the idea, but I'm hoping this exercise will be used again, or another one similar to it.

I think one of the things this exercise demonstrated is the need to read instructions carefully. The instructions for this exercise, I thought, were fairly straight forward. I think the problem was that writers attempted to give us more than was asked for. In other words, you tried too hard, made the exercise far more difficult than it was intended to be. If this had been, say, for a contest, many of the SUBS would have been disqualified.

But, a sincere thanks to all of you for your SUBS and CRITS. don't let this discourage you. I look forward to reading more from you in the next exercise.


Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: October 14, 2002

This is the second time we've run this exercise, and, just like last time, it has produced some interesting stories, and, for the second time, the majority of subbers didn't quite grasp the purpose of the exercise. Most of the subs took a very simple exercise and changed it into something complex.

All that we wanted was first, a simple description of a door. This should have appeared as the beginning of the exercise. Then, a simple explanation of what greeted you as you opened the door. This could have been made up of a couple of paragraphs or something as simple as:

I pushed the door open and saw nothing but darkness.

We'll run this exercise again in the future and maybe try to make the explanation a bit clearer.

Florence Cardinal

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