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Exercise: Words words words

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: Rebecca Marshall-Courtois
Posted on: March 17, 2002
Reposted on: April 13, 2003
Reposted on: June 5, 2005
Reposted on: June 25, 2006

This is a basic writing exercise, useful to spark inspiration.

Pick three or four words at random - open a dictionary, look through a newspaper, whatever. There are no restrictions on the words you may use, but if you have trouble choosing, I suggest picking one word representing a colour, one place name, and one physical object - pick the first word that comes to mind when you think of each category. So for example, I might start with the words "brown, Paris, creamer". Once you have picked the words, think about what those words mean to you, or what they might mean to a character. Then write a scene that uses those words, as meaningfully as possible.

Target length is 250-350 words.

Rebecca Marshall-Courtois's wrap-up
Posted on: April 20, 2003

Although I remained an outside observer this week, I truly enjoyed the opportunity to read both the submissions and critiques for this exercise. I intended to post my own submission, but my three words quickly transformed themselves into a three-thousand word story, signaling the end of a two-month case of writer's block. Since that day, I haven't stopped typing away on my keyboard, and it's left me little time for much else. But it's WONDERFUL!

I invented this little game to stir my own imagination and use it when I'm short on ideas, and it warmed me to see that it's helped spark so many ideas for the members of this list. One other member even said that it cured her writer's block as well. Bravo!

A number of posts constituted great beginnings that I could easily see being fleshed out into full-length stories, and a few of you even succeeded in creating fine flash pieces. But the great variety of both words and themes that passed through my in-box was what impressed me the most. I not only learned a new word, but I was also impressed with your vivid imaginations. There's a lot of creativity flowing on this list, and it's always amazing to see what a few words picked at random can become.

Again, thank you for this opportunity. Best of luck to all of the writers on this list.

Rebecca Marshall-Courtois


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