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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Remember awe

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: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: June 30, 2002
Reposted on: May 16, 2004
Reposted on: July 17, 2005


This is one of our "Remembering" exercises. The idea behind these exercises is to learn to
draw from our own memories and experiences - these are our most basic resources as
writers. (Too many writers try to write based on abstract concepts, resulting in weak,
derivative, writing.)

For example, we have all known love - it might not have been Romeo and Juliet love, but
then did Shakespeare himself experience that type of blinding passion? Did Shakespeare
ever experience murderous jealousy, as in Othello, or did he simply remember lesser
jealousies and build on those when creating that play?

This week, we will remember a moment of awe in our lives. By this I mean an experience
that impressed us greatly at the time, that perhaps opened new perspectives, new
understandings, for us. This could be an encounter with nature - anything from seeing the
Grand Canyon to witnessing the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly; it could be
a great work of man: a building, an opera, a poem; it could be an achievement, such as
Neil Armstrong taking his first step on the moon, or a baby taking *its* first step.

As I tried to show in the examples above, this does not have to be an epic event or
scene; often the small things are the most impressive. (Also, my examples tend towards
positive events, but we also feel awe at negative experiences: the devastation of war,
perhaps, or the destructive force of a hurricane. "Awe" is the root of both "awesome" and
"awful", after all. This exercise is open to either side, though I personally lean towards the
more positive.)

Write your submission honestly: remember what you experienced, how you felt, as well
as you can; don't embellish, don't make things up to make a better story. Remember that
the point of this exercise is to learn to remember; using those memories in our writing
comes later.

So the exercise: in 300 words or less (preferably), describe a moment in your life where
you felt awed by something. How did you feel? Did this experience change you, cause
you to see things in a different way?


Rhéal Nadeau's wrap-up
Posted on: July 6, 2002
I have enjoyed reading the submissions this week, and seeing the variety of things or
circumstances that have generated awe for the participants. These ranged from small
personal moments to major events; in all cases, though, awe came about as a result of
being made to see things in a different way, though an event that challenged what we tend
to take for granted.

How does this apply to our writing? As the submissions showed, awe is a powerful motor
of change (even if only in how we perceive things - which in turn can change how we act,
or react), and much of the best writing deals with how people change. Remembering how
we are affected by what we experience can only help make us better writers.

My congratulations to all the participants this week.


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.