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Exercise: Flights of Fancy

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: November 10, 2002
Reposted on: November 28, 2004
Reposted on: January 9, 2006

Start with a mundane, everyday occurrence, like washing the dishes, driving to work or weeding your garden. Then - let your imagination take over. Let the ordinary lead you into an extraordinary adventure. this can be a possible adventure, or it can be a true flight of fantasy.

This is how many great stories are born. Use the what if question. What if I was washing dishes and looked up to see a stranger in weird clothing peering in my window? What if, while driving to work, I travelled through a bank of fog - into the year 3011? What if, while weeding my garden, all the weeds began to grow until they towered over the house?

Don't use these examples. You can do better. Start by describing the ordinary task you're doing and then let that task lead naturally into your adventure.

Everyone has fantasies. We all try to imagine how things could be different than what they really are. We all ask "What if......" Writers need to draw on these fantasies to encourage new ideas and get through any blocks in their writing.

EXAMPLE: You have your hero trapped in a cave. There's no way out for him - or, it seems, for you as the writer. Now ask yourself: What if? What if he finds a small hole in the wall, just large enough to squeeze into. Might this lead him out? What if he's carrying an explosive device and it detonates, blasting a hole in the cave. Although injured, he's free. Keep brainstorming. You'll be surprised where your imagination will take you.


In 500 words or less, describe some every day task you've done many times. Then stop and ask yourself "What if?" Take your readers on an imaginary adventure.

Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: November 19, 2002

Great participation this week. I've just read through all of the SUBS again. Isn't it surprising where our imaginations can lead of us if given free range?

I'm hoping this exercise has given participants a way to dream up new stories or get a plot moving again when it stalls - or even beat that old nemesis, writer's block.

The majority did the exercise well. My only complaint would be that a few jumped write into the fantasy without letting us know what mundane task led to it.

But on the whole, I would have to say, well done.


Pam Hauck's wrap-up
Posted on: November 19, 2002

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make this week's exercise a success.

The submissions demonstrated the Flights of Fancy our imaginations can take us on when we start with a mundane, everyday occurrence and ask, "What if?"

Overall, the critiques were improved with more details, pointing out both the positive and negative about the submissions.

Hopefully, this exercise has helped all of us learn more about ways to create new stories or give new twists and turns to existing ones.

I appreciate everyone's response and wish you all the best with your submissions.

Pam Hauck

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Modified by Gayle Surrette.