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Exercise: What's the Issue?

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 24, 2002


Take a public issue, something that's on the news or has been on the news. There are lots of them - gun control, terrorism, drug abuse. Just listen to the news or read a newspaper and you'll find issues.

Now take that issue and write a fictional incident around it. Note I said 'an incident.' We're not asking for a complete story. Of course, that's okay, too, if you can do it in the word limit - 500 words or less for this one.

The purpose of this exercise is to use the ideas that are all around you to help you create fictional plots and stories.

WARNING: Don't use the exercise as an opportunity to preach. In fact, don't let your biases show through. We should know no more about your personal feelings about the issue after reading the story than we did at the start. The character you're writing about has his or her own opinions, but these are not necessarily the same as yours. Keep this in mind as you write your exercise.

EXAMPLE #1: Sara's father was shot during a hold up. Now her son wants to buy a gun. How does Sara feel?

EXAMPLE #2: Maria discovers she is pregnant. She already has too many mouths to feed. She is considering abortion but her church tells her it's wrong. Let us see her mental struggle with her problem.

Florence Cardinal

Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: December 5, 2002

Most of the entries were well done and very issue oriented. Very few duplicated issues and I was pleased at the variety and depth of the submissions. Many of the exercises would be excellent jumping off places for longer stories.

Critiques zeroed in on how well folks handled the issue they were writing about. All in all, I would say this was a successful and well-done exercise.


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.