Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: November 8, 2003
This is part 1 of a two-part exercise. The
second part can be found
Since July 2001, we have run a number of
behind these exercises is that our own life experiences are primary
for our writing. How else can we really know what it's like to be
afraid, hopeful, disappointed? No amount of research, no amount of
give us that basic material. Learning to remember these experiences,
draw from them, can therefore be of great value to us as writers (and
matter, as people.)
In those exercises, we have looked at
powerful concepts and
fear, peace, fun, anger, embarrassment, anticipation, sadness, awe,
life changes. We have seen the power these have had on all our lives.
(You can find the Remembering exercises
In the next two weeks, we will take this
one step further.
This week, we will do a remembering
free-for-all. Pick one of the
topics or one of your own choice, and tell us about it and what it
felt like to you at the time. Remember: the goal is to explore our
Show don't tell - what was actually happening to you? How did it feel?
Ideally, try to think of something that
changed you, or that led you
different choices or decisions (even in minor ways), at the time or
is optional to include this in the submission, but this is important
preparation for the second part of the exercise. (Next week, the
deal with how emotions and past experiences provide a key part of a
motivation sand influence that character's resulting decisions and
The usual cautions apply:
be careful what you write about. Don't pick something that's too
painful or embarrassing. On the other hand, don't choose an event so
minor or so far away that you can't remember what it felt like at the
time. This does not have to be high drama - it just had to be
significant at the time.
- use a real moment in your life, not something made up.
- be honest - don't make things up, don't hide things. (But keep
first caution in mind as well!)
- don't embellish.
- take the time to remember what it *felt* like, then describe that
point of the exercise is to remember how we were affected, the emotions
- when critiquing, remember that we are dealing with personal
make sure to focus on the writing, on how the emotions are described.
Don't question or criticize the emotions themselves, or any actions
that might have resulted.
Word count 300 words.
Rhéal Nadeau's wrap-up
Posted on: November 14, 2003
It's always an interesting week when we
run a Remembering exercise,
and all the
more so this week when we had a choice of what to explore. A slightly
uncomfortable time as well: it's one thing to read about certain topics
news, it's another to have people share their personal experiences of
abuse, violence, and other such aspects of life.
The exercise had not specified that people
needed to say what
emotion or topic
they were exploring, and many people didn't say. I think this was
actually - many of those emotion-laden experiences seldom lend
themselves to a
simple label, after all.
One difference from previous weeks: quite
a few submissions
emotional situations - but did not actually describe what those
like. Many of those submissions were very effective pieces of writing
maybe the emotions were clearly present in the writer's mind), but this
strictly meet the purpose of the exercise. I would suggest to those who
submitted this week to take another look at their submissions, and see
missed that part of the exercise...
Anyway, after this period of exploration,
now on to part two (
this exercise - where we try to use the emotions we explored this week
piece of fiction...
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.