Practice-W Exercise Archives
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
Originated by: Florence Cardinal as The Doorway; original exercise
Posted on: 21 Oct 2001
Reposted on: 6 Oct 2002
Reposted, revised, on: 21 May 2006
This is an exercise in creating a setting--keep that in mind. Your
submission may be the beginning of a story or a scene, or it may
introduce a character.
But above all, this is your chance to practice developing a backdrop.
Imagine yourself or your character at a door. The character opens it.
Did she need a key? Did he knock, ring the bell, or just turn the knob
and walk in? Or
is there a knob? Does the door lead inside, or outside?
The door and what the character sees need not be anything fantastic,
although it can be if you so choose. Make sure you take the time to
fully visualize the
setting before you start writing.
Once the door is open, what does the character see, hear, smell? How
about the sense of touch? What does he touch? Does anything touch her?
perhaps? Describe it all so your readers can experience it along with
In these short excerpts, we see only the opening of the door, but
perhaps they will
help you get started:
Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady (1881):
One afternoon, towards dusk, in the autumn of 1876, a young man of
appearance rang at the door of a small apartment on the third floor of
an old Roman
house. On its being opened he inquired for Madame Merle, whereupon the
servant, a neat, plain woman, with a French face and a lady's maid's
ushered him into a diminutive drawing-room and requested the favour of
Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1924):
"I have discovered that there were only five short minutes in which he
taken it--the five minutes immediately before our own arrival on the
scene, for before that time Annie was brushing the stairs, and would
anyone who passed going to the right wing. Figure to yourself the
scene! He enters
the room, unlocking the door by means of one of the other doorkeys-they
For this exercise, let your readers see the opening of the door, and
then show us what's on the other side, in not more than 300 words.
In your critiques, concentrate on the setting. Can you *see* the place
the character is standing or sitting? Setting affects characters, so
see if you can
perceive any such effect. And, of course, comment on the writing in
created by Rhéal
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Greg Gunther and
last updated: 09/15/2006 20:58:56Page
last updated: 09/15/2006 17:37:02Page
last updated: 09/15/2006 10:36:06