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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Dissimulation

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.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Posted on: Sunday, 10 Dec 2006
Reposted on: Sunday, 6 Sept 2009
Reposted on: Sunday, 23 Jan 2011
Reposted on: Sunday, 13 October 2013
Reposted on: Sunday, 17 May 2015

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, create a scene in which a character, in the course of conversation, says one thing while thinking another.

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People often say one thing while they're thinking another. A person might be trying to spare another's feelings, to curry favor, or simply to avoid conflict.

Consider the woman who gushes over her friend's haircut while she's thinking how unflattering it is, or the man who sticks out his hand and heartily congratulates someone on her new position in the company, all the while cursing to himself because she didn't deserve it. Apologies roll sweetly off lips while minds take a wholly different view.

Show us a conversation in which a character makes comments while thinking something quite different. Try to make both the spoken dialogue and unspoken thoughts fit seamlessly into a short scene that will let us see the internal conflict the character faces and makes clear the reason for that conflict.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, create a scene in which a character, in the course of conversation, says one thing while thinking another.

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In your critique, comment on what you learned about the character from the words he or she spoke and the thoughts underlying those remarks. What conflict within the character was evident? As always, critique the writing in general. Mention what is effective and what could benefit from revision.


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