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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Imaginings (Version 2)

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: Don Mackenzie
Posted on: Sunday, 19 February 2006
Revised and reposted on: Sunday, 11 February 2007
Reposted on: Sunday, 8 November 2009
Revised and Reposted on: Sunday, 20 November 2011
Reposted on: Sunday, 25 November 2012
Reposted on: Sunday, 27 November 2016

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, show us a character whose imagination has a particularly significant effect, either within the story or on the reader.

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Dreaming or imagining is a natural function of ordinary and creative life. A person may be trying to take him or herself out of an uncomfortable situation, or imagining the steps she or he needs to take to achieve a victory.

Dreaming/imagining can also be an activity that sneaks up on a character. It may undermine intentions or point the way to new success.

Dreaming/imagining is a powerful force that writers should be encouraged to explore, but caution is needed. The revelation "it was all a dream" is one of the most offensive devices in fiction. Readers object when they feel they have been tricked and the contract between writer and reader has been broken. Surprises are wonderful, but the reader must feel properly prepared and the surprise must be appropriate.

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."--T. E. Lawrence, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, show us a character whose imagination has a particularly significant effect, either within the story or on the reader.

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When critiquing, explain whether you found it easy or difficult to  draw the line between what was real and what was imagined. Did you find the writing believable or insightful? Are the characters and the setting well drawn?


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.