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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Epiphany


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: Loretta Carrico-Russell
Posted on: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007
Reposted on: Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008
Reposted on: Sunday, April 10, 2011
Reposted on: Sunday, December 29, 2013
Reposted on: Sunday, February 26, 2017
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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which an individual experiences an epiphany. Show what leads to the moment of insight and how it changes the character's life.

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An epiphany is described as a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the essential meaning of something, and is usually initiated by a simple or commonplace occurrence or experience.

In a story the term epiphany refers to the moment when something suddenly becomes clear to the character, the moment when past events appear in a new light and insight is gained. A writer often uses a striking image, a phrase, or other previously unknown detail that brings that awareness to the character. The character is changed by the new realization.

A prime example of an epiphany in literature comes to Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," when he suddenly sees himself as a selfish man who loves money more than his fellow man. His eyes are opened to the truth and he changes once he is enlightened. In his case, it takes three ghosts to produce the change, but for some people nothing more is required than the sight of a newborn baby.

Bear in mind--an epiphany doesn't always lead to happiness; sometimes sudden disillusion can produce despair.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which an individual experiences an epiphany. Show what leads to the moment of insight and how it changes the character's life.

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When critiquing, discuss the moment of epiphany and whether it seems likely to be a pivotal moment of insight. Note how it changes the character.


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.