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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: What's Driving the Story? (Version 3)

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: Carter Jefferson
Posted on: September 16, 2007
Reposted, revised, on: May 10, 2009
Reposted on: April 3, 2011
Revised and Reposted on: June 12, 2016
_____________________

Exercise: In 400 words or less, write the opening to either a
plot-driven story, where action tends to predominate, or a
character-driven story, where the focus is on the character's
thoughts and reactions.
_____________________

Good characters are essential to a good story whether it is
plot-driven or character-driven. In both kinds of story
something happens and characters react. The reader comes to
know the characters through what they think, say, and do.

In a plot-driven story, the character reacts to an event.
For example, you might have a hard-nosed detective who must
chase down criminals. The plot usually is complex, but
well-drawn characters greatly enhance such a tale.

On the other hand, in a character-driven story, there may be
little action, but things still happen, characters still
react. For instance, we might learn a lot about a quiet,
reserved widow by her deep emotional response to observing a
butterfly alighting on a flower.

Choose one of the two styles, plot-driven or character-
driven, and write a scene that shows us what your character
is like.
_____________________

Exercise: In 400 words or less, write the opening to either a
plot-driven story, where action tends to predominate, or a
character-driven story, where the focus is on the character's
thoughts and reactions.
_____________________

In your critique, if the story was plot-driven, did you think the
event would cause the reaction described in the story? Did the
plot flow smoothly, and did the reaction of the characters seem
believable?

If the story is character-driven, decide what you've learned about
the main character and his/her reactions. Did the behavior seem
reasonable? Did the character's inner-self become evident?


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