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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: What You Don't Know (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 Ruth Douillette
Posted: Sunday 21 Jan 2007
Reposted: Sunday, 6 April 2008
Revised and Reposted: Sunday, 7 June 2009
Reposted: Sunday, 14 November 2010
Reposted: Sunday, 13 November 2011
Reposted: Sunday, 10 February 2013
Reposted: Sunday, 6 November 2016

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Exercise: In less than 400 words, write a scene in which a character’s
long-hidden secret is revealed to important people in his/her life.
Show how this revelation has an effect on other characters in the
scene, and the likely outcome for the main character.

-------------------------

People are not always what they seem. They keep secrets, hide
skeletons in closets, or lie about their past history when it serves
their purpose. Or, on a less ominous note, they may downplay their
wealth or status, keep an achievement very quiet, or fib about their
age.

When someone’s secret is suddenly revealed, others will react in
various ways. There can be sudden conflict, confusion, or perhaps an
epiphany. * Oh, now I know why you always … *

If you’re a reader, a secretive character has an intriguing aura of
mystery. If you’re a writer, the secrecy device can infuse intrigue,
tension and conflict into your plot, as in the recent best-seller,
“Gone Girl.”

Another example of such a revelation, or plot booster, is found in the
movie, "The Test of Love." When a married man survives a plane crash,
his wife is stunned to discover that he was traveling with a woman,
his lover, who died in the crash. Then another secret is revealed:
her husband fathered a child by this woman. These sudden revelations
create strife, and force the couple to finally face uncomfortable
truths about their troubled marriage.

-------------------------

Exercise: In less than 400 words, write a scene in which a character’s
long-hidden secret is revealed to important people in his/her life.
Show how this revelation has an effect on other characters in the
scene, and the likely outcome for the main character.

-------------------------

Critique by discussing how the revelation changed the status quo for
all concerned. Consider, did the characters’ reactions seem genuine?
Did you learn anything important from their initial responses? Point
out any areas in the writing that could benefit from revision or
editing.


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