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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Au naturel (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: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Sun, 22 Jul 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 10 Aug 2003
Reposted on: Sun, 13 Mar 2005
Revised and reposted on: Sun, 28 Feb 2010
Reposted on: Sun, 27 Jan 2013
Reposted on: Sun, 24 Jan 2016

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In 400 words or less, present a character pursing a goal, but finding nature standing in the way.

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Conflict is a key element of storytelling. In any story, there has to be a goal and something blocking the way to achievement of that goal--hence, conflict. This exercise deals with conflict between a character and nature. Show us how the character gets into a situation, e.g., what goal is being pursued, and how an aspect of nature may hinder him or her. In dealing with nature, remember to involve the senses; if your character is caught in a storm, make us feel and hear that wind and rain.

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Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe are classic examples of man vs nature--man up against white whale or man pitted against nature to survive on a desert island. A conflict with nature is often used to reflect a character's internal conflict. Of course, the external conflict and risks must be real, and must be dealt with in the real world. The clash of goal and obstacle creates conflict.

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In 400 words or less, present a character pursing a goal, but finding nature standing in the way.

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In your critique, look to see how present nature is. Is the threat or danger shown through immediate sensory detail or through abstract or "telling" narrative? Is the protagonist's goal clearly stated? Can we pinpoint the clash of goal and obstacle? Remember, it is not necessary to resolve the conflict within the submission; only to create and show the conflict.


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