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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: "Patchwork"

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: Alice Folkart
Posted on: Sunday, June 27, 2010
Reposted on: Sunday, July 29, 2012
Reposted on: Sunday, November 15, 2015

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Write a scene in 400 words or less that incorporates one item from each of four categories supplied with this exercise. Often, a good tale begins with a collection of story elements that seemingly have no relationship to one another. This is your opportunity to select a few, mix them together, and show your readers the scene that emerges.

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Setting: A Park, a Zoo, a bedroom, a mountain trail, the interior of an airplane, a jail cell

Character: A teenager, male or female; a 70-year-old woman; a Buddhist priest; a coal miner; a celebrity, a Boy Scout Leader

Historical Period: The present; the future; sometime in the 19th Century (or any Century you find interesting); the year you were born

Situation: A robbery; a plague; a political rally; a rock concert; an execution; a revelation.

What kind of story could you make of a scene in which it is the year 2056--a Rock concert is in progress a few blocks away, and a Buddhist priest is waiting for someone at the entrance to a zoo?

Or, a 70-year old woman sits in a jail cell. It is 1898, and she is waiting to be executed.

Or, it is the present day. The 70-year-old woman enters a bedroom and discovers that she's been robbed.

There are many possible permutations with these different bits of data. See how you can work some of these pieces into an interesting scene.
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Write a scene in 400 words or less that incorporates one item from each of four categories supplied with this exercise. Often, a good tale begins with a collection of story elements that seemingly have no relationship to one another. This is your opportunity to select a few, mix them together, and show your readers the scene that emerges.

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In your critique consider how creatively the author has used the bits of data to build a framework on which to hang a story. And then discuss how the author has or has not fleshed out the character and situation. Comment on any special characteristics of the story. Does it feel factual or fantastic? What makes it feel that way? Would you want to read more? Why or why not?


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