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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: "How To"

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, July 11, 2010
Reposted on: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Reposted on: Sunday, March 15, 2015
Reposted on: Sunday, May 28, 2017

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In 400 words or less, describe in detail someone doing a task and show us how they feel about it. This can be simply a vignette, a moment in time or a complete story. It's up to you.
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You could show us a surgeon removing an appendix, a 16-year-old getting ready for the prom, an aging beauty putting on her makeup, or someone changing a tire by the roadside. We could be in the navigator's seat watching a pilot bring a plane in for a landing in a storm. You might show us how to bake a pie, throw a pot, plant a tree or change a diaper. Give us the details and see if you can show us how this person feels about what she is doing. Is the task frightening, distasteful, or challenging? Does the character derive a sense of satisfaction by trying to do something? You might want to write about someone doing something that they don't usually do: Daddy changing a diaper, a little old lady changing a tire or a passenger landing the plane. Do they succeed or fail?
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In 400 words or less, describe in detail someone doing a task and show us how their feelings about doing it. This can be simply a vignette, a moment in time or a complete story. It's up to you.as the author been able to infuse drama into what is essentially a 'how-to' piece?
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In your critique consider the author's use of detail. If the piece demands technical information, does it seem that the author knows what she is talking about? Has she done some research or does she have personal experience that informs the description. Also look at whether we can see how the character feels about what he is doing. Is he doing it lovingly or does it frustrate him. Does the author's choice of vocabulary make what we're seeing seem real? If so, how?


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