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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: "Page Turner"

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: Norman Cooper
Posted on: August 29, 2010
Reposted on: October 1, 2011
Reposted on: October 14, 2012
Reposted on: October 6, 2013
Reposted on: March 22, 2015

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Exercise: In 400 words or less write a scene that puts your character right in the middle of some exciting action.

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Action scenes on film involve our eyes and ears (and if the sound in the theater is loud enough, our whole body). However, in print, our principal tool is detailed description. Details help the reader imagine what the action feels like based on sensory experience.

Action can be anything from a bomb squad technician working against the clock, to a man fleeing from would-be attackers on a crowded city sidewalk, to a boxer in the fight of his life. If the reader is involved in the story, he/she will feel the sweat on the technician’s brow, the panic of the pursuit, or the exhaustion of the fighter.

Action scenes are challenging ways to provide conflict in your story. In mystery and suspense novels, action scenes usually heighten the tension and move the plot along. "Show” don't “tell” when describing action.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less write a scene that puts your character right in the middle of some exciting action.

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In your critique, tell the writer whether the action made you squirm. Did it raise the tension to an uncomfortable level? Give examples of detail that worked or didn't work. Could the writing have been tighter? Was the piece balanced? Did the action scene fit realistically into a plot or was it just one big car chase or explosion? Would you read on?


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