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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: "Packin' Heat"

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 Carter Jefferson
Posted on November 28, 2010
Posted on June 24, 2012
Posted on December 7, 2014
Posted on January 1, 2017

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write an opening scene in which at last one
character carries a pistol, rifle, musket, hand-held machine gun,
blunderbuss, or shotgun.

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Guns are everywhere, and have been since the 15th century. In your scene
the gun may be carried by anyone, man, woman or child. They used to say
that if a gun appeared in the first scene, it had to go off before the
final curtain of a play--but this is just the opening, so whether it shoots
or not is up to you. If it does, the shot may be purposeful or accidental.
Let your action take place anywhere at any time.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write an opening scene in which at last one
character carries a pistol, rifle, musket, hand-held machine gun,
blunderbuss, or shotgun.

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A critique of this exercise should consider how the possession of a gun by
one or more characters affects their thinking and/or actions. Would the
character with the gun be a very different person without one? Do we learn
about time and place by what kind of gun it is and why it appears? Is the
situation with the gun silly or serious? What part does the gun play in
building tension that might lead the reader to read on?


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.