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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Misunderstanding (v. 3)

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: Alex Quisenberry
Posted on: August 23, 2003
Reposted on: April 17, 2005
Revised and reposted on: June 15, 2008
Revised and reposted on: June 5, 2011
Reposted on: January 4, 2015

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a dialogue in which the two characters misunderstand each other and show us the consequences of the misunderstanding. You may include narrative or description, but focus primarily on the conversation.

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You could have a confusion of time: 2:00 AM for 2:00 PM and someone showing up at the wrong time. Confusion of an address or phone number could lead to all sorts of things. A misunderstanding about picking something up or dropping something off could produced obstacles in the plot. A misunderstanding about obligations or duties - "Oh, you wanted me to clean the cat box the WHOLE time you were gone?" Mistaken identities are classic.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a dialogue in which the two characters misunderstand each other and show us the consequences of the misunderstanding. You may include narrative or description, but focus primarily on the conversation.

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Critique: Is it clear how and/or why the characters misunderstand each other? Are the consequences of the misunderstanding dire or funny? In the course of the conversation and confusion do we learn enough about the characters to make them interesting? Would we read on? What is the best thing in the story? The worst?


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.