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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Message From The Void

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: Charles Hightower
Posted on: 22 January 2012
Re-posted on: 25 October 2015
Re-posted on: 5 March 2017

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In 400 words or less, open a scene with a character who receives an
alarming message. Something apparently has happened, is happening, or
is about to happen. Show what follows when the recipient is unable to
quickly clarify the situation or to fully participate in its outcome.
Your goal is to produce a character in distress; help us to feel the
mounting tension.

-------------------------

In the past one received a message by letter, telegram, carrier
pigeon, or even a note placed in a prominent place. Now we have
answering machines and voicemail, e-mail, and text messaging. But all
of these are one-way communications. If the initial information is
incomplete or confusing, the recipient may not be able to learn more
without the sender's cooperation.

How would an individual react to an e-mail message from a family
member in the military, on deployment, saying, "Not badly hurt. More
later." Or a whispered voicemail saying, "Holdup, Bank of America."
Or, in a note left on the kitchen table from wife to husband, "Derek
in trouble." Or a text message, "Man following me." Or an answering
machine message, "I have your daughter." How would the character
behave when attempts to reestablish communications fail?

-------------------------

In 400 words or less, open a scene with a character who receives an
alarming message. Something apparently has happened, is happening, or
is about to happen. Show what follows when the recipient is unable to
quickly clarify the situation or to fully participate in its outcome.
Your goal is to produce a character in distress; help us to feel the
mounting tension.

-------------------------

Critique: Did the opening of the scene capture your attention? Would
you read on? If not, why? Were the characters and/or the situation
believable? Could you feel the character's emotions?


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