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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Cowards Among Us

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: 29 January 2012
Reposted on: 22 September 2013
Reposted on: 3 March 2015
Reposted on: 7 May 2017

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In 400 words or less, show us an individual who succumbs to an act of cowardice. The act might be a one-time event, or it could reflect on the person's overall character.

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One definition of cowardice might be, "lack of courage in facing danger or difficulty." Examples of that would be when a person tries to avoid death or injury, such as the soldier who disobeys an order to attack, a policeman who pretends to be far away from an active shootout, or the captain of a sinking cruise ship who abandons his passengers to their fate. Sometimes people shrink from failure: an athlete might fake an injury to avoid playing in the big game, or an author might not submit a finished work out of fear of rejection. And some people simply turn away from confrontation: witnessing a crime or observing a classmate cheating, but doing nothing.

Make sure you demonstrate, without telling, how the character feels about the act of cowardice. If appropriate, give clues as to whether those around the individual are aware of / suspect the cowardice.

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In 400 words or less, show us an individual who succumbs to an act of cowardice. The act might be a one-time event, or it could reflect on the person's overall character.

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In your critique, tell the author whether the central character's behavior and/or emotions seem genuine. Do we understand why this character made this choice? Could we forgive him or her? From what the author has told you, do you think that the character would act the same way again?


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