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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Action! (Version 4)


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: Rheal Nadeau
Posted on: 8 Jul 2001
Posted on: 11 Jul 2004
Reposted, revised, on: 16 Jul 2006
Reposted, revised, on: 9 Mar 2008
Reposted on: 11 Oct 2009
Reposted on: 28 April 2011
Revised and Reposted on: 27 Mar 2016

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which a character acts and reacts in ways that reveal his or her true nature. Use verbs, adverbs and adjectives that vividly describe the action. You should show, and not tell. Said another way, you should present evidence instead of conclusions.

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Many descriptive words are used too frequently, and become generic, impersonal terms. For example, think of the many times you’ve read or heard:
 
    He's a nice guy
    She's very sensitive
    He's a team player
    She's a loving mom
 
Such phrases have been used and overused until they’ve lost much of their descriptive power. A good writer tries to avoid trite terms and uses words that show or reveal the character’s real nature in action.
 
For example, if your story features a "nice guy,” how would you show his “niceness?”

Would he send his girlfriend roses on her birthday? Would he voluntarily wash his mother’s car? Would he frequently shovel snow off an elderly neighbor’s walk? Would he pull off the freeway to help another motorist?

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which a character acts and reacts in ways that reveal his or her true nature. Use verbs, adverbs and adjectives that vividly describe the action. You should show, and not tell. Said another way, you should present evidence instead of conclusions.

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In your critique, tell the writer what you’ve learned about the characters through their actions, and note any wasted, nebulous words. Did the writer achieve the exercise goals?



Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.