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Writing Exercise: Return of the Soldier

Updated: 6 days ago

An infantryman's helmet rests on a shelf.

Introduction to the exercise and its purpose:

This exercise aims to develop the “Show, Don't Tell” technique by focusing on revealing inner change and emotional impact through observation of actions, reactions to the familiar context, and environmental details. The goal is to illustrate how even the most profound transformations can be effectively conveyed through visual storytelling, without resorting to explicit dialogue.


Andrea, a soldier, returns home unannounced after being abroad for several years. The house has remained virtually unchanged since his departure, and his family is still unaware of his return.


Describe the moment when Andrea enters his old home. Focus on how he interacts with familiar objects, his observable emotional reactions, and the subtle changes in the house that highlight the time that has passed. Avoid using dialogue to express his feelings or thoughts.

Suggestions and development of the exercise:

You might begin by describing how Andrea lightly touches small objects that were once part of her daily routine, perhaps dwelling on an old photo or book she had left behind. Use details such as dust accumulated on shelves or a plant that has grown uncontrollably as visual metaphors for time gone by. Show how he moves hesitantly, perhaps surprised to feel like a stranger in a place he once called home. Conclude with Andrea pausing in front of her bedroom window, looking out at the garden, where her children's toys are now silent and unused, silently reflecting on the ephemeral nature of time and change.


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