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Writing Exercise: The Surprise Party

A old man and his wife dance at Surprise Party

Introduction to the exercise and its purpose:

This exercise aims to refine the “Show, Don't Tell” technique by focusing on how emotional reactions can be revealed through physical behavior and environmental interactions, rather than through dialogue. The goal is to develop the ability to create an engaging and emotionally rich scene through visual and sensory details.


Serena, believing she is going home for a quiet evening after a long day at work, opens the front door and discovers that her friends and family have organized a surprise party for her birthday.


Describe the moment when Serena enters the house and is confronted with the surprise party. Focus on her physical reactions, the objects that catch her attention, and her interactions with the space around her, avoiding the use of direct dialogue.

Suggestions and development of the exercise:

You might begin by describing the silent atmosphere before Serena turns on the light, followed by the sudden burst of “Surprise!” and balloons rising into the air. Focus on the expressions on her face that change quickly from surprise to joy, and the way her hands cover her mouth in a gesture of amazement.

Describe the light reflecting off the bright decorations and Serena's expression as she observes familiar faces, perhaps dwelling on a detail that evokes a happy memory for her. Conclude with her advancing shyly into the room, absorbing the love and care shown by her loved ones.


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