Imaginative Writing


It is very difficult to decide what is imaginative. However, when we talk about imaginative writing we mean, a writing that arises from invented or imagined situations or deals with invented characters, contexts and story-lines.

Question in the Exam

In an examination situation you may be asked to comment on the style and language of a piece of imaginative fiction or a piece of descriptive writing which shares many features with fiction. You may also be asked to address a directed writing task based on that piece of imaginative writing.

Directed writing task may ask you to:

  • write a similar piece based on the style and language of the original extract but placed in a different context.
  • Continue writing the extract based on the style and language of the original passage.
  • Write a piece in a particular format, such as a letter or diary entry, based on the material of the original extract.

In the Extended Imaginative writing tasks you might be asked to write two contrasting pieces based on a ‘before and after’ scenario. For example

  • Write two contrasting descriptive pieces( 300-450 words each) about a location immediately before the arrival of a storm and some days after it has passed. In your writing create a setting and atmosphere.

Imaginative writing tasks may also require you to write a complete composition about one particular topic, perhaps focusing on specific qualities such as sounds, colours and textures.

For example:

  • Write a descriptive piece called The Shopping Centre. In your writing create a detailed sense of people and setting.

Other type of question may have a more narrative element to them and ask you to compose the opening of a novel, a story or short story.

For example:

  • Write the opening chapter of novel entitled “The Private Ditative. In your writing create a sense of mood and place.

Or you may be asked to complete a story. For example:

  • Write a story called The Unexpected Guest. In your writing create a mood of tension and suspense.

Or you may be asked to begin your composition with words given in the task. For example:

  • “The open road stretched ahead of them. There was only one way they could go’. Continue the opening of the story. In your writing create a sense of mysterious future.

or to end your composition with words given in the task. Example:

Write a short story which ends with these words: ‘ … gradually the light grew clearer: It was real.

Tip: Remember that if you are given the ‘end’ words for composition task, you must make sure that these are the very last words used in your answer. Plan thoroughly so that you know from the start where your piece is leading.


1.Don’t ignore seemingly insignificant details, such as character’s names. In the ‘ Flowers’, the name Myop might remind us of myopia (Short-sightedness) suggesting that this is a child who does not see, or has not seen, the wider world and all its unpleasantness.

  1. Practice altering the form of narration between I, He, She and you to see what different effects you can create.

3.Remember not to ‘micro-analyze’. This means take care not to spend too much time commenting on one individual word or phrase at the expense of others, or to give it undue meaning or weight.

  1. In drama texts, bracketed words often convey how the character speaks, and there are sometimes stage directions to assist the actors in their movements or gestures. However, the dialogue (the actual spoken words) is even more important than in novels; it has to carry much of characters’’ thoughts as there is no prose description to tell us what is going on in their heads.
  2. to find a range of ways saying it’s about… it might be better to say the text explores the idea… or the theme of the text might be… or the writer seems interested in the issue of ….
  3. Be careful when using motifs and symbols that you don’t turn your writing into a kind of puzzle to be unlocked. Use these devices sparingly and remember that you must still have an engaging story to tell.
  4. There is no ‘right way to write an opening-every imaginative piece will begin differently. However, if you do not immediately engage the reader with something surprising or mysterious, then you will probably need to add a problem or unusual occurrence soon afterwards!
  5. Much modern writing is deliberately unclear so it can be useful to have a bank of words or phrases at your disposal to describe particular features, such as ambiguous, unreliable, uncertain, indistinct, layered.
  6. Consider carefully the role of the narrator in texts you read and how what they say ‘positions’ us as readers.
  7. Explore in your own writing the multiple possibilities of narrative mode, whether first, second or third person, and think about the effect of that choice.
  8. Think about the effect of different types of unreliable narration and what that might ad to your own writing.
  9. Consider how the balance between inner thought, outer action and speech can be deployed to reveal- or hide-what you want to say.
  10. Characterization is made up of a range of factors, some of which writers prioritize over others.
  11. It is generally more effective to reveal characters through showing what they do or say rather than telling readers about them.
  12. Dialogue, and the description around it, is often an effective way to convey developing relationships and power structures.
  13. Writing about setting and location shares many similarities with other forms of descriptive writing, for example character portraits.
  14. Think in terms of the writer using the pen like a camera to zoom in and out, focus on and cut between things he or she wants to describe.
  15. Consider how characters can be associated with, or conflict with, particular locations.
  16. Motifs and symbols can lend richness and texture to your writing, allowing you to create layers of meaning and allusion. Use them sparingly. Consider how they can reveal or reflect key themes or ideas in yours and others writing.
  17. Highlighting or listing the key words and phrases from the task will keep you on the track. Using these key words to generate ideas will provide a solid base for the plan. Consider the range of different ways to organize those ideas(chronologically)
  18. Make a conscious decision about the tense, voice and style/length of paragraphs.

Key concepts


first person narration. Use of I . It allows the reader to access to what the narrator feels and things and his/her reasons to act in a particular way.

Third person narration: It is using ‘he/she/they’ form to describe the actions of characters.

second person narration: It is another form of narration which is rarely used.

Unreliable narration: It is another form of narration where someone deliberately mislead or misrepresent what is happening for their own reasons.

Omniscient narrator. : It is found in third person narration. He is the one that is more objective and all-seeing. Moreover, he judges and observes the events.

  1. Showing not telling: one of the key skills writers use is to show characters in action rather than telling us about them.
  2. Themes: it means a key idea, topic or area of interest which a writer explores in his or her work. Themes are sometimes defined in a quite general ways using abstract nouns or noun phrases such as conflict, atonement, hope unrequited love but can be expressed as dualities such as fathers and sons or rich and poor.
  3. Symbol: It is one way of understanding what a book’s themes might be. A symbol can be an object, person or action or experience that represents a bigger idea. (eg. rose symbolizes love and romance.)
  4. Motifs: They are similar to symbols but are ideas that re-occur through out a text or a part of a text. Motifs can also refer to common conventions or pattern to stories. ( eg. the handsome prince who rescues a girl and marries her could be a common motif in fairy tales)
  1. Organizing and Sequencing:
  2. a) organize chronologically.
  3. b) write in impressionistic manner, paying less attention to the time and order and more the experience. You could begin ‘ in media res’ ( in the middle of the event) or at the end/
  4. c) think in terms of the description as a filmed scene, making the reader see things through a camera lens.


  • Story Arc: the overarching curve of a story which sees it begin, build up in strength and drama before descending to a conclusion.

5 stages of a story.

1.Introduction/ exposition: the character/ setting etc.

  1. complication/problem: something new occurs which changes things.
  2. Development: Life but under new circumstances, situation changing.
  3. Climax: things come to a head, dramatic moment when events can go one way or another.
  4. conclusion/resolution: events are complicated, but not necessarily happily or definitely.

(Note: Even if you use the five-stage structure which is typical of many stories, bear in mind that if you play around with the time sequence or narration, the order may need to change. )

  1. Different types of opening to stories :
  2. creating a particular atmosphere or tone which fits with the sort of a story we want to read. (eg. Gothic mystery)
  3. offering something funny, surprising, surreal or shocking.

3.conveying a particular memory or occasion in a way that wants us to find out more about what went on.

  1. Using a general statement or metaphor which might thematically ‘set up’ what is to come.
  1. different types of ending stories.
  2. open ending.: Where the reader is left to imagine what might happen or has happened.

cliffhanger: it is as way of leaving the reader in suspense or wondering how things might develop.

  1. ambiguous endings. It leaves matters open to interpretation and can be particularly useful if you have chosen to use an unreliable narrator in your piece of imaginative writing.
  2. Closed ending where the reader is informed about the outcome or reasons for the outcome of particular events or the fate of a character.





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