English & EAL

Writing imaginative pieces

Amanda Lau

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Go ahead and tilt your mobile the right way (portrait). The kool kids don't use landscape...

For many students, writing context pieces can be slightly daunting. For some, it is about unleashing the writer within as the boundaries and thematic constraints that exist in Text Response are lifted. For others, it can be an opportunity to discover new writing styles, branching out from the generic T-E-E-L structure.

Formats of imaginative context pieces include:

  • short narratives,
  • a personal diary entry chronicling the character's thoughts,
  • epilogues,
  • scripts,
  • and monologues.

Writing a context piece in an imaginative style allows you to draw from your own morals, views and feelings. You can weave in personal anecdotes, experiences, and metaphorical language. Which gives one's writing that pizazz and individualist factor!

Moreover, you can showcase how you have perceived and interpreted the characters within the novel/film, the landscapes they inhabit. Alternatively, you can step into different personas. For example, for the topic of conflict, I can write as an injured army medic, a doctor, a foreign correspondent and a war photographer.

Another benefit of writing in an imaginative style is that you can select topics (gay rights/marriage, science vs. religion, gender equality) that you are genuinely passionate or interested about. So, go on and wade into those waters of controversial issues!

However, imaginative writing also has many pitfalls students tumble into (do not despair; you can get out of it!)

1) Don't get too caught up in emotions and flowery language.

Great imaginative context pieces are not only graded on how good your story telling skills are. More importantly, your teachers would be grading on the palpable links to the themes of the text and prompt you have been given.

In Year 11, when I wrote an imaginative piece, I went overboard with the flowery metaphorical language. My teacher said ‘Overall, the piece is good however, at some parts it sounded like purple prose.’ When I read it over now, I shudder a little.

2) In Reading and Creative, there is greater emphasis on extrapolating themes and ideas from your studied text. So, those radical and out-of-the box ideas and views you have in relation to the text can now be used.

For example, the overarching themes in Every Man In This Village Is A Liar encompass the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, inequality (The unequal status of women in Middle East), the effect of war on the physical body and the human psych and how the media portrays war and violence. The starting point to planning any context piece is to use quotes and ideas within your text. Infer meaning from those quotes and main ideas and ask yourself:

'Does it hold a great degree of relevance to issues prevalent today?

Can I link it to my sac/exam prompt?' 

Example of planning

Two of my favourite quotes from Life of Galileo are

'Science is the rightful, much loved daughter of the church.'

‘ Our ignorance is limitless; let us lop off a millimeter off it. Why try to be clever now that we at last have a chance of being less stupid.’

In essence, this conveys the overarching theme of science vs. religion, and how Church and the inquisition exploit the peoples' views through their own ignorance. Their fear of change, pioneering and gaining of new knowledge stems from the prospect of chaos if society's entrenched values are uprooted.

I interpreted this as 'ignorance is not bliss' and instead, it breeds fear in people. This is in relevance with the tragic events that has occurred in recent years - acts of terrorism, and/or racially motivated attacks.

In the context of our modern society, religion and science still maintain an intriguing and tumultuous relationship. As the advancement of technology and ethics are not at equilibrium, this is where controversy arises.

Conversely, we now have to consider whether this relates to the prompt:

A person never knows who they truly are, until tested by conflict.

{This is a relatively open-ended so, really, you can use your creativity!}

Possible idea for this example:

"Is it ethical to administer a new drug capable of rewiring and regenerating brain function at a neuronal level to someone who has sustained extensive brain damage? Is it deemed humane to potentially change a person's character? At what personal cost will this have? - Playing god."

Other tips:

  • Start a journal at the beginning of the year so you can gradually fill in pictures, newspaper clippings (from different publications: TIME, National Geographic, The Age), snippets of quotes you come across throughout the year that you found intriguing or relating to your context study.

So, a week before your Reading and Creating SAC or exam, you would already have a plethora of resources and inspiration. In addition to your own class notes about the text! It is a surprisingly satisfying feeling when you flip back on your notes and find forgotten ideas penned down weeks ago! Besides, it is quite fun to chronicle your thoughts, interpretations and ideas on the text.

Finally, have fun and enjoy the process of planning a creative narrative, let your imagination run a little wild and rein it in with your knowledge!

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