Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Reading Literature

This is Jane. Jane loves to read. You can find her with a book in her hand in almost any setting. When Jane reads, it is like she is taking a journey with the characters in the book. For those moments, she is able to leave her real life and escape to new lands and places in history.

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever felt like Jane? Was there ever a book that you felt strongly connected to or one that let you imagine something new?

Literature is important! Why? It shares with us the culture, ideals, and history of humans. It helps us understand each other and make sense of the world.

When you finish reading a book, you may have a personal response to the writing. Sometimes this may be just thinking about the writing and how you felt about it. Other times, you may take this one-step further. There are many creative ways for you to have a personal response and connection to a reading. In this lesson, we will discuss several different ways that you can creatively write a personal response to literature.

Creative Responses to Literature

Why write creative responses? To really connect to literature, it is important to move beyond a summary. While you may easily recall a plot, it may be more challenging to add new insight to it, which is good! We want to be challenged in our writing, and we want to be able to connect more deeply to literature.

So, how can we do this? What ways can we write creatively to add new insight about the story?

1. You may have already heard of or stumbled upon fan fiction. Fan fiction is fiction written by a fan that features characters from an original work. Fan fiction is not written by the original author, but by the people who have read and enjoyed the book. Fan fiction allows you, the reader, to imagine what may have happened to your favorite characters after the official story has ended.

For example, let’s pretend that you just finished reading William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The play ends very tragically with Romeo dying from drinking poison and Juliet stabbing herself. However, you want to imagine that their love continues after death, so you write a short story about Romeo and Juliet reuniting in the afterlife. Your work is inspired by Shakespeare, but you are able to use your own imagination to create a new story for the characters.

2. Pretend you are creating a movie about the book. This can be fun! Who would you cast to play the parts? Why would you cast them? By thinking about who would play the characters, you are assigning the characters’ physical traits and personalities. You could even be more creative and develop a soundtrack to go with the story. Why are these songs important? How do they represent the story and its theme?

3. Write a letter from or to a character. Characters are what make the story flow. When an author has good characters, we want to learn more about them. In some ways, we want to be a voice with them. You can be a voice of the story by pretending you are one of the characters and writing a letter in his or her voice. You could choose the main character, or one of the minor characters. This could reveal secrets or assumptions that you have made. Finally, you can even write a letter to a character. Ask the character questions and try to get to know him or her better.

4. Write the story from a different perspective. Think about how the story would be different if told from another perspective than the one used by the author. What would your character add to the story?

For example, imagine a story about a family whose house was robbed. How would it be if told from the perspective of the family? Now imagine the same story told from the perspective of the robbers. How would it be different?

5. Investigate historical references. As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons literature is so powerful is that it represents a time in history. Because of this, you may have fun researching the era that the story was written in and discovering the references made in the text. For example, what did the characters wear? What did they eat? What did they do for fun? These small details could help you connect further with the characters.

There are many more ways that you can think and write creatively about literature. This should be fun! You can experiment and find ways to further connect to the story that you have read.

Lesson Review

Literature allows us to share other cultures, ideals, and history. By reading a book, we can learn about new people and places. When we finish reading, we may review the plot of a story and feel that it is enough. But it’s not! There are many ways to connect to and learn more about the story and the writing. One way that you can expand beyond a simple summary is to experiment with creative responses.

There are many different ways that you can write creatively.

  • First, you can try fan fiction, fiction written by a fan about the characters of an original work. In this type of writing, you can take the characters from the story that you have read and write a new story about them or connect where their story left off.
  • Second, pretend to make a movie. Spend time casting the characters, developing the setting, and even making a soundtrack.
  • Third, write a letter. You can write a letter in the voice of a character or even write a letter to a character.
  • Fourth, write the story from a different perspective. How would another character tell the story?
  • Finally, try to investigate the historical references. Learn more about the characters and setting by filling in the historical gaps.

By writing creatively, you will be able to connect more to the story that you have read. It will challenge you to add new insight, which will ultimately help you grow both as a writer and an active reader.

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