How to Write an Imaginative Essay

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An imaginative essay is fiction, actually a type of short story. Students are asked to imagine a particular historical or fantastic situation and write the rest of the story. Depending on the prompt, the imaginative essay can discuss anything from space travel to civil rights. Because of this wide variation, some imaginative essays require a very serious response, while others invite a much more light-hearted, fantastic one.

1 Think about the prompt

Think about the prompt and brainstorm some ideas. Usually, imaginative essays start with a hypothetical situation and ask you how you would respond to it. Come up with a few different ways you might respond, and how you think the situation would turn out depending on your response.

2 Pick the idea

Pick the idea you like best and write it. Write what you would do, how other characters would react and how the situation would end up.

3 Add sensory details

Add sensory details. How do you feel? What do people and things around you look like?

4 Add realistic conversation

Add realistic conversation. Imagine actually interacting with the characters around you. Do you see eye to eye, or do you have different perspectives? Show it through your conversation.

5 Add historical details

Add historical details. If you are writing about the Civil War, for example, you might mention fighting in a particular battle or serving under a particular leader. If you are writing about a future event, you could make up some details from a "future history" to make your story seem more realistic. For example, if you are imagining the world in 100 years, you could look back on the end of the oil age, or the accomplishments of a future president.

6 Add some personal change

Add some personal change. The best characters are dynamic characters. Your character should see things differently or act differently by the end of the story. You can also show how other characters change. For example, your character could start out headstrong and impulsive, get into some problems as a result of this trait, and learn to be more patient by the end of the story. In literature, this is called a "character arc."

7 Proofread your imaginative essay

Proofread your imaginative essay. Make sure that you use proper spelling and good grammar and punctuation. For an imaginative essay, you will not have to use formal language, but you will need to show your mastery of the mechanics of writing.

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.