Introduction to imaginative recreations
An imaginative recreation, sometimes called a creative reimagining task, is a task that requires you to use your knowledge of a text, or series of texts, and create something that represents this. Imaginative recreation tasks help you come to grips with a text’s contents and ideas.
These tasks may help you understand your text and Module, but this makes them no less daunting. After all, how are you – a student – meant to adapt somebody else’s work? What do you do if you can’t draw to save your life? Often students get wound-up and anxious because they don’t have an artistic bent, or don’t have the photoshop skills of their mates.
In this part of our guide, we will allay those fears and tell you what you really need to do for imaginative recreation and reimagining tasks. To make sure you’re covered, we’ll give you a step-by-step process to follow so that you ace them every time, especially if you are not a Khalo or Basquait!
In this article we discuss:
What is an imaginative recreation
So, what is a creative reinterpretation? What sort of skills does it require from students?
In the outline for Year 11 Common Module: Reading to Write, NESA states that,
“through imaginative re-creation students deepen their engagement with texts and investigate the role of written language in different modes and how elements for example tone, voice and image contribute to the way that meaning is made.”
Similarly, in the outline for Year 11 Module A: Narratives that Shaped the World, NESA states that,
“[Students] investigate how narratives can be appropriated, reimagined or reconceptualised for new audiences.”
This means that imaginative recreation allows students to:
- Explore the ideas present in a text
- Understand how a text does or does not reflect contemporary values
- Demonstrate their knowledge of a text
- Apply their creative writing skills
NESA offers the following definitions that are relevant:
- Imaginative Texts – texts that represent ideas, feelings and mental images in words or visual images. An imaginative text might use metaphor to translate ideas and feelings into a form that can be communicated effectively to an audience. Imaginative texts also make new connections between established ideas or widely recognised experiences in order to create new ideas and images. Imaginative texts are characterised by originality, freshness and insight. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children, including picture books and multimodal texts, for example, film.
- Recreating Texts – transforming texts to explore how changes in particular elements of a text affect meaning.
- Reimagine – reinterpret an event, work of art or a text imaginatively.
From these definitions, we can understand that imaginative recreation or reimagination requires you to retell a story from a different perspective in order to explore the ideas present in it. This story can take a variety of forms, it might be a written piece or it could be a visual representation.
The purpose of an imaginative recreation is to demonstrate that you are familiar with the key concepts from your text.
How do you reimagine a text?
This is a tricky question. How you go about each instance will depend on the instructions and criteria you are given. Obviously, the fewer specific parameters you are given the more opportunity you have to use your imagination.
Tasks that you may be asked to undertake may include:
- Writing a newspaper article about an event from a text
- Creating a visual image to represent an idea from the text – for example, a poster or collage
- Writing a letter to, or from, a character in the text
- Writing a diary entry from the perspective of a character
- Restaging a scene from the perspective of a different character
- Retelling an event from a different narrative perspective. For example, a third-person narrative could be retold in the first-person to develop your insight into a particular character
- Retelling the narrative in a different textual form. For example, retelling a novel as a poem, like a ballad, or as a play
There are many other ways in which you could attempt, or be asked to attempt a recreation.
Such diversity makes it difficult to give specific advice outside of the instructions you are given for a task.
However, there are some important steps you can take to ensure that you will succeed at these tasks. But before we look at what they are, we need to look at a sample task.
A sample imaginative recreation assessment
NESA has prepared a sample task to give students, teachers, and parents an idea of what these tasks might include. Let’s take a look at it and see what it asks you to do:
NESA Sample Assessment Task for Imaginative Recreation
This task is asking you to:
- Use your knowledge of your core text
- Use your knowledge of textual form
- Produce an imaginative text of 1200 words length in one of these forms (nb. the graphic novel, script, or poetry submissions could be shorter):
- short story
- a script for a short film
- a graphic novel
- or speech
- Submit a draft to show development of the imaginative recreation
- Submit a reflection to show why you have made the compositional decisions that you have
You will be assessed on:
- how you represent your understanding of the Australian dream
- experiment with language conventions
- edit your work
- reflect on the process of composing
With every notification you receive, you must get a marking criteria as well. Let’s take a look at the sample one for this assessment task from NESA:
A sample NESA marking criteria for an imaginative recreation.
This marking criteria tells you what you need to do to get a result. As we always want to aim high, we need to take a look at what a Band 6 result requires from us:
- compose an effective, sustained, imaginative text to represent their view of the Australian Dream
- use and analyse a range of language forms and features in their chosen form creatively and effectively
- demonstrate effective use of the editing process
- evaluate their own learning and writing processes insightfully, considering their strengths and areas for improvement.
So what does this mean, exactly? Let’s break it down point by point.
Criterion 1: compose an effective, sustained, imaginative text to represent their view of the Australian Dream.
This is marking the quality of the imaginative recreation you produce. It needs to be:
- “Effective” – this means it must convey the key ideas of the core text to your audience. In this case, it must represent the Australian Dream.
- “Sustained” – it must be consistent in terms of tension, quality, and insight. You must demonstrate an ability to maintain the quality of your work.
Criterion 2: use and analyse a range of language forms and features in their chosen form creatively and effectively.
This criterion is assessing how you have done this. It is assessing form and language techniques. This states that for a Band 6, your piece needs to:
- Use a variety of language techniques
- Use the techniques that are appropriate to the form you have chosen
- Use an appropriate structure for the form and genre you have chosen
- Be imaginative in your use of techniques and form
- Be effective in your use of techniques and form – ie. ensure that the techniques and form you use are appropriate to the message you are trying to convey
Criterion 3: demonstrate effective use of the editing process.
This criterion is demanding that you demonstrate an editing process. They will be able to judge this criterion by seeing what changes have been made between the draft and final version that you submit. You need to demonstrate:
- An awareness of how to edit
- The development of your ideas by making changes between your draft version and final version
- And understanding of grammar by having no mistakes in the document
Criterion 4: evaluate their own learning and writing processes insightfully, considering their strengths and areas for improvement.
This is concerned with how you reflect upon the task you have completed. In your reflection you need to demonstrate:
- An understanding of your core text
- A critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your imaginative recreation
- A clear intention behind your use of techniques and structure to convey an idea
- Be honest and objective about how you could improve in future
All assessment tasks are unique
Not every assessment task or assessment criteria is going to have the same instructions or expectations. The above breakdown is specific to a NESA sample task only. As such, the exact method for approaching an assessment will vary from task to task. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution.
You need to know your text and be adaptable to what the task demands. Matrix English students get guidance and advice on their assessment tasks from their teachers and workshop tutors. While we can’t give specific advice in this guide, we can give you a foolproof step-by-step process to make sure that you get Band 6!
Let’s see what that involves.
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How to prepare an imaginative recreation: a step-by-step guide
While there may be a variety of different tasks you could be set, the approach you take to them should be systematic and consistent. You need to follow a process. Take a look at the following flowchart:
Flowchart: How to make an imaginative recreation
Have a read through these steps and think of how they could apply to a variety of different modes.
Now you’ve got that pictured in your mind, let’s go through this step-by-step process in detail.
Step 1: Read/view your text thoroughly
It is important that you read or view your text closely. This task is set to assess your knowledge of a text, its themes, and its characters. This means that as you read you should take notes on:
- The main themes and philosophical ideas in the text – this is what you primarily need to reimagine or recreate
- The character details – for example, consider
- How they behave
- How they look
- How they interact with others
- How they perceive themselves
- How they develop or change throughout the text
- The key events in the narrative
If you are unsure how to read a text effectively, you should read Part 2 of this Guide, How to Analyse Your English Texts For Evidence.
Step 2: Write character profiles
A good way of developing your notes for a task like this is to create character profiles. You want to be able to collate pertinent information regarding:
- The physical and emotional traits of your text’s characters
- Who the characters interact with
- Whether they have any specific personality quirks, or physical or behavioural traits that are important
- Undergo a particularly emotional, spiritual, or physical transformation
As an example, let’s produce one for Nick from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:
|Table: A Character Profile of Nick from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
||The opening chapter
||We don’t garner much about how Nick looks. We know he fought in World War One, so he would still have been rather fit. We get the impression that he is smaller than Tom Buchanan whom he describes as big.
- Is very forthcoming about the flaws of others.
- Is concerned with his value as a reliable source – the first chapter is devoted to him convincing the audience of his reliability.
- Is not overly self-critical. He doesn’t question his own alcohol consumption, nor his affairs with other women, both while he is with Jordan Baker and in the past.
- Has high moral standards. Nick sees his peers in New York as morally vacuous. The only exception is Jay Gatsby.
- Nick is hypocritical. He’s aware of Tom’s affair, which he is critical of, but keeps that information to himself. Similarly, he doesn’t tell the truth about Myrtle’s death.
- Nick tries to embody his Midwestern values and is aware of his shortcomings. This is why he leaves his dream behind in New York.
- Nick is an unreliable narrator, he tells us what we want to see.
- He sees Gatsby in a rosy light but is not so generous with the rest of the people he meets.
- Nick moves to West Egg.
- Nick meets his neighbour Jay Gatsby.
- Nick meets Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker.
- Nick starts attending Gatsby’s parties.
- Nick goes with Tom and witnesses his affair with Myrtle.
- Nick starts dating Jordan Baker.
- Nick witnesses Tom haggling with Wilson, Myrtle’s husband.
- Nick acts as a go-between Daisy and Jay.
- Nick attends the evening when Jay and Daisy confess their relationship.
- Nick is there to see the aftermath of the car crash that kills Myrtle.
- Nick reveals the origin story of Jay Gatz and how he became Jay Gatsby.
- Nick stays quiet when Daisy’s sister lies about her involvement in the crash.
- Nick organises the funeral for Gatsby and is disappointed that nobody comes.
- Jay Gatsby: Nick’s neighbour and becomes his best friend.
- Jordan Baker: Nick’s on-again-off-again lover. He loves her but not enough. They both commit acts of infidelity.
- Daisy Buchanan: Nick’s cousin, he acts as a go-between for her and Gatsby.
- Tom Buchanan: Nick becomes an uncomfortable accomplice to Tom on some nights. He dislikes Tom immensely.
- Klippspringer: Nick dislikes him and thinks he is a leech who uses Gatsby.
Spending the time to develop a thorough table, like the one above, will allow you to write a creative reimagining that develops insight into a particular character and their emotions. You want to ensure you have a clear understanding of your central characters to demonstrate aspects of the key idea in the text.
Step 3: Read your notification or question
For the purposes of this guide, let’s consider the question above from the Sample Task:
“You are to write your own imaginative text on the idea of the Australian Dream. Use any one of the media or forms you have studied as part of this unit, eg short story, poetry (including song lyrics), script for a short film or play, graphic novel, essay or speech.
The final imaginative text will be a maximum of 1200 words (or less for poetry or graphic novel, by negotiation with your teacher). Students must submit at least one draft with the final submission.
You should allocate appropriate time to plan and process your writing and to consider how you use point of view to present your ideas effectively.
You are also required to submit a 300 word (maximum) personal reflection on the nature and purpose of your imaginative text. In your reflection, you will need to:
- Explain how your reading and writing experiences in this unit influenced you when making decisions about writing your own imaginative text.
- Justify your choices about appropriate and effective ways to represent the idea of dreams and reality.
- Reflect and evaluate your learning experience throughout this process.
So, what do you need to do for this task?
This task asks you to:
- Demonstrate your understanding of what the Australian Dream is and represent this to others
- Write your own narrative that embodies the character traits and aspirations of figures explored in The Great Gatsby
- Rather than being set in America, you are asked to write about your experience in contemporary Australia
- Use one of the forms suggested above (short story, poetry, etc.)
- Produce a piece that is no more than 1200 words
- Submit an early draft and the final piece
After you have produced your imaginative text, you will need to write a reflection. This reflection must:
- Explain how it embodies the key idea for the task – in this case, explain how it illustrates the Australian Dream
- Explain what influenced your piece
- Justify your artistic choices in relation to your core text
- Discuss frankly what you think went well with this task and what you struggled with. You must also explain what you feel you have learned
Step 4: Choose a genre to write/draw/create in
With a task such as this, you may have the opportunity to write in a variety of genres or forms. You want to use this opportunity to write to your strengths, and demonstrate your knowledge of textual form and genre and the relevant conventions.
For example, for the sample task you could do one of the following things:
- You could write a simple first or third person short story to convey your understanding of the Australian Dream. It would adhere to a three-act structure.
- You could take your idea for a narrative and compose a short graphic novel – you could do some pages with comic book panels and then other pages with full-page illustrations to represent key events in the narrative. Obviously, there would be less text in this. You could always try and use found images if you’re not great at drawing.
- You could produce a suite of poems conveying an individual’s quest for the Australian Dream, or perhaps a heroic quest like that of Odysseus.
- Or you could test out your dramatic chops by trying to produce a script for a short play or film.
- It might be possible for you to produce a series of letters or even a newspaper article to convey your ideas and narrative.
You want to ensure that you discuss these things at length with your teacher where possible and pick something that plays to your strengths. Some guidelines to follow are:
- Check your teacher is okay with your chosen form.
- Choose a form that you are comfortable and confident writing in.
- Ensure that you understand the conventions of the form. For example, if writing an article, don’t forget to use headings to develop meaning and mirror the conventions used by newspapers and news sites. If writing a first-person narrative, make sure you focus on their emotions and opinions.
- Make sure that the form is suitable for conveying the complexities of the key idea in the task – in this case, the Australian Dream.
Step 5: Plan the narrative/image/digital text
Before you write, you want to have a rough outline of what you will write about.
You should briefly map out or outline:
- The events or key moments of tension you will focus on
- The characters involved who you must create
- The perspective you will use
- The genre you will use
- The sequence of events you will recount
- Any important stylistic features you want to incorporate
- The symbolism, motifs, or techniques you could use to represent your key idea – ie. the Australian Dream. For example, you might replace Gatsby’s green light with the red Sold banners that are used by realtors to show that they have sold a property. A red sign or slash could be a recurring image or motif in your piece
For example, you might tell a story with a similar arc but address contemporary concerns like the rising cost of home-ownership:
- A young woman moves to a city from the bush or the outback with the hope of earning enough to get by in the city and purchase her own home. She has served for a period in the military and studied at university and is very optimistic about her future after some troubling experiences.
- She struggles to acclimatise to an urban environment and some of the negative values found in contemporary city life. She begins to realise that her dream is financially unviable.
- Perhaps she leaves, or perhaps she realises that there isn’t the opportunity back where she’s from and is left without the choice to return.
Alternatively, you could consider other concerns, for example, immigration, and write about:
- A young family that has fled to Australia from a troubled home state, they dream of settling in Australia and making a life for themselves.
- They struggle and face hardships but work hard. Sometimes they butt up against different or unsavoury cultural values.
- They begin to achieve some of their goals, but at a cost to their own values.
Step 6: Write or create!
When you write you need to make sure to do two main things:
- Clearly, relate the events you are retelling
- Develop the emotional complexity of the characters
To do this you need to have a clear structure and use a few literary techniques. As a Stage 6 student, you will have familiarity with a wide range of literary techniques. Tasks like this require you to apply them in your own writing. You don’t need to be Sylvia Plath or Marlon James, but you do need to make the attempt at using stylistic devices to develop meaning.
For structure, you want to follow the basic 3-act structure:
- Introduce the characters and setting.
- Present the complication from the text.
- Develop a resolution to the issues.
This rough structure will help your readers follow events in your narrative.
When using literary techniques and stylistic devices you need to take a different critical thinking approach. As you write you want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What event or emotion am I trying to represent?
- How can I use a Iiterary device to convey this?
- How will this literary device enable the reader to understand what I am trying to convey?
If you need more help with creative writing you should read Part 8 of this Guide: Creative Writing and the Writing Process.
Step 7: Proof your work / get feedback
After you’ve finished writing, whether, for a take-home assessment or an exam or in-class test, you must reread and edit your work. It always pays to plan your time so that you can revisit the piece and correct any errors or amend what you’ve written.
You can find a step-by-step guide to editing and proofing in Part 7 of this Guide.
Preparing for these sorts of tasks requires practice. The best approach is to write several practice reinterpretations using different perspectives and genres. It is important that you learn what works and doesn’t work for you as a writer.
The other important thing to do now is to get plenty of feedback on your work. Matrix English Students receive regular feedback on their critical and creative writing from their teachers and workshop tutors in both the term and holiday courses.
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