Literature-Based Creative Writing: Responses, Fanfiction & More

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  • 0:01 Reading Literature
  • 1:04 Creative Responses to…
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

Literature helps us learn about the world. There are many ways to respond to literature, beyond coming up with a plot summary. In this lesson, learn about some of the ways you can creatively respond to literature.

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?

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