What is an imaginative composition?
1) It is a piece of creative writing.
2) It is a way of communicating through writing with intent to:
a) Give a clear mental picture to the reader i.e. the reader should be able to perceive in his or
her mind, as clearly as possible, what the writer is communicating. The reader should not ask
such questions as why? What? When? How? The story should answer all these questions by
b) Entertain – apart from convincing, a good piece of writing should be able to entertain as well.
The reader should be able to enjoy the story to its fullest depth such that if it is a happy story
the reader should smile or laugh with the writer, likewise if it is a sad story, the reader should
be able to cry with the writer.
How to Write Great Creative Compositions
a) Choose an Interesting Story
This will depend on the type of story one is given to write on (in an examination situation for
example). Never begin writing if you are not sure of the direction the story will take. Take time
to digest, understand and internalise the given topic or beginning, whatever? Like a doctor,
who first understands a patient by taking the temperature, heartbeat e.t.c: so should a good writer understand the question asked. Do not pick a story if you do not know how it will end.
Many times when writers rush to write their stories, they get midway and do not know how to continue and because they have to achieve length, they end up just putting in words that make no sense to the story, at times they write two or more stories in one.
b) Choose words correctly
The words in a story are very important. Remember fine feathers make fine words, like a house, they are the bricks used, if they are of fine quality, the end product will also be fine. Do not just use any words when writing. Choose the appropriate words that suit the occasion.
For example if the story is about a happy event like a wedding ceremony or a birthday party the words used by the writer should reflect this, the dressing should be neat and beautiful, the food should be good, the weather should be fine and warm. All these end up making the occasion a happy moment you do not want to forget. On the other hand if the event being described is sad for example a funeral then it is important that this comes out even in the way the mourners are described, dark clothes, dull cloudy weather, sobs, mournful wind e.t.c.
A dangerous criminal for example should not be described positively. His bad character should
come out well e.g. with this description.
“… he had bloodshot eyes that appeared alert and dangerous. A mean scar ran the
length of his left cheek, probably a product of gang fights, his hair was unkempt and
his mouth filled with uneven, coffee stained teeth reeked of stale tobacco….
This type of description even before you say what the person has done, tells a lot about
his character. In the coming pages you will get a list of appropriate words relevant for
various occasions or situations.
c) Great Compositions must Flow
A well thought story should be made up of a sequence of events that are related to each other. A sentence must have something to do with the one before or after it. Since sentences make
paragraphs, a paragraph should be a fully developed, convincing group of sentences. The ideas in one paragraph should prepare the reader for the next paragraph such that by the end of the story, what the writer wanted to communicate should be clear and understandable.
Sample these two writers writing about the same things:
Writer one:”… the patient writhed in pain in bed. A doctor observed him keenly. My mother narrated how he had been knocked by a vehicle. The doctor wore a white dustcoat. My brother had been knocked by a vehicle.
Writer two: My brother had been knocked by a vehicle on his way to school. A good
Samaritan rushed him to hospital before calling our house to inform us. When we went to hospital, we were led to his ward by a doctor who was dressed in an angelic-white dustcoat and had a stethoscope dangling from his neck. When we went in, we saw Joel writhing in pain on a hospital bed covered with blue linen. Another doctor stood beside him, observing him keenly….
Writer one and writer two are talking about the same things, an accident victim taken to
hospital. Clearly, it is easier to understand writer two because he/she has sequence i.e.
Who is the patient? What happened to him? HOW did he end up in hospital? What is
happening in hospital? Writer one does not move along with the reader.
Writers should be calculating, patient and be ready to hold the hands of the readers and
ve along with them.
d) Give detail but do not over do it.
A good writer gives all basic necessary detail. A poor writer assumes that the reader knows what he or she wants to talk about and just moves on. An example of a writer who does not give detail is one whose reader will ask questions like why? How? When? Who? What?
Sample these examples:
Writer one: …One evening Peter was reading at his reading table. Suddenly he heard a
knock at his door. He went to the door and opened it. He found his uncle standing at the
Writer two: …. One evening, Peter was reading at his reading table. Suddenly he heard a
knock at the door. He lifted his head from the book and listened again. The knock came
again, he put down the book, pushed back his chair, got up and walked slowly to the door.
He peeped through the peep-hole and saw the face of his uncle. He held the cold door
handle, twisted and opened. His uncle, a wide ear to ear smile plastered on his face, stood at the verandah…
Again the two writers are writing about the same thing but the first one assumes that the examiner or reader will know naturally how Peter would behave in such a situation. The second writer does not assume and provides just the necessary information to enable the reader see how Peter or any other person for that matter would behave naturally. Obviously the second writer will score more marks. This giving of detail though, should not be overdone, very obvious things should not be given too much attention.
e) Be real in order to write well
Unless you have been asked to write science fiction or stories from mars, do not write things that cannot happen. Write things that are possible to human beings. Remember the examiner knows your age and level of experience and does not expect you to write outside that. A pupil once wrote this;
“… the kidnapper took the woman into a dark room. He then shot her dead. After
that he cut her up into small pieces. He put the pieces of flesh into cans which he later sold to children…
Obviously this is outrageous, the language is fine but there are many mistakes. The room in question is dark, so the reader wonders how all these can happen in darkness. More serious of all, who on earth can do such a thing, can human flesh sell to children? This is not real and such fertile imaginations can easily make a good writer loose lots of marks.
Write what can ordinarily happen, even readers or examiners for that matter are humans who walk on this earth.
f) Choose a story that you can handle
It is said that you should only bite what you can chew. To protect yourself from getting stranded midway your story, take time to think of a story from the places, events and experiences, that you are familiar with. Take stories from home, the market or supermarket, the school (library, dining hall, assembly). Pick stories from church, mosque, grandparents homes e.t.c. take stories from your own experiences and you will be home and dry (comfortable) with your writing.
g) Be simple For you to write a good composition:
The use of pompous (big) words does not make you a good writer. Good writing is all about effective communication. One does not have to send the reader to the dictionary many times to show that he or she is a good writer. Sample these two writers:
Writer one: “… the inferno incinerated his domicile to the ground before the firemen were called. ”
Writer two: the raging fire, razed down his house before firemen were called…
These two are writing about the same thing, fire burning a house, but the first one is likely to send the reader to the dictionary with his or her big words. The second one has simple colourful words that communicate effectively and will not be underlined. Simplicity, as they say, is an art
h) Be unique
Many candidates are tempted to read other peoples good stories and produce the same. Some with photographic memories even reproduce particular names of characters. Apart from the sin of reproducing somebody elses work, this is a suppression of ones own mental development. You have put yourself in a situation where you do not think for yourself, you want to use someones ideas.
It is very good to read other peoples work but why? What is the aim?
i) You get to know various styles of writing.
ii) You get to know how people handle various topics.
iii) You enrich yourself in the use of various writing methods and grammatical styles.
To be unique therefore borrow only what is good from various people, add to yours and come up with something that is yours when an examiner marks a composition that he or she had read somewhere, he or she automatically develops a low opinion on the writer.
i) Do not be obvious
There are stories that are obvious from the word go. An experienced reader can see the conclusion
before he reads halfway. This makes the story boring. Surprise the reader with events. When
armed gangsters walk into a bank to rob, many writers will say that they shot people, there was bloodshed before they sped away in a get-away vehicle. A good writer will not think along these obvious lines. The writer can just say they walked in, scared people, robbed and went away without firing a single shot. Definitely the examiner/reader hadn’t expected this.
The art of surprise makes even a movie more thrilling and captivating, if it is obvious one can as well switch off and go to sleep. Take the reader up the hill and down the valley at will, do not put him on a straight, flat, smooth road, he will be bored.
j) Strike the iron while it is still red hot
Many writers do not go straight to answer what they have been asked. An examiner gave candidates the following instructions:
Question: ‘Write about a wedding ceremony that you attended
Two candidates responded as follows:
Candidate one: I woke up one bright Saturday morning in a happy mood. I looked out of the window and the sun was bright. I went to the bathroom after taking my towel. From the bathroom I went and wore my best clothes. Having won my best clothes, I went and took my tantalizing breakfast made up of juice, coffee, toast and sausage.
I waited for my parents and sibling to get dressed. My mother was dressed in a charcoal
green trouser suit, my father was dressed in a black trouser, white shirt with cufflinks and a polka dotted tie, my brother was dressed in a brown trouser and light blue short, my visitor was dressed in a navy blue dress with white buttons. Having satisfied ourselves that were neat, we got into the car and left our compound. ”
Candidate two: we were quite smart when we left the house. My parents and my
sibling were to attend my aunts wedding at St. Pauls Chapel near the University of Nairobi. When we arrived at the church there was already a huge congregation. There was a large banner that graced the entrance of the church. It read Mercy weds Jerry. As we got into the church I noticed that the pews were decorated in pink and blue flowers. We settled at the back and listened to the notes from the piano.
Suddenly we were all asked to stand up as the bride-groom gracefully walked in dressed in a star-spangled flowing white wedding gown. The train was held by the best maid. Flower girls moved in a synchronized way, leading the group ”
The examiner had asked the writers to describe a wedding ceremony that they had attended.
The first writer took a whole two paragraph to describe how they prepared, one wonders where he or she will get the time and space to write about the wedding since that is what the examiner wants to read. If the examiner had asked them to write about how to prepare for a wedding ceremony, the first writer would have perfectly been in order.
The second writer; just in the first four or so sentences has given a lot of important
background information on the wedding i.e. whom they went with, whose wedding it was, where it was, the fact that they were smart and within no time they are in church and the wedding is on. This second candidate is a very good writer and will have all the time to answer the examiners questions description of the wedding.
The first writer wasted a lot of time to answer questions that he was not asked.
Good writers strike the iron white ft is hot.
k) Handwriting Makes or Breaks a Good Composition
Can you imagine two scenes:
i) a highly educated person with a good degree in medicine goes to look for a job as a
doctor in a big hospital. On the day of the interview, he appears dressed in a buttonless
coat, tom shoes, unkempt hair and bloodshot eyes.
ii) Another person who wants the same job but got a degree of far less quality than the first one. On the day of the interview, he appears with his weak papers but he is dressed in a neatly pressed suit and shirt, well polished shoes and tidy well combed hair, he looks quite cheerful with a bright, warm smile.
Who of the two is likely to impress the interviewer? By all logic, it is the second person with an inferior degree. First impression gives a permanent opinion to the person who sees you for the first time, it should be the best On that note, markers are also human beings; if one writer presents handwritings that look like the first doctor, however rich and entertaining the story is, the examiner already has a bad impression in his or her mind and this translates into bad marks. The second writer, like the second doctor can walk away with so many mistakes in his or her story because the reader has already been cheated by impression and is likely to score better marks. Pupils must work very hard to have impressive, tidy work with proportional paragraphs.
The length of a composition at this level should be at least two pages and quarter.
A short story gives a bad impression to the examiner. It reflects inadequacy in language,
thought and ideas. The forty minutes given allows a good candidate to write the required length and go over the story once or twice to make corrections. A composition that goes beyond this length i.e. three pages or more cannot be a winner because this time (40 minutes) does not allow this and again a candidate is likely to bore the examiner or repeat himself or herself.
m) Correct English
At the end of the day even if a candidate meets all the above, he or she has to avoid grammatical errors. Mistakes in tense, spellings, punctuations and other aspects of grammar are a big hindrance to all the above. Good writers must be extremely careful.
The language used in a story should not be vulgar or obscene. Polite language that does not put across a reader as gentle in manners is necessary for a good writer. Dirty language gives a negative impression of a writer.