To Reimagine, according to Merriam-Webster, is to imagine again or anew; especially: to form a new conception of. To recreate.
In college, I didn’t major in Writing or English Lit, but because I’d always had an interest in creating stories, I took an Intro to Creative Writing class for fun.
Or at least, I expected it to be fun.
How could I go wrong? Easy A, I figured, after years of English teachers telling me how much they loved my writing.
That was the year I got a glimpse into harsh reality, which as it turns out means a lot more than coming up with fun stories and putting words on paper. Sat in a small, stuffy classroom in The Cathedral of Learning with about fifteen other students, we were led by a grad student. I am pretty sure she hated me. At the very least, she liked giving her red pen a workout on my papers and I blamed it on grad school angst.
Then that crazy teacher started talking about something called “revision”. After returning the short stories we put so much sweat and tears into producing, she expected us to revise them. Fair enough, I thought, and went off to the computer lab to fix my typos, move a couple of awkward sentences around, and print off a fresh copy of my story.
Turns out that wasn’t what my teacher wanted. She explained that revisions are a reimagining of the story.
“What?” I cried in horror. “You want me to write a whole new story?”
Well, yes, kind of. Begin with the story you’ve created but then try to see that story in a different way. Could it be better told from a different character’s point-of-view perhaps? Maybe the action unfolds in a completely different way?
I thought that was pretty much the craziest thing I’d ever heard. After all, I’d already turned in something that was “good enough” and I was eager to move on to the next assignment. Trying to come up with a whole new version of the same old story I’d already told felt like way too much work for an already over-taxed college student.
Darn those grad students and their angst.
For the sake of passing this class, I did that crazy reimagining thing anyway.
Guess what? I liked this new version of my story better than the original.
I suppose there is some merit to going through this exercise, as painful as it may feel at the time. It’s a little more daunting as I sit here staring at a full length novel as opposed to a short story I wrote for class but nonetheless, I’m trying to imagine my whole book in different ways.
A lot of work, for sure, but as long as I end up with a story I love and you love, it’s well worth the time.
Now… back to my revisions and rewrites!
See you Sunday for a snippet of my latest and greatest. Until then…
4 thoughts on “Reimagining”
Interesting idea — but way too much work for a whole novel.
Or maybe not. I have an MS in my desk that I love, though it simply isn’t commercial. What if I rewrote it from the Indian boy’s POV? Hmm.
You’re probably right. I wouldn’t want to start from scratch … unless the story warranted it. You never know! Maybe you should give it a try. 🙂
Your creative writing instructor may have been on to something. Another term for “reimagine” could be “look deeper into”. Even if you end up liking the original better thinking about the story from another perspective will give your story more depth. Thank you for sharing and good luck with your revisions 🙂
I think re-imagining a short story would be a very useful learning exercise in a classroom situation. For a professional author with a novel….not so sure.
That said, several years ago my publisher accepted a manuscript for publication. The content edits they wanted were so extensive, I threw out the whole book and rewrote it from scratch. It was painful. I regretted that they’d accepted the manuscript. I’m not sure if it was better or not.I hated that book by the time I was done with it.