Story Building with Imagination

In the words of Aristotle, "happiness is self contentedness helping to make children deeply and quietly glad that they are who they are, and gives them a priceless legacy: the strength to meet life's stresses and the courage to become committed, responsible, productive, creative, and fully human adults... Helping a child is the greatest gift you can give in the language of the human heart. It spells love in the most profound way."

Elements of Storybuilding



There is something that belongs to you and nobody else - something that you can always keep a secret. There is something so special that it is priceless, and yet it costs you nothing. This is something that can never be taken away from you, but is yours to share with as many people as you choose. This is something you can keep for a lifetime and use anytime. Do you know what it is? Do you give up? This is your imagination.

What does your imagination look like? Where is your imagination? Close your eyes, and try to see it - try to feel it. It's alive - and yes, it's active. Has anyone ever commented on your active mind? No? Yes? Well, it's natural for you to have an active mind. The thoughts that keep your mind active are important because like your imagination, they are your very own. In fact, they run straight from your mind to your imagination, and keep on running around once they team up with your memory. Your memory spends a lot of time with your imagination. Mind, memory, and imagination form important triangles that make even everyday happenings worth writing about.

Remember today, did you make you bed? Did you walk to school? Did you ride your bike? Did you do your homework? Did you watch TV?

I can't hear you, but I am going to imagine you can remember making your bed. You continue remembering whatever it is you choose. Follow my example, and answer my questions with your own information.

How did you feel? (When I made my bed, I felt angry)

Why did you feel that way? (I was late for ball practice)

What did you hear? (My mom was waking up my little brother)

What did you smell? (Breakfast cooking - I was too late to eat)

Close your eyes, and remember your very own experiences.


Recite your answers aloud. Listen, when you remember, it will be your imagination reciting to you inside your head. If you don't hear anything, that's okay, I'll bet you can see pictures - describe them out loud. Recite the description to yourself or your helper.

"I'm making my bed. Yeah, yeah, and I see something - look, there's something there. I can hear voices and I smell something and I'm feeling angry - I'm late, and I'm hungry."

Be patient, just muter out what ever your imagination brings into your mind.


If you don't like to write, don't go away; just ask someone to write down, or record you thoughts for you. Get them down on paper - record those memories, or even record them into a tape recorder, if that's what you prefer.

When you've finished, you will have built a beginning to a story! Hmmmmm! Now I have to use my imagination to pretend I'm you because I want you to see just how this works.

If I write something like you did, don't say I copied! If I'm extremely different, you can laugh. If you read what I've written, or ask your helper to read it out to you, you'll see the kind of paragraph I am asking you to remember recite and record.

Here goes:

"Today, I made my bed. I was feeling angry, because I was late. I saw the baseball glove I thought I'd lost, and heard my mother calling my brother. I smelled bacon - my favourite, but I wouldn't have time to eat. Baseball practice was in ten minutes. At least I'd found my glove."

Is yours like that? I can't believe that it is, because your memories are special, unique and different. But I'm sure your paragraph is very interesting.

Special? Interesting: Sure it is! This paragraph of yours is a wonderful beginning for a story. So, what's next? Well, this is where the magic really begins, because you are moving away from your memory into imagination. Do you remember where your imagination is? When you find it, ask it a question. "Imagination, what if?"

Here's what my imagination might say to me about my example.

What if, while you were making your bed, there was an earthquake!

What if you fell downstairs!

What if your little brother ripped your bed apart!

What if an alien landed in your window!

You thought of own "what if", didn't you? Of course you did, because your imagination is your very own. Well, you can recite till it sounds okay, and then record what is going to be your second paragraph now - just you, your imagination and your helper if you have one.

How exciting it would be to read this new story aloud to family, friends or teachers - to an audience. Exiting? About making a bed? Did I hear you ask me if I were serious?

Yes, of course, I am. It's up to you if you feel comfortable, but I bet this good story of yours will have a great ending. How do you build that ending, anyway? Ask your imagination to suggest something. Recite it aloud, and then record it so you don't forget. Here are some examples for my story.

It was all a dream and you wake up - you're not really late?

You have to teach an alien race how to play baseball?

Your mother insists that your little brother has to make you bed for a week to make up to you?

Well, it's your story, and because it comes from your very own memories and imagination, it's yours and extra special. We've built an exciting story together - you, me, and your imagination. It's a good story with a beginning, middle and end. There is some excitement - and it's based on a real memory.


We've decided that you have built an excellent story. But how do you know it's well built?

Good story builders build until they run out of ideas, and stop as certainly as if they've seen a red light. That's what you did. When the building stops is the time to check if it is as well-built as it can possible be. Checking and fixing is the part of story building called rewriting.

Pick up that story you've just built.Read that good story out loud to yourself or ask you helper to read it back. Read it proudly with a lot of expression.

Do you understand what you've recorded? Is it clear? In my example, if I said there was a moon shining through my bedroom window, but it's almost time for baseball practice, that's confusing for my audience.

Audience, yes, it's time to imagine you have an audience who cannot see into your imagination the same you can. Have you brought out all those good ideas and recorded them just so that audience can understand what you are saying?

If there's something confusing - rebuild, rewrite it, or ask you helper to rewrite.

Another example from my story is that I might have said "he" ripped my newly-made bed apart.

Who's he? Asks my imaginary audience. My little brother, or course, I answer. You didn't say so though, the audience complains. That's confusing!

It's time to rewrite, - fix it up.

Good writing is clear writing. Is you helper writing for you? That's wonderful! You can tell your helper words to record as clearly as if you were writing them yourself.

Did you know that many authors dictate stories into a tape recorder? Sometimes somebody else types them out to help. The stories always belong to the person who imagined them - who build them.

Imagine - even if you do not like writing, or reading, you can be a powerful story builder!

Did you use a lot of words in one sentence, so that when you or your helper reads aloud, the tongue trips, your imaginary audience is confused and bored?

Like this: "The baseball glove that I had lost was under the bed. I reached under the bed and pulled out the baseball glove that I had lost. I was very very happy that I had found the baseball glove that I had lost.

Don't worry. It only takes magic tricks to fix it up and rewrite. Magic - you don't have to really know the rules, you just make things sound right. Now, listen:

"My lost baseball glove! It was under the bed. I reached and pulled it out. Finding that glove made me so happy!"

Doesn't that sound like something you would say if you were talking out loud? It doesn't have to be different when you record it. Just imagine yourself telling the story out loud - yes, there's that imagination again.

Everything you do everyday can build a story with the help of your imagination.

Any story can be a good story. Any good story can be well written. Like riding a bike, swimming, or playing a sport, the more practice you give yourself, the better you'll become. Yes, I will tell you that building a story can be as much fun as playing, swimming, or riding a bike.

You have the secret power of your imagination that you can switch on anytime - even when you are alone, even when it's stormy outside.

For more information on Story Building with Imagination and the Imagination Series visit Designs by Debbie at Here you will be able to see some of the artwork that was designed for the books in The Imagination Series.

Copyright © 2005, Debbie Long

Debbie Long is a writer/illustrator and founding member of 'The Muse Program', a literacy program for children. Debbie has spent many years writing curriculum for The Muse Program based on the Board of Educations curriculum units. She has currently published her first children's book, in the Imagination Series, 'Short Stories with Imagination. The second, 'Story Building with Imagination' is due to be released July 2005.

For more details visit

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