Nothing I can say about the value of reading fiction for developing imagination and creativity hasn’t been said already. Reading is never passive. So much happens inside one’s mind when reading fiction, consciously and unconsciously.
This issue is an invitation to experience books differently and use them as a creative playground even more than usual.
I love the cover art of books. Sometimes, the cover art is the reason I pick a book in the first place. A well-designed cover art doesn’t just capture your attention — it captures the essence of the story or at least some aspect of it. It is a visual interpretation of the story, but it is only one possible interpretation.
Let’s create a different visual interpretation to go on the cover. Pick a book you have read recently, and create an alternative cover art. You can create a photograph, a drawing, a collage, or even a sculpture — any visual work that captures a key aspect of the book. Think of the story’s atmosphere or the nature of one of the characters. Consider how the story made you feel or what left a residue.
The quality of your creation is not important, so don’t worry if you are not experienced in any visual medium. The point of this experience is to process the story, reflect on it, and take it a step further using your imagination.
A Different Ending
Imagining a different ending to a story might seem strange. It is not our creation to mess with. In some sense, it can ruin the experience of reading. But as a creative workout, it’s actually fun and effective. We are not trying to compete with the actual ending of the story. We are just using the story as a setup for a creative exercise.
Pick a book you read a while ago. You don’t need to recall the details, but make sure you remember the characters and the plot in general terms. Now, pick a point in the plot close to the end of the book, and imagine a different path it could take. Write the new ending. Try to maintain the spirit of the text while taking it to a different destination.
Let’s take our imagination even further and spice up the story with a new character. Well, not entirely new.
Pick a fiction book you’ve read recently. Make sure you remember the story and some of the characters. Now, pick a character from a different novel and imagine how it could affect the plot had somebody dropped them in the middle of the story.
Write a couple of interesting, strange, or funny interactions between the guest character and the story’s original characters. Consider how the new character can blend in naturally (as much as possible).