Improving creative writing


140 academically gifted third and fourth grade students in self-contained classes


The subjects were assigned to three groups: imagery training group, writing practice group, and a reading group. All subjects completed a pretest writing sample given the following: seeing a picture of a forest scene, place yourself in the scene and imagine what is happening. Subjects wrote a story based upon the picture and their ideas of what was occurring. The imagery training group participated in five visualization activities. Each activity included a reading passage filled with sensory descriptions including smells and feelings. Sessions 2 and 3 introduced imagery as a strategy for enhancing creativity, utilizing visualization passages. Subjects were asked to close their eyes and form images as passages were read aloud. Group discussion of the images created followed each activity. Sessions 4-6 involved similar guided practice and discussions using researcher-developed passages. Each activity was followed by 25 minutes of creative writing practice. The writing practice group listened and responded to five stories. Both groups participated in the same creative writing activity following the above activities. The reading group engaged in reading and writing activities that did not include creative writing or imagery tasks. A pretest and two posttests were administered to all groups.


Researchers assessed five areas of originality: story structure, novel qualities, emotional tone, unusual response, and style of story. Percentages were calculated by dividing each categoryís obtained score by the number of points possible for the category. Calculations indicated that the imagery group (21%) and the writing group (18%) scored higher than the reading group (14%) across categories and time. They also assessed the use of seven senses (visual, tactile, kinesthetic, olfactory, auditory, gustatory, and organic). Percentages were calculated by dividing each senseís obtained score by the total number of sensory descriptions used. The imagery, writing, and reading groups used visual (37%, 42%, and 45%) and kinesthetic (34%, 28%, and 26%) descriptions most often, but used olfactory (all 1%) and gustatory (0.33%, 1%, and 0%) descriptions least often. All three groups made gains in originality in writing, with the imagery training group significantly outscoring the other two groups. The imagery training group used more sensory descriptions, and wrote more original poetry during the same time period. The imagery training group's writings demonstrated an increase in creativity and independent, divergent thinking.


Jampole, E. S., Mathews, F. N., Konopak, B. C. (1994). Academically gifted students' use of imagery for creative writing. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 28, 1-15.


Susan M. Hubley, ETSU