Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (2022)

Creative writing is writing that takes an imaginative, embellished, or outside-the-box approach to its subject matter. This is in contrast to academic, technical, or news writing, which is typically dry and factual. Most people associate creative writing with fiction and poetry, but creative nonfiction should not be forgotten or underestimated, as it’s an important and wide-ranging kind of writing.

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know Click to tweet!

We’ll be covering everything to do with creative writing in the rest of this series — but this post will focus on helping you understand and identify it. Many will say that they’ll know it when they see it, but there are some more forensic ways to decide whether something would be considered creative writing. Looking at its form, for example, is usually a strong indicator, but a focus on storytelling elements like narrative, perspective, and character can also suggest that something falls under the ‘creative’ umbrella.

What forms can creative writing take?

Given the fact that creative writing is often of an experimental and innovative nature, it’s no surprise that it takes a number of different forms. Let’s differentiate between the key manifestations of this kind of writing.

Poetry

From haikus and sonnets to sestinas, elegies, and villanelles, poetry is one of the most multifaceted forms of creative writing. Writers of verse have the freedom to experiment with less rigid forms like prose poetry or free verse, but many poets also work within structured traditions that make specific demands in terms of rhyme, rhythm, and subject matter. Poetry, in case you were wondering, is the form that’s most likely to break punctuation rules or be formatted in unique ways, as in the case of blackout poetry.

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (2)

The key thing to remember with poetry is that there are really no rules.

Short fiction

With literary magazines growing immensely popular in the 19th century, short stories entered the mainstream. While it’s widely accepted that short stories should run under 7,000 words, even shorter stories (classified as flash fiction and microfiction) emphasize the brevity of this narrative form even more, by telling stories in as few words as possible. All falling under the umbrella term of ‘short fiction,’ these types of stories are all about compressing and distilling narrative intensity.

(Video) How to write descriptively - Nalo Hopkinson

Novels

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (3)

Perhaps the primary thing people associate with “creative writing”, the novel is an ever-popular form that relies on following a narrative arc using prose — and it also happens to have the most commercial power. Novellas and the even cuter-sounding novelettes are short and even shorter novels, the word count and narrative scope of which differentiate them from short stories. If you need an example of each, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is a full-length novel, Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome a novella, and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men a novelette.

Plays and screenplays

Consisting entirely of dialogue and stage directions, scriptwriting is a type of creative writing that relies heavily on subtext. In other words, everything that isn’t said by the characters, the gaps that emerge between the things they explicitly say. More than that, this type of writing isn’t intended for a readers but for other storytellers (directors, actors, designers, etc) to use and interpret in their own creative work. Famous examples include Angels in America by Tony Kushner and Fleabag by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Comics, graphic novels, and graphic narratives

Combining illustrations or visuals with text, these visual modes of storytelling also depend heavily on dialogue to build convincing characters, though unlike scripts, descriptive narration is not off-limits here. From superheroes like Batman to YA romance like Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper series, this category contains a huge variety of illustration styles and narratives.

💡Does this sound like something you’d like to try? Check out our guides to writing a graphic novel and making a comic book, and give it a go!

(Video) How To Teach Yourself Creative Writing

Personal essays

Thoughtful, reflective pieces of writing that often follow a narrative arc, personal essays explore a person’s thoughts and feelings on a personal matter. Rather than simply chronicling the writer’s experiences, these essays typically use an artifact, book, or news development as a jumping off point from which to widen the scope of their story. These essays can also include travel and food writing, as well as think pieces that rely heavily on a personal perspective.

📚 Check out our list of creative writing examples for some of our favorite personal essays.

Humor writing

Aside from casually existing within other types of creative writing, humor can also be considered as its own type of creative writing type. Much alike to online meme-making or old-school political cartoons in spirit, humor writing satirizes and lampoons to make the reader think differently about political structures, current events, and human behavior, with its primary goal being laughter. These days, this kind of writing tends to congregate in humor websites or the humor sections of popular magazines like The New Yorker’s ‘Daily Humor’

More

There’s really no limit to the kind of writing you can approach creatively, so there’s always potential for new forms of creative writing. Almost anything that you write that isn’t a down-the-line report of facts is creative writing. That wedding speech? Creative writing. That song you wrote for your third-grade crush? Yes. That expletive-filled Twitter thread about the latest Marvel trailer? Congratulations, you’re a creative writer.

How do you know it’s creative writing?

Five fundamental elements are the clearest way to distinguish between well-written non-creative writing and creative writing. You can write about the same subject matter in a different way, but creative writers will use poetic license and storytelling tools to bring a story to life.

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (4)

1. It’s told from a specific point of view

Point of view humanizes a narrative by offering personal insights and perspectives. Unlike news reporting, which aims to be impartial and objective, creative writing leans into the fact that each writer has a unique personality, and uses this to its advantage. From using first person and owning your ‘I’ to express your feelings or experiences, to dramatizing the gaps of communication between characters in a fictional piece, contrasting viewpoints make a work ever more immersive, vivid, and inherently interesting to read.

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (5)

(Video) Creative Writing 101 - Here's My Trick!

Need an example? Take Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and contrast it with news accounts of the same murder. Capote’s book gives the reader a closer perspective of the killers, making an effort to understand them, whereas news reports simply list the facts in chronological order.

2. Its narrative structure is designed to engage readers

Fiction and nonfiction share an important unifying core: that of narrative structure. Both use the principles of storytelling to express events, realizations, or complicated plots and subplots. Regardless of what happens in each narrative, the opening, ending, and rising action sections of a piece of writing need to be tightly structured for cohesion and coherence.

A personal essay that does this well is Lilly Dancyger’s essay “Don’t Use My Family For Your True Crime Stories''. Instead of a chronological retelling of her cousin’s murder and her own subsequent grief and aversion to true crime writing, Dancyger opens by introducing the fact of the murder, then briefly visits the present to explain her current feelings, before returning to the past to narrate how she and her family heard of Sabina’s murder. This structure allows the reader to empathize by mirroring the shock of death: being taken by surprise is followed by a need for facts and explanations.

Free course: Mastering the 3-Act Structure

Learn the essential elements of story structure with this online course. Get started now.

3. Tension is used to make readers feel invested

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (6)

Whether the tension arises from an impending realization or comes in the form of suspense as the perpetrator of a crime is about to be revealed, the existence of tension means that a writer has managed to write something where the stakes are high, and the reader feels emotionally or intellectually invested. The Serial podcast, for example, does this particularly well, as it tells a true story in a serialized form with cliffhangers and a central mystery.

(Video) Creative Writing 101

4. A central theme is used to organize the narrative

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Know (7)

Life, it must be said, is not quite as neat as literary theme analysis will have you think. Writing, however, tends to operate as an opportunity for thoughts, feelings, and events to be organized into information the reader can process. Because of this process of organizing thought, certain central themes appear in each work. In a memoir, for example, that might be the lessons someone has learned, or the principle they believe best represents their experiences. To give you an example, Michelle Obama’s aptly named Becoming keeps returning to the same conclusion after reviewing each of her experiences: that you, too, can become whatever you want, despite adversity. In this case, the story’s recurring themes are hope, growth, and perseverance in the face of discouragement. Unlike the dry Wikipedia page giving Michelle Obama’s biography, Becoming is a compelling piece of creative writing that tells a cohesive story by focusing on this central theme.

5. Literary devices are used freely

Imagine reading the newspaper and encountering a report of an accident that begins with this sentence:

“The sun had just begun to awaken, emerging sleepily from the shadowy depths behind the skyscrapers and casting a pale yellow light onto the street when Yamada Kumiko had a terrible accident.”

That’s a tad too poetic for a newspaper article, isn’t it? Aside from being tragically insensitive given the accident context, the reason this sentence feels so wrong is that it uses figurative language in a way that is not common for factual journalism. That’s because literary devices (and some rhetorical devices, too) are generally reserved for work considered to be creative writing, instead. Otherwise, it might feel a little bit like the writer is showing off in the wrong context — if your washing machine troubleshooting guide is all ornate turns of prose, something’s gone wrong (and your machine is likely to stay broken).

We hope this guide has armed you with the questions you need to ask if you’re ever unsure about whether something is considered to be ‘creative writing’ — why not turn your attention to trying creative writing yourself next? May your writing flow not like a faucet, but a waterfall: abundant, uninhibited, and breathtaking to all who behold it.

In the next post in this series, we'll be taking a look at 7 ways in which you can start creative writing yourself. Time to have some fun!

FAQs

What are the basics of creative writing? ›

While there's no exact science to creative writing, the following tips will help you get started:
  • 1 Write about what you know. ...
  • 2 Write about what you don't know. ...
  • 3 Read widely and well. ...
  • 4 Hook your readers. ...
  • 5 Get your characters talking. ...
  • 6 Show rather than tell. ...
  • 7 Get it right first time. ...
  • 8 Keep polishing.

What are the 5 elements of creative writing? ›

Today, let's look at the five basic elements of any story you might write.
...
Five Elements of Story
  • Character. ...
  • Setting. ...
  • Plot. ...
  • Conflict. ...
  • Resolution.
Feb 11, 2020

How can I teach myself creative writing? ›

How To Teach Yourself Creative Writing - YouTube

What every story needs? ›

There are five key elements to every story: plot, setting, characters, point of view, and conflict.

What isn't creative writing? ›

Any type of writing that is very formal, precise and reliant upon facts isn't considered creative writing. Forms of writing that are not considered creative writing include: academic writing. journalism.

Why is creative writing so hard? ›

The first stages of writing are usually the most challenging because the basic elements of the story are created, which requires no imagination but rather information recollection. People generally do not like this stage, because it is hard to create something out of nothing.

What are the 4 forms of creative writing? ›

The four forms of creative writing are fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and scriptwriting which is sometimes called screenwriting or play writing. Creative nonfiction can take several forms such as memoir and personal essay.

How do you structure a story? ›

Organize your narrative into a three act structure.

Divide your story into exposition and an inciting incident in the first act, a rising action leading to a climax in the second act, and a climax de-escalating into resolution in the final act.

What makes a story interesting? ›

The best story is a well-told tale about something the reader feels is relevant or significant. The best stories are more complete and more comprehensive. They contain more verified information from more sources with more viewpoints and expertise. They exhibit more enterprise, more reportorial effort.

How do you plot a story? ›

10 Tips for Plotting Your Novel: Step-by-Step Guide
  1. Generate ideas. ...
  2. Start with a simple, compelling premise. ...
  3. Have a clear central conflict. ...
  4. Choose your structure. ...
  5. Trace out general story arcs. ...
  6. Build subplots. ...
  7. Think about cause and effect. ...
  8. Write a detailed outline.
Jun 7, 2021

Where do I start as a writer? ›

How to Become a Writer: 7 Practical Steps
  • Create a solid writing routine.
  • Leverage tools to improve your output.
  • Take classes to pick up credentials.
  • Seek opportunities to publish your work.
  • Create a strong portfolio.
  • Apply for writing grants.
  • Collaborate with professional editors.
May 2, 2022

How do you start a creative writing example? ›

So make sure you begin in a way that makes them want to with our tips. Pose a question; introduce a character; set a scene; lure them in with enticing prose; lay a clue to the direction the novel is going to take; plant the seeds of an idea; create a dramatic impression; give them a taste of action.

What are the 7 literary elements and their meaning? ›

A literary element refers to components of a literary work (character, setting, plot, theme, frame, exposition, ending/denouement, motif, titling, narrative point-‐of-‐view). These are technical terms for the “what” of a work.

What are the elements of writing? ›

The following section will discuss four elements of the writing process: Planning.
...
Writing
  • Combining planned ideas with new thoughts.
  • Remembering the purpose of the paper.
  • Using appropriate grammar rules.
  • Considering the intended audience.

What are the 4 parts of creative writing? ›

The four elements necessary for your story structure are character, plot, setting, and tension. Balancing these elements is the first step to making your creative writing amazing.

Creative writing: You can take classes in it, you can earn a degree in it, but the only things you really need to…

Creative writing: You can take classes in it, you can earn a degree in it, but the only things you really need to do it are your creative thinking and writing tools.. It’s artistic expression in words; it’s writing without the constraints that come with other kinds of writing like persuasive or expository.. Creative writing is writing meant to evoke emotion in a reader by communicating a theme.. Creative writing doesn’t have to be fictional, either.. Dramatized presentations of true stories, memoirs, and observational humor pieces are all types of creative writing.. This blog post, for example, is not a piece of creative writing as it aims to inform, but a blog post that walks its reader through a first-person narrative of an event could be deemed creative writing.. But scriptwriters have more than just dialogue to work with; writing a play or script also involves writing stage or scene directions.. Creative nonfiction covers all the kinds of creative writing that aren’t fiction.. Humor writing: Humor writing comes in many forms, like standup comedy routines, political cartoons, and humorous essays.. Lyric essays: In a lyric essay, the writer breaks conventional grammar and stylistic rules when writing about a concept, event, place, or feeling.. Once you know which kinds of writing you struggle with, do those kinds of writing.. Challenge yourself to write in a different genre or try a completely new type of writing.. Grammarly can’t help you be more creative, but we can help you hone your writing so your creativity shines as brightly as possible.

What is Creative Writing? If we go by definition then creative writing is any form of writing which goes out of bounds of academic, journalistic, professional or technical forms of writing. But creative writing is much more than that. More often than not, people use creative writing as a medium to express one’s thoughts and […]

If we go by definition then creative writing is any form of writing which goes out of bounds of academic, journalistic, professional or technical forms of writing.. Contrary to what people may think, creative writing is not something that comes easily to everyone, it requires basic writing skills and understanding different types of writing styles.. Travel Writing – Also known as travel literature, travel writing crafts articles or essays about travel and experiences related to it.. Food Writing – When you write stories about food and exquisite cuisines.. Desire to Write – The most important and the most basic quality in any writer is the desire to write.. So if you love to write, you’ll be a good creative writer Crazy Imagination – The title “Creative Writer” says it all.. In order to become good at any form of creative writing, you’ll need to have a vivid imagination and the will to explore your creativity.. Good Vocabulary – Creative writing is about entertaining your readers through the medium of words and it goes without saying, you will need to learn a lot of them and use them wisely in order to be a good one Love for Reading – If you had the opportunity to spend some time with any writer, you will know that they love talking about books.. When you read what others have done, it improves your writing skills and makes you better at creative writing.. Write for yourself: If you try to write for others, you will be stuck in a loop because your focus would be the audience and not your writing piece.. If you are running out of ideas on what to write, take help from creative prompts available online and write your piece.

If you’re uncertain about how to start creative writing, the key is to start small. The good news is, we’ve compiled a list of approaches to try out to fast-track your writing journey!

Take five and write anything.. If you’re struggling with a certain part of creative writing, try out a writing exercise with that element as its focus.. If your number-one writing obstacle is a lack of ideas, then meet your new best friend: this directory of 1000+ creative writing prompts .. Writing contests are another fantastic way to dive into creative writing, especially if you sometimes need a kick in the pants to get to work (no judgment — we’ve all been there!. Or if you’re looking for writing contests in a specific genre or medium, take a peek at our directory of writing contests which features some of the most prestigious open writing competitions in the world.. For a more structured, dedicated approach to creative writing, you can’t go wrong with a writing class.. ‘Writing a book’ doesn’t mean you have to write a novel — you could also write a book of creative nonfiction (e.g. personal essays) or assemble a poetry collection.. Don’t overthink it, or spend ages obsessing over tips and books on writing if you don’t find them helpful: sometimes, rather than agonizing over how to start creative writing, you should just start writing.

Just ask a friend what is the role of prepositions within sentences, or what are the four moods of verbs, and I am sure that you will see a puzzled look on his

That is, they can act as nouns, adjectives, adverbs and so on.. Nouns usually function as subjects or objects within sentences, although they can also act as adjectives and adverbs.. These pronouns act as the object of verbs within sentences.. Adjectives An adjective is a word that describes a noun.. The verbs that can be completed by predicate adjective s are called being verbs or copulative verbs .. They include all the forms of to be and sensing verbs like seem, feel , and taste .. Verbs Voice English verbs are said to have two voices: active and passive.. A passive verb in either present or past tense will always have two parts: some form of the verb to be ( am, is, are, was, were ), and a past participle (verb form ending in -ed, -en, or any form used with have when forming a perfect tense).. Verbs said to be in the infinitive mood can include participle forms ending in -ed and -ing.. Verbs in the infinitive mood are not being used as verbs, but as other parts of speech:

Videos

1. The Business of Quilt Pattern Design
(Elizabeth Chappell)
2. Intro to Creative Writing
(Kaitlin Hillerich)
3. 7 Creative Writing Exercises For Beginners - Better Descriptive Writing
(Entivate)
4. Creative Writing 101 with Sandhya
(Writing with Sandhya)
5. Creative Writing - 4 Easy Steps An Essay Writer Must Know!
(SinglishToEnglish)
6. Creative Writing 101 Ep.2 - Poetry: Its Elements and Literary Techniques and Devices
(Sir Enjay and Ma'am Maica's Corner)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Trent Wehner

Last Updated: 09/16/2022

Views: 6417

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Trent Wehner

Birthday: 1993-03-14

Address: 872 Kevin Squares, New Codyville, AK 01785-0416

Phone: +18698800304764

Job: Senior Farming Developer

Hobby: Paintball, Calligraphy, Hunting, Flying disc, Lapidary, Rafting, Inline skating

Introduction: My name is Trent Wehner, I am a talented, brainy, zealous, light, funny, gleaming, attractive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.