Creative Primer

What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer’s Toolbox

Brooks Manley

Not all writing is the same and there’s a type of writing that has the ability to transport, teach, and inspire others like no other.

Creative writing stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination. Here’s how to get started and grow as you explore the broad and beautiful world of creative writing!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as:

  • short stories
  • screenplays

It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way . It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

5 Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing your creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share your perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces .

For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , you must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques.

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.


Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing.

If you’re interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you.

For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits – let’s take a closer look.

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages you to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This leads to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview , both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively .

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as you often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This leads to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings , allowing you to express yourself in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping you process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into your own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery , helping you to understand yourself and the world around you better.

So, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

4 Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start creative writing .

1. Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Editor’s Note : When something excites or interests you, stop and take note – it could be the inspiration for your next creative writing piece.

2. Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining:

  • the main points

Remember, this can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process. A plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

3. Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper . You can always refine and polish your work later. And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

4. Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling . You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice . Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Read Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques . Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practice Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice . Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attend Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like .

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing .

Start Creative Writing Today!

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

definition of creative writing according to authors

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

Here’s my favorite journal for 2024: 

the five minute journal

Gratitude Journal Prompts Mindfulness Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Anxiety Reflective Journal Prompts Healing Journal Prompts Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Journal Prompts Mental Health Journal Prompts ASMR Journal Prompts Manifestation Journal Prompts Self-Care Journal Prompts Morning Journal Prompts Evening Journal Prompts Self-Improvement Journal Prompts Creative Writing Journal Prompts Dream Journal Prompts Relationship Journal Prompts "What If" Journal Prompts New Year Journal Prompts Shadow Work Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Overcoming Fear Journal Prompts for Dealing with Loss Journal Prompts for Discerning and Decision Making Travel Journal Prompts Fun Journal Prompts

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What Is Creative Writing? Types, Techniques, and Tips

by Kaelyn Barron | 5 comments

definition of creative writing according to authors

Even if you’re not a big reader of fiction, you’ve more than likely encountered creative writing—or at least, the outcomes of creative writing—at some point. In fact, you can thank creative writing for your favorite films, songs, musicals, and much more.

But what exactly makes writing “creative?”

Simply put, creative writing is any writing that falls outside of technical, journalistic, or academic writing.

You can think of it as classic storytelling. It can be written with a number of intentions: to entertain us, comfort us, or teach us a lesson; most importantly, good creative writing speaks to our shared human experience. It shouldn’t just tell us something—it should make us feel something new.

Creative Writing: An Overview

We’re all familiar with school-required “creative writing exercises.” Maybe you had a traumatizing experience when your eighth grade teacher forced you to write a story and read it aloud for the class (no? just me?).

Or maybe you think creative writing is reserved for the artsy free spirits who churn out novels in coffee shops or on sunny farms in Tuscany.

In reality, creative writing is much more than something for your great aunt to scoff at when discussing your major at Thanksgiving dinner.

In this post, we’ll break down creative writing and explain everything you need to know, including:

• Types and examples • Techniques • Who should practice creative writing? • Creative writing exercises to get started

Types of Creative Writing

Examples of creative writing can be found pretty much everywhere. Some forms that you’re probably familiar with and already enjoy include:

• Fiction (of every genre, from sci-fi to historical dramas to romances ) • Film and television scripts • Songs • Poetry • Plays • Vignettes

But creative writing doesn’t have to be limited to fictitious content. It can also include:

• Personal essays • Memoirs • Journals and diaries • Letters

As we can see from this list, some works of nonfiction can also constitute creative writing. After all, many books and films tell stories of real people and real events.

Take, for example, the 2010 film The King’s Speech . The film tells the story of real people and real events, but the script can be considered creative writing as much as the script for Jurassic Park, because it charges historical events with emotion and makes the audience feel invested in the characters.

Writing about your own life is no different. Journals and diaries—when they contain personal thoughts, experiences, or emotions—can also constitute creative writing. Even letters can be included, when they do more than stating facts (not just “today I went to the store” or “today it rained.”)

Creative writing doesn’t require you to make up names or inject unicorns into your manuscript. It just requires a bit of storytelling through more imaginative techniques.

Techniques Used in Creative Writing

You’ll want to make your story one that resonates with people, since creative writing is ultimately telling stories about the human experience. To achieve this, you can apply some of these techniques and literary devices:

Including conversations between characters can help bring them to life, while also moving the plot along without relying solely on the narrator.

This was a favorite technique of Ernest Hemingway. Famous for his simple, straightforward style, he let his characters do most of the talking, which also helped to make them more accessible and relatable.

One great example of character development through dialogue can be found in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice :

“A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”

“How so? How can it affect them?”

“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”

“Is that his design in settling here?”

“Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may  fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.”

Without Austen telling us anything directly, we as readers can get a feel for Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, their relationship, and what they each prioritize.

Good dialogue should sound realistic, but also carry a purpose so that the story can progress in a natural way.

Metaphors and similes

Alternatively, writers can choose to pack their prose with imaginative language, offering the reader vivid descriptions to evoke emotion. This is typical in many forms of creative writing, and it is often achieved through literary devices, like similes and metaphors.

For example, in “A Red, Red Rose,” Robert Burns writes:

“O my Love is like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O my Love is like the melody That’s sweetly played in tune.”

Similes create images for the reader by using comparisons, rather than simple adjectives. (What kind of poem would the example above be if Burns just told us his love is “beautiful”?)

While similes can help us to imagine a scene more vividly, they can also be open to interpretation. Because similes rely on association, one word might carry different connotations for different readers (this may very well be the author’s intention).

Metaphors, instead, draw parallels and can take up a few lines, like this famous excerpt from Romeo and Juliet :

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!”

Or sometimes, metaphors can be recurring elements in a text, like in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist , where the desert setting serves as a metaphor for life itself.

Good metaphors can serve as a shortcut to understanding a text because they can convey something complex in terms that are more concise, yet universal. For this reason, metaphors can add extra depth to your story.

Point of view

Deciding which point of view you want to tell your story from is an essential step because it will determine the story’s voice.

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby , for example, is written in the first-person limited perspective—but imagine how different the story would be if Daisy were narrating instead of Nick! Changing the point of view can change the entire story.

Anecdotes are like small stories within the big story. When used in creative writing, they offer readers a chance to learn more about a character without simply stating it directly. They can be used to evoke empathy, to entertain, to teach a lesson, or simply to reveal other dimensions of a character.

We can turn to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for one such example:

“Justine, you may remember, was a great favorite of yours; and I recollect you once remarked, that if you were in an ill-humor, one glance from Justine could dissipate it, for the same reason that Ariosto gives concerning the beauty of Angelica—she looked so frank-hearted and happy. My aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which she was induced to give her an education superior to that which she had first intended.”

This anecdote, delivered by Elizabeth to Victor Frankenstein, provides background for Justine’s character and reveals the history between the characters’ families. By testifying to Justine’s “frank-hearted and happy” nature, readers are led to sympathize with the character even more, especially in light of her tragic fate (she confesses to a crime she did not commit and is promptly executed).

Making proper use of the right techniques can make any writing better, but it’s especially important in creative writing if you want a well-developed story that resonates with readers and doesn’t feel forced.

Who Should Practice Creative Writing?

Now that we’ve gone over what exactly creative writing is and the techniques used to compose it, you might be wondering what exactly you can do with this information.

Because creative writing isn’t just for English majors and best-selling authors. We all have stories to tell, and even if you never show your work to anyone, practicing creative writing can be beneficial to just about everyone.

Aside from proven therapeutic benefits , creative writing exercises can help to:

Build your imagination and creativity: By stimulating the parts of your brain responsible for creativity, you’ll train your mind to think “outside the box” to find new, innovative solutions.

Organize your thoughts: Developing a plot requires the ability to think logically, since you’ll want to make the underlying point clear. This kind of thinking can of course be helpful in the workplace and many other parts of your life.

Grow your confidence: Putting your thoughts down on paper takes guts. Expressing yourself through writing and seeing your ideas translated to words can help build self-confidence.

Improve your communication skills : By refining your writing skills, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively, both in speech and on paper.

Give your mind a break: Like reading, creative writing offers the perfect escape from everyday life. You’re in complete control of everything that happens, so let yourself go and see the wonderful things your mind builds when you set it free.

How Can You Get Started?

If you’re new to creative writing, there are a number of ways to get started. Keeping a diary to write down your thoughts and ideas can be extremely helpful. Or, check out our many great writing prompts to get your creativity flowing!

What do you love to write about? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

  • 70 Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You to Write
  • 10 Creative Writing Exercises for Beginners and Writers
  • How Writing Prompts Can Boost Your Creative Writing Skills
  • Fast and Loose: 3 Ways Freewriting Will Upgrade Your Creative Career

Kaelyn Barron

As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.

David G Simpson

I see during my searches of creating writing that the term, snippet is not used. Why is this, as it is a very entertaining concept, as I enclose an example.

The small boy asks his grandpa, “Grand daddy, what will you do if you ever catch the last beaver in th e world?”

“Well son, that will be the saddest day that I ever could imagine.”

“You know son, that almost happened a couple hundred years or so ago. Money was hard to come by and rich people over in Europe wanted all the beaver they could buy from men that were willing to risk their lives in the new America that had a seemingly endless supply of the rich furred animals.”

The old man said, “the only thing that stopped the beaver from being totally wiped out was the silk worm.”

That didn’t stop the boy from his original line of questions about beavers, he could care less about any worms. After all he was a trapper, in his own mind.

The boy, stopped his Grandpa again, in the manner that young kids do, that are impatient for another answer. “Granddaddy, how long have you been trapping beavers?”

“Well son, let me see; I started just about the time I was your age I think.”

“How many have you caught,” came next.

“There’s no telling, maybe a truck load, maybe two.”

The boys next words took the old trapper back a step or two when the boy said, “Granddaddy do we have to catch them all, or can we leave me a few so I can take my son, someday, and show and tell him what you’ve taught me.”

Shegaw Tarekegn


Kaelyn Barron

Thanks, hope you enjoyed the post!


Great article. I appreciate reading even more now. Understanding these things has opened a new door for me. I mostly wrote for my own entertainment, but what I have learned here, I am inspired to give it a try on a bigger scale.

Thank you for the inspiration.

You’re very welcome Cindy, and thank you for the kind words! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article :) Happy writing!

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Elements of Creative Writing

definition of creative writing according to authors

J.D. Schraffenberger, University of Northern Iowa

Rachel Morgan, University of Northern Iowa

Grant Tracey, University of Northern Iowa

Copyright Year: 2023

ISBN 13: 9780915996179

Publisher: University of Northern Iowa

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.


Learn more about reviews.

Reviewed by Robert Moreira, Lecturer III, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on 3/21/24

Unlike Starkey's CREATIVE WRITING: FOUR GENRES IN BRIEF, this textbook does not include a section on drama. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

Unlike Starkey's CREATIVE WRITING: FOUR GENRES IN BRIEF, this textbook does not include a section on drama.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

As far as I can tell, content is accurate, error free and unbiased.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The book is relevant and up-to-date.

Clarity rating: 5

The text is clear and easy to understand.

Consistency rating: 5

I would agree that the text is consistent in terms of terminology and framework.

Modularity rating: 5

Text is modular, yes, but I would like to see the addition of a section on dramatic writing.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

Topics are presented in logical, clear fashion.

Interface rating: 5

Navigation is good.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical issues that I could see.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

I'd like to see more diverse creative writing examples.

As I stated above, textbook is good except that it does not include a section on dramatic writing.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: One Great Way to Write a Short Story
  • Chapter Two: Plotting
  • Chapter Three: Counterpointed Plotting
  • Chapter Four: Show and Tell
  • Chapter Five: Characterization and Method Writing
  • Chapter Six: Character and Dialouge
  • Chapter Seven: Setting, Stillness, and Voice
  • Chapter Eight: Point of View
  • Chapter Nine: Learning the Unwritten Rules
  • Chapter One: A Poetry State of Mind
  • Chapter Two: The Architecture of a Poem
  • Chapter Three: Sound
  • Chapter Four: Inspiration and Risk
  • Chapter Five: Endings and Beginnings
  • Chapter Six: Figurative Language
  • Chapter Seven: Forms, Forms, Forms
  • Chapter Eight: Go to the Image
  • Chapter Nine: The Difficult Simplicity of Short Poems and Killing Darlings

Creative Nonfiction

  • Chapter One: Creative Nonfiction and the Essay
  • Chapter Two: Truth and Memory, Truth in Memory
  • Chapter Three: Research and History
  • Chapter Four: Writing Environments
  • Chapter Five: Notes on Style
  • Chapter Seven: Imagery and the Senses
  • Chapter Eight: Writing the Body
  • Chapter Nine: Forms

Back Matter

  • Contributors
  • North American Review Staff

Ancillary Material

  • University of Northern Iowa

About the Book

This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing in the genres of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review, the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. They’ve selected nearly all of the readings and examples (more than 60) from writing that has appeared in NAR pages over the years. Because they had a hand in publishing these pieces originally, their perspective as editors permeates this book. As such, they hope that even seasoned writers might gain insight into the aesthetics of the magazine as they analyze and discuss some reasons this work is so remarkable—and therefore teachable. This project was supported by NAR staff and funded via the UNI Textbook Equity Mini-Grant Program.

About the Contributors

J.D. Schraffenberger  is a professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the author of two books of poems,  Saint Joe's Passion  and  The Waxen Poor , and co-author with Martín Espada and Lauren Schmidt of  The Necessary Poetics of Atheism . His other work has appeared in  Best of Brevity ,  Best Creative Nonfiction ,  Notre Dame Review ,  Poetry East ,  Prairie Schooner , and elsewhere.

Rachel Morgan   is an instructor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of the chapbook  Honey & Blood , Blood & Honey . Her work is included in the anthology  Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in American  and has appeared in the  Journal of American Medical Association ,  Boulevard ,  Prairie Schooner , and elsewhere.

Grant Tracey   author of three novels in the Hayden Fuller Mysteries ; the chapbook  Winsome  featuring cab driver Eddie Sands; and the story collection  Final Stanzas , is fiction editor of the  North American Review  and an English professor at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches film, modern drama, and creative writing. Nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize, he has published nearly fifty short stories and three previous collections. He has acted in over forty community theater productions and has published critical work on Samuel Fuller and James Cagney. He lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

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Book cover

The Creative Process pp 89–121 Cite as

The Creative Process in Writers

  • Jane Piirto 4  
  • First Online: 30 August 2018

1862 Accesses

7 Citations

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture ((PASCC))

Piirto discusses the creative process in creative writers, gleaned from qualitative themes obtained from archival sources—scholarly biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, and published interviews. This chapter discusses the motivation, or intention, to write, which is primary. It discusses the Five Core Attitudes for creators: (self-discipline, risk-taking, group trust, tolerance for ambiguity, and openness to experience) and Seven I’s for the creative process: [(1) inspiration (from love, dreams, travel, the work of others); (2) intuition; (3) insight; (4) imagery; (5) imagination; (6) incubation; and (7) improvisation]. Then, General Practices for the Creative Process (need for solitude, meditation, exercise, study, ritual, and the transpersonal) are discussed. This chapter demonstrates the multi-faceted nature of the creative process in writers as illustrated by the real words and personal accounts of the writers themselves.

  • Creative process in creative writers
  • Creative writers
  • Five core attitudes for creativity
  • Seven I’s for creativity
  • General practices for the creative process
  • Motivation to create

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Piirto, J. (2018). The Creative Process in Writers. In: Lubart, T. (eds) The Creative Process. Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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What is Creative Writing?

definition of creative writing according to authors

Written by Scott Wilson

what is creative writing

Creative writing is any kind of writing that employs creative literary or poetic techniques in the service of either fiction or non-fiction writing. It involves original composition and expressiveness of the individual author.

Ask ten creative writing professors what creative writing is, and you’ll get eleven different answers. Turn to the dictionary and the definition invokes invention and incorporation of imagination. But what are the limits of imagination? Where does invention begin?

Every sentence in every work ever written began as an act of creation in the mind of the writer.

Creative writing may be most easily defined by what it is not…

  • Technical writing
  • Professional or business writing
  • Scholarly or academic writing

Creative writing is the entire body of the writer’s craft that falls outside the boundaries of the ordinary.

Yet you will find many entries in the canon of those fields that might also be considered creative writing. No one would consign Truman Capote’s groundbreaking In Cold Blood to the sterile cells of mere journalism. But that haunting novel is unquestionably also an important work of investigative reporting.

So, what is creative writing, if a non-fiction novel of a horrific quadruple murder falls into the same scope as a classic of American literature like To Kill a Mockingbird ?

It has to do with style and art. Creative writing goes to the heart of the individual expressiveness of the writer. It breaks the boundaries of the typical. That’s an exercise of artistic skill that can happen in any topic, toward almost any goal. And it’s the heart of what it is to be a writer, no matter what you write about.

Defining creative writing isn’t easy. Rooms full of the best authorities routinely disagree. But what is creative writing , isn’t the most interesting question to ask here. Instead, we would be best served by asking another:

Why Is Creative Writing Important?

at peace writing

Storytellers were plying their craft thousands of years before the written word was invented. The creative spark doesn’t belong to words. It may not even depend on language. It draws instead on a deep part of what it is to be human. Invention, imagination, the urge to create… these are all deep and vital parts of the human experience.

Creative writing is important because it is evocative.

That well of creativity flows forth in many arts and forms of expression. But in creative writing it has found a medium where it can be both preserved and shared. It’s a method of human connection that has no expiration date, no geographical or even cultural limit.

Writers touch the souls of their contemporaries first. But like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Lady Murasaki, their reach may also span generations.

Creative Writing Fuels Communication in All Forms of Writing

Although fiction is the first refuge of creative writing, that expressiveness serves the purposes of just about any kind of author.

The goals of most other forms of writing are focused on various kinds of literal communication. A journalist seeks to convey the facts and the context of important news stories. Technical writers need to communicate the details of operating programs and machinery, clearly describing all kinds of minute details with zero ambiguity. Business communications are created with a view toward clarity and concision—helping readers get the main points of the piece quickly and without confusion.

Creative writing can also help to serve these purposes.

Creative writing taps into a different level of communication. While it may, and often does, aspire to other goals like offering clarity and detail, it also goes toward developing emotional connection. The reader will take away more than mere words from a piece of creative writing.

Creative Writing is Important For Making Other Kinds of Writing Compelling

Just as importantly, creative writing entertains. In a story about the importance of algorithmic and high-frequency trading, all kinds of technical details must be absorbed to make sense of the issues. Both technological and economic concepts have to be introduced. In a comprehensive article about the subject, readers from outside the field could be expected to nod off about two pages in.

But put the story in the hands of Michael Lewis, and you get Flash Boys , a New York Times Best Seller.

It’s not important that Flash Boys did well because it was entertaining, however. It’s important because the market trends and activities it described have real impacts on many of the readers. Retirement funds, college savings, family investments… all are affected by the story Flash Boys tells. Today, millions of readers who would never otherwise have understood how their investments were being handled can make an informed assessment… thanks to creative writing.

How To Separate Creative Writing From Less Creative Forms of Writing

focused creative writing

In general, it’s safe to say that a piece of writing is creative when it makes use of literary devices such as:

  • Narrative development
  • Imagination and invention

In Cold Blood passes this test due to Capote’s use of characterization, plot development, and world-building. It’s considered today to be a pioneering example of the non-fiction novel, a paragon of the creative writing world.

The original crime reports, local newspaper articles, and subsequent court documents detail the same events with the same participants. Yet they are not works of creative writing. The incident is described in dry, straightforward, technical language. The timeline is linear and offered without consideration of pace or drama.

Both Capote and the authors of those other articles and documents set out to inform. But Capote’s goal was also to captivate.

New Journalism Tells the Story of How Creative Writing Has an Important Role in Non-Fiction

abstract clippings

Books like Wolfe’s The Right Stuff mixed truth and dramatization, documentation and invention, to tell larger stories about serious events. In dramatizing those stories, New Journalism writers also drew more readers and achieved broader awareness of the stories.

At the same time, long-form New Journalism pieces, deeply researched and documented, were able to report stories in depth in a way that traditional journalism often did not. By invoking plot, characterization, and narrative structures, the New Journalists could keep readers involved in long and complex issues ranging from crime to politics to culture.

New Journalism is important in defining what is creative writing because it is clearly an example of both creative and journalistic writing. It demonstrates the ways that creative writing can serve other forms of writing and other kinds of writers.

Of course, it’s also possible to come at the divide from the other shore. Categories of writing that are clearly creative in nature include:

  • Novels and novellas
  • Flash fiction and short stories
  • Plays and film scripts

These works incorporate elements of storytelling that may not always be present in other forms of writing. A newspaper article will often have a setting, action, and characters; creative writing will offer plot, pacing, and drama in describing the same story.

What is Creative Writing Coursework Like in College Degree Programs?

university student on steps at school

All university students are exposed to basic coursework in English language and communication skills. These all go to the elementary aspects of writing—the ability to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a paper. They teach grammatical rules and other elements that make a work readable to any reader of the English language.

Even the general education requirements in college programs touch on creative writing, however. Students may be assigned to write essays that explore creative styles and imagination. They’ll be assigned to read novels and stories that are time-tested examples of the finest kinds of creative writing. And they’ll be asked to explore their impressions and feelings, and to exercise their imaginations and analyze the intent of the author.

Creative writing programs go beyond the basics to touch the imagination of the writer.

Creative writing exists just on the other side of those general English and literature courses. Students in creative writing classes will be asked to take the extra step of creating their own stories using the techniques they have learned.

In fact, they may be encouraged to break the same rules that were so laboriously learned in their regular English writing classes. Creative writing works to allow writers to tap into their own imagination and emotion to forge a deeper connection with readers.

Student Workshops Offer an Interactive Way of Learning What Creative Writing Is All About

Creative writing degrees will go much further into developing a sense of what creative writing is. they continue to include many reading assignments. but instructors also introduce concepts such as:.

Genre is the method used to categorize written works. Creative writing programs explore the tropes and expectations that exist for different genres and deconstruct them for better understanding.

Story structure and form

The structure and form of a novel and a short story are very different. Creative writing programs explore different formats and how they impact creative storytelling.

Plot is not a universal feature of creative writing, but a good plot can make or break a creative work. Classes look at the features and composition of plot, and also teach plotting.

Voice, tone, and creative expression all come out of the narration of a piece of creative writing. Creative writing courses explore both the textbook forms of narrative and show how to use it to serve plot and story.

Style and rhythm

One clear feature of creative writing in all genres is that it rests on a sense of rhythm and of styling that other types of writing ignore. Many courses found in creative writing degree programs explore the ways in which writing style serves story and hooks the reader.

In addition to formal classes, students will better learn why creative writing is important and the purposes it serves through workshops. These informal gatherings are designed to foster discussion, to present examples of different types of writing, and to critique and hone individual creative writing skills .

Through that process, creative writing degrees help students better identify what creative writing is and how to use it effectively.

Creativity is Important No Matter What Your Career Goals in Writing May Be

dedicated student at coffee shop studying

Creative writing training allows writers in any genre to develop more complete, more meaningful, and more memorable ways to get a point across. Using the skills and techniques learned in creative writing courses can inject humor, gravity, and other sensations into any piece of writing. And those very techniques can improve concision and clarity.

Figuring out what creative writing is and what it is not, is the first thing you should leave behind in a writing career. The dry definitions of the dictionary or droning English professors are the last place you should look.

Creative writing is the process of engaging your imagination and talent to serve the purpose of whatever piece of writing you are working on. And that’s why creative writing is important.

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What is Creative Writing?

A woman wearing glasses reading a creative writing piece in a notebook.

Creative writing is any form of writing that exists outside of journalism, business writing, or academic writing. It expresses an author's unique voice, writing style, thoughts, and ideas in an engaging and imaginative manner, said Christopher Sullivan , MFA, an adjunct instructor in the creative writing and English program at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).

“Creative writing has no boundaries. It gives the writer permission to flex his or her creative muscles and utilize infinite amounts of imagery and imagination within their writing," he said.

What Makes a Good Piece of Creative Writing?

Marcella Prokop and the text Marcella Prokop.

These include:

  • Theme – The main idea or moral of a story.
  • Setting – The time and geographic location within a narrative.
  • Character and plot development – Usually intertwined, the author’s ability to grow a character’s ability to take action, which leads to conflict and the rising progression of the plot.
  • Point-of-view – Told in the first, second, or third person, this is the way in which authors express the views of themselves or their characters.
  • Voice – The way in which the author tells the story; for example, anxious, sparse in detail, looking back through time, etc.
  • Tone and style – Style refers to the author's choice of diction, sentence structure, literary techniques, and use of rhythm, while style refers to the author’s attitude toward the story and the reader.

Within each of these areas of craft, authors use tools such as figurative language, dialogue, description, and conflict to give color and dimension to their characters and plot,  she said.

What is Creative Writing and its Types?

In addition to fiction writing, creative writing includes the genres of poetry, creative nonfiction (such as memoir, autobiography, or personal essay), screenwriting, plays, and/ or graphic novels. Blogs and other digital media could also be considered forms of creative writing.

  • Fiction – This type of prose is based on imaginary events and people, usually in the form of a novel or short story.  Good novels appeal to the senses, embrace idiosyncrasies, and make people laugh or cry, wrote author Elizabeth Sims in a recent Writer's Digest blog post .
  • Poetry – Much more than rhyming stanzas, poetry aims to “tell a story, enact a drama, convey ideas, offer vivid, unique description or express our inward spiritual, emotional, or psychological states,” according to poet Dan Rifenburgh, who wrote about the definition of poetry in an article published on the National Endowment for the Arts website. 
  • Memoirs – Memoirs not only recount the actual events of an author’s life from his or her perspective, they often serve as inspirational pieces that challenge readers to take action or make change. Jeff Goins, author of Wrecked and The In-Between, shares three basic rules for writing a good memoir on the blog, The Write Practice. Authors should also be prepared to show vulnerability and aspire to move the reader to a new way of thinking in search of the truth, he said. 
  • Screenwriting – Without a strong script, actors in our favorite movies would not follow a plot, engage in conflict, or participate in any kind of dialogue. Unlike other types of writing, a screenplay has to perform two jobs: it must be entertaining to the viewer and provide instructions to actors and directors, according to Ant Jackson, a blogger for The Writing Cooperative . 
  • Graphic novels – Similar to comic books, graphic novels combine words and images to tell a longer story. A blend of text and art, authors can provide visual punch to their dialogue in this format. Popular with both children and adults, graphic novels can better convey complex subject matter, thanks to a blend of both literary devices and pictures, according to Gal Beckerman , an editor for the New York Times Book Review.
  • Blogs – Blogging itself isn’t a literary genre—it’s a platform that allows writers to share a variety of creative writing—poetry, short stories, or multimedia projects that combine words and images – with audiences on the internet.

Writers often spend years practicing their craft, and learned the basics in degree programs specifically focused on creative writing.

Explore Creative Writing Programs

Pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing and English can help you hone your craft and experiment with different genres and forms, while you also focus on a specific type of writing, said Prokop.

Undergraduate creative writing programs typically include a mix of general education classes and courses in the humanities, in addition to creative writing classes. Introductory writing classes typically cover genre basics and explore some of the tools writers use to craft an engaging story. 

"This is a perfect class for beginners or those looking to hone a basic skill, such as developing a plot," Prokop said.

Chris Sullivan and the text Chris Sullivan

Such programs also help writers build upon their foundational skills, too. For example, most students take English composition classes that utilize a variety of rhetorical modes (narration, description, cause and effect, and persuasion and argument, to name a few) that help them perfect their skills before they focus on a specific genre, Sullivan said.

“Most students interested in applying to the creative writing program typically have a solid foundation with writing mechanics. However, that doesn’t mean their mechanics have to be perfect—they are here to learn,” he said.

Some programs also allow students to concentrate on a specific genre (fiction writing, nonfiction writing, poetry, or screenwriting) and develop portfolios of work that can help them apply for MFA programs or promote themselves as writers.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Creative Writing Degree?

If you decide to major in creative writing, it doesn't automatically mean you'll become a published author—but it will give you the tools you need for job roles that require strong writing and communication skills.

Graduates who are serious about pursuing writing careers are encouraged to practice their craft, obtain feedback, and submit their work to publishers, Sullivan said.

“Throughout the creative writing program, students are given tools, resources, and lots of valuable feedback to strengthen their writing skills,” he said. “However, writing is a process. It takes a lot of hard work, networking, humility, and dedication to become a published author.”

Here are some jobs creative writing and English majors might also consider pursuing.

Writer or Author

Use your storytelling skills to pen children’s books, novels, biographies, essays, or memoirs. A bachelor’s degree is generally required for a full-time position as a writer or author, and additional experience gained through internships or any writing that improves skill--such as blogging—can help, too. Although it’s a highly competitive field, successful authors earned a median annual salary of $62,170 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Editors aren’t just grammar experts who correct mistakes. Publications rely on them to plan, review, and evaluate publications. Whether they work in a corporate environment or for print or digital publications, editors must be imaginative, curious, and knowledgeable in a broad range of topics in order to add value. Most editors have a bachelor’s degree and gain experience through internships, according to BLS. In 2018, editors earned a median annual salary of $59,480 , BLS reports.

Reporters, news correspondents, and broadcast news analysts use their research and storytelling skills to inform the public about news and events. They can work for news publications, digital publications, TV, or radio stations. Journalists typically hold a bachelor’s degree and gain work experience through college internships. The average annual wage for broadcast news analysts in 2018 was $66,880, while the average annual wage for reporters and correspondents in 2018 was $41,260, according to BLS .

Advertising, Promotions and/or Marketing Managers

Whether they are creating ad campaigns, promotional events, or looking at pricing strategies, professionals in advertising and marketing roles use their creativity and communication skills to generate interest in their organization’s products or services. A bachelor’s degree is required for most advertising, promotions, and marketing management positions. A creative writing degree can be particularly helpful to media directors who use radio, television, newspapers, magazines, the internet, or outdoor signs to create messages that effectively reach customers. The average annual salary for advertising and promotions managers was $117,130 in 2018; while the average annual salary for marketing managers was $134,290, according to BLS .

With a bachelor's degree in creative writing and English, you can polish your storytelling skills and position yourself for a variety of jobs that require imagination and solid communication skills.

Krysten Godfrey Maddocks ’11 is a writer and marketing/communication professional. Connect with her on LinkedIn .

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  • 8 Creative Writing Tips from Famous Authors and How to Incorporate Them Into Your Own Work

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And many writers simply love giving interviews where they throw out pithy and quotable lines about the nature of their genius. Think of Ernest Hemingway’s “There is nothing to writing. All you do is just sit at a typewriter and bleed.” It would look great on a mug or a t-shirt. But does this actually give you any insight into how to become a better or more successful writer? Probably not, unless you want to study its construction when working on your epigrams. Still more writers provide advice that works beautifully for their own particular style of writing (such as Kurt Vonnegut’s stern words against semicolons, or Stephen King’s against adverbs) but may not be as generally applicable as they think it is. As a result, we’ve compiled this list of 8 popular and pithy quotes from famous writers – and looked at what you can actually learn from them for use in your own writing.

1. “I took a master class with Billy Wilder once and he said that in the first act of a story you put your character up in a tree and the second act you set the tree on fire and then in the third you get him down.” – Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars Episode IV and V.

Image shows a man hanging from a tree.

Has a more elegant summary of the three-act structure ever been produced? These are the principles at the heart of most storytelling, whether it’s around a campfire or on a cinema screen. You get your protagonist into trouble – then the trouble gets worse – then it gets resolved. Note that this structure doesn’t demand a happy ending. Your character could depart the tree in as unpleasant a manner as you like; what this structure requires is plot progression followed by resolution, as well as tying you into a storyline that, at heart, can be summarised in a couple of sentences. Even if you’re writing a madly complicated epic fantasy series, it can be a good maxim to come back to. Which event constitutes putting the character up a tree? Are you just letting him hang around there, or are you keeping the tension going by setting the tree on fire? Do you just leave him up there getting toasty, or have you been sure to take him down?

2. “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain, author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Image shows the front cover of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Authors being critical of particular words or even types of word (we return to Stephen King and his adverbs) is a commonplace of writing advice. Often, they simply represent the writing fashion of their own time; Stephen King’s crisp, clear writing style (“She was a grown up now, and she discovered that being a grown up was not quite what she had suspected it would be when she was a child”) would sound as wrong in the 18th century as the more adverb-laden style of two or three hundred years ago does now. Mark Twain’s advice still stands over a hundred years later – writing littered with the word ‘very’ is seldom any good – even though this is perhaps not a trap into which that many novelists fall, and few editors would systematically delete the word ‘damn’ any more either. The best message to take from this is to keep an eye on words you overuse, particularly if they are as weak as ‘very’, and delete them whenever they appear.

3. “If you have other things in your life – family, friends, good productive day work – these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.” – David Brin, Hugo-award winning author

Image shows an old, dusty attic room.

An important message that many writers forget, this quotation from David Brin reminds us that locking yourself away in a garret isn’t a great move unless you want to write the twenty-first century’s Great Garret Novel. It reminds us that the greatest source of inspiration isn’t usually spending time navel-gazing, but going out and interacting with the world, and then seeing how easily an overheard conversation slides into your novel and becomes a plot point, or spotting a woman at the bus stop who looks exactly like the villain you couldn’t quite picture. This doesn’t just apply to realist fiction; David Brin is a science fiction author, and still takes inspiration from everyday human interactions and brings that into his work.

4. “My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.” – Anton Chekhov, playwright and author

Image shows a grandfather with a small boy on his lap.

This is the kind of zippy quote that Waterstone’s like to put on their bags, but what exactly does it mean and what can we learn from it? The former half of that question is probably best left to Chekhov scholars. The latter half is easier; this advice is excellent and straightforward if we simply ignore Chekhov’s justification. The beginning and end are less at risk of being full of lies than full of waffle. It’s best to resist the temptation to open like a medieval saga with a multi-chapter genealogy and family history of all of your characters, and similarly to resist the temptation, like Tolkien didn’t in The Return of the King, to come to a logical ending to your story and then end it three more times. But if you can’t resist that temptation in your first draft, get it all out of your system and then simply delete those sections from draft 2 onwards.

5. “First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” – Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

Image shows boxes of the Sims games.

Like many other creative writing tips, this can feel a little bit like magical thinking. See also: “I let my characters decide the plot” or even “I had this bit all worked out, but then my characters decided to do something different” – as if the story you were writing was some kind of hyperactive game of the Sims, rather than something born from and guided entirely by your own imagination. If you are a more practically-minded writer, this might seem entirely baffling. (If it makes complete, instinctive sense to you, you might wish to skip ahead to the next point). Don’t read this advice and proceed to treat the process of writing as a particularly lonely roleplaying game. Remember instead that when you have lovingly crafted a character who is so realistic that they could practically walk off the page, if their planned actions conflict with their character, then you need to change one or the other, rather than shoehorning a character into actions that they clearly would not perform.

6. “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Image shows Douglas Adams.

This comment is an impressive demonstration of what not to do. Adams’ first bestseller – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – ends very abruptly because he had missed so many deadlines that his publisher simply told him to finish the page he was on and sent a courier to collect the book as it was. Subsequent deadlines have a remarkable theme – the Doctor Who producer who locked Adams in his study and gave him coffee and whiskey for two days until it was finished; the girlfriend who locked Adams in her house until he finished The Restaurant at the End of the Universe ; and the editor who locked him in a hotel suite for three weeks until he wrote So Long and Thanks for All the Fish . It appears that, having found a solution to making Adams write to a deadline, his collaborators stuck to it, whether or not that meant committing the crime of false imprisonment. There are two messages for aspiring writers here. One is that you should make an attempt to control your procrastination before it reaches such legendary heights. The other, I suppose, is that if you find an odd technique that helps you write, you should go ahead and make the most of it – at least other people will get a good anecdote out of it.

7. “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.” – Dorothy Parker, poet, short story writer, critic and satirist

Image shows someone editing an essay.

Dorothy Parker was a writer now best known for a huge number of highly quoted phrases, such as, “the two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘cheque enclosed.’” The sharp, concise elegance of her writing is – as this quotation suggests – the result of a colossal amount of editing. Parker phrases this as if it were an unfortunate condition, but it’s a very rare writer who gets everything right first time. (To skip back to point 6, the book that Douglas Adams edited the most – Last Chance to See – was also the one of which he was the most proud). There are arguments to be had about when editing is appropriate. Should you write a first draft in full before you go back to tweak anything, or should you edit as you go along? This will depend on temperament and ability to cope with imperfections. What is crucial is that by the time you’re ready to submit anything for publication, at least seven words have been changed for every five you initially wrote.

8. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison, Nobel prize-winning novelist

Image shows rows of bookshop shelves.

This is good advice for writers of fiction and nonfiction alike. In nonfiction the barrier to entry is higher (for instance, if you desperately want to read a first-person account of the writing of epic poetry in Anglo-Saxon times, you’ll be waiting a while) but in fiction the ground is open to everyone. If you’re fed up with whatever the prevailing literary trend is (whether that’s dystopian young adult fiction or yummy-mummy novels), you can be the change you wish to see in the world. Don’t be sanctimonious about writing the novel that you think the world needs – that’s a sure-fire way to lose friends – but it can be deeply motivational to remember that there is a space in the world where your novel should be. Aside from anything else, filling a gap in the market makes excellent business sense. Do you have any creative writing tips that you think should be more widely known? Share them in the comments!

definition of creative writing according to authors

What Is Creative Writing?

David Krug

Writen by: CollegeRanker Team

Reviewed by: David Krug , Editor-in-Chief

Updated on: August 30, 2023

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Creative writing is taught in many schools and institutions around the United States. It has the ability to dramatically improve your writing skills as a topic, particularly in the context of essays and other forms of academic writing.

But what is it all about, exactly? And where do you begin if you’re new to the subject?

Creative writing is all about expressing yourself through your imagination and individuality in order to transmit ideas and thoughts in a way that is distinctively yours. Simply put, it is about integrating your own ‘flair’ into your writing, and going beyond the conventional boundaries of academic or another specialist language to create something unique.

With this useful guide and introduction to creative writing, you’ll learn more about what creative writing is, what the different forms are, and how to get started.

As the term suggests, creative writing deviates from the rules of conventional, professional, academic, or technical writing in order to express oneself artistically.

In both fiction and nonfiction writing, a variety of genres and techniques are represented, including storytelling, playwriting, poetry, prose, journalism, and other forms of creative nonfiction writing.

Though the concept of creative writing is somewhat ambiguous, it is typically defined as any sort of writing that is unique and conveys one’s own point of view. In a work of literature, a concentration on narrative craft, focusing on variables such as character development, narrative, and plot, and infusing its framework with originality, imagination, and tale, is often discernible.

Creative writing, according to this definition, is any new, original text that is free of current conventions and incorporates a range of techniques.

In an academic setting, creative writing classes are typically divided into fiction, poetry, and scriptwriting, with an emphasis on writing in a unique style that is not defined by pre-existing structures and genres.

What different styles of creative writing are there?

Creative writing can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and it can encompass a vast range of genres and techniques. There are many different types of fiction and non-fiction creative writing. The following are only a few of the most well-known:

  • Biographies
  • Novels, novellas, short stories, and other works of fiction
  • Spoken word and poetry
  • Playwriting/scriptwriting
  • Essays on yourself
  • Speeches\sstudent-looking-in-university-library

What characteristics distinguish a good work of creative writing?

First and foremost, it is vital to acknowledge that there is no pre-defined criteria of what constitutes a “good” work of creative writing. As the name suggests, creative writing is an original process developed by the individual with all of their quirks and oddities.

Because creative writing does not fit neatly into a particular genre, there will never be a catch-all term to define the “perfect” composition. Consider a Gothic short story and then compare it to the traits of great Romantic poetry – the two are so diverse that assessing them together would be unfair.

However, there are a few general rules you may follow to make your creative writing as strong as possible – by being as honest and genuine to yourself as possible:

Know your audience – All great tales begin with an understanding of the intended audience in mind, because this is precisely what you need to know in order to personalize and connect with your audience. Because of this, any creative writer should begin by choosing who they want to see their work before they begin. As long as you keep this in mind, your writing will naturally take shape and flow in a way that appears acceptable to your intended audience.

Write down what you already know — The most compelling stories are typically those that we can identify with and relate to in some way to our own experiences. Alternatively, they may be stories that appear to be based on the author’s own life and are therefore believed to be true. To be clear, this does not indicate that you have to write about your entire life; rather, you can use the knowledge you have about various elements of our lives to make your story more realistic and credible.

Creativity is essential – Storytelling that is most fascinating is often one in which we can identify with and relate in some way to our own experiences. Another option is for them to look to be based on the author’s actual life, in which case they will be accepted as fact. In order to be clear, this does not imply that you must write about your complete life; rather, you can draw on your knowledge of many aspects of our lives in order to make your story more realistic and trustworthy.

One of the wonderful things about creative writing is that there are no rules or definitions for ‘how’ to write. It’s a lot more personal genre that mainly relies on your own interpretations. As a result, you should stretch your imagination to explore what the eventual result might be. Some of the most intriguing works of literature provoke thought or cause us to question the writing or the world around us – where could your narrative take us?

Make a broad plot arc – Regardless of how open the boundaries of creative writing are, it is still a good idea to design a loose story arc for any piece of literature you write. Story arcs are essential for providing your writing direction and purpose, as well as allowing you to compose the entire article at a fast speed without adding unnecessary stuff or ‘waffle.’ If you stick to your story arc, your writing will have a solid structure, pace, and direction, which will keep your readers engaged. What are some of the creative writing techniques? Writers use a variety of creative writing approaches and literary strategies to make their work stand out, including:

Character development is the process of producing a genuine, well-rounded character with depth, personality, and distinct goals or motivations.

Plot development refers to how your piece of writing develops, unfolds, and progresses through time. A narrative’s point of view is the standpoint through which it is told. It specifies who is telling the story and how the information is communicated to the audience. Writers frequently use the key character’s or protagonist’s point of view to deceive and twist the reader’s perspective.

Dialogue – The talks and dialogues that characters have with one another. Dialogue and a character’s language choices can be crucial in defining their personality.

Metaphors, similes, and alliteration are examples of literary devices that can be used to make creative writing more imaginative and detailed. Writers employ these in a variety of ways to make their work more vivid, intriguing, and engaging.

Is it possible to learn how to write creatively?

Yes, of course! It is possible to teach creative writing, and it is a very popular subject among university students and those who attend our summer courses.

Those interested in learning more about the many genres of writing within the discipline of Creative Writing would often examine a number of works from various eras of time. They’ll get to know some of the industry’s best creative authors from the past to the present, as well as some lesser-known and up-and-coming talent.

It’s not commonplace for Creative Writing students to participate in frequent workshops and scratch sessions, where they bring a piece of writing to class and have it read by other students and the tutor, inspired by what they’ve learned in class. They’ll leave with critical input on how to enhance their writing, as well as suggestions for other works to read in order to gain inspiration.

How do you get started with creative writing?

If you want to get your creative juices flowing and improve your writing skills, check out the following suggestions on how to get started with creative writing:

Read as much as you can – Inspiration for creative writers can come from a variety of places, but the most prevalent source is other writers. All authors should be inspired by some exceptional examples of creative writing throughout history. Read a wide range of genres by a number of authors to acquire a true sense of the style of writing you wish to pursue.

Begin keeping a journal – Keeping a journal can be a great way to tap into your inner creativity. Getting into the habit of writing every day about anything that has been bothering you that day will help you improve your writing skills. The more you journal on a regular basis, the more confident you will become. You never know, you might get your next big idea from something you’ve written in your journal!

Join a Creative Writing Summer School — If you’re just getting started as a creative writer and want to collaborate, share ideas, and workshop your work, a creative writing summer school could be a terrific alternative. Our summer creative writing classes are meant to help you expand your creative writing toolset; you’ll analyze some of the industry’s best writers and workshop some of your own work with your peers.

Practice employing literary devices, such as metaphors, similes, and rhyme, to help you write more vividly and create more descriptive imaginative scenes. If you use them on a regular basis, you’ll notice that your own creative writing will thrive. Do you need some inspiration to get started practicing? Pick a random object from around your house. Then, to discover where your creativity can take you, practice utilizing 5 literary strategies to describe the same object.

Pick up your pen or laptop and start writing! – One of the best pieces of advise we can give on how to start creative writing is to pick up your pen or laptop and start writing. You will only begin your creative writing journey if you have a single conversation starter for a character or a complete narrative arc.

Want to continue learning?

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What Is Creative Writing? Simple Definition and Tips

woman doing creative writing in book

  • DESCRIPTION woman doing creative writing in book
  • SOURCE wichansumalee / iStock / Getty Images Plus

It can seem difficult to narrow down the answer to the question, “What is creative writing?” Since creative writing encompasses many types of writing, exploring examples helps define this art form. Use the definition of creative writing and creative writing tips to learn how to become a creative writer.

Creative Writing Definition

The true definition of creative writing is:

original writing that expresses ideas and thoughts in an imaginative way

It's the "art of making things up" or putting a creative splash on history, as in creative nonfiction. In any instance, creative writing makes you step out of reality and into a new realm inspired by your own imagination. With creative writing you're able to express feelings and emotions instead of cold, hard facts, as you would in academic writing .

Creative Writing Types and Categories

Because it is such a broad topic, the best way to define creative writing is to browse a list of things that are and are not considered creative writing.

Types of Creative Writing

Your imagination starts to flow when you engage in creative writing. The majority of writing, by far, is creative. With it, you can pretend anything you want and help a potential reader do the same. Different types of creative writing are found in these writing categories:

  • screenplays
  • short stories
  • television scripts

Types of Writing That Aren’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
  • technical writing

Creative Writing Tips and Techniques

If you feel you have a story inside you, you probably do. Why not let it out? It may seem as simple as sitting down, pulling up a blank document and letting it all flow, but sometimes that blank document can be intimidating. Use some creative writing techniques and tips to help you get creative.

Be an Avid Reader

Reading all types of writing can spark ideas in your own imagination. The more you read fiction and creative nonfiction, the more you'll naturally adopt their natural rhythm and flow.

Keep an Idea Book

Inspiration for creative writing can strike at any moment. Be prepared with a notebook dedicated to ideas or even a notes app on your phone. When you periodically browse your ideas, you might find that combining a couple of seemingly unrelated ideas sparks a new piece of writing.

Ask What if Questions

To tap into your creativity, ask yourself questions that start with “What if?” For example, if you know you want to write about a cat, you might ask yourself “What if the cat is best friends with a mouse?” or “What if the cat doesn’t look like an ordinary cat?”

Write with Abandon

If you have an idea for a story, sit down and start typing, without editing as you go. Just let the ideas flow out of your mind. After the story is out of your head and onto the screen, then you can consider revising.

Read Your Work Out Loud

Even after you've gotten it all out, it's still not time to edit. Read your idea out loud to hear how it sounds. See which scenes jump out at you. Remember which bits of dialogue are particularly powerful.

Create a Scene List

You might want to outline your scenes after you've written that first draft of your story. This helps you organize the plot line and make sure it flows.

Proofread and Edit Out Fluff

Now it's time to proofread and edit. Even though your work is meant to be creative and original, it should still follow standard writing rules. While imagination is key to creative writing, you still need to remove any "fluffy" parts of the story.

Examples of Creative Writing

At its core, creative writing is a form of entertainment. It's also a form of art found in most of your favorite TV sitcoms, movies, books, poems, and other mediums.

Poetry Example

Poems provide great examples of creative writing. In fact, they're almost exclusively emotional and imaginative. This excerpt from Lewis Carroll's " The Walrus and the Carpenter " is an example of creative writing because it is not based in fact and uses a lot of imagination.

If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year, Do you suppose,' the Walrus said, That they could get it clear?' I doubt it,' said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.

If you'd like to try your hand at a poem, check out these tips on writing poems .

Short Story Example

Short stories can be narrative, funny, mysterious, satirical, fantasy, or historical. Often stories include a lesson for the reader. This excerpt from Margaret Barrington's "Village Without Men," from The Glass Shore anthology (edited by Sinéad Gleeson) is a great example of using creativity to evoke emotion.

Weary and distraught, the women listened to the storm as it raged around the houses. The wind screamed and howled. It drove suddenly against the doors with heavy lurchings. It tore at the straw ropes that anchored the thatched roofs to the ground. It rattled and shook the small windows. It sent the rain in narrow streams under the door, through the piled-up sacks, to form large puddles on the hard, stamped, earthen floors.

Novel Example

Novels are certainly creative. Readers look forward to dipping in and out of new worlds created in novels, be they fantasy or realistic. This excerpt from Dark Witch , by famed romance writer Nora Roberts features a real place, Ireland, with a fictional character and story.

The cold carved bone deep, fueled by the lash of the wind, iced by the drowning rain gushing from a bruised, bloated sky. Such was Iona Sheehan's welcome to Ireland. She loved it. How could she not? She asked herself as she hugged her arms to her chest and drank in the wild, soggy view from her window. She was standing in a castle. She'd sleep in a castle that night. An honest-to-God Irish castle in the heart of the west.

Story Starters for Creative Writing

Creative writing exercises can help jumpstart your imagination. If you’re still not sure where to start, creative writing prompts give you a topic or opening sentence to get creative with.

Start your own creative writing with one of these prompts:

  • You're sitting at your desk staring blankly at the computer screen. Just then, a piece of paper floats down and lands in front of you. It says, "Tomorrow will be your last day."
  • She entered her parents home to clear out their possessions. What was she going to do with all their belongings? When she got to their safe, she keyed in the code, opened it up, and saw the most disturbing picture inside.
  • She got off the plane with only her tattered Louis Vuitton tote and one small suitcase. She had enough cash to start her new life in Edinburgh but absolutely no idea where to go once she left the airport.
  • When he awoke, everyone in the apartment complex was gone. The parking lot was empty. The front gates were open. As a matter of fact, the typically busy roads were completely abandoned and eerily silent.
  • He liked his solitude. It didn't matter that others called him a recluse and a hermit. But, when he saw her move in across the hall, he couldn't help but wander over to say hello. When he saw her face, he was astonished. She looked just like...
  • She whistled into the wind to call up her dragon. When he arrived, she hopped up on the balcony railing, saddled her ride, and set sail for...

Creative Writing for Life

Creative writing is whatever you want it to be, so long as it's not a completely factual story. A story can blossom from virtually anything because being creative and pretending is part of being human. You can use creative writing to express your own feelings or to entertain others. Now that you know how to compose a piece of creative writing, explore tips for engaging readers .


A Look Into Creative Writing | Oxford Summer Courses

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Defining Creative Writing

Creative writing , as taught at Oxford Summer Courses, is the process of crafting original and imaginative works of literature, poetry, prose, or scripts. It transcends conventional writing, encouraging individuals to explore language, structure, and narrative. Whether it's a heartfelt poem, a captivating short story, or a thought-provoking novel, creative writing allows us to communicate our unique perspectives and experiences with the world.

The Magic of Imagination

Creative Writing is a catalyst that sparks our creativity and empowers us to breathe life into our ideas on the page. With Oxford Summer Courses, aspiring writers aged 16-24 can embark on an extraordinary journey of creative expression and growth. Immerse yourself in the captivating realms of Oxford and Cambridge as you explore our inspiring creative writing programs. Teleport readers to distant lands, realms of fantasy and creation, introduce them to captivating characters, and craft new worlds through the transformative art of storytelling. Discover more about our creative writing course here . Unleash your imagination and unlock the writer within.

What Are the Different Types of Creative Writing?

Creative Writing comes in many forms, encompassing a range of genres and styles. There are lots of different types of Creative Writing, which can be categorised as fiction or non-fiction. Some of the most popular being:

  • Biographies
  • Fiction: novels, novellas, short stories, etc.
  • Poetry and Spoken word
  • Playwriting/Scriptwriting
  • Personal essays

At Oxford Summer Courses, students have the opportunity to delve into these various types of Creative Writing during the Summer School.

The Benefits of Creative Writing with Oxford Summer Courses

Engaging in Creative Writing with Oxford Summer Courses offers numerous benefits beyond self-expression. By joining our dedicated Creative Writing summer school programme, you would:

  • Foster self-discovery and gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, emotions, and personal experiences.
  • Improve your communication skills, honing your ability to express yourself effectively and engage readers through refined language and storytelling abilities.
  • Enhance empathy by exploring diverse perspectives and stepping into the shoes of different characters, broadening your understanding of the world around you.
  • Gain new skills for further education or work, expanding your repertoire of writing techniques and abilities to enhance your academic or professional pursuits.
  • Nurture your creativity, encouraging you to think outside the box, embrace unconventional ideas, and challenge the status quo, fostering a life-long mindset of innovation and originality.

Embracing the Journey

To embark on a journey of creative writing, embrace curiosity, take risks, and surrender to the flow of imagination. Write regularly, read widely, embrace feedback from tutors and peers at Oxford Summer Courses. Begin to experiment with styles and genres, and stay persistent in your course of action. The path of creative writing requires dedication, practice, and an open mind. Join us as we provide tips to help you start your creative writing journey and unleash your full creative potential under the guidance of industry professionals.

Creative Writing is a remarkable voyage that invites us to unleash our imagination, share our stories, and inspire others. It offers countless personal and professional benefits, nurturing self-expression, empathy, and creativity. So, grab a pen, open your mind, and embark on this enchanting journey of creative writing with Oxford Summer Courses. Let your words paint a vivid tapestry that captivates hearts and minds under the guidance of experienced tutors from Oxford and Cambridge. Join us as we explore the magic of creative writing and discover the transformative power it holds within through the renowned Oxford Summer Courses summer school.

Ready to study Creative Writing? Apply now to Oxford Summer Courses and join a community of motivated learners from around the world. Apply here .

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Discover the enchantment of creative writing with Oxford Summer Courses. Unleash your imagination, explore different genres, and enhance your communication skills. Nurture self-expression, empathy, and creativity while gaining valuable writing techniques.

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Exploring the Different Types of Creative Writing

  • on Sep 26, 2022
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Writing comes in all forms and sizes. But in order for a work to be considered creative writing, it must come from a place of imagination and emotion. 

This is something many people pursuing a  creative writing degree online  at first struggle to get a handle on. Take for example what Franz Kafa said about creative writing, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” 

Many authors who choose to follow Kafka’s advice—to write “mercilessly” and from the soul—find it comforting that their writing doesn’t have to conform to one style. But this variety of types and forms might leave some writers a bit confused. 

That’s why, in this article, we are going to walk you through the most popular types of creative writing, with some great examples from authors who absolutely rocked their respective forms.   

Types of Creative Writing

In this article:

  • Creative Writing Definition
  • Creative Writing Techniques
  • Free Writing
  • Journal Diaries
  • Personal Essays
  • Short Fiction
  • Novels/Novellas

What Is Creative Writing?

Think of creative writing as a form of artistic expression. Authors bring this expression to life using their imagination, personal writing style, and personality.

Creative writing is also different from straightforward academic or technical writing. For instance, an economics book like Khalid Ikram’s The Political Economy of Reforms in Egypt is an academic monograph. This means that readers would rightfully expect it to contain analytic rather than creative writing.   

So what are some elements that make a written piece more creative than analytic?

Popular Techniques Used in Creative Writing

Despite the fact that creative writing can be “freer” and less traditional than academic writing, it is likely to contain one or more of the following six elements:

1. Literary Devices

Many creative writers use literary devices to convey the meaning and themes of their work. Some common literary devices are allegories , metaphors and similes , foreshadowing , and imagery . These all serve to make the writing more vivid and descriptive .

2. Narrative

Authors often use this technique to engage readers through storytelling. Narrative isn’t limited to novels and short stories; poems, autobiographies, and essays can be considered narratives if they tell a story. This can be fiction (as in novels) or nonfiction (as in memoirs and essays).

3. Point of View

All creative writing must have a point of view; that’s what makes it imaginative and original. The point of view is the perspective from which the author writes a particular piece. Depending on the type of work, the point of view can be first person, third person omniscient, third person limited , mixed (using third- and first-person writing), or—very rarely—second person.

4. Characterization

Characterization is the process by which authors bring their characters to life by assigning them physical descriptions, personality traits, points of view, background and history, and actions. Characterization is key in creative writing because it helps drive the plot forward. 

5. Dialogue

An important element used in many creative writing works is dialogue . Assigning 

dialogue to characters is a way for authors to show their characters’ different traits without explicitly listing them. 

Dialogue also immerses readers in the narrative’s action by highlighting the emotions and tensions between characters. Like characterization, it also helps drive the plot forward.  

6. Plot 

The plot is the sequence of events that make up a narrative and establish the themes and conflicts of a work . Plots will usually include an exp osi tion (the introduction), rising action (the complications), climax (the peak in action and excitement), falling action (the revelations and slowing down of events), and denouement (the conclusion). 


The Main Types of Creative Writing (With Examples)

What’s great about creative writing is that there are so many types to choose from. In this section, we’ll walk you through the most popular types of creative writing, along with some examples. 

Type 1: Free writing 

Free writing, also known as stream-of-consciousness writing, is a technique that allows words and images to spill onto the page without giving thought to logic, sequence, or grammar. Although authors often use it as an exercise to get rid of the infamous writer’s block , free writing is also useful within a larger work. 

For instance, let’s take a look at this excerpt from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.  

Beloved by Toni Morrison [an excerpt]

Beloved by Toni Morrison

the air is heavy I am not dead I am not there is a house there is what she whispered to me I am where she told me I am not dead I sit the sun closes my eyes when I open them I see the face I lost Sethe’s is the face that left me Sethe sees me see her and I see the smile her smiling face is the place for me it is the face I lost she is my face smiling at me

Note how the author uses free writing to convey the character’s disjointed and agitated thoughts. Even punctuation has been set aside here, adding to the rush of the character’s fear and confusion. The imagery is powerful (“the sun closes my eyes”; “her smiling face is the place for me”) and relies on repetitions like “I am not dead” and “I see” to immerse the readers in the character’s disturbed mental state. 

Type 2: Journals and Diaries 

A journal is a written account of an author’s experiences, activities, and feelings. A diary is an example of a journal, in which an author documents his/her life frequently. 

Journals and diaries can be considered creative writing, particularly if they offer more than just a log of events. For instance, if a diary entry discusses how the writer ran into an old friend, it might include details of the writer’s emotions and probably use literary devices to convey these feelings.   

It’s almost impossible to read the word “diary” and not think of Anne Frank. Let’s look at this excerpt from her work The Diary of a Young Girl . 

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl [an excerpt]

The diary of a young girl

Saturday, 20 June, 1942: I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I—nor for that matter anyone else—will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart. 

In the extract above, Anne adopts a reflective tone. She uses the rhetorical question “what does that matter?” to illustrate how she arrived at the conclusion that this diary will help bring out what is “buried deep in her heart.” 

In this way, the diary serves as a log of events that happened in Anne’s life, but also as a space for Anne to reflect on them, and to explore her resulting emotions. 

Type 3: Memoir

Although they might seem similar at first, memoirs and diaries are two different creative writing types. While diaries offer a log of events recorded at frequent intervals, memoirs allow the writer to select key moments and scenes that help shed light on the writer’s life.  

Let’s examine this excerpt from the memoir of Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist .

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay:

Hunger: a memoir

I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.

Roxanne Gay offers readers a powerful work on anxiety, food, and body image by taking them on a journey through her past . Using evocative imagery in the excerpt above (“I buried the girl I was”; “I was trapped in my body”) the author shares her psychological trauma and resulting tumultuous relationship with food. 

As with most memoirs—and diaries—this one is intimate, allowing readers into the dark crevices of the author’s mind. However, unlike a diary, this memoir does not provide an account of the writer’s day-to-day life, but rather focuses on certain events—big and small—that the author feels made her who she is today. 

Type 4: Letters

Unlike diary and journal entries—which usually don’t have a specific recipient—letters address one target reader. Many famous authors have had collections of their letters published, revealing a side of them that isn’t visible in other works. 

Letter writing uncovers the nature of the relationship between sender and recipient, and can include elements of creative writing such as imagery, opinion, humor, and feeling. 

Here is an excerpt from a letter by Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood . 

Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote , edited by Gerald Clarke 

Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote

Dear Bob;  Have come, am here, am slowly freezing to death; my fingers are pencils of ice. But really, all told, I think this is quite a place, at least so far. The company is fairly good… I have a bedroom in the mansion (there are bats circulating in some of the rooms, and Leo keeps his light on all night, for the wind blows eerily, doors creak, and the faint cheep cheep of the bats cry in the towers above: no kidding. 

In his letter to editor and friend Robert “Bob” Linscott, Truman paints a scene of his new setting . He uses hyperbole (“freezing to death”) and a powerful metaphor (“my fingers are pencils of ice”) to convey the discomforting cold weather. Truman also uses sound imagery (“doors creak”; “wind blows eerily”; “cheep cheep of the bats”) to communicate the creepy, sinister mood to his reader. 

Type 5: Personal Essays

Many of us don’t normally think of essays as creative writing, but that’s probably because our minds go to academic research essays. However, there are many types of essays that require creative rather than analytic writing, including discursive essays, descriptive essays, and personal essays. 

A personal essay, also known as a narrative essay, is a piece of nonfiction work that offers readers a story drawn from the author’s personal experience. This is different from a memoir, in which the primary focus is on the author and their multiple experiences. 

A personal essay, on the other hand, focuses on a message or theme , and the author’s personal experience is there to communicate that theme using memorable characters and setting , as well as engaging events . These, of course, all have to be true, otherwise the personal essay would turn into a fictional short story. 

Here is an excerpt from a personal essay by writers Chantha Nguon and Kim Green.

The Gradual Extinction of Softness by Chantha Nguon and Kim Green

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge informed the Cambodian people that we had no history, but we knew it was a lie. Cambodia has a rich past, a mosaic of flavors from near and far: South Indian traders gave us Buddhism and spicy curries; China brought rice noodles and astrology; and French colonizers passed on a love of strong coffee, flan, and a light, crusty baguette. We lifted the best tastes from everywhere and added our own.

The opening of this paragraph establishes the author’s strong and unwavering opinion : “we knew it was a lie.” Instead of providing a history of Cambodia, she demonstrates the country’s rich past by discussing its diverse “flavors”: “spicy curries”; “strong coffee”; “light, crusty baguette”, etc. 

Using gustatory imagery , which conveys a sense of taste , the authors reveal their personal version of what makes Cambodia wonderful. The writer communicates the essay’s theme of food and memories through a story of her childhood. 

Type 6: Poetry 

Robert Frost once wrote: “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Good poetry is effective because it uses the power of imagery to convey what it is to be human. Every word in a poem counts, and the best poems are those that evoke the reader’s emotions without unpacking too much. 

As one of the most diverse types of creative writing, poetry can come in many forms. Some poets prefer to write in the more traditional forms such as sonnets , villanelles , and haikus , where you have particular structures, rhyme, and rhythm to follow. And others prefer the freedom of free verse and blackout poetry . 

Let’s take a look at this excerpt from Maya Angelou’s powerful lyric poem , “Still I Rise.”

“Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems by Maya Angelou

Still I Rise

Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.

Packed with powerful language, this excerpt from Angelou’s poem gives us absolute 

chills! The refrain “I rise” is repeated 7 times in these two verses alone, 

hammering home the idea that the speaker cannot be defeated. 

The imagery, repetition, and rhyme scheme all work together to convey the emotions of pride and resilience. Both verses also rely heavily on metaphors (“I’m a black ocean”; “I am the dream and the hope of the slave”) to convey the speaker’s power. She is not like an ocean or a dream; she is both, and she is unstoppable. 

Type 7: Song Lyrics 

Song lyrics are in many ways similar to poems, except that lyrics are meant to be sung . They are a form of creative writing that allows writers to surpass the rules of grammar and punctuation in favor of creating rhyme and rhythm . This means that the creativity of a  song lyricist is free from the traditional restrictions of language. 

Type 8: Scripts 

Scriptwriting is a form of creative writing that relies heavily on character dialogue , stage directions , and setting . Scripts are written for films and TV shows (known as screenplays and teleplays), stage plays, commercials, and radio and podcast programs. 

Like song lyrics, scripts are written with the intention of reaching a non-reading audience. In other words, scriptwriters must bear in mind how their writing will be 1) interpreted by other storytellers , such as directors, designers, etc., and 2) performed by actors.   

Let’s examine the iconic opening scene from the screenplay of the film Forrest Gump . 

Forrest Gump , screenplay by Eric Roth [an excerpt]

THE MAN Hello, I’m Forrest. I’m Forrest Gump.  She nods, not much interested. He takes an old candy kiss out of his pocket. Offering it to her:  FORREST (cont’d) Do you want a chocolate? She shakes “no.” He unwraps it, popping it in his mouth.  FORREST (cont’d) I could eat about a million and a half of these. Mama said, “Life was just a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.”

From the dialogue and stage directions in this opening scene, the audience can see that there is something innocent, kind-hearted, and simple about the character Forrest Gump. This is conveyed through the way he introduces himself with a slight repetition (“I’m Forrest. I’m Forrest Gump.”) to a complete stranger, and the way he quotes his mother to her. 

Moreover, the action of  Forrest “popping” the candy in his mouth is almost childlike , and that the stranger is reluctant to communicate with him foreshadows the fact that the people Forrest meets are initially suspicious of him and his innocence. Thus, the pauses and silences in the scene are just as important to the work as what is explicitly said. 

Type 9: Short Fiction

Short fiction is a form of creative fiction writing that typically falls between 5,000 to 10,000 words ; however, there is definitely room to go lower than 5,000 words, depending on the topic. 

For instance, flash fiction is a form of short fiction that can be 1,000 words or less. In the case of flash fiction, the author unpacks the “skeleton” of a story in as few words as possible. For instance, legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote a 6-word “story”:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. 

 In just six words, the reader is led to understand that this is a story of death and loss. 

Nevertheless, the average short story is usually structured around the following elements: characterization , setting , plot , and conflict . Many fiction authors start out writing short fiction because it enables them to nail all the essential elements, which they can then expand upon in longer works. 

Let’s look at an excerpt from Janet Frame’s short story, “The Bath”

“The Bath” by Janet Frame [an excerpt]

She leaned forward, feeling the pain in her back and shoulder. She grasped the rim of the bath but her fingers slithered from it almost at once. She would not pancic, she told herself; she would try gradually, carefully, to get out. Again she leaned forward; again her grip loosened as if iron hands had deliberately uncurled her stiffened blue fingers from their trembling hold. Her heart began to beat faster, her breath came more quickly, her mouth was dry. She moistened her lips. If I shout for help, she thought, no-one will hear me. No-one in the world will hear me. No-one will know I’m in the bath and can’t get out. 

In this paragraph, there is an image of a frail, old woman, physically unable to get out of her bathtub. The diction , or word choice, serves to convey the woman’s sense of fear and helplessness. For instance, words like “grasped,” “slithered,” “uncurled,” and “stiffened,” demonstrate the immense effort it takes for her to try to get out.

 The image of her “moistening” her lips illustrates that fear has turned her mouth dry. And the repetition of “no-one” in the last few sentences highlights the woman’s loneliness and entrapment —two of the story’s main themes. Indeed, the bath symbolizes the unavoidable obstacles brought about by old age. 

Type 10: Novellas / Novels

Novels are one of the most popular forms of creative writing. Though they vary in length, depending on the subject, they’re generally considered a long form of fiction , typically divided into chapters . 

Novellas, on the other hand, are shorter than novels but longer than short stories. Like short stories, novels, and novellas contain characters , plot , dialogue , and setting ; however, their longer forms allow writers a chance to delve much deeper into those elements. 

Type 11: Speeches 

Speeches are a form of writing similar to essays in that both forms are non-fiction , and both usually entail a discussion of the writer’s personal experiences and include engaging events and a particular theme.  

However, speeches differ from essays in that the former are meant to be recited (usually in front of an audience), and tend to be persuasive and inspirational. For instance, think of the purpose of graduation speeches and political speeches: they aim to inspire and move listeners. 

One of the most well-known speeches from the 20th century is Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”. Let’s examine the excerpt below:

“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King [an excerpt]

I have a dream (speech writing)

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

What immediately catches the eye (and ear) in this paragraph is the speaker’s usage of anaphora : the repetition of the phrase “now is the time” serves to emphasize the urgency of the matter being discussed (i.e. the prevalence of racial injustice). 

The speaker’s repetition of the pronoun “our” is an appeal to his audience’s emotions and their sense of unity. Both he and they are in this together, and thus he is motivating them to take on the challenge as one. 

Moreover, the use of figurative language is abundant here and can be found in similar inspirational and motivational styles of creative writing. The imagery created by the metaphor and alliteration in “the d ark and d esolate valley of segregation,” and its juxtaposition with “sunlit path of racial justice,” together aim to convey the speaker’s main message. Segregation has brought nothing but darkness and ruin to American society, but there is hope and light on the path toward racial equality.

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Final Thoughts

Creative writing acts as a medium for artistic expression. It can come in a variety of forms, from screenplays and speeches to poetry and flash fiction. But what groups all of these different types of creative writing under the “creative” umbrella, regardless of form, is their display of a writer’s imagination, creativity, and linguistic prowess. 

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I appreciate you offering such a thought-provoking perspective. It should be useful for academic writing in addition to creative writing, in my opinion. Each method you listed is pertinent and appropriate.

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You’re absolutely right! Many of these writing methods can be applied to both creative and academic writing, enhancing the depth and effectiveness of communication.

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Robert smith enago

Thank you for sharing this enlightening blog post on the various types of creative writing. Your exploration of different writing methods and styles provides an inspiring perspective on the boundless possibilities within the realm of creativity.

It is remarkable to see how creative writing encompasses an array of forms, each with its unique allure and artistic essence. From poetry, fiction, and drama to screenwriting, creative nonfiction, and even songwriting, each avenue offers writers a chance to express their thoughts, emotions, and imagination in captivating ways.

We truly appreciate your kind words! Creative writing is indeed a vast and fascinating world with endless opportunities for self-expression 🙂

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Meaning of creative writing in English

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  • bang something out
  • bash something out
  • borrow something from something
  • readability
  • reformulate

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a person who entertains with puppets

Paying attention and listening intently: talking about concentration

Paying attention and listening intently: talking about concentration

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