Writing Beginner

What Is Creative Writing? (Ultimate Guide + 20 Examples)

Creative writing begins with a blank page and the courage to fill it with the stories only you can tell.

I face this intimidating blank page daily–and I have for the better part of 20+ years.

In this guide, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of creative writing with tons of examples.

What Is Creative Writing (Long Description)?

Creative Writing is the art of using words to express ideas and emotions in imaginative ways. It encompasses various forms including novels, poetry, and plays, focusing on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes.

Bright, colorful creative writer's desk with notebook and typewriter -- What Is Creative Writing

Table of Contents

Let’s expand on that definition a bit.

Creative writing is an art form that transcends traditional literature boundaries.

It includes professional, journalistic, academic, and technical writing. This type of writing emphasizes narrative craft, character development, and literary tropes. It also explores poetry and poetics traditions.

In essence, creative writing lets you express ideas and emotions uniquely and imaginatively.

It’s about the freedom to invent worlds, characters, and stories. These creations evoke a spectrum of emotions in readers.

Creative writing covers fiction, poetry, and everything in between.

It allows writers to express inner thoughts and feelings. Often, it reflects human experiences through a fabricated lens.

Types of Creative Writing

There are many types of creative writing that we need to explain.

Some of the most common types:

  • Short stories
  • Screenplays
  • Flash fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction

Short Stories (The Brief Escape)

Short stories are like narrative treasures.

They are compact but impactful, telling a full story within a limited word count. These tales often focus on a single character or a crucial moment.

Short stories are known for their brevity.

They deliver emotion and insight in a concise yet powerful package. This format is ideal for exploring diverse genres, themes, and characters. It leaves a lasting impression on readers.

Example: Emma discovers an old photo of her smiling grandmother. It’s a rarity. Through flashbacks, Emma learns about her grandmother’s wartime love story. She comes to understand her grandmother’s resilience and the value of joy.

Novels (The Long Journey)

Novels are extensive explorations of character, plot, and setting.

They span thousands of words, giving writers the space to create entire worlds. Novels can weave complex stories across various themes and timelines.

The length of a novel allows for deep narrative and character development.

Readers get an immersive experience.

Example: Across the Divide tells of two siblings separated in childhood. They grow up in different cultures. Their reunion highlights the strength of family bonds, despite distance and differences.

Poetry (The Soul’s Language)

Poetry expresses ideas and emotions through rhythm, sound, and word beauty.

It distills emotions and thoughts into verses. Poetry often uses metaphors, similes, and figurative language to reach the reader’s heart and mind.

Poetry ranges from structured forms, like sonnets, to free verse.

The latter breaks away from traditional formats for more expressive thought.

Example: Whispers of Dawn is a poem collection capturing morning’s quiet moments. “First Light” personifies dawn as a painter. It brings colors of hope and renewal to the world.

Plays (The Dramatic Dialogue)

Plays are meant for performance. They bring characters and conflicts to life through dialogue and action.

This format uniquely explores human relationships and societal issues.

Playwrights face the challenge of conveying setting, emotion, and plot through dialogue and directions.

Example: Echoes of Tomorrow is set in a dystopian future. Memories can be bought and sold. It follows siblings on a quest to retrieve their stolen memories. They learn the cost of living in a world where the past has a price.

Screenplays (Cinema’s Blueprint)

Screenplays outline narratives for films and TV shows.

They require an understanding of visual storytelling, pacing, and dialogue. Screenplays must fit film production constraints.

Example: The Last Light is a screenplay for a sci-fi film. Humanity’s survivors on a dying Earth seek a new planet. The story focuses on spacecraft Argo’s crew as they face mission challenges and internal dynamics.

Memoirs (The Personal Journey)

Memoirs provide insight into an author’s life, focusing on personal experiences and emotional journeys.

They differ from autobiographies by concentrating on specific themes or events.

Memoirs invite readers into the author’s world.

They share lessons learned and hardships overcome.

Example: Under the Mango Tree is a memoir by Maria Gomez. It shares her childhood memories in rural Colombia. The mango tree in their yard symbolizes home, growth, and nostalgia. Maria reflects on her journey to a new life in America.

Flash Fiction (The Quick Twist)

Flash fiction tells stories in under 1,000 words.

It’s about crafting compelling narratives concisely. Each word in flash fiction must count, often leading to a twist.

This format captures life’s vivid moments, delivering quick, impactful insights.

Example: The Last Message features an astronaut’s final Earth message as her spacecraft drifts away. In 500 words, it explores isolation, hope, and the desire to connect against all odds.

Creative Nonfiction (The Factual Tale)

Creative nonfiction combines factual accuracy with creative storytelling.

This genre covers real events, people, and places with a twist. It uses descriptive language and narrative arcs to make true stories engaging.

Creative nonfiction includes biographies, essays, and travelogues.

Example: Echoes of Everest follows the author’s Mount Everest climb. It mixes factual details with personal reflections and the history of past climbers. The narrative captures the climb’s beauty and challenges, offering an immersive experience.

Fantasy (The World Beyond)

Fantasy transports readers to magical and mythical worlds.

It explores themes like good vs. evil and heroism in unreal settings. Fantasy requires careful world-building to create believable yet fantastic realms.

Example: The Crystal of Azmar tells of a young girl destined to save her world from darkness. She learns she’s the last sorceress in a forgotten lineage. Her journey involves mastering powers, forming alliances, and uncovering ancient kingdom myths.

Science Fiction (The Future Imagined)

Science fiction delves into futuristic and scientific themes.

It questions the impact of advancements on society and individuals.

Science fiction ranges from speculative to hard sci-fi, focusing on plausible futures.

Example: When the Stars Whisper is set in a future where humanity communicates with distant galaxies. It centers on a scientist who finds an alien message. This discovery prompts a deep look at humanity’s universe role and interstellar communication.

Watch this great video that explores the question, “What is creative writing?” and “How to get started?”:

What Are the 5 Cs of Creative Writing?

The 5 Cs of creative writing are fundamental pillars.

They guide writers to produce compelling and impactful work. These principles—Clarity, Coherence, Conciseness, Creativity, and Consistency—help craft stories that engage and entertain.

They also resonate deeply with readers. Let’s explore each of these critical components.

Clarity makes your writing understandable and accessible.

It involves choosing the right words and constructing clear sentences. Your narrative should be easy to follow.

In creative writing, clarity means conveying complex ideas in a digestible and enjoyable way.

Coherence ensures your writing flows logically.

It’s crucial for maintaining the reader’s interest. Characters should develop believably, and plots should progress logically. This makes the narrative feel cohesive.


Conciseness is about expressing ideas succinctly.

It’s being economical with words and avoiding redundancy. This principle helps maintain pace and tension, engaging readers throughout the story.

Creativity is the heart of creative writing.

It allows writers to invent new worlds and create memorable characters. Creativity involves originality and imagination. It’s seeing the world in unique ways and sharing that vision.


Consistency maintains a uniform tone, style, and voice.

It means being faithful to the world you’ve created. Characters should act true to their development. This builds trust with readers, making your story immersive and believable.

Is Creative Writing Easy?

Creative writing is both rewarding and challenging.

Crafting stories from your imagination involves more than just words on a page. It requires discipline and a deep understanding of language and narrative structure.

Exploring complex characters and themes is also key.

Refining and revising your work is crucial for developing your voice.

The ease of creative writing varies. Some find the freedom of expression liberating.

Others struggle with writer’s block or plot development challenges. However, practice and feedback make creative writing more fulfilling.

What Does a Creative Writer Do?

A creative writer weaves narratives that entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

Writers explore both the world they create and the emotions they wish to evoke. Their tasks are diverse, involving more than just writing.

Creative writers develop ideas, research, and plan their stories.

They create characters and outline plots with attention to detail. Drafting and revising their work is a significant part of their process. They strive for the 5 Cs of compelling writing.

Writers engage with the literary community, seeking feedback and participating in workshops.

They may navigate the publishing world with agents and editors.

Creative writers are storytellers, craftsmen, and artists. They bring narratives to life, enriching our lives and expanding our imaginations.

How to Get Started With Creative Writing?

Embarking on a creative writing journey can feel like standing at the edge of a vast and mysterious forest.

The path is not always clear, but the adventure is calling.

Here’s how to take your first steps into the world of creative writing:

  • Find a time of day when your mind is most alert and creative.
  • Create a comfortable writing space free from distractions.
  • Use prompts to spark your imagination. They can be as simple as a word, a phrase, or an image.
  • Try writing for 15-20 minutes on a prompt without editing yourself. Let the ideas flow freely.
  • Reading is fuel for your writing. Explore various genres and styles.
  • Pay attention to how your favorite authors construct their sentences, develop characters, and build their worlds.
  • Don’t pressure yourself to write a novel right away. Begin with short stories or poems.
  • Small projects can help you hone your skills and boost your confidence.
  • Look for writing groups in your area or online. These communities offer support, feedback, and motivation.
  • Participating in workshops or classes can also provide valuable insights into your writing.
  • Understand that your first draft is just the beginning. Revising your work is where the real magic happens.
  • Be open to feedback and willing to rework your pieces.
  • Carry a notebook or digital recorder to jot down ideas, observations, and snippets of conversations.
  • These notes can be gold mines for future writing projects.

Final Thoughts: What Is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is an invitation to explore the unknown, to give voice to the silenced, and to celebrate the human spirit in all its forms.

Check out these creative writing tools (that I highly recommend):

Read This Next:

  • What Is a Prompt in Writing? (Ultimate Guide + 200 Examples)
  • What Is A Personal Account In Writing? (47 Examples)
  • How To Write A Fantasy Short Story (Ultimate Guide + Examples)
  • How To Write A Fantasy Romance Novel [21 Tips + Examples)

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

part of creative writing

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

Inspiring Ink: Expert Tips on How to Teach Creative Writing

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Brooks Manley

Enriching Creative Writing Activities for Kids

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Last updated on Dec 23, 2022

Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started

Creative writing is a written art form that uses the imagination to tell stories and compose essays, poetry, screenplays, novels, lyrics, and more. It can be defined in opposition to the dry and factual types of writing found in academic, technical, or journalistic texts.

Characterized by its ability to evoke emotion and engage readers, creative writing can tackle themes and ideas that one might struggle to discuss in cold, factual terms.

If you’re interested in the world of creative writing, we have eight fantastic exercises and activities to get you started.

6S7yB12Gjxs Video Thumb

1. Use writing prompts every week

Illustration of a writer getting ready for a creative writing contest

Coming up with ideas for short stories can be challenging, which is why we created a directory of 1700+ creative writing prompts covering a wide range of genres and topics. Writing prompts are flexible in nature, they are meant to inspire you without being too constrictive. Overall, they are a great way to keep your creative muscles limber.

Example of Reedsy's Creative Writing Prompts

If you’re struggling for motivation, how does a hard deadline and a little prize money sound? Prompts-based writing contests are a fantastic way to dive into creative writing: the combination of due dates, friendly rivalries, prize money, and the potential to have your work published is often just what’s needed to propel you over the finish line. 

We run a weekly writing contest over on Reedsy Prompts, where hundreds of writers from all around the world challenge themselves weekly to write a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words for a chance to win the $250 prize. Furthermore, the community is very active in providing constructive feedback, support, and accountability to each other 一 something that will make your efforts even more worthwhile.

Take a peek at our directory of writing contests which features some of the most prestigious open writing competitions in the world. 

2. Start journaling your days

Illustration of a writer journaling in autumn

Another easy way to get started with creative writing is to keep a journal. We’re not talking about an hour-by-hour account of your day, but journaling as a way to express yourself without filters and find your ‘voice in writing’. If you’re unsure what to journal about, think of any daily experiences that have had an impact on you, such as… 

Special moments . Did you lock yourself out of your house? Or did you catch a beautiful sunset on your way back from groceries? Capture those moments, and how you felt about them.

People . Did you have an unusual exchange with a stranger at the bar? Or did you reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years? Share your thoughts about it.

World events . Is there something happening in the world right now that is triggering you? That’s understandable. You can reflect on it (and let some steam off) while journaling.

Memories . Did you go down memory lane after a glass of wine? Great, honor those memories by trying to recollect them in detail on paper so that they will always stay vivid in your mind.

Life decisions . Are you having an existential crisis about what to do with your life? Write down your thought process, and the pros and cons of the possible decisions in front of you. You’ll be surprised to discover that, not only is it a great creative writing exercise, but it can also actually help you sort your life out! 

If you struggle to write consistently, sign up for our How to Write a Novel course to finish a novel in just 3 months.  



How to Write a Novel

Enroll in our course and become an author in three months.

3. Create an anonymous social media account

Illustration of a writer thinking

Like anonymous blogging, an incognito Twitter account sidesteps the pressure that comes with attaching your name to your work. Anonymously putting tiny stories out into the ether gives you the freedom to create without worrying about the consequences — which is great, so long as you don’t use it as an opportunity to troll people or spread conspiracy theories. 

You could use the anonymous account in different ways. For example, you could…

  • Tweet from unique points of view (e.g. a dog observing human behavior );
  • Create a parody account of real or fictional people (e.g. an English poet from the Middle Ages );
  • Challenge yourself to write tiny flash fiction stories that fit into Twitter threads.

Just remember, you’re not doing this to fool anyone into thinking that your account is real: be a good citizen and mark yourself a fiction account in your bio. 

How to Start Creative Writing | Screenshot of a tweet by the Twitter account

But if you’re not really a social media kinda person, you may enjoy our next tip, which is a bit more on the analog side.



Meet writing coaches on Reedsy

Industry insiders can help you hone your craft, finish your draft, and get published.

4. Find an old photo and tell its story

Illustration of a photo-inspired journaling exercise

Find a random old photo — maybe on the web, maybe from a photo album in a yard sale — and see what catches your attention. Look closely at it and try to imagine the story behind it. What was happening? Who are the people in it and how are they really feeling? Do they share a relationship, and of what kind? What are their goals and dreams?

In other words, bring the photo to life with your imagination. Don't be afraid to take artistic license with your story, as the goal is to be creative and have fun while writing. 

How do you know it’s creative writing?

Creative Writing | info card listing 5 headers below

5. Create a character from a random name

Illustration of a young poet and a warrior back to back

Just as our universe started from a few simple elements, you can create a character from a few basic information, like their name, culture, and gender. Reedsy’s handy character name generator can help you with that, offering random names based on archetypes, Medieval roots, fantasy traits and more. A few examples? A Celtic heroine named Fíona O'Keefe, a hero’s sidekick named Aderine, or a Korean track star named Park Kang-Dae.

Once you've chosen their name, begin to develop their personality. Set a timer for 5–10 minutes and write anything that comes to mind about them. It could be a page from their FBI dossier, a childhood diary entry, or simply a scene about them boiling an egg.

Just ‘go with the flow’ and don’t stop writing until your time is up. Repeat the process a few times to further hone the personality. If you like what you end up with, you can always go deeper later with our character profile template . 

If a stream-of-consciousness exercise is not your thing, you can try to imagine your character in a specific situation and write down how’d they respond to it. For example, what if they were betrayed by a friend? Or if they were elected in power? To help you imagine situations to put your character in, we made a free template that you can download below. 



Reedsy’s Character Questionnaire

40 questions to help you develop memorable characters.

6. Construct a character by people-watching

A writer observing a person and taking notes

People watching is “the action of spending time idly observing people in a public place.” In a non-creepy way, ideally. Sit on a bench on a public square or on a road-side table at your favorite café, and start observing the people around you. Pay attention to any interesting quirks or behaviors, and write it down. Then put on your detective’s hat and try to figure out what that tells you about them.

For example, the man at the table next to you at the restaurant is reading the newspaper. His jacket and hat are neatly arranged next to him. The pages make a whipping sound as he briskly turns them, and he grimaces every time he reads a new article. Try to imagine what he’s reading, and why he’s reacting the way he is. Then, try to build a character with the information you have. It’s a fun creative exercise that will also, hopefully, help you better empathize with strangers. 

7. “Map” something you feel strongly about into a new context

Illustration of a young romance writer

Placing your feelings into new contexts can be a powerful creative writing exercise. The idea is to start from something you feel strongly about, and frame it into a completely different context. 

For example, suppose your heart is torn apart after you divorce your life-long partner: instead of journaling or crafting an entire novel  about it, you could tell a story about a legendary trapeze duo whose partnership has come to an end. If you’re struggling with politicking and petty power dynamics at the office: what if you “mapped” your feelings onto an ant who resents being part of a colony? Directing your frustration at a queen ant can be a fun and cathartic writing experience (that won’t get you in trouble if your co-workers end up reading your story).   

8. Capture the moment with a haiku

Illustration of a haiku poet inspired by the four seasons

Haikus are poems from the Japanese tradition that aim to capture, in a few words, daily moments of insight (usually inspired by nature). In a nutshell, it’s about becoming mindful of your surroundings, and notice if you can see something in a new or deeper way 一 then use contrasting imagery to express whatever you noticed. 

Here’s an example:

Bright orange bicycle

Speeding through the autumn leaves

A burst of color waves

It may sound a bit complicated, but it shouldn’t be 一 at least not for the purpose of this exercise. Learn the basics of haiku-writing , then challenge yourself to write one per day for a week or month. At the end, you’ll be able to look back at your collection of poems and 一 in the worst case scenario 一 revisit small but significant moments that you would have otherwise forgot about.   

Creative writing can be any writing you put your heart and soul into. It could be made for the purpose of expressing your feelings, exploring an idea, or simply entertaining your readers. As you can see there’s many paths to get involved with it, and hundreds of exercises you can use as a starting point. In the next post, we’ll look more in detail at some creative writing examples from some fellow authors. 

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Creative Writing Ultimate Guide

POSTED ON Dec 28, 2022

Gloria Russell

Written by Gloria Russell

I don’t know about you, but when I start learning a new skill, I want to know everything about it right away. How do I get started? What do I need to get started? How could this new skill transform my life?

Being an incessant researcher of new pastimes, I love a good master post. So, I’ve made one today for one of my favorite things in the world: creative writing .

I wrote this for people who are just getting into creative writing, but even if you’ve been writing for a while, stay tuned—some of the tricks and resources in this post will be helpful for you, too.

Need A Fiction Book Outline?

What is creative writing?

Creative writing examples, how to start creative writing, creative writing prompts, creative writing jobs, creative writing degrees, online creative writing courses.

Creative writing is imaginative writing. It’s meant to entertain its readers and get some emotional response from them. You’ll note that I said imaginative , but I didn’t say fictional writing, because while fiction is a subcategory of creative writing, it doesn’t define creative writing. All fiction is creative writing, but not all creative writing is fiction.

While technical, legal, or academic writing might be focused on conveying information in the most efficient and clear manner possible, the goal of creative writing is slightly different. You still want to communicate effectively and clearly, but you also want to put some pep in there. Creative writing uses tools like metaphor and imagery to evoke an image, emotion, or both from the reader.

Another way to look at it: if you were to say what makes creative writing distinct as a form, you could say it’s the artsy one.

Creative writing covers more than just fiction, or even just novels . Here’s a quick rundown of some types of creative writing you might encounter.

Novels (which fall under the ‘fiction’ umbrella) are a type of creative writing where the reader follows a character or characters through a plot. A novel might be a standalone, or it might be part of a series.

Example: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

2. Short Stories

Short stories (which also fall under the ‘fiction’ umbrella) follow a character through a plot, like you’d see in a novel, but short stories are, well, shorter. Generally, short stories run between 1,000 and 10,000 words, with works under 1,000 words falling under the subcategory ‘flash fiction.’

Example: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Poetry is a form of writing which focuses heavily on imagery, metaphor, symbolism, and other figurative tools. It also involves a lot of technical work with form; meter and rhythm are commonly used to enhance meaning. You can generally tell what poems are by looking at them, since they’re usually divided into groups of lines (stanzas) instead of paragraphs, like you might see in other forms of creative writing.

Example: Little Beast by Richard Siken

Related: Where to Publish Poetry

Plays are written for the stage. They include stage direction, brief scene descriptions, and character dialogue, but there’s often not a lot of prose. Plays are intended to be watched by an audience instead of read, so whatever prose exists, it is intended for the people participating in the play.

Example: Hamlet by Shakespeare

Songs are similar to poetry in terms of their structure and use of figurative language, but songs are meant to be performed. People don’t generally read song lyrics without listening to it, and the instrumentation and production often enhance the meaning of a song. Songwriters also use music theory to play with meaning—at a basic level, for example, minor chords generally convey sadness, while major chords generally convey happiness.

Example: Let it Be by the Beatles

6. Memoirs & Personal Essays

Memoirs and personal essays are a form of creative writing where an author draws on their real lived experience to create a narrative. Memoir specifically sometimes plays with chronological order and specific technical fact in favor of symbolic resonance—the author is getting at an emotional truth rather than a literal or objective truth.

Example: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

7. Journaling

Not everyone uses journaling as a creative writing exercise—some people want to log their daily activities and be done with it—but if you’ve ever poured your heart out about a breakup to the nonjudgmental pages of a notebook, you’ve probably already done some creative writing!

Want to find more examples? I wrote on this topic for another site, and it includes even more examples of creative writing for you to try.

Now that you know what creative writing looks like, let’s talk about how to get started, even if you’ve never practiced creative writing before.

1. Try stuff on until something fits

Take a look at the list above (or do a Google search for ‘types of creative writing’ and see if there’s anything else you might be interested in—I won’t be offended) and pick one that seems fun. If you want to try, for example, a screenplay, but you’re not sure how to write one, read a bunch. Get a feel for how they work.

Maybe you do that and decide you don't want to write screenplays after all. Okay! Try short stories. Try poetry. Try songwriting. Practicing different forms will make you a more well-rounded writer in the long run, and you might be surprised at what resonates with you.

2. Practice, practice, practice

Once you’ve found a form or a few forms that suit you, your job as a newbie is simple: practice. Write whatever you want as often as you can and, if possible, for your eyes only. Create a relationship between yourself and your craft.

Some say you should start with short stories before jumping into novels so you can practice completing narrative arcs. That might work great! But if you hate writing short stories, just practice with writing novels.

If you have an idea that feels a little too advanced for you, that’s probably what you should be working on, since it’ll teach you a lot about the craft along the way. Don’t be intimidated, and don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions (this includes any fretting about publishing). Your singular goal here is to create, and your secondary goal is to challenge yourself.

3. Join some kind of writerly group

But hold on, you might be thinking. How do I know I’m not getting worse the more I practice? How do I know I’m not just churning out garbage?

At some point, especially if your goal is to publish , you’ll want feedback on your work. And while it’s important to have the support of your loved ones, it’s also important to get feedback from other writers.

I do not recommend sending your very first manuscript to an editor or well-established writer for feedback—their feedback, generally aimed at moderate to advanced writers, is probably going to devastate you at the fledgling stage. I do recommend finding other writers at approximately your skill level to bounce ideas off of and exchange critiques. These other writers can be found online or at local writing circles—check your local public library for creative writing workshops.

Have you picked out a form of creative writing to try, but you just can’t come up with any ideas? Try using a creative writing prompt to get those creative gears turning. These are totally for you to use however is most helpful: use the prompt as-is, tweak it a little, whatever works.

Prompts are a great way to explore different types of tones in writing and hone your own personal style as an author!

Use this FREE tool: Writing Prompts Generator

Looking to make some money with your creative writing endeavors? Here’s a few options to kickstart your job search:


As a ghostwriter, your job is to write the story your client assigns you . This might be a fictional novel, or it might be a memoir. The client often has specific requests for content, length, and so on. The catch? Your name is not on the book. You’re not allowed to say that you wrote it—the client’s name or pen name usually goes on the author line. You can find ghostwriting gigs on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.

Marketing does involve some technical elements like copywriting, but creative writers have a place in marketing, too. Brands need catchy slogans, funny commercials, and even social media gurus to run entertaining Twitter accounts. For more ideas on how to market your upcoming book , check out our post on the topic.

Columnist/Blog Writer

You can also look for work as an op-ed columnist or blog writer. This might be something you do for an existing website, or it might be a blog you start from scratch on Wix, SquareSpace, or Tumblr.

You might have heard of people getting creative writing degrees, or at least you might have heard some of the discourse surrounding these degrees. Off the bat, I want to say that you don’t need a creative writing degree to be a writer. It doesn’t make you a ‘real’ writer, and it doesn’t indicate your seriousness toward the craft.

If you do want to get a creative writing degree, though, you’re looking (broadly) at two options:

Undergraduate writing programs

This is your BFA in creative writing. Not all colleges offer them—many (like my alma mater) offer a creative writing concentration or focus as part of an English degree. So you might graduate, hypothetically, for example, with a degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. Some colleges don’t offer a major, but they do offer minors.

Check to see what sorts of courses your college or prospective college offers. Do you have to be an English major to take their creative writing course? Does their creative writing course offer guidance in the type of creative writing you want to pursue? For example, my alma mater offered a creative writing concentration with two tracks, one for fiction and one for poetry. There was also a separate film studies concentration for aspiring screenplay writers and film students.

Graduate writing programs (a.k.a., the MFA)

MFA programs can be extremely competitive and prohibitively expensive, not to mention that you’re obviously not guaranteed to come out of them a better writer. They can be a great tool, but they’re not a necessary one. Look at it this way: are you willing to get this MFA if it means you might come out of it without a successfully published novel? If so, proceed.

If you want to pursue an MFA, do your research. Don’t go straight for the Iowa Writers Workshop application page and hope for the best—investigate the universities that look appealing to you, see if your interests align with theirs, and make that application fee count.

Going to college isn’t the only way to take classes on creative writing! If you’re looking for more cost-friendly options, the Internet is your friend. I’ve linked to a few places loaded with creative writing courses to get you started.

1. Intelligent.com: The Best 10 Online Creative Writing Courses

2. Coursera: Best Creative Writing Courses and Certifications

3. Self-Publishing School: Best Self-Publishing Courses

4. Our Programs: Fiction Write Your Book Program

Are you ready to try an online creative writing course? Are you ready to start some creative writing prompts? Or, are you think you're ready to go for a full creative writing project of your own? Here is a resource to help you get started:

part of creative writing

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1.1: Intro to Creative Writing

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  • Page ID 132138

  • Sybil Priebe
  • North Dakota State College of Science via Independent Published

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part of creative writing

chapter 1: intro to creative writing:

Creative writing\(^7\) is any writing that goes outside the bounds of “normal”\(^8\) “professional,”\(^9\) journalistic, “academic,”\(^{10}\) or technical forms of literature, typically identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or with various traditions of poetry and poetics. Due to the looseness of the definition, it is possible for writing such as feature stories to be considered creative writing, even though they fall under journalism, because the content of features is specifically focused on narrative and character development. 

Both fictional and nonfictional works fall into this category, including such forms as novels, biographies, short stories, and poems. In the academic setting, creative writing is typically separated into fiction and poetry classes, with a focus on writing in an original style, as opposed to imitating pre-existing genres such as crime or horror. Writing for the screen and stage—screenwriting and playwrighting—are often taught separately but fit under the creative writing category as well.

Creative writing can technically be considered any writing of original composition. 

the creative process: \(^{11}\)

Some people can simply sit down to write and have something to write about. For others, finding something to write about can be the hardest part of creative writing. Assuming that you are not in the first group, there are several things you can do to create ideas. Not all of these will work for all people, but most are at least useful tools in the process. Also, you never know when you might have an idea. Write down any ideas you have at any time and expand on them later.

For stories and poetry, the simplest method is to immerse yourself in the subject matter. If you want to write a short story, read a lot of short stories. If you want to write a poem, read poems. If you want to write something about love, read a lot of things about love, no matter the genre. 

the writing process “reminder”\(^{12}\)

Please Note: Not all writers follow these steps perfectly and with each project, but let’s review them to cover our butts:



Outline\(^{13}\) your entire story so you know what to write.  Start by writing a summary of your story in 1 paragraph. Use each sentence to explain the most important parts of your story. Then, take each sentence of your paragraph and expand it into greater detail. Keep working backward to add more detail to your story. This is known as the “snowflake method” of outlining.

getting started:

Find a comfortable space to write: consider the view, know yourself well enough to decide what you need in that physical space (music? coffee? blanket?).

Have the right tools: computer, notebook, favorite pens, etc.

Consider having a portable version of your favorite writing tool (small notebook or use an app on your phone?).

Start writing and try to make a daily habit out of it, even if you only get a paragraph or page down each day.

Keys to creativity: curiosity, passion, determination, awareness, energy, openness, sensitivity, listening, and observing...

getting ideas:

Ideas are everywhere! Ideas can be found:

Notebook or Image journal

Media: Magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, movies, etc.

Conversations with people

Artistic sources like photographs, family albums, home movies, illustrations, sculptures, and paintings.

Daily life: Standing in line at the grocery store, going to an ATM, working at your campus job, etc.

Music: Song lyrics, music videos, etc.

Beautiful or Horrible Settings

Favorite Objects

Favorite Books

How to generate ideas:

Play the game: "What if..."

Play the game: "I wonder..."

Use your favorite story as a model.

Revise favorite stories - nonfiction or fiction - into a different genre.

writer's block:\(^{14}\)

Writer’s block can happen to ANYONE, so here are some ways to break the block if it happens to you:

Write down anything that comes to mind. 

Try to draw ideas from what has already been written.

Take a break from writing. 

Read other peoples' writing to get ideas.

Talk to people. Ask others if they have any ideas.

Don't be afraid of writing awkwardly. Write it down and edit it later.

Set deadlines and keep them.

Work on multiple projects at a time; this way if you need to procrastinate on one project, you can work on another!

If you are jammed where you are, stop and write somewhere else, where it is comfortable.

Go somewhere where people are. Then people-watch. Who are these people? What do they do? Can you deduce\(^{15}\) anything based on what they are wearing or doing or saying? Make up random backstories for them, as if they were characters in your story.

peer workshops and feedback acronyms: \(^{16}\)

Having other humans give you feedback will help you improve misunderstandings within your work. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to see what you “missed” in your own writing. Please try not to get upset by the feedback; some people give creative criticism and others give negative criticism, but you will eventually learn by your own mistakes to improve your writing and that requires peer review and feedback from others. 

If you are comfortable having your friends and family read your work, you could have them\(^{17}\) peer review your work. Have a nerdy friend who corrects your grammar? Pay them in pizza perhaps to read over your stuff!? If you are in college, you can use college tutors to review your work.

Peer Workshop activities can help create a “writing group vibe” to any course, so hopefully, that is a part of the creative writing class you are taking.


The acronyms involved with feedback – at least according to the educators of Twitter – are WWW and TAG. Here’s what they stand for, so feel free to use these strategies in your creative writing courses OR when giving feedback to ANYONE.

Are you open to the kinds of feedback you’ll get using that table above with the WWW/TAG pieces?

What do you typically want feedback on when it comes to projects? Why?

What do you feel comfortable giving feedback to classmates on? Why?

\(^7\)"Creative Writing." Wikipedia . 13 Nov 2016. 21 Nov 2016, 19:39 < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_writing >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^8\)Whoa, what is normal anyway?

\(^9\)What IS the definition of “professionalism”?

\(^{10}\)Can’t academic writing be creative?

\(^{11}\)"Creative Writing/Introduction." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project . 10 May 2009, 04:14 UTC. 9 Nov 2016, 19:39

< https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php...&oldid=1495539 >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^{12}\)It doesn’t really matter who created it; all you need to know is that you don’t HAVE to follow it perfectly. Not many people do.

\(^{13}\)Wikihow contributors. "How to Write Science Fiction." Wikihow. 29 May 2019. Web. 22 June 2019. http://www.wikihow.com/Write-Science-Fiction . Text available under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

\(^{14}\)"Creative Writing/Fiction technique." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project . 28 Jun 2016, 13:38 UTC. 9 Nov 2016, 20:36

< https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php...&oldid=3093632 >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^{15}\)Deduce = to reach a conclusion.

\(^{16}\)"Creative Writing/Peer Review." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 16 Aug 2016, 22:07 UTC. 9 Nov 2016, 20:12

< https://en.wikibooks.org/w/index.php...&oldid=3107005 >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^{17}\)This textbook we’ll try to use they/them pronouns throughout to be inclusive of all humans.

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What is Creative Writing?

part of creative writing

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.

Home › Study Tips › Creative Writing Resources For Secondary School Students

What Is Creative Writing? Is It Worth Studying?

  • Published October 31, 2022

An opened notebook with a handwriiten sentence on it.

Table of Contents

As loose as the definition of Creative Writing is, it’s not always easy to understand. Sure, writing a story is Creative Writing. What about poems or personal essays?

Also, how does Creative Writing even help one succeed in university and career life? We empower our Creative Writing summer school students to grasp the power of creative writing and how to use it.

How? By giving them access to personalised tutorials with expert Creative Writing tutors from prestigious universities such as the University of Oxford and Cambridge.

Creative Writing doesn’t have to be confusing or intimidating. In this article, we’ll take you through a simple explanation of what Creative Writing is and why it’s helpful and relevant.

What is Creative Writing? 

The simplest description of Creative Writing is what it’s not: it doesn’t revolve around facts like technical writing.

Technical Writing vs Creative Writing

You encounter technical writing in your daily life. You’ll find it in newspapers, journal articles, and textbooks. Do you notice how the presentation of accurate information is necessary in each of these mediums? 

Because the goal of technical writing is to explain or relay information as it is .  

But in creative writing, such is not the case. The primary goal of Creative Writing is not to present complex information for the sake of educating the audience. 

Instead, the goal is to express yourself. Should you want to share information via Creative Writing, the objective becomes persuading your readers to think about it as you do.

Hence, if you contrast Technical Writing and Creative Writing within this context,

  • Technical Writing: share information without biases
  • Creative Writing: self-expression of how one feels or thinks about said information.

If reducing personal opinion in Technical Writing is virtuous, in creative writing, it is criminal .

Self-Expression in Creative Writing

One must express oneself in Creative Writing to entertain, captivate, or persuade readers. Since Creative Writing involves one’s imagination and self-expression, it’s common for Creative Writers to say that they “poured a part of themselves” into their work. 

What are the different ways you can express yourself in Creative Writing?

Types of Creative Writing: 2 Major Types

The two major umbrellas of Creative Writing are Creative Nonfiction and Creative Fiction.

1. Creative Nonfiction

“Nonfiction” means writing based on actual events, persons, and experiences. Some forms of creative nonfiction include:

  • Personal Essay – here, the writer shares their personal thoughts, beliefs, or experiences.
  • Memoir – captures the writer’s memories and experiences of a life-changing past event.
  • Narrative Nonfiction – a factual event written in a story format.

2. Creative Fiction

The bulk of Creative Writing literature is found under the Creative Fiction category, such as:

  • Short Story – shorter than a novel, containing only a few scenes and characters.
  • Novel – a full-blown plot line with multiple scenes, characters, and subplots.
  • Poem – uses specific rhythm and style to express ideas or feelings
  • Play – contains dialogue and stage directions for theatre performances.
  • Screenplay – script to be used for film production (e.g. movies, video games.)

In short, Creative Fiction involves stories . Do you want more specific examples of Creative Writing? Then, you may want to read this article called “Creative Writing Examples.”

Why Is It Important to Learn Creative Writing? 

It’s essential to learn Creative Writing because of the following reasons:

1. Creative Writing is a valuable skill in school and work

As a student, you know well why Creative Writing is important. You submit written work in various situations, such as writing essays for assignments and exams. Or when you have to write a Personal Statement to apply for University. 

In these situations, your chances of getting higher grades depend on your ability to write creatively. (Even your chances of getting accepted into a top ranked creative writing university of your dreams!)

What about when you graduate? Do you use Creative Writing in your career? Convincing a recruiter to hire you via cover letters is an example of creative writing.

Once you’re hired, you’ll find that you need to write something up. It depends on your line of work and how often and complex your writing should be.

But mundane tasks such as writing an email response, coming up with a newsletter, or making a PowerPoint presentation involve creative writing.

So when you’ve practised your Creative Writing skills, you’ll find these tasks manageable. Even enjoyable! If you want to study creative writing at university, we put together what a-levels you need for creative writing .

2. Creative Writing enhances several essential skills.

Do you know that writing is thinking? At least that’s what the American Historian and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, David McCullough said.

Many people find Creative Writing challenging because it requires a combination of the following skills:

  • Observation
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Reasoning skills
  • Communication

Many of these skills make you a valuable employee in many industries. In fact, Forbes reports that:

  • Critical Thinking
  • and Emotional Intelligence

are three of the Top 10 most in-demand skills for the next decade. That’s why Creative Writing is a valuable endeavour and if you take it at university there are some great creative writing degree career prospects .

3. Creative Writing Is Therapeutic 

Do you know that Creative Writing has a significant beneficial effect on your mental and emotional health? 

A 2021 study in the Counselling & Psychotherapy Research reports that Creative Writing brought significant health benefits to nine people who worked in creative industries. Writing helped them in their cognitive processing of emotional difficulty. 

Result? Improved mood and mental well-being. 

A plethora of studies over the decades found the same results. Expressing yourself via creative writing, especially by writing in your daily journal, is beneficial for your mental and emotional health. 

4. You may want to work in a Creative Writing-related Career

Creative employment in the UK grows 2x faster than the rest of the economy. In fact, did you know that jobs in the creative industry grew by 30.6% from 2011 to 2018? 

Compare that to the average UK growth of 10.1% during the same period, and you can see the potential. 

How about in the US? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 4% increase in employment for authors and writers from 2021 to 2031. Resulting in about 15,200 job openings yearly over the next 10 years.

The median yearly salary? It was at $69,510 as of May 2021. 

So if you’re considering a Creative Writing career, now would be a great time to do so!

How To Be A Creative Writer? 

You want to be a Creative Writer but don’t know where to start. Don’t worry! The best way to start is to learn from Creative Writing experts .

That’s why we ensure our Creative Writing summer school students have access to 1:1 personalised tutorials with expert Creative Writing tutors. 

Our Creative Writing tutors come from world-renowned universities such as the University of Cambridge and Oxford. So you’re in excellent hands!

Here you’ll learn creative writing tips and techniques , such as character creation and plot mapping. But the best part is, you’ll come out of the course having experienced what a Creative Writer is like!

Because by then, you’ll have a Written Portfolio to show for your efforts. Which you presented to your tutor and peers for receiving constructive feedback.

Another surefire way to start becoming a Creative Writer is by practising. Check out this article called “ Creative Writing Exercises .” You’ll begin building a writing routine if you practice these exercises daily. 

And trust us, every great writer has a solid writing routine!

Creative Writing is a form of self-expression that allows you to use your imagination and creativity. It can be in the form of personal essays, short stories, or poems. It is often used as an outlet for emotions and experiences. Start with creative writing by reading through creative writing examples to help get you in the mood. Then, just let the words flow daily, and you’re on the road to becoming an excellent Creative Writer!

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  • What Is Creative Writing? The ULTIMATE Guide!

Creative Writing Summer School in Yale - students discussing

At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a range of summer school programmes that have become extremely popular amongst students of all ages. The subject of creative writing continues to intrigue many academics as it can help to develop a range of skills that will benefit you throughout your career and life.

Nevertheless, that initial question is one that continues to linger and be asked time and time again: what is creative writing? More specifically, what does it mean or encompass? How does creative writing differ from other styles of writing?

During our Oxford Summer School programme , we will provide you with in-depth an immersive educational experience on campus in the colleges of the best university in the world. However, in this guide, we want to provide a detailed analysis of everything to do with creative writing, helping you understand more about what it is and why it could benefit you to become a creative writer.

The best place to start is with a definition.

What is creative writing?

The dictionary definition of creative writing is that it is original writing that expresses ideas and thoughts in an imaginative way. [1] Some academics will also define it as the art of making things up, but both of these definitions are too simplistic in the grand scheme of things.

It’s challenging to settle on a concrete definition as creative writing can relate to so many different things and formats. Naturally, as the name suggests, it is all built around the idea of being creative or imaginative. It’s to do with using your brain and your own thoughts to create writing that goes outside the realms of what’s expected. This type of writing tends to be more unique as it comes from a personal place. Each individual has their own level of creativity, combined with their own thoughts and views on different things. Therefore, you can conjure up your own text and stories that could be completely different from others.

Understanding creative writing can be challenging when viewed on its own. Consequently, the best way to truly understand this medium is by exploring the other main forms of writing. From here, we can compare and contrast them with the art of creative writing, making it easier to find a definition or separate this form of writing from others.

What are the main forms of writing?

In modern society, we can identify five main types of writing styles [1] that will be used throughout daily life and a plethora of careers:

  • Narrative Writing
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Expository Writing
  • Creative Writing

Narrative writing refers to storytelling in its most basic form. Traditionally, this involves telling a story about a character and walking the readers through the journey they go on. It can be a long novel or a short story that’s only a few hundred words long. There are no rules on length, and it can be completely true or a work of fiction.

A fundamental aspect of narrative writing that makes it different from other forms is that it should includes the key elements of storytelling. As per UX Planet, there are seven core elements of a good story or narrative [2] : the plot, characters, theme, dialogue, melody, decor and spectacle. Narrative writing will include all of these elements to take the ready on a journey that starts at the beginning, has a middle point, but always comes to a conclusion. This style of writing is typically used when writing stories, presenting anecdotes about your life, creating presentations or speeches and for some academic essays.

Descriptive writing, on the other hand, is more focused on the details. When this type of writing is used, it’s focused on capturing the reader’s attention and making them feel like they are part of the story. You want them to live and feel every element of a scene, so they can close their eyes and be whisked away to whatever place or setting you describe.

In many ways, descriptive writing is writing as an art form. Good writers can be given a blank canvas, using their words to paint a picture for the audience. There’s a firm focus on the five senses all humans have; sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. Descriptive writing touches on all of these senses to tell the reader everything they need to know and imagine about a particular scene.

This is also a style of writing that makes good use of both similes and metaphors. A simile is used to describe something as something else, while a metaphor is used to show that something is something else. There’s a subtle difference between the two, but they both aid descriptive writing immensely. According to many writing experts, similes and metaphors allow an author to emphasise, exaggerate, and add interest to a story to create a more vivid picture for the reader [3] .

Looking at persuasive writing and we have a form of writing that’s all about making yourself heard. You have an opinion that you want to get across to the reader, convincing them of it. The key is to persuade others to think differently, often helping them broaden their mind or see things from another point of view. This is often confused with something called opinionative writing, which is all about providing your opinions. While the two seem similar, the key difference is that persuasive writing is built around the idea of submitting evidence and backing your thoughts up. It’s not as simple as stating your opinion for other to read; no, you want to persuade them that your thoughts are worth listening to and perhaps worth acting on.

This style of writing is commonly used journalistically in news articles and other pieces designed to shine a light on certain issues or opinions. It is also typically backed up with statistical evidence to give more weight to your opinions and can be a very technical form of writing that’s not overly emotional.

Expository writing is more focused on teaching readers new things. If we look at its name, we can take the word exposure from it. According to Merriam-Webster [4] , one of the many definitions of exposure is to reveal something to others or present them with something they otherwise didn’t know. In terms of writing, it can refer to the act of revealing new information to others or exposing them to new ideas.

Effectively, expository writing focuses on the goal of leaving the reader with new knowledge of a certain topic or subject. Again, it is predominately seen in journalistic formats, such as explainer articles or ‘how-to’ blogs. Furthermore, you also come across it in academic textbooks or business writing.

This brings us back to the centre of attention for this guide: what is creative writing?

Interestingly, creative writing is often seen as the style of writing that combines many of these forms together in one go. Narrative writing can be seen as creative writing as you are coming up with a story to keep readers engaged, telling a tale for them to enjoy or learn from. Descriptive writing is very much a key part of creative writing as you are using your imagination and creative skills to come up with detailed descriptions that transport the reader out of their home and into a different place.

Creative writing can even use persuasive writing styles in some formats. Many writers will combine persuasive writing with a narrative structure to come up with a creative way of telling a story to educate readers and provide new opinions for them to view or be convinced of. Expository writing can also be involved here, using creativity and your imagination to answer questions or provide advice to the reader.

Essentially, creative writing can combine other writing types to create a unique and new way of telling a story or producing content. At the same time, it can include absolutely none of the other forms at all. The whole purpose of creative writing is to think outside the box and stray from traditional structures and norms. Fundamentally, we can say there are no real rules when it comes to creative writing, which is what makes it different from the other writing styles discussed above.

What is the purpose of creative writing?

Another way to understand and explore the idea of creative writing is to look at its purpose. What is the aim of most creative works of writing? What do they hope to provide the reader with?

We can look at the words of Bryanna Licciardi, an experienced creative writing tutor, to understand the purpose of creative writing. She writes that the primary purpose is to entertain and share human experiences, like love or loss. Writers attempt to reveal the truth with regard to humanity through poetics and storytelling. [5] She also goes on to add that the first step of creative writing is to use one’s imagination.

When students sign up to our creative writing courses, we will teach them how to write with this purpose. Your goal is to create stories or writing for readers that entertain them while also providing information that can have an impact on their lives. It’s about influencing readers through creative storytelling that calls upon your imagination and uses the thoughts inside your head. The deeper you dive into the art of creative writing, the more complex it can be. This is largely because it can be expressed in so many different formats. When you think of creative writing, your instinct takes you to stories and novels. Indeed, these are both key forms of creative writing that we see all the time. However, there are many other forms of creative writing that are expressed throughout the world.

What are the different forms of creative writing?

Looking back at the original and simple definition of creative writing, it relates to original writing in a creative and imaginative way. Consequently, this can span across so many genres and types of writing that differ greatly from one another. This section will explore and analyse the different types of creative writing, displaying just how diverse this writing style can be – while also showcasing just what you’re capable of when you learn how to be a creative writer.

The majority of students will first come across creative writing in the form of essays . The point of an essay is to present a coherent argument in response to a stimulus or question. [6] In essence, you are persuading the reader that your answer to the question is correct. Thus, creative writing is required to get your point across as coherently as possible, while also using great descriptive writing skills to paint the right message for the reader.

Moreover, essays can include personal essays – such as writing a cover letter for work or a university application. Here, great creativity is needed to almost write a story about yourself that captivates the reader and takes them on a journey with you. Excellent imagination and persuasive writing skills can help you tell your story and persuade those reading that you are the right person for the job or university place.

Arguably, this is the most common way in which creative writing is expressed. Fictional work includes novels, novellas, short stories – and anything else that is made up. The very definition of fiction by the Cambridge Dictionary states that it is the type of book or story that is written about imaginary characters and events not based on real people and facts. [7] As such, it means that your imagination is called upon to create something out of nothing. It is a quintessential test of your creative writing skills, meaning you need to come up with characters, settings, plots, descriptions and so much more.

Fictional creative writing in itself takes on many different forms and can be completely different depending on the writer. That is the real beauty of creative writing; you can have entirely different stories and characters from two different writers. Just look at the vast collection of fictional work around you today; it’s the perfect way to see just how versatile creative writing can be depending on the writer.

Similarly, scripts can be a type of creative writing that appeals to many. Technically, a script can be considered a work of fiction. Nevertheless, it depends on the script in question. Scripts for fictional television shows, plays or movies are obviously works of fiction. You, the writer, has come up with the characters and story of the show/play/movie, bringing it all to life through the script. But, scripts can also be non-fictional. Creating a play or movie that adapts real-life events will mean you need to write a script based on something that genuinely happened.

Here, it’s a perfect test of creative writing skills as you take a real event and use your creative talents to make it more interesting. The plot and narrative may already be there for you, so it’s a case of using your descriptive writing skills to really sell it to others and keep readers – or viewers – on the edge of their seats.

A speech is definitely a work of creative writing. The aim of a speech can vary depending on what type of speech it is. A politician delivering a speech in the House of Commons will want to get a point across to persuade others in the room. They’ll need to use creative writing to captivate their audience and have them hanging on their every word. A recent example of a great speech was the one by Sir David Attenborough at the recent COP26 global climate summit. [8] Listening to the speech is a brilliant way of understanding how creative writing can help get points across. His speech went viral around the world because of how electrifying and enthralling it is. The use of many descriptive and persuasive words had people hanging onto everything he said. He really created a picture and an image for people to see, convincing them that the time is now to work on stopping and reversing climate change.

From this speech to a completely different one, you can see creative writing at play for speeches at weddings and other jovial events. Here, the purpose is more to entertain guests and make them laugh. At the same time, someone giving a wedding speech will hope to create a lovely story for the guests to enjoy, displaying the true love that the married couple share for one another. Regardless of what type of speech an individual is giving, creative writing skills are required for it to be good and captivating.

Poetry & Songs

The final example of creative writing is twofold; poetry and songs. Both of these formats are similar to one another, relying on creativity to deliver a combination of things. Poetry can take so many forms and styles, but it aims to inspire readers and get them thinking. Poems often have hidden meanings behind them, and it takes a great deal of imagination and creativity to come up with these meanings while also creating a powerful poem. Some argue that poetry is the most creative of all creative writing forms.

Songwriting is similar in that you use creativity to come up with lyrics that can have powerful meanings while also conjuring up a story for people. The best songwriters will use lyrics that stay in people’s minds and get them thinking about the meaning behind the song. If you lack imagination and creativity, you will never be a good songwriter.

In truth, there are so many other types and examples of creative writing that you can explore. The ones listed above are the most common and powerful, and they all do a great job of demonstrating how diverse creative writing can be. If you can hone your skills in creative writing, it opens up many opportunities for you in life. Primarily, creative writing focuses on fictional pieces of work, but as you can see, non-fiction also requires a good deal of creativity.

What’s needed to make a piece of creative writing?

Our in-depth analysis of creative writing has led to a point where you’re aware of this style of writing and its purpose, along with some examples of it in the real world. The next question to delve into is what do you need to do to make a piece of creative writing. To phrase this another way; how do you write something that comes under the creative heading rather than another form of writing?

There is an element of difficulty in answering this question as creative writing has so many different types and genres. Consequently, there isn’t a set recipe for the perfect piece of creative writing, and that’s what makes this format so enjoyable and unique. Nevertheless, we can discover some crucial elements or principles that will help make a piece of writing as creative and imaginative as possible:

A target audience

All creative works will begin by defining a target audience. There are many ways to define a target audience, with some writers suggesting that you think about who is most likely to read your work. However, this can still be challenging as you’re unsure of the correct demographic to target. Writer’s Digest makes a good point of defining your target audience by considering your main motivation for writing in the first place. [9] It’s a case of considering what made you want to start writing – whether it’s a blog post, novel, song, poem, speech, etc. Figuring out your motivation behind it will help you zero in on your target audience.

Defining your audience is vital for creative writing as it helps you know exactly what to write and how to write it. All of your work should appeal to this audience and be written in a way that they can engage with. As a simple example, authors that write children’s stories will adapt their writing to appeal to the younger audience. Their stories include lots of descriptions and words that children understand, rather than being full of long words and overly academic writing.

Establishing the audience lets the writer know which direction to take things in. As a result, this can aid with things like character choices, plot, storylines, settings, and much more.

A story of sorts

Furthermore, great works of creative writing will always include a story of sorts. This is obvious for works such as novels, short stories, scripts, etc. However, even for things like poems, songs or speeches, a story helps make it creative. It gives the audience something to follow, helping them make sense of the work. Even if you’re giving a speech, setting a story can help you create a scene in people’s minds that makes them connect to what you’re saying. It’s a very effective way of persuading others and presenting different views for people to consider.

Moreover, consider the definition of a story/narrative arc. One definition describes it as a term that describes a story’s full progression. It visually evokes the idea that every story has a relatively calm beginning, a middle where tension, character conflict and narrative momentum builds to a peak and an end where the conflict is resolved. [10]

Simplifying this, we can say that all works of creative writing need a general beginning, middle and end. It’s a way of bringing some sort of structure to your writing so you know where you are going, rather than filling it with fluff or waffle.

A good imagination

Imagination is a buzzword that we’ve used plenty of times throughout this deep dive into creative writing. Every creative writing course you go on will spend a lot of time focusing on the idea of using your imagination. The human brain is a marvellously powerful thing that holds the key to creative freedom and expressing yourself in new and unique ways. If you want to make something creative, you need to tap into your imagination.

People use their imagination in different ways; some will be able to conjure up ideas for stories or worlds that exist beyond our own. Others will use theirs to think of ways of describing things in a more creative and imaginative way. Ultimately, a good imagination is what sets your work apart from others within your genre. This doesn’t mean you need to come up with the most fantastical novel of all time to have something classified as creative writing. No, using your imagination and creativity can extend to something as simple as your writing style.

Ultimately, it’s more about using your imagination to find your own personal flair and creative style. You will then be able to write unique pieces that stand out from the others and keep audiences engaged.

How can creative writing skills benefit you?

When most individuals or students consider creative writing, they imagine a world where they are writing stories for a living. There’s a common misconception that creative writing skills are only beneficial for people pursuing careers in scriptwriting, storytelling, etc. Realistically, enhancing ones creative writing skills can open up many windows of opportunity throughout your education and career.

  • Improve essay writing – Naturally, creative writing forms a core part of essays and other written assignments in school and university. Improving your skills in this department can help a student get better at writing powerful essays and achieving top marks. In turn, this can impact your career by helping you get better grades to access better jobs in the future.
  • Become a journalist – Journalists depend on creative writing to make stories that capture audiences and have people hanging on their every word. You need high levels of creativity to turn a news story into something people are keen to read or watch.
  • Start a blog – In modern times, blogging is a useful tool that can help people find profitable and successful careers. The whole purpose of a blog is to provide your opinions to the masses while also entertaining, informing and educating. Again, having a firm grasp of creative writing skills will aid you in building your blog audience.
  • Write marketing content – From advert scripts to content on websites, marketing is fuelled by creative writing. The best marketers will have creative writing skills to draw an audience in and convince them to buy products. If you can learn to get people hanging on your every word, you can make it in this industry.

These points all demonstrate the different ways in which creative writing can impact your life and alter your career. In terms of general career skills, this is one that you simply cannot go without.

How to improve your creative writing

One final part of this analysis of creative writing is to look at how students can improve. It begins by reading as much as you can and taking in lots of different content. Read books, poems, scripts, articles, blogs – anything you can find. Listen to music and pay attention to the words people use and the structure of their writing. It can help you pick up on things like metaphors, similes, and how to use your imagination. Of course, writing is the key to improving; the more you write, the more creative you can get as you will start unlocking the powers of your brain.

Conclusion: What is creative writing

In conclusion, creative writing uses a mixture of different types of writing to create stories that stray from traditional structures and norms. It revolves around the idea of using your imagination to find a writing style that suits you and gets your points across to an audience, keeping them engaged in everything you say. From novels to speeches, there are many forms of creative writing that can help you in numerous career paths throughout your life.

[1] SkillShare: The 5 Types of Writing Styles with Examples

[2] Elements of Good Story Telling – UX Planet

[3] Simile vs Metaphor: What’s the Difference? – ProWritingAid

[4] Definition of Exposure by Merriam-Webster

[5] The Higher Purpose of Creative Writing | by Terveen Gill

[6] Essay purpose – Western Sydney University

[7] FICTION | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary

[8] ‘Not fear, but hope’ – Attenborough speech in full – BBC News

[9] Writer’s Digest: Who Is Your Target Reader?

[10] What is a Narrative Arc? • A Guide to Storytelling Structure

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Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing: All you Need to Know

Learn the art of storytelling with our comprehensive blog on the Elements of Creative Writing. Discover the vital components that transform ordinary words into extraordinary tales. Dive into character development, plot intricacies, and more as we cover the core aspects of crafting captivating narratives. Read more to find out!


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Whether you're an aspiring novelist, a poet, or simply someone who loves to pen down your ideas, understanding the key Elements of Creative Writing can significantly enhance your skills. In this blog, we will explore the top 10 Elements of Creative Writing that are essential for creating compelling and impactful written works, along with tips. 

Table of Contents  

1) The i mportance of Creative Writing elements 

2) Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing 

   a)  Imagery and descriptive language  

   b)  Character development 

   c)  Plot structure 

   d)  Dialogue and conversations 

   e)  Point of View (POV) 

   f)  Setting and world-building 

   g)  Tone and Style 

   h)  Conflict and resolution 

   i)   Theme and symbolism  

   j)  Editing and revision 

3)  Conclusion 

The importance  of Creative Writing elements  

Creative writing isn't confined to the pages of novels or the lines of poetry; it's a fundamental human expression that predates recorded history. It has been a conduit for cultural preservation, knowledge transfer, and emotional catharsis. But how exactly mastering these elements can improve your writing?   

Every art has its tools, and Creative Writing is no different. The elements we'll delve into aren't just guidelines; they're the building blocks that transform your words from ordinary to extraordinary. By understanding and mastering these Creative Writing elements, you'll be equipped to craft narratives that draw readers in, keep them engaged, and leave an indelible mark on their minds and hearts. 

Unlock your creative potential with our expert-led Creative Writing Training – Register now to ignite your imagination!  

Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing    

Generally, there are various Elements of Creative Writing, each possessing its own unique features. However, many forms of Creative Writing also share some common features. Here’s a detailed explanation of each element every Writer must follow:  

Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing

1) Imagery and d escriptive l anguage   

Imagery and descriptive language are the brushes with which writers paint vivid mental pictures for their readers. By skillfully weaving sensory details, you bring scenes to life and evoke emotions. The rustling leaves, the scent of freshly baked bread, the gritty texture of sand beneath one's feet—these details create a sensory symphony that immerses readers in your world.    

Metaphors, similes, and analogies act as bridges, connecting the familiar with the unfamiliar. Through them, you can compare the indescribable to the known, enriching your narrative with layers of meaning. Mastery of imagery and descriptive language transforms passive reading into an active experience where readers can taste, smell, hear, see, and feel the world you've created.   

Tips :   

a)  When selecting details, focus on the ones that have the most impact and avoid including unnecessary clutter.   

b)  Use metaphors and similes sparingly, making them truly resonate.   

c) T ailor your descriptions to the tone and mood of the scene or story. 

2) Character d evelopment   

Character development is the art of breathing life into your fictional personas. Well-crafted characters are not only relatable but also complex, with layers of personality, desires, flaws, and history. They drive the plot forward, compelling readers to invest emotionally in their journeys. Backstories provide context, explaining why characters behave the way they do.   

Effective character development allows readers to understand, empathise, and even dislike characters. The key lies in making them authentic and evolving. Just as people change, so should your characters. They learn, grow, and adapt, making their arcs believable and satisfying. The beauty of character development is in its ability to mirror the human experience, forging connections between fictional worlds and real hearts.  

a)  Explore your characters' pasts to understand their motivations and fears.  

b) Create a character profile detailing their appearance, background, and personality traits. 

c) Show character development through actions and decisions rather than telling.  

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3) Plot s tructure   

Plot structure is the architecture that holds your narrative together. Think of it as a roller coaster, with highs and lows that keep readers engaged. The introduction sets the stage, introducing characters, settings, and the initial conflict. Rising action builds tension, propelling the story forward. At its peak is the climax, the turning point that determines the characters' fate.   

Falling action allows for a gradual untwisting of events, leading to the resolution. Effective plot structure balances pacing, ensuring readers remain intrigued without feeling rushed. Twists and turns add surprise, while cause-and-effect relationships maintain coherence. A well-structured plot keeps readers invested, eagerly flipping pages to discover what happens next.  

a)  Introduce the main conflict early to hook readers' curiosity.  

b) Use cliffhangers and unexpected twists to maintain suspense.  

c)  Ensure each scene contributes to character development or plot progression.  

4) Dialogue and c onversations   

Dialogue and conversations are windows into your characters' minds and hearts. Natural and dynamic dialogue conveys information and reveals personalities and relationships. Each character's speech patterns, vocabulary, and tone should be distinct, reflecting their backgrounds and emotions .   

Through dialogue, conflicts can be ignited, alliances forged, and secrets unveiled. Subtext—the unspoken thoughts beneath the spoken words—adds depth and intrigue. Conversations can quicken the story's pace, providing relief from dense narrative passages. Dialogue-driven scenes foster engagement, inviting readers to eavesdrop on captivating interactions that fuel the narrative's fire.  

a)  Listen to real conversations to capture natural rhythms and speech patterns.  

b)  Use interruptions and nonverbal cues to make dialogue dynamic.  

c)  Balance dialogue with narrative to avoid overwhelming the reader.  

5) Point of View (POV)  

Plot structure

Point of view (POV) is the lens through which your story is perceived. The choice of POV shapes the reader's relationship with characters and events. First-person offers intimacy, allowing readers to see the world through a character's eyes. Second person immerses readers directly into the narrative. Third person limited provides insight into a character's thoughts, while third-person omniscient offers a broader perspective.   

Consistency in POV is vital; changing viewpoints can confuse readers. The chosen POV influences what readers know and when they know it. It also affects emotional connection and empathy. Selecting the appropriate POV requires consideration of the story's needs and the desired reader experience.  

a)  Experiment with different POVs to find the best fit for your story.  

b)  Consider the level of intimacy and distance you want between characters and readers.  

c)  Be aware of the limitations and advantages of each POV.   

6) Setting and w orld- b uilding   

The setting isn't just a backdrop; it's a dynamic element that influences mood and plot. A well-defined setting isn't merely a stage but an active participant, influencing characters and events. You transport readers to a different reality through meticulous detail, allowing them to immerse themselves fully.  

Effective world-building extends beyond the physical, encompassing societal norms, rules, and even magic systems in speculative fiction. The environment can reflect themes and impact mood. Whether in a fantasy realm or a contemporary city, the authenticity of the setting enhances the reader's experience.   

a)  Research settings thoroughly to ensure accuracy and authenticity.  

b)  Show how characters interact with their environment to convey their experiences.  

c)  Create a sense of place by using unique and specific details.  

7)   Tone and style   

Tone and style are the fingerprints that make your writing uniquely yours. The tone is the distinctive way you express yourself through words—a combination of tone, diction, and syntax. It reflects your personality as an author. Style encompasses sentence structure, pacing, and word choice, influencing the overall feel of your work .   

A comedic style might employ wordplay and witty dialogue, while a dramatic style could use evocative descriptions and emotional introspection. Finding your voice and style involves self-discovery and experimenting with different approaches until you uncover what feels authentic. A strong voice and style leave an indelible mark on readers, making your work instantly recognisable   

a)  Read more to familiarise yourself with different writing styles.  

b)  Practice writing in different tones to discover your preferred voice.  

c)  Revise with a focus on refining your voice; eliminate elements that don't align. 

8)  Conflict and r esolution   

Conflict and resolution are the engine that drives your narrative forward. Conflict introduces challenges that characters must overcome, making their journeys compelling and relatable. There are various types of conflict—internal struggles within characters, external conflicts with other characters or nature, and interpersonal conflicts between characters. Conflict creates tension, propelling the story toward its climax.   

The resolution, whether happy or bittersweet, provides closure and offers insights into the characters' growth. Well-crafted conflicts test characters' limits, forcing them to confront their fears, flaws, and desires. Through the resolution, readers witness the transformation and the culmination of the character's arcs. 

a)  Vary the types of conflict to maintain reader engagement.  

b)  Build tension gradually; escalate the stakes as the story progresses.  

c)  Avoid convenient solutions; resolutions should arise from the characters' choices and actions.  

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9) Theme and symbolism  

Theme and symbolism

Theme and symbolism lend depth and layers to your writing. Themes are the underlying ideas, beliefs, or messages that resonate with readers. They can explore love, friendship, power, or mortality, connecting the narrative to universal human experiences. Symbolism employs objects, actions, or concepts to convey abstract ideas, often adding an element of intrigue.  

A red rose might symbolize love or passion, while a broken mirror could represent self-perception. Themes and symbols intertwine, enriching the story's interpretation and emotional impact. Skilful use of theme and symbolism transforms a tale into an exploration of human nature and society.  


a)  Reflect on the themes that resonate with you and explore them in your writing.  

b)  Use recurring symbols to reinforce thematic elements.  

c)  Allow themes to emerge naturally from the characters' struggles and growth. 

10) Editing and r evisi on    

Editing and revising are the crucial phases that turn your initial draft into a polished masterpiece. Writing is rewriting; the initial draft is a raw exploration of ideas. Editing involves refining sentences for clarity, coherence, and flow. It ensures grammar and punctuation are correct. Revising delves deeper, examining plot holes, character consistency, and thematic resonance.  

Seeking feedback from peers or professionals is invaluable, offering fresh perspectives. The revision process is where your story truly comes to life. It's an opportunity to tighten narrative threads, enhance descriptions, and amplify emotions. Embrace the iterative nature of editing and revising; each pass brings your writing closer to its full potential.  

a) Revise in multiple passes, focusing on different aspects in each round.  

b)  Cut unnecessary details or scenes that don't contribute to the narrative.  

c)  Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling to ensure a polished final product.  


Creative Writing is a journey of discovery, both for the Writer and the reader. In this blog post, we've explored the essential elements that constitute effective Creative Writing. From the foundation of imagination to the nuances of dialogue, style, and conflict, each element plays a pivotal role in crafting a compelling narrative. By mastering these top 10 Elements of Creative Writing, you'll be equipped to create stories that resonate, inspire, and captivate audiences.  

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What to Know About Creative Writing Degrees

Many creative writing degree recipients pursue careers as authors while others work as copywriters or ghostwriters.

Tips on Creative Writing Degrees

A student sitting beside the bed in bedroom with her coffee cup and writing on the note pad.

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Prospective writing students should think about their goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals.

Many people see something magical in a beautiful work of art, and artists of all kinds often take pride in their craftsmanship. Creative writers say they find fulfillment in the writing process.

"I believe that making art is a human need, and so to get to do that is amazing," says Andrea Lawlor, an author who this year received a Whiting Award – a national $50,000 prize that recognizes 10 excellent emerging authors each year – and who is also the Clara Willis Phillips Assistant Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

"We all are seeing more and more of the way that writing can help us understand perspectives we don't share," says Lawlor, whose recent novel "Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl" addresses the issue of gender identity.

"Writing can help us cope with hard situations," Lawlor says. "We can find people who we have something in common with even if there's nobody around us who shares our experience through writing. It's a really powerful tool for connection and social change and understanding."

Creative writing faculty, many of whom are acclaimed published authors, say that people are well-suited toward degrees in creative writing if they are highly verbal and enjoy expressing themselves.

"Creative imaginative types who have stories burning inside them and who gravitate toward stories and language might want to pursue a degree in creative writing," Jessica Bane Robert, who teaches Introduction to Creative Writing at Clark University in Massachusetts, wrote in an email. "Through formal study you will hone your voice, gain confidence, find a support system for what can otherwise be a lonely endeavor."

Read the guide below to gain more insight into what it means to pursue a creative writing education, how writing impacts society and whether it is prudent to invest in a creative writing degree. Learn about the difference between degree-based and non-degree creative writing programs, how to craft a solid application to a top-notch creative writing program and how to figure out which program is the best fit.

Why Creative Writing Matters and Reasons to Study It

Creative writers say a common misconception about their job is that their work is frivolous and impractical, but they emphasize that creative writing is an extremely effective way to convey messages that are hard to share in any other way.

Kelly Caldwell, dean of faculty at Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City, says prospective writing students are often discouraged from taking writing courses because of concerns about whether a writing life is somehow unattainable or "unrealistic."

Although creative writers are sometimes unable to financially support themselves entirely on the basis of their creative projects, Caldwell says, they often juggle that work with other types of jobs and lead successful careers.

She says that many students in her introductory creative writing class were previously forbidden by parents to study creative writing. "You have to give yourself permission for the simple reason that you want to do it," she suggests.

Creative writing faculty acknowledge that a formal academic credential in creative writing is not needed in order to get writing published. However, they suggest, creative writing programs help aspiring authors develop their writing skills and allow space and time to complete long-term writing projects.

Working writers often juggle multiple projects at once and sometimes have more than one gig, which can make it difficult to finish an especially ambitious undertaking such as a novel, a play for the screen or stage, or a well-assembled collection of poems, short stories or essays. Grants and fellowships for authors are often designed to ensure that those authors can afford to concentrate on their writing.

Samuel Ace, a published poet and a visiting lecturer in poetry at Mount Holyoke, says his goal is to show students how to write in an authentic way that conveys real feeling. "It helps students to become more direct, not to bury their thoughts under a cascade of academic language, to be more forthright," he says.

Tips on Choosing Between a Non-Degree or Degree-Based Creative Writing Program

Experts note that someone needs to be ready to get immersed in the writing process and devote significant time to writing projects before pursuing a creative writing degree. Prospective writing students should not sign up for a degree program until they have reached that sense of preparedness, warns Kim Todd, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and director of its creative writing program.

She says prospective writing students need to think about their personal goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals.

Aspiring writers who are not ready to invest in a creative writing degree program may want to sign up for a one-off writing class or begin participating in an informal writing workshop so they can test their level of interest in the field, Todd suggests.

How to Choose and Apply to a Creative Writing Program

In many cases, the most important component of an application to a writing program is the writing portfolio, writing program experts say. Prospective writing students need to think about which pieces of writing they include in their portfolio and need to be especially mindful about which item they put at the beginning of their portfolio. They should have a trusted mentor critique the portfolio before they submit it, experts suggest.

Because creative writing often involves self-expression, it is important for aspiring writing students to find a program where they feel comfortable expressing their true identity.

This is particularly pertinent to aspiring authors who are members of minority groups, including people of color or LGBTQ individuals, says Lawlor, who identifies as queer, transgender and nonbinary.

How to Use a Creative Writing Degree

Creative writing program professors and alumni say creative writing programs cultivate a variety of in-demand skills, including the ability to communicate effectively.

"While yes, many creative writers are idealists and dreamers, these are also typically highly flexible and competent people with a range of personal strengths. And a good creative writing program helps them understand their particular strengths and marketability and translate these for potential employers, alongside the more traditional craft development work," Melissa Ridley Elmes, an assistant professor of English at Lindenwood University in Missouri, wrote in an email.

Elmes – an author who writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction – says creative writing programs force students to develop personal discipline because they have to consistently produce a significant amount of writing. In addition, participating in writing workshops requires writing students "to give and receive constructive feedback," Elmes says.

Cindy Childress, who has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana—Lafayatte and did a creative writing dissertation where she submitted poetry, says creative writing grads are well-equipped for good-paying positions as advertising and marketing copywriters, speechwriters, grant writers and ghostwriters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual compensation for writers and authors was $63,200 as of May 2019.

"I think the Internet, and writing communities online and in social media, have been very helpful for debunking the idea that if you publish a New York Times Bestseller you will have 'made it' and can quit your day job and write full time," Elmes explains. "Unless you are independently wealthy, the odds are very much against you in this regard."

Childress emphasizes that creative writing degree recipients have "skills that are absolutely transferable to the real world." For example, the same storytelling techniques that copywriters use to shape public perceptions about a commercial brand are often taught in introductory creative writing courses, she says. The ability to tell a good story does not necessarily come easily to people who haven't been trained on how to do it, she explains.

Childress says she was able to translate her creative writing education into a lucrative career and start her own ghostwriting and book editing company, where she earns a six-figure salary. She says her background in poetry taught her how to be pithy.

"Anything that we want to write nowadays, particularly for social media, is going to have to be immediately understood, so there is a sense of immediacy," she says."The language has to be crisp and direct and exact, and really those are exactly the same kind of ways you would describe a successful poem."

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Jenni Ogden Ph.D.

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Creative Writing and Your Brain

The mind works in mysterious ways when it is creating a fictional story..

Posted April 15, 2013

Books in our brains

Is there a creative writer who hasn’t at times wondered what it is that impels thousands of people to spend thousands of hours thinking about and writing made-up stories, that at best will be read by thousands of people who have got nothing better to do than read made-up stories! Is there some evolutionary imperative that has moulded our minds to seek stories? Even Steven Pinker, the cognitive scientist and author of "How the Mind Works" --such a wonderful title-- who controversially suggests that music confers no survival advantage and describes it as “auditory cheesecake” (p. 534), submits that fiction can, like gossip, be biologically adaptive. “Fictional narratives supply us with a mental catalogue of the fatal conundrums we might face someday and the outcome of strategies we could deploy in them.” (p. 543.) Perhaps for writers of fiction the truth of this is even greater. But what does this mean for the mind? Does it suggest we have special systems in our brains that have evolved for the purpose of creating stories that might some day be useful in our real lives? And why is it that some people are better at making up stories than others, and if they are, are they therefore better prepared for whatever life throws at them?

In her book, "The Mystery of the Cleaning Lady", Australian novelist and creative writing teacher, Sue Woolfe, explores these questions in such an honest and personal way that I almost felt as if I were sitting in the room listening to her deepest thoughts. As a neuropsychologist, I often find myself cringing when I read fiction involving, for example, a character who has suffered a stroke, where some of the neurology facts are blatantly wrong. But this didn’t happen with Sue’s book, and I quickly became engrossed, finding myself reading it as a fledgling fiction writer, not as a neuroscientist .

Sue began writing the book as part of her doctoral thesis in creative writing, but this is no dry treatise. She takes her reader through her long, often tortuous process of completing her 2003 novel, "The Secret Cure", in itself a novel about the wonders of the creative human mind, all the while weaving in and out of neuroscience findings and theories that might explain some of her creative processes and how they can so often become blocked. In "The Secret Cure" Sue put herself inside the head of an unusual young man who had been isolated from the real world for almost 20 years because of his severe stutter (a cruel disability that used to be much more common, and was recently brought into the spotlight by the phenomenal success of the Oscar-winning film, "The King’s Speech".) The reader of "The Secret Cure" would be excused for thinking that Sue Woolfe must herself have worked in a research laboratory and have an inside knowledge of autistic disorders, so real was her writing. In her non-fiction writing memoir, "The Mystery of the Cleaning Lady: A writer looks at creativity and neuroscience", she takes us back there, showing us how her creative process soared and stumbled and soared again as she immersed herself in the imaginary world of her laboratory cleaning lady by spending time in a real laboratory and listening and observing and taking notes. When she found she could not write, she asked herself “what does a fiction writer do to her mind to create fiction, and was I doing something wrong that jeopardised my own work?”(p. 44.)

I, like most contemporary neuroscientists, tend to assume that everyone understands that the mind is a product of the brain. As Sue discovered, some neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio explain this further by pointing out that the brain, by itself, would have no mind. It requires the cooperation of the body in order to think and feel. It is this interaction between the brain and the body that causes the mind. In return, our feelings may seem to come from the body, and the body is modified by our thoughts and the brain by our actions. Sue gives many examples of writers who, like her, feel that their creative thoughts are somatic, and come from the belly, or the fingers, rather than from the brain (which in fact has no sensations of its own). As she tells us about her everyday, often painful, journey of creating her novel, she muses, comments, and analyses her creative process. Delving into neuroscience research on creativity, she reports and explains her discoveries in ways that made sense to me as a neuroscientist, but also made sense to me as a creative writer.

Sue begins a novel by writing numerous seemingly unrelated fragments, a process most productive when she is in an almost trancelike state she refers to as “loose construing” where attention is defocused rather than focused, logical thought is slowed, judgement and anticipation put on hold, and new elements can be allowed in without seeming incongruent, almost reminiscent of the dream state. Shaping the story from these fragments comes much later, probably involving more “tight construing” where logic and structure have a place. Only at the end do themes finally emerge. Another interesting idea Sue discusses is Damasio’s hypothesis that we have body reactions or “somatic markers” that imbue certain thoughts with emotional states, making them repugnant, and focuses us on thoughts that are more acceptable. This got her thinking about the constraints an avoidance of unacceptable thoughts can place on a writer. She decided that in order to enter the psyche of a character whose values and experiences were far removed from her own, she must allow herself through “loose construing” to think like her character, however unthinkable those thoughts might be. She learned that she must free her mind to work in its mysterious way to create a rich story; rich with more meanings than she ever consciously thought up.

In the end, Sue came to the conclusion that neuroscience does not yet know how the mind works when it comes to creating complex and rich stories that, from the writer’s point of view -- at least during those precious peak times of creation -- almost seem to write themselves. Rather like the process of writing a novel, the theme or deeper truth – how the mind works to create a story --may only appear after a much longer journey as we pull together the many fragments that neuroscience research throws up. For her readers, Sue has translated her discoveries of fragments of the mystery of creating stories into a writing book that is different, and a far cry from a writing manual. It is a pleasure to read and provides much food for thought and new strategies to try in those times when writing that book seems the worst idea you ever had.

For myself as a baby boomer neuropsychologist, and a writer of fiction as well as narrative non-fiction, I am convinced that creative writing is one of the best exercises we can do for the aging brain. The folklore, somewhat supported by research data, is that in most right-handed people, right brain (called the right hemisphere) thinking is more creative and holistic, and left hemisphere thinking more logical and linear. The right hemisphere is better at seeing the world from a broader perspective and may be better at visual imagery, and the left hemisphere is definitely dominant for language. But to believe the rhetoric of folk psychologists who claim that they can teach you how to draw or become more creative by using your right hemisphere is probably unwise. The brain is more like a great symphony orchestra where every part works in concert with the whole. Sure, occasionally the violins might soar above the rest, but even then they rely on the background of the orchestra as a beautifully coordinated entity to give them their full meaning. In the healthy brain, everything we do involves the right and left hemispheres of the brain working together, and creative writing must be one of the clearest examples of this. Our language comes primarily from the left hemisphere and perhaps our images – the visual ones at least -- come more from the right hemisphere. Very likely the “loose construing” Sue discusses is more a right hemisphere activity and the “tight construing” later needed to put the story together is more of a left hemisphere activity. But in both types of thinking and in all stages of writing that story, my guess is that both hemispheres are fully on-line. Reading fiction and narrative non-fiction also indisputably engages both sides of the brain, at least if the reader is engaged in the story.

The joy of this for a “baby boomer” writer or reader is that these pleasurable activities could almost certainly be added to the intellectual and physical exercises that slow down the brain’s aging process most often experienced by the forgetting of names and words and where you put the car keys – or the car! Neuroscience research is only at the beginning of proving the importance of ongoing intellectual activity for the brain – the “use it or lose it” idea -- but there is already some good evidence for this. From my personal experience, an entirely uncontrolled experiment, it seems that although I frequently can’t remember a word when in casual conversation, when I am writing this happens far less often. Perhaps this is because the brain is so fired up or primed for finding words when a writer is deeply focused on writing. Multiple word and image connections are firing, and thus the right word is more likely to pop up when it is needed. There is certainly evidence for this type of priming in memory studies.

A cynic may point out that for baby boomers who are way past their child-bearing years, getting your imagination working and activating your understanding of language by writing or reading fiction or creative non-fiction cannot be directly biologically adaptive. But if grandparents are important in the upbringing of their grandchildren – and we share 25% of our genes with each of our grandchildren, so their survival is biologically of utmost importance to us -- then remaining switched on for as long as possible can certainly be viewed as socially adaptive. And for all of us who love stories, who cares anyway? The pleasure is enough for us.

Jenni Ogden Ph.D.

Jenni Ogden, Ph.D. , clinical neuropsychologist and author of Trouble in Mind, taught at the University of Auckland.

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Creative Writing: Complete that Story!

Creative Writing: Complete that Story!

Subject: English

Age range: 7-11

Resource type: Unit of work


Last updated

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‘Creative Writing: Complete that Story’ is a bundle of resources for use in the classroom or as part of home learning. It comprises of 52 story starters to engage children primarily in Years 5 and 6 but can also be used for younger and older children too. Storytelling should spark children’s imaginations and these story starters will do just that! From these story starters, that include elements of grammar from the UKS2 curriculum, the child/children will be able to plan the rest of the story in order to complete it. This can be: a fun and active talk for writing opportunity, can form part of a mindful storytelling activity or can be a stimulus to create independent writing. The pack includes the following:

Workbook: This workbook can be printed for individual use and allows the child to work through the story starters in any order they choose. There is lined paper, a draw your story page and a boxing up page to plan the story. There are additional lined pages at the back of the workbook if needed. Some children will just jump into the writing stage, whereas others may enjoy the opportunity to plan their ideas before writing.

Story Starter PowerPoint: This PowerPoint shares all the story starters (52 in total) individually and can be a whole class activity or starter. This enables the story to be discussed as part of the planning stage.

Story Starter Cards: These cards can be printed and cut up and can be used as a fun Literacy starter or to start a story telling game. At home, these can be used as a storytelling opportunity at any point in the day. Your child/children can select a card and actively discuss what could happen next. They are intended to be used to unearth talk for writing; they can solely be used as an opportunity for storytelling without the need to plan and write the story down.

Blank Story Starter Card Templates: These can be printed off to enable the child/children to write their own story starters. These can then be swapped between the children in order for them to continue each others’ stories. This really does give the children ownership of the writing process and it’s always an enjoyable experience to share the finished stories with their peers!

Boxing Up and Draw Your Story Templates: These are both part of the workbook but have been separately created so they can easily be printed alongside any of the activities in this pack.

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Board of Trustees Recognizes Faculty Members

Congratulations to the 23 members of the faculty who were awarded promotions and/or tenure by the Ithaca College Board of Trustees at its May meetings.

The biographies of the faculty members were provided by their respective schools.

AWARDED PROMOTION FROM ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR TO PROFESSOR Department of Theatre and Dance Paula Murray Cole (M.F.A. Southern Methodist University) teaches acting, voice, and movement. Her professional work is centered on the development and dissemination of Rasaboxes, a suite of exercises originally devised by Richard Schechner. She co-authored and edited the first book dedicated to the exercises, “Inside the Performance Workshop: A Sourcebook for Rasaboxes and Other Exercises” (Routledge 2023), and co-authored “The Actor As Athlete of the Emotions: The Rasaboxes Exercise” for the book “Movement For Actors (2nd Edition, 2017), edited by Nicole Potter, Barabara Adrian, and Mary Fleischer. She has taught performance workshops at New York University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Brown University, and Rose Bruford College and has presented Rasaboxes at conferences and workshops in Israel, Montreal, Turkey, Singapore, China, and Poland.

Department of Occupational Therapy Melinda Cozzolino (P.P.O.T.D. Creighton University) teaches courses in neuroscience, mental health, and research. She received the founding grant for the Center for Life Skills, an interdisciplinary program at Longview for adults with chronic neurological conditions. This program has operated for over 20 years and has provided experiential learning for thousands of students and therapeutic services for hundreds of community members. She is a prolific scholar in the areas of interprofessional education and supporting mental health and is an advocate for mental health at the local, regional, and national levels.

Department of Theatre Studies Chrystyna Dail (Ph.D. University of Maryland) serves as director of the Integrative Core Curriculum. Her area of specialization is theatre history, with research interests in U.S. social activist performance, labor theatre, 20th-century Ukrainian-American performance, and the representation of witches in performance. Her book, “Stage for Action: U.S. Social Activist Theatre in the 1940s,” is part of the Theater in the Americas series published through Southern Illinois University Press, and her chapter, “Driving Race Work: The UAW, Detroit, and Discrimination for Everybody!” is included in the edited collection “Working in the Wings: New Perspectives on Theatre History and Labor.” Additionally, her chapter on Margo Jones is included in the eight-volume book series The Great North American Stage Directors published through Methuen Drama. She is currently writing a book about theatrical stagings of the Salem witchcraft crisis by female-identifying artists, and is the book review editor of Theatre Survey, which is published through Cambridge University Press.

Department of Philosophy and Religion Serge Grigoriev (Ph.D. Temple University) imbues the array of courses that he teaches with his ready sense of humor and his gift for oratory. In his classes, laughter is a regular feature, allowing students to enjoy themselves intellectually as they grapple with complex material. His research focuses on pragmatism and the philosophy of history, and he has published prodigiously, producing original, philosophically significant, and refreshingly readable scholarly work. He has been a generous citizen of the college, bringing thoughtful insights to the H&S Faculty Senate, the C.P. Snow Lecture Series Committee, and the Faculty Grievance Committee, to name just three of his service endeavors.

Department of Management Narges Kasiri (Ph.D. Oklahoma State University) bridges theory and practice in her courses in operations management and business analytics. She has integrated cutting-edge technology, including generative AI, into the curriculum. Her collaborative projects with local businesses allow students to apply their skills in real-world settings, enhancing both their learning experience and IC’s engagement in the community. As a scholar, she has earned prestigious honors such as the Fulbright Innovation Award and a grant from HSBC’s Sustainability Office.

Department of Exercise and Athletic Training Patrick McKeon (Ph.D. University of Virginia) is best described as a teacher/servant/scholar. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate students to better understand research and its application to their clinical practice. He serves the department as the Athletic Training Clinical Education Coordinator, the college as chair of the Institutional Review Board and his profession as an editor of two prestigious professional journals. He is also a well-respected scholar, serving as an Executive Council member of the International Ankle Consortium and mentoring numerous students each year to present their own research at local, regional, and national conferences.

Department of Music Education James Mick (Ph.D. Florida State University) teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in string pedagogy, orchestral rehearsal techniques, instrumental conducting, and the psychology of music teaching and learning. In 2020 he was honored with Ithaca College’s Faculty Excellence Award. Recent all-state orchestra appearances include Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, and Wyoming. Internationally, he has worked with student ensembles in the United Kingdom and Belgium. He served as music director and conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra from 2015 to 2023. During his tenure the RPYO held annual side-by-side performances with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. A popular clinician, he has presented at numerous state, regional, and national conferences including the American String Teachers Association National Conference and the Midwest Clinic: An International Band & Orchestra Conference.

Department of Music Theory, History, and Composition Alexander Reed (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh) is the author of the books “Assimilate: A Critical History of Industrial Music (2013 Oxford University Press) and “Laurie Anderson’s Big Science” (2021 Oxford University Press). He also co-wrote the volume on the They Might Be Giants album “Flood” (2014 Bloomsbury) for the 33 1/3 book series. He has published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Popular Music and Society, Perspectives of New Music, the Journal of Popular Music Education, ImageTexT, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, and the Journal of Musicological Research. He is founder and former chair of the Popular Music Study Group of the American Musicological Society and has served on the board of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music’s U.S. branch. He has received awards, fellowships, and residencies at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Mellon Foundation, Contemporary Arts International, and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Active as a musician, he has toured internationally and released seven albums with his bands Seeming and ThouShaltNot. He has also produced dozens of records for others, and his work has aired on MTV and in popular television on series such as “Gossip Girl.”

Department of Music Performance Michael Titlebaum (M.M. Eastman School of Music) is a saxophonist/composer/arranger who serves as Director of Jazz Studies at Ithaca College, where he directs the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble; coaches combos; and teaches jazz saxophone and courses in jazz standards, arranging, repertoire, and pedagogy. In 2010 he founded the Ithaca College Jazz Ensemble Composition Contest. He also teaches and coordinates the jazz area in the IC Summer Music Academy. He is the author of the book “Jazz Improvisation Using Simple Melodic Embellishment,” published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis in 2021. He has performed and given workshops and lectures at numerous state and national conferences, including the Jazz Education Network, the International Society for Improvised Music, the New York State School Music Association, the New York State Band Directors Association, and the Texas Music Educators Association.

Department of Computer Science Doug Turnbull (Ph.D. University of California) teaches across the computer science curriculum, exhibiting a persistent dedication to making his classes accessible and to providing research opportunities to the largest possible number of students. Students appreciate that he involves them in his research as genuine partners and grants them foundations for future careers. His scholarship has earned wide recognition in the form of NSF and NEA grants that have brought more than $600,000 to IC. He has published widely in the area of music information retrieval, and he recently delivered a keynote lecture at a conference in Singapore. In his service, he has continued his efforts to promote undergraduate research, and he serves on the H&S Faculty Senate. He also engages in service to the music information retrieval research community, nationally and internationally.

Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies Andrew Utterson (Ph.D. Birkbeck College) has expertly taught courses across the Screen Studies curriculum including Film Aesthetics and Analysis, Hollywood and American History, and Fiction Film Theory as well as ICC courses and mini-courses for the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, of which he is now co-director. The focus of his scholarship in film history, theory, and criticism is the intersection between film and new media as well as the changing nature of cinema from production to exhibition.

Department of Exercise and Athletic Training Justine Vosloo (Ph.D. West Virginia University) is a model for faculty within helping professions. She has spearheaded significant improvements to the department’s graduate Sport Psychology and Mental Performance programs. She is an outstanding mentor to students as they present their own research within professional journals and at national conferences and when they consult with student-athletes to improve their mental performance. Finally, she has grown to be a well-respected scholar within her profession as evidenced by her recent keynote lecture, “Reflections on cultural humility, inclusion, and belonging: Current trends and future challenges for the practice of sport psychology when considering the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Department of Music Education Baruch Whitehead (Ph.D. Capella University) is the founding director of the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual. He also founded the Orff-Schulwerk certification program, a music education that views music as a basic system like language, at Ithaca College and Marshall University, and is the past director of the annual Orff Certification Training Course at Boston University. His other areas of expertise include diversity in music education, gospel music and its preservation within mainstream musical settings, African American music, and the music of the Civil Rights movement. He has been a featured speaker/workshop presenter at many state, national, and international conferences, including the International Arts and Humanities conference in Honolulu and MENC, NYSSMA, NJMEA, and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association national conference. He has taught at the World Music Village in Helsinki, Finland, and continues to present workshops on diversity in music education for state, national, and international conferences.

Department of Strategic Communication Cory Young (Ph.D. Bowling Green State University) regularly teaches Crisis Communication, and this topic is the focus of most of her research. She is an organizational communication scholar whose work also explores risk communication and projects on diversity and inclusion. She has served in many capacities, including administrative roles for her department and for the school’s graduate program as well as for the college as a whole, as director of the Honors Program, a member of All-College Tenure and Promotion Committee, and chair of the Faculty Handbook Committee.

AWARDED TENURE AND PROMOTION FROM ASSISTANT TO ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Music Performance Mike Truesdell (D.M.A. The Juilliard School) is a percussionist who has performed with numerous ensembles, including the New York City Ballet, International Contemporary Ensemble, and Lucerne Festival Ensemble conducted by Pierre Boulez, and with members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Chamber Music Society (New York), and Alarm Will Sound, among others. As an educator, he has previously been on the faculties of the University of Northern Colorado, Rutgers University, and Columbia University. Also engaged with mentoring the next generation, he has taught in the acclaimed Music Advancement Program at The Juilliard School, and founded Wildcat Percussion Camp, a summer percussion program to introduce aspiring percussionists to the spectrum of percussive sounds and techniques.

AWARDED TENURE AT RANK OF PROFESSOR Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies James Rada (Ph.D. University of Georgia) expertly teaches budding journalists how to tell important stories in inventive ways in courses such as Documentary Journalism Workshop and Investigative Journalism. His creative activity includes producing and directing “With Infinite Hope: MLK and the Civil Rights Movement,” among other films he contributed to that tell the history of the movement and the Underground Railroad. He was awarded IC’s Faculty Excellence Award in 2020. He is an active reviewer and judge for several industry professional publications and organizations.

AWARDED TENURE AT RANK OF ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies Andy Watts (M.F.A. Columbia University) is an outstanding teacher who can successfully teach across the various film and television programs in the Roy H. Park School of Communications. His creative work as a screenwriter, director, and producer, combined with a 20-year career as a set lighting technician, directly contribute to his efficacy as an educator, mentor, and colleague. He has demonstrated an exemplary level of service to the department, the school, and the college, while maintaining ties to the industry.

AWARDED PROMOTION FROM ASSISTANT TO ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Biology Rebecca Brady (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin) is renowned for her creative teaching of such classes as Human Genetics and Fundamentals of Biology, enlivening them with innovative techniques and placing a firm emphasis on students’ intellectual growth. Her scholarship is integrally connected to her teaching—she has contributed to the biology education literature through her published work in American Biology Teacher and is at work on a study of the flipped classroom. She has mentored student research projects that have resulted in public presentations, and her service contributions have students at their core. As examples, she has judged sessions for the Whalen Symposium and she was a member of the Innovation Scholars Program steering committee, helping to give birth to that vital new program in H&S.

Department of Music Performance Daniel Coakwell (D.M.A. Texas Tech University) teaches in the Voice area of the department, and students and peers alike commend his commitment to promoting a learning environment that prioritizes the mental health and well-being of his students. He also enjoys guest teaching artist residencies at institutions such as El Teatro Teresa Carreño in Venezuela, Yale University, and Dartmouth College. He specializes in the Evangelist and tenor roles of J.S. Bach, and he frequently performs the composer’s major oratorios—St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion, Christmas Oratorio, and Mass in B-Minor—as well as many of Bach’s cantatas. Recent performances as a tenor soloist include G.T. Handel’s Messiah at the Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX, and at the Steinmetz Hall in Orlando, FL, and as tenor soloist of J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City and at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem, OR.

Department of the Environment Paula Turkon (Ph.D. Binghamton University) teaches generously not just in her own department but for programs across the college, including Anthropology and Innovation Scholars. She is known as an exuberant and imaginative instructor, and her students express gratitude for the lifelong impact she leaves on them, often helping them to forge careers in science. Her research in the areas of dendrochronology and aquaponics has resulted in three NSF grants as well as published scholarship. She has left an indelible imprint on H&S by leading a discussion that resulted in a new Innovation Scholars Program with sustainability at its core. Colleagues characterize her as an embodiment of the scholar-teacher ideal in the liberal arts.

Department of Writing Jaime Warburton (M.F.A. Sarah Lawrence College) offers courses at every level of the Writing curriculum, with a focus on first-year writing, poetics, creative writing, and gender. Faculty and students point to her welcoming and passionate approach to instruction, noting that she teaches with humor and vivacity, and she empowers students to interrogate their biases and preconceptions. She is a prolific author of creative nonfiction, poetry, and scholarship on the craft of writing. Reviewers call her work “gorgeous,” “self-aware,” and “self-deprecating.” She has been a generous citizen of IC, directing the Writing Center and the Ithaca Young Writers Institute, and chairing the Faculty Handbook Amendment Committee, among numerous activities.

AWARDED PROMOTION FROM CLINICAL ASSISTANT TO CLINICAL ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Department of Physical Therapy Kayleigh Plumeau (D.P.T. Ithaca College) is a highly effective teacher and has exceptional clinical skills. She launched a novel mentoring program that directly addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical settings. She has had multiple presentations at national conferences including about the mentoring program, representation in clinical education, and growth mindset, with presentations and publications in interprofessional education and home exercise program for cancer survivors. She is the chair of the awards committee for the NY State Physical Therapy Association.

Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Jana Waller (M.S. Ithaca College) has been a clinical faculty member since 2011, serving as fieldwork coordinator, graduate co-chair, and interim chair. Since 2021 she has served as associate dean for the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance. She was selected for a prestigious HERS leadership development fellowship based on her leadership experience. She has conducted clinical research in autism, developing an innovative program for autistic adolescents and adults. More recently, her scholarly work has focused on interprofessional education in the health sciences.


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