Creative writings

Defining Creative Writing

You might have heard it called different things. Traditionally referred to as literature, creative writing is an art of sorts – the art of making things up. It’s writing done in a way that is not academic or technical but still attracts an audience. Though the definition is rather loose, creative writing can for the most part be considered any writing that is original and self-expressive. A news article, for example, cannot be considered creative writing because its main goal is to present facts and not to express the feelings of the writer. While a news article can be entertaining, its main purpose is to present the facts.

The purpose of creative writing is to both entertain and share human experience, like love or loss. Writers attempt to get at a truth about humanity through poetics and storytelling. If you’d like to try your hand at creative writing, just keep in mind that whether you are trying to express a feeling or a thought, the first step is to use your imagination.

Types of creative writing include:

  • Poetry
  • Plays
  • Movie and television scripts
  • Fiction (novels, novellas, and short stories)
  • Songs
  • Speeches
  • Memoirs
  • Personal essays

As you can see, some nonfiction types of writing can also be considered creative writing. Memoirs and personal essays, for example, can be written creatively to inform your readers about your life in an expressive way. Because these types are written in first person, it’s easier for them to be creative.

Techniques used in creative writing include:

  • Character development
  • Plot development
  • Vivid setting
  • Underlying theme
  • Point of view
  • Dialogue
  • Anecdotes
  • Metaphors and similes
  • Figures of speech
  • Imaginative language
  • Emotional appeal
  • Heavy description

Examples of Creative Writing

Poetry and Songs

A poem or a song tends to be more elusive, or mysterious, because it has limited space. Because of its spatial limitations, however, it can make leaps in subject and time, and it doesn’t have to rely on narrative structure. In poetry and songs, literary devices, like similes and metaphors, can be used to take the readers to surprising places. A good example of this is the opening of the poem ‘A Life’ by Sylvia Plath:

‘Touch it: it won’t shrink like an eyeball,

This egg-shaped bailiwick, clear as a tear.

Here’s yesterday, last year —

Palm-spear and lily distinct as flora in the vast

Windless threadwork of a tapestry.’

Note how shocking the comparison is, how it immediately captures the reader’s attention. The goal of this poem’s image is to build from this idea of life as an eyeball and makes the reader really try to visualize it.

Creative Writing Types and Categories

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

Types of Creative Writing

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

  • epics
  • novels
  • poems
  • screenplays
  • short stories
  • songs
  • television scripts

Types of Writing That Aren’t Creative Writing

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

Examples of Creative Writing

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

Poetry Example

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

If seven maids with seven mops

Swept it for half a year,

Do you suppose,’ the Walrus said,

That they could get it clear?’

I doubt it,’ said the Carpenter,

And shed a bitter tear.

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

Short Story Example

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

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

Novel Example

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

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

Story Starters for Creative Writing

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

Start your own creative writing with one of these prompts:

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