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

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

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

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

creative writing model definition

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

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Inspiring Ink: Expert Tips on How to Teach Creative Writing

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Brooks Manley

How to Journal Daily: Making Journaling a Habit

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Writing Nestling

Writing Nestling

What Is Creative Writing?

What Is Creative Writing? (Definition & 11 Best Steps)

Creative writing is the celestial dance of words, an art form that transcends the ordinary to forge literary constellations that illuminate the human experience.

At its core, creative writing is a cosmic exploration of imagination, a journey into the uncharted realms where storytelling becomes a vehicle for self-expression, creativity, and connection.

It encompasses a diverse array of genres, from the poetic landscapes of verse to the intricate narratives of fiction and the introspective reflections of creative nonfiction.

Creative writing is both an ancient practice, rooted in the oral traditions of storytelling, and a contemporary force, shaped by the dynamic currents of literary movements and the digital age.

In this cosmic voyage of words, writers become cosmic architects, crafting worlds, characters, and emotions that resonate across the galaxies of human thought and emotion.

This exploration delves into the historical evolution, elements, genres, and the transformative process of creative writing, inviting both novice stargazers and seasoned explorers to embark on a literary odyssey through the cosmos of human imagination.

Table of Contents

What Is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is the process of expressing thoughts, ideas, and emotions through the artful use of language. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

Idea Generation

Start by brainstorming and generating ideas. This could be inspired by personal experiences, observations, or purely imaginative concepts.

Organize your thoughts and structure your writing. This might involve outlining the plot for a story, creating characters, or planning the flow of a poem.

Choosing a Form or Genre

Decide on the type of creative writing you want to pursue – whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, or any other form.

Setting the Tone and Style

Define the tone and style of your writing. This could range from formal to informal, humorous to serious, depending on the intended effect.

Creating Characters or Themes

Develop characters, themes, or central ideas that will drive your narrative and engage your audience.

Begin writing your first draft. Allow yourself the freedom to explore ideas without worrying too much about perfection at this stage.

Review and revise your work. This involves refining your language, improving clarity, and ensuring your writing effectively communicates your intended message or story.

Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Edit your work to eliminate errors and enhance overall readability.

Seek feedback from peers, writing groups, or mentors. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your work.

Make final adjustments based on feedback and your own revisions. Polish your creative writing until you are satisfied with the result.

Publishing or Sharing

Decide whether you want to share your work publicly. This could involve submitting it to literary magazines, self-publishing, or simply sharing it with friends and family.

Creative writing is a dynamic and iterative process, allowing for continuous refinement and exploration of ideas.

What Is Creative Writing?

Historical Evolution of Creative Writing

Embarking on a literary time-travel, the historical evolution of creative writing unfolds like an intricately woven tapestry, blending the whispers of ancient oral traditions with the bold strokes of individual expression that emerged during the Renaissance.

Picture storytellers captivating audiences with folk tales around ancient campfires, only to witness the metamorphosis into written words that took place during humanity’s transition from the spoken to the written word.

As the winds of change blew through literary landscapes, the Renaissance breathed life into personal narratives, and Romanticism embraced the turbulent storms of emotion.

Modernism then shattered conventional boundaries, paving the way for experimental forms that mirrored the tumultuous twentieth century.

Today, creative writing stands at the intersection of tradition and innovation, a dynamic force shaped by the echoes of the past and the untamed creativity of the present.

Origins in oral traditions

The origins of creative writing can be traced back to the rich tapestry of human storytelling woven through the fabric of oral traditions.

In the dim glow of ancient campfires, our ancestors spun tales that danced between reality and imagination, passing down knowledge, wisdom, and cultural identity from one generation to the next.

These oral narratives, often rooted in folklore and myths, were the heartbeat of communities, connecting individuals through shared stories.

From the captivating epics of Homer to the enchanting fairy tales whispered in the corners of the world, the oral tradition laid the foundation for the written word, embodying the essence of human creativity, imagination, and the innate desire to communicate through the power of narrative.

Development through literary movements

The historical journey of creative writing unfolds through the dynamic currents of literary movements, each a vibrant chapter in the evolution of human expression.

The Renaissance, a cultural rebirth, marked a pivotal shift as writers embraced the power of individual expression and departed from medieval constraints.

Romanticism followed, a tempest of emotion that stormed the structured landscapes of literature, championing nature, passion, and the sublime.

Modernism emerged as a bold departure from traditional forms, ushering in experimental narratives and fragmented perspectives that mirrored the complexities of the 20th century.

Today’s creative writing landscape, shaped by these movements, is a kaleidoscope of diverse voices and styles, a testament to the enduring influence of literary evolution on the human experience.

Elements of Creative Writing

Dive into the alchemy of creative writing, where the elements of storytelling blend and dance like cosmic particles in a celestial ballet.

Picture the plot and structure as the architectural skeleton, a blueprint for worlds yet to be born. Characters, like sentient constellations, come to life, breathing the very essence of authenticity into the narrative cosmos.

Amidst the vast expanse of setting and atmosphere, landscapes materialize like dreams, painting scenes that are both vivid and haunting.

Style and voice emerge as the enchanting melodies, each writer composing a unique symphony that resonates in the reader’s soul.

In this literary crucible, the elements fuse, giving birth to tales that are not just written but are crafted, where words become spells, and the act of creation is nothing short of magical.

Genres in Creative Writing

Step into the kaleidoscope of creative expression, where genres in creative writing are the vibrant hues that paint the literary canvas with boundless imagination.

Fiction, a realm where novel universes unfurl with every turn of the page, beckons explorers to traverse landscapes of intrigue and emotion.

Poetry, the language of the soul, weaves verses that resonate in the heart’s chambers, from the traditional sonnets to the avant-garde free forms that defy gravity.

Creative nonfiction becomes a literary mirror, reflecting the kaleidoscope of reality through memoirs and essays, blurring the lines between experience and artistry.

These genres are not mere labels; they are portals into worlds where storytelling transcends boundaries, and writers become architects of realms that captivate the mind, stir the emotions, and linger in the echoes of the reader’s imagination.

Fiction, the enchanting realm where the alchemy of words transforms imagination into reality, beckons readers into worlds unknown.

It is the literary tapestry where storytellers weave tales that dance on the precipice between reality and fantasy. Novels, the architects of this fantastical landscape, sculpt characters with palpable depth, crafting intricate plotlines that unfold like secrets waiting to be revealed.

From the classic works of timeless masters to the contemporary symphonies of emerging voices, fiction transcends time and space, inviting readers to escape the ordinary and venture into the extraordinary.

In this boundless expanse, emotions become tangible, and the echoes of imaginary footsteps resonate long after the last page is turned. Fiction is not merely a genre; it is a passport to alternate realities, a magic carpet that carries readers to places uncharted and emotions unexplored.

Poetry, the language of the heart and the echo of the soul, is an art form that transcends the boundaries of ordinary expression.

In the symphony of words, poets become maestros, conducting emotions and experiences into verses that sing with rhythm and grace.

From the structured elegance of traditional forms to the unbridled freedom of free verse, poetry captures the ineffable and distills it into the purest essence.

Every line is a brushstroke painting vivid imagery, and each stanza is a melody that resonates in the chambers of the reader’s spirit. Poets wield words like alchemists, transforming mundane moments into profound revelations.

In the delicate dance between language and emotion, poetry stands as a testament to the human capacity to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the beauty of finely crafted language and the endless possibilities of the poetic imagination.

Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction, a captivating blend of factual precision and artistic expression, serves as a literary bridge between the realms of truth and imagination.

In this genre, writers embark on a compelling journey of storytelling that mines the depths of reality to craft narratives as rich and engaging as any fiction.

From memoirs that illuminate the intricacies of personal experiences to thought-provoking essays that dissect the tapestry of the human condition, creative nonfiction is a mosaic of authenticity painted with the brushstrokes of literary finesse.

The genre encourages writers to artfully blur the lines between fact and narrative, weaving a tapestry that captures the essence of life in all its complexities.

It is a genre where truth is not merely recounted but elevated to the status of art, inviting readers to explore the profound and the ordinary with fresh eyes and a heightened appreciation for the power of storytelling.

What Is Creative Writing?

The Creative Writing Process

Embark on the enigmatic odyssey of the creative writing process, where inspiration is a clandestine muse that whispers in the stillness of creativity.

The inception, a cosmic spark, ignites the imagination, unleashing a torrent of ideas that cascade like shooting stars across the writer’s mind. The drafting phase is a dance with chaos, a raw manifestation of thoughts and emotions onto the blank canvas of the page.

Yet, the revision process emerges as the phoenix rising from the literary ashes, where words transform and refine, revealing the alchemical magic of refining ideas into a harmonious narrative.

Seeking feedback becomes a cosmic conversation, where the writer navigates the cosmos of criticism to unveil hidden constellations in their work.

The creative writing process is not a linear trajectory but a celestial dance , where writers traverse the nebulae of creativity, forging galaxies of prose and poetry that linger in the reader’s universe long after the final punctuation mark.

Idea generation, the pulsating heartbeat of the creative process, invites writers into the boundless cosmos of imagination.

It is an ethereal dance with inspiration, where sparks of creativity ignite the mind like constellations in the night sky. Whether drawn from personal experiences, fleeting observations, or the whispers of dreams, ideas are the raw stardust that writers mold into narrative galaxies.

The process is as unpredictable as a meteor shower, with writers navigating the celestial expanse to capture elusive fragments of brilliance.

From the quiet corners of introspection to the cacophony of the world, the art of idea generation transforms the mundane into the extraordinary, inviting writers to embark on a cosmic odyssey where every fleeting notion has the potential to blossom into a literary supernova.

Drafting and Revising

Drafting and revising, the twin constellations of the writing process, encapsulate the transformative journey of turning nebulous ideas into polished prose.

In the initial act of drafting, writers plunge into the creative abyss, weaving words into a tapestry of raw emotions and vivid imagery.

It is an untamed exploration, where the exhilarating rush of creation takes precedence over perfection. Yet, the true alchemy occurs in the refining crucible of revision. Like a sculptor chiseling away excess stone to reveal a masterpiece, writers meticulously carve and reshape their narratives.

It is a dance with words, a delicate balancing act of preserving the authenticity of the initial draft while enhancing clarity, coherence, and resonance.

Revision is not merely correction; it is the conscious evolution of a narrative, where every nuanced change breathes new life into the prose.

The tandem of drafting and revising, akin to the ebb and flow of cosmic forces, is the dynamic heartbeat that propels a piece of writing from its embryonic stages to the polished brilliance that captivates the reader’s soul.

Publishing and Sharing

Publishing and sharing mark the culmination of a writer’s odyssey, where the crafted words are prepared to venture beyond the solitary realm of creation.

It is a moment of revelation, where the manuscript, once a private universe, prepares to meet the wider cosmos of readership.

The publishing process, be it through traditional avenues or the burgeoning world of self-publishing, involves the meticulous preparation of the work for public consumption.

The act of sharing becomes a cosmic ripple, as the writer’s voice resonates across the literary landscape, forging connections with readers who may find solace, inspiration, or sheer enjoyment in the words.

It is a dance of vulnerability and courage, as writers release their creations into the literary cosmos, hoping their narrative constellations will find a home in the hearts and minds of others.

The symbiotic relationship between writer and reader transforms the act of publishing into a shared cosmic experience, where words transcend the individual and become part of a collective literary universe.

Challenges and Rewards of Creative Writing

Navigating the cosmos of creative writing reveals a celestial dance of challenges and rewards, where each word penned is a step into the cosmic unknown.

The challenges emerge like elusive comets, from the gravitational pull of writer’s block threatening to derail creativity, to the constant cosmic quest for a harmonious balance between originality and marketability.

Yet, these challenges are the cosmic forge that tempers the writer’s mettle, honing resilience and creativity in the crucible of adversity.

The rewards, akin to dazzling supernovae, illuminate the journey. The cathartic joy of crafting a sentence that resonates, the cosmic connections formed with readers who find solace or delight in the prose – these are the celestial jewels that make the struggles worthwhile.

In the vast expanse of creative writing, challenges and rewards orbit each other like binary stars, their gravitational pull shaping the unique trajectory of every writer’s cosmic odyssey.

Overcoming writer’s block

Writer’s block, that elusive shadow cast over the creative landscape, can feel like navigating a cosmic void where inspiration is but a distant star.

It is the gravitational force that stymies the flow of words and leaves the writer stranded in a sea of blank pages. Yet, overcoming writer’s block is an act of cosmic resilience.

Writers embark on a journey through the nebulae of creativity, employing various strategies to break free from the entangled cosmic web.

Whether it’s the cosmic power of free writing to unravel mental knots or the meteoric inspiration found in changing the writing environment, overcoming writer’s block becomes a transformative process.

It is the writer’s spacecraft pushing through the cosmic fog, a testament to the indomitable spirit that seeks to create even in the face of cosmic resistance.

In this dance with the muse, writers rediscover the cosmic symphony of their imagination and emerge from the creative void with newfound brilliance.

Balancing originality and marketability

In the cosmic dance of creative writing, striking the delicate balance between originality and marketability is akin to navigating the gravitational forces of two celestial bodies.

Originality, the pulsating core of creativity, propels writers into uncharted literary realms, forging unique constellations of thought and expression.

Yet, the cosmic reality of marketability orbits nearby, where commercial considerations seek gravitational stability.

It’s an intricate interplay; too much originality may risk veering into the obscure, while an excessive focus on marketability might compromise the authenticity of the creative vision.

Writers become cosmic architects, constructing narratives that not only resonate with their individual voice but also align with the gravitational pull of audience preferences.

Balancing these cosmic forces is a perpetual challenge, requiring writers to dance on the edge of innovation while staying tethered to the gravitational pull of a wider readership.

In this cosmic balancing act, writers discover the celestial equilibrium where originality and marketability harmonize, creating literary galaxies that captivate both the cosmos of creativity and the earthly realms of audience engagement.

Impact of Creative Writing on Society

Creative writing is the cosmic echo of the human soul, resonating through the annals of time and leaving an indelible imprint on the fabric of society.

It serves as a literary constellation, illuminating the collective consciousness with narratives that mirror, challenge, and redefine societal values.

From ancient epics that shaped cultural identities to contemporary works that spark revolutions of thought, creative writing is a cosmic force that fosters empathy, dismantles prejudices, and holds a mirror to the complexities of the human experience.

It is the catalyst for societal metamorphosis, a cosmic dance that encourages dialogue, fuels revolutions, and shapes the very contours of cultural evolution.

In the vast cosmos of creative expression, the impact of writing is not merely confined to the pages; it permeates the collective psyche, becoming a celestial force that guides, questions, and ultimately shapes the destiny of societies on this cosmic voyage through time.

Educational and Professional Opportunities in Creative Writing

Embarking on the cosmic odyssey of creative writing isn’t just a journey into the realms of imagination; it’s a launchpad to educational and professional constellations that illuminate diverse career trajectories.

Creative writing programs become celestial academies, nurturing literary supernovae through workshops, mentorship, and the exploration of narrative galaxies.

The academic pursuit of the craft transforms writers into cosmic architects, honing not only their creativity but also the analytical skills essential for dissecting the intricacies of language.

Beyond the academic cosmos, the professional opportunities in creative writing are as vast as the universe itself.

Writers may navigate the celestial waters of journalism, become starry-eyed screenwriters crafting cinematic adventures, or soar as literary explorers, publishing novels that leave an indelible mark on the literary cosmos.

In the intersection of education and profession, creative writing unfolds as a cosmic tapestry where words aren’t just written but become portals to boundless opportunities in the vast expanse of the literary universe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about What Is Creative Writing?

What exactly is creative writing, and how does it differ from other forms of writing.

Creative writing is the vibrant, expressive art of using words to craft narratives that go beyond mere conveyance of information. It stands apart by prioritizing imagination, self-expression, and often blurs the lines between reality and fiction.

How does the historical evolution of creative writing influence contemporary practices?

The historical journey of creative writing, from ancient oral traditions to the digital age, has shaped the very DNA of the craft. It influences contemporary practices by offering a rich tapestry of literary movements, styles, and themes that writers can draw inspiration from or subvert.

Can anyone become a creative writer, or is it a skill reserved for a select few?

Absolutely anyone can become a creative writer! While innate talent can be an asset, the essence of creative writing lies in practice, exploration, and the willingness to cultivate one’s unique voice and perspective.

What are the key elements that make up creative writing, and how do they contribute to the overall narrative?

The elements of creative writing, such as plot, characterization, setting, style, and voice, are the building blocks that construct the literary cosmos. They contribute by creating immersive worlds, memorable characters, and distinctive narratives that resonate with readers.

How can one overcome writer’s block, a common challenge in creative writing?

Overcoming writer’s block is like navigating through a cosmic fog. Strategies include engaging in free writing, changing the writing environment, seeking inspiration from different mediums, or simply taking a cosmic break to recharge creative energies.

Is creative writing limited to novels and poetry, or are there other genres to explore?

Creative writing spans a diverse universe of genres. While novels and poetry are prominent, there’s also creative nonfiction, flash fiction, screenplays, and more. The cosmos of creative writing is vast and welcomes exploration.

How does one balance the fine line between originality and marketability in creative writing?

Balancing originality and marketability requires navigating a cosmic dance. It involves maintaining authenticity while considering the audience’s preferences, creating a celestial equilibrium where the writer’s unique voice resonates within a broader readership.

What educational and professional opportunities are available in the field of creative writing?

The educational galaxy offers creative writing programs and degrees, nurturing writers with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Professionally, opportunities range from traditional publishing avenues to scriptwriting, journalism, and the expansive realm of digital content creation.

In conclusion, creative writing is a cosmic odyssey, an ever-expanding universe of imagination, expression, and connection.

From its ancient roots in oral traditions to the dynamic currents of contemporary literary movements, creative writing has evolved into a diverse and influential art form.

It is a transformative process that involves the careful balance of elements, the exploration of various genres, and the persistent journey through the challenges and rewards of crafting narratives.

Creative writing is not confined to the realms of novels and poetry; it encompasses a vast cosmos of possibilities, from memoirs to screenplays, flash fiction to creative nonfiction.

As writers embark on this celestial exploration, they become architects of worlds, sculptors of characters, and composers of narratives that resonate across the collective human experience.

The educational and professional opportunities within this realm further amplify its significance, turning creative writing into both a personal pursuit and a communal force shaping the literary landscape.

In the grand celestial tapestry of human expression, creative writing emerges as a luminous constellation, inviting writers and readers alike to traverse the cosmic expanse of imagination and storytelling.

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Elements of Creative Writing

creative writing model definition

J.D. Schraffenberger, University of Northern Iowa

Rachel Morgan, University of Northern Iowa

Grant Tracey, University of Northern Iowa

Copyright Year: 2023

ISBN 13: 9780915996179

Publisher: University of Northern Iowa

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.

Attribution-NonCommercial

Learn more about reviews.

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

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

Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less

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

Content Accuracy rating: 5

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

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The book is relevant and up-to-date.

Clarity rating: 5

The text is clear and easy to understand.

Consistency rating: 5

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

Modularity rating: 5

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

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

Topics are presented in logical, clear fashion.

Interface rating: 5

Navigation is good.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical issues that I could see.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

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

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

Table of Contents

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

Creative Nonfiction

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

Back Matter

  • Contributors
  • North American Review Staff

Ancillary Material

  • University of Northern Iowa

About the Book

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

About the Contributors

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

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

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

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Humanities LibreTexts

1.1: Intro to Creative Writing

  • Last updated
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  • Page ID 132138

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

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creative writing model definition

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:

BRAINSTORMING

PROOFREADING

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.

WWW and TAG

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.

Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Get Started

Lindsay Kramer

Creative writing: You can take classes in it, you can earn a degree in it, but the only things you really need to do it are your creative thinking and writing tools. Creative writing is the act of putting your imagination on a page. It’s artistic expression in words; it’s writing without the constraints that come with other kinds of writing like persuasive or expository. 

Write with originality Grammarly helps you refine your word choice Write with Grammarly

What is creative writing?

Creative writing is writing meant to evoke emotion in a reader by communicating a theme. In storytelling (including literature, movies, graphic novels, creative nonfiction, and many video games), the theme is the central meaning the work communicates. 

Take the movie (and the novel upon which it’s based) Jaws , for instance. The story is about a shark that terrorizes a beach community and the men tasked with killing the shark. But the film’s themes include humanity’s desire to control nature, tradition vs. innovation, and how potential profit can drive people in power to make dangerous, even fatal, decisions. 

A theme isn’t the only factor that defines creative writing. Here are other components usually found in creative writing:

  • Connecting, or at least attempting to connect, with the reader’s emotions
  • Writing from a specific point of view
  • A narrative structure can be complex or simple and serves to shape how the reader interacts with the content.
  • Using imaginative and/or descriptive language

Creative writing typically uses literary devices like metaphors and foreshadowing to build a narrative and express the theme, but this isn’t a requirement. Neither is dialogue, though you’ll find it used in most works of fiction. Creative writing doesn’t have to be fictional, either. Dramatized presentations of true stories, memoirs, and observational humor pieces are all types of creative writing. 

What isn’t creative writing?

In contrast, research papers aren’t creative writing. Neither are analytical essays, persuasive essays , or other kinds of academic writing . Similarly, personal and professional communications aren’t considered creative writing—so your emails, social media posts, and official company statements are all firmly in the realm of non-creative writing. These kinds of writing convey messages, but they don’t express themes. Their goals are to inform and educate, and in some cases collect information from, readers. But even though they can evoke emotion in readers, that isn’t their primary goal. 

But what about things like blog posts? Or personal essays? These are broad categories, and specific pieces in these categories can be considered creative writing if they meet the criteria listed above. This blog post, for example, is not a piece of creative writing as it aims to inform, but a blog post that walks its reader through a first-person narrative of an event could be deemed creative writing. 

Types of creative writing

Creative writing comes in many forms. These are the most common:

Novels originated in the eighteenth century . Today, when people think of books, most think of novels. 

A novel is a fictional story that’s generally told in 60,000 to 100,000 words, though they can be as short as 40,000 words or go beyond 100,000. 

Stories that are too short to be novels, but can’t accurately be called short stories, are often referred to as novellas. Generally, a story between 10,000 and 40,000 words is considered a novella. You might also run into the term “ novelette ,” which is used to refer to stories that clock in between 7,500 and 19,000 words. 

Short stories

Short stories are fictional stories that fall generally between 5,000 and 10,000 words. Like novels, they tell complete stories and have at least one character, some sort of conflict, and at least one theme. 

When a story is less than 1,000 words, it’s categorized as a work of flash fiction.

Poetry can be hard to define because as a genre, it’s so open-ended. A poem doesn’t have to be any specific length. It doesn’t have to rhyme. There are many different kinds of poems from cultures all over the world, like sonnets, haikus, sestinas, blank verse, limericks, and free verse. 

The rules of poetry are generally flexible . . . unless you’re writing a specific type of poem, like a haiku , that has specific rules around the number of lines or structure. But while a poem isn’t required to conform to a specific length or formatting, or use perfect grammar , it does need to evoke its reader’s emotions, come from a specific point of view, and express a theme. 

And when you set a poem to music, you’ve got a song. 

Plays, TV scripts, and screenplays

Plays are meant to be performed on stage. Screenplays are meant to be made into films, and TV scripts are meant to be made into television programs. Scripts for videos produced for other platforms fit into this category as well. 

Plays, TV scripts, and screenplays have a lot in common with novels and short stories. They tell stories that evoke emotion and express themes. The difference is that they’re meant to be performed rather than read and as such, they tend to rely much more on dialogue because they don’t have the luxury of lengthy descriptive passages. But scriptwriters have more than just dialogue to work with; writing a play or script also involves writing stage or scene directions.

Each type of script has its own specific formatting requirements. 

Creative nonfiction

Creative nonfiction covers all the kinds of creative writing that aren’t fiction. Here are some examples:

  • Personal essays: A personal essay is a true story told through a narrative framework. Often, recollections of events are interspersed with insights about those events and your personal interpretations and feelings about them in this kind of essay. 
  • Literary journalism: Think of literary journalism as journalism enhanced by creative writing techniques. These are the kinds of stories often published in outlets like The New Yorker and Salon. Literary journalism pieces report on factual events but do so in a way that makes them feel like personal essays and short stories. 
  • Memoirs: Memoirs are to personal essays what novels are to short stories. In other words, a memoir is a book-length collection of personal memories, often centering around a specific story, that often works opinions, epiphanies, and emotional insights into the narrative. 
  • Autobiographies: An autobiography is a book you write about yourself and your life. Often, autobiographies highlight key events and may focus on one particular aspect of the author’s life, like her role as a tech innovator or his career as a professional athlete. Autobiographies are often similar in style to memoirs, but instead of being a collection of memories anchored to specific events, they tend to tell the author’s entire life story in a linear narrative. 
  • Humor writing: Humor writing comes in many forms, like standup comedy routines, political cartoons, and humorous essays. 
  • Lyric essays: In a lyric essay, the writer breaks conventional grammar and stylistic rules when writing about a concept, event, place, or feeling. In this way, lyric essays are like essay-length poems. The reason they’re considered essays, and not long poems, is that they generally provide more direct analysis of the subject matter than a poem would. 

Tips for writing creatively

Give yourself time and space for creative writing.

It’s hard to write a poem during your lunch break or work on your memoir between calls. Don’t make writing more difficult for yourself by trying to squeeze it into your day. Instead, block off time to focus solely on creative writing, ideally in a distraction-free environment like your bedroom or a coffee shop. 

>>Read More: How to Create Your Very Own Writing Retreat

Get to know yourself as a writer

The more you write, the more in tune you’ll become with your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You’ll identify the kinds of characters, scenes, language, and pieces you like writing best and determine where you struggle the most. Understanding what kind of writer you are can help you decide which kinds of projects to pursue. 

Challenge yourself 

Once you know which kinds of writing you struggle with, do those kinds of writing. If you only focus on what you’re good at, you’ll never grow as a writer. Challenge yourself to write in a different genre or try a completely new type of writing. For example, if you’re a short story writer, give poetry or personal essays a try. 

Need help getting started? Give one (or all!) of these 20 fun writing prompts a try .

Learn from other writers

There are lots of resources out there about creative writing. Read and watch them. If there’s a particular writer whose work you enjoy, seek out interviews with them and personal essays they’ve written about their creative processes. 

>>Read More: How to Be a Master Storyteller—Tips from 5 Experts 

Don’t limit yourself to big-name writers, either. Get involved in online forums, social media groups, and if possible, in-person groups for creative writers. By doing this, you’re positioning yourself to learn from writers from all different walks of life . . . and help other writers, too. 

I wrote something. Where do I go from here?

Give yourself a pat on the back: You did it! You finished a piece of creative writing—something many attempt, but not quite as many achieve. 

What comes next is up to you. You can share it with your friends and family, but you don’t have to. You can post it online or bring it to an in-person writing group for constructive critique. You can even submit it to a literary journal or an agent to potentially have it published, but if you decide to take this route, we recommend working with an editor first to make it as polished as possible. 

Some writers are initially hesitant to share their work with others because they’re afraid their work will be stolen. Although this is a possibility, keep in mind that you automatically hold the copyright for any piece you write. If you’d like, you can apply for copyright protection to give yourself additional legal protection against plagiarizers, but this is by no means a requirement. 

Write with originality

Grammarly can’t help you be more creative, but we can help you hone your writing so your creativity shines as brightly as possible. Once you’ve written your piece, Grammarly can catch any mistakes you made and suggest strong word choices that accurately express your message. 

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Last updated on Feb 14, 2023

10 Types of Creative Writing (with Examples You’ll Love)

A lot falls under the term ‘creative writing’: poetry, short fiction, plays, novels, personal essays, and songs, to name just a few. By virtue of the creativity that characterizes it, creative writing is an extremely versatile art. So instead of defining what creative writing is , it may be easier to understand what it does by looking at examples that demonstrate the sheer range of styles and genres under its vast umbrella.

To that end, we’ve collected a non-exhaustive list of works across multiple formats that have inspired the writers here at Reedsy. With 20 different works to explore, we hope they will inspire you, too. 

People have been writing creatively for almost as long as we have been able to hold pens. Just think of long-form epic poems like The Odyssey or, later, the Cantar de Mio Cid — some of the earliest recorded writings of their kind. 

Poetry is also a great place to start if you want to dip your own pen into the inkwell of creative writing. It can be as short or long as you want (you don’t have to write an epic of Homeric proportions), encourages you to build your observation skills, and often speaks from a single point of view . 

Here are a few examples:

“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The ruins of pillars and walls with the broken statue of a man in the center set against a bright blue sky.

This classic poem by Romantic poet Percy Shelley (also known as Mary Shelley’s husband) is all about legacy. What do we leave behind? How will we be remembered? The great king Ozymandias built himself a massive statue, proclaiming his might, but the irony is that his statue doesn’t survive the ravages of time. By framing this poem as told to him by a “traveller from an antique land,” Shelley effectively turns this into a story. Along with the careful use of juxtaposition to create irony, this poem accomplishes a lot in just a few lines. 

“Trying to Raise the Dead” by Dorianne Laux

 A direction. An object. My love, it needs a place to rest. Say anything. I’m listening. I’m ready to believe. Even lies, I don’t care.

Poetry is cherished for its ability to evoke strong emotions from the reader using very few words which is exactly what Dorianne Laux does in “ Trying to Raise the Dead .” With vivid imagery that underscores the painful yearning of the narrator, she transports us to a private nighttime scene as the narrator sneaks away from a party to pray to someone they’ve lost. We ache for their loss and how badly they want their lost loved one to acknowledge them in some way. It’s truly a masterclass on how writing can be used to portray emotions. 

If you find yourself inspired to try out some poetry — and maybe even get it published — check out these poetry layouts that can elevate your verse!

Song Lyrics

Poetry’s closely related cousin, song lyrics are another great way to flex your creative writing muscles. You not only have to find the perfect rhyme scheme but also match it to the rhythm of the music. This can be a great challenge for an experienced poet or the musically inclined. 

To see how music can add something extra to your poetry, check out these two examples:

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

 You say I took the name in vain I don't even know the name But if I did, well, really, what's it to ya? There's a blaze of light in every word It doesn't matter which you heard The holy or the broken Hallelujah 

Metaphors are commonplace in almost every kind of creative writing, but will often take center stage in shorter works like poetry and songs. At the slightest mention, they invite the listener to bring their emotional or cultural experience to the piece, allowing the writer to express more with fewer words while also giving it a deeper meaning. If a whole song is couched in metaphor, you might even be able to find multiple meanings to it, like in Leonard Cohen’s “ Hallelujah .” While Cohen’s Biblical references create a song that, on the surface, seems like it’s about a struggle with religion, the ambiguity of the lyrics has allowed it to be seen as a song about a complicated romantic relationship. 

“I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie

 ​​If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks Then I'll follow you into the dark

A red neon

You can think of song lyrics as poetry set to music. They manage to do many of the same things their literary counterparts do — including tugging on your heartstrings. Death Cab for Cutie’s incredibly popular indie rock ballad is about the singer’s deep devotion to his lover. While some might find the song a bit too dark and macabre, its melancholy tune and poignant lyrics remind us that love can endure beyond death.

Plays and Screenplays

From the short form of poetry, we move into the world of drama — also known as the play. This form is as old as the poem, stretching back to the works of ancient Greek playwrights like Sophocles, who adapted the myths of their day into dramatic form. The stage play (and the more modern screenplay) gives the words on the page a literal human voice, bringing life to a story and its characters entirely through dialogue. 

Interested to see what that looks like? Take a look at these examples:

All My Sons by Arthur Miller

“I know you're no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father.” 

Creative Writing Examples | Photo of the Old Vic production of All My Sons by Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller acts as a bridge between the classic and the new, creating 20th century tragedies that take place in living rooms and backyard instead of royal courts, so we had to include his breakout hit on this list. Set in the backyard of an all-American family in the summer of 1946, this tragedy manages to communicate family tensions in an unimaginable scale, building up to an intense climax reminiscent of classical drama. 

💡 Read more about Arthur Miller and classical influences in our breakdown of Freytag’s pyramid . 

“Everything is Fine” by Michael Schur ( The Good Place )

“Well, then this system sucks. What...one in a million gets to live in paradise and everyone else is tortured for eternity? Come on! I mean, I wasn't freaking Gandhi, but I was okay. I was a medium person. I should get to spend eternity in a medium place! Like Cincinnati. Everyone who wasn't perfect but wasn't terrible should get to spend eternity in Cincinnati.” 

A screenplay, especially a TV pilot, is like a mini-play, but with the extra job of convincing an audience that they want to watch a hundred more episodes of the show. Blending moral philosophy with comedy, The Good Place is a fun hang-out show set in the afterlife that asks some big questions about what it means to be good. 

It follows Eleanor Shellstrop, an incredibly imperfect woman from Arizona who wakes up in ‘The Good Place’ and realizes that there’s been a cosmic mixup. Determined not to lose her place in paradise, she recruits her “soulmate,” a former ethics professor, to teach her philosophy with the hope that she can learn to be a good person and keep up her charade of being an upstanding citizen. The pilot does a superb job of setting up the stakes, the story, and the characters, while smuggling in deep philosophical ideas.

Personal essays

Our first foray into nonfiction on this list is the personal essay. As its name suggests, these stories are in some way autobiographical — concerned with the author’s life and experiences. But don’t be fooled by the realistic component. These essays can take any shape or form, from comics to diary entries to recipes and anything else you can imagine. Typically zeroing in on a single issue, they allow you to explore your life and prove that the personal can be universal.

Here are a couple of fantastic examples:

“On Selling Your First Novel After 11 Years” by Min Jin Lee (Literary Hub)

There was so much to learn and practice, but I began to see the prose in verse and the verse in prose. Patterns surfaced in poems, stories, and plays. There was music in sentences and paragraphs. I could hear the silences in a sentence. All this schooling was like getting x-ray vision and animal-like hearing. 

Stacks of multicolored hardcover books.

This deeply honest personal essay by Pachinko author Min Jin Lee is an account of her eleven-year struggle to publish her first novel . Like all good writing, it is intensely focused on personal emotional details. While grounded in the specifics of the author's personal journey, it embodies an experience that is absolutely universal: that of difficulty and adversity met by eventual success. 

“A Cyclist on the English Landscape” by Roff Smith (New York Times)

These images, though, aren’t meant to be about me. They’re meant to represent a cyclist on the landscape, anybody — you, perhaps. 

Roff Smith’s gorgeous photo essay for the NYT is a testament to the power of creatively combining visuals with text. Here, photographs of Smith atop a bike are far from simply ornamental. They’re integral to the ruminative mood of the essay, as essential as the writing. Though Smith places his work at the crosscurrents of various aesthetic influences (such as the painter Edward Hopper), what stands out the most in this taciturn, thoughtful piece of writing is his use of the second person to address the reader directly. Suddenly, the writer steps out of the body of the essay and makes eye contact with the reader. The reader is now part of the story as a second character, finally entering the picture.

Short Fiction

The short story is the happy medium of fiction writing. These bite-sized narratives can be devoured in a single sitting and still leave you reeling. Sometimes viewed as a stepping stone to novel writing, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Short story writing is an art all its own. The limited length means every word counts and there’s no better way to see that than with these two examples:

“An MFA Story” by Paul Dalla Rosa (Electric Literature)

At Starbucks, I remembered a reading Zhen had given, a reading organized by the program’s faculty. I had not wanted to go but did. In the bar, he read, "I wrote this in a Starbucks in Shanghai. On the bank of the Huangpu." It wasn’t an aside or introduction. It was two lines of the poem. I was in a Starbucks and I wasn’t writing any poems. I wasn’t writing anything. 

Creative Writing Examples | Photograph of New York City street.

This short story is a delightfully metafictional tale about the struggles of being a writer in New York. From paying the bills to facing criticism in a writing workshop and envying more productive writers, Paul Dalla Rosa’s story is a clever satire of the tribulations involved in the writing profession, and all the contradictions embodied by systemic creativity (as famously laid out in Mark McGurl’s The Program Era ). What’s more, this story is an excellent example of something that often happens in creative writing: a writer casting light on the private thoughts or moments of doubt we don’t admit to or openly talk about. 

“Flowering Walrus” by Scott Skinner (Reedsy)

I tell him they’d been there a month at least, and he looks concerned. He has my tongue on a tissue paper and is gripping its sides with his pointer and thumb. My tongue has never spent much time outside of my mouth, and I imagine it as a walrus basking in the rays of the dental light. My walrus is not well. 

A winner of Reedsy’s weekly Prompts writing contest, ‘ Flowering Walrus ’ is a story that balances the trivial and the serious well. In the pauses between its excellent, natural dialogue , the story manages to scatter the fear and sadness of bad medical news, as the protagonist hides his worries from his wife and daughter. Rich in subtext, these silences grow and resonate with the readers.

Want to give short story writing a go? Give our free course a go!

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Perhaps the thing that first comes to mind when talking about creative writing, novels are a form of fiction that many people know and love but writers sometimes find intimidating. The good news is that novels are nothing but one word put after another, like any other piece of writing, but expanded and put into a flowing narrative. Piece of cake, right?

To get an idea of the format’s breadth of scope, take a look at these two (very different) satirical novels: 

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

I wished I was back in the convenience store where I was valued as a working member of staff and things weren’t as complicated as this. Once we donned our uniforms, we were all equals regardless of gender, age, or nationality — all simply store workers. 

Creative Writing Examples | Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Keiko, a thirty-six-year-old convenience store employee, finds comfort and happiness in the strict, uneventful routine of the shop’s daily operations. A funny, satirical, but simultaneously unnerving examination of the social structures we take for granted, Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman is deeply original and lingers with the reader long after they’ve put it down.

Erasure by Percival Everett

The hard, gritty truth of the matter is that I hardly ever think about race. Those times when I did think about it a lot I did so because of my guilt for not thinking about it.  

Erasure is a truly accomplished satire of the publishing industry’s tendency to essentialize African American authors and their writing. Everett’s protagonist is a writer whose work doesn’t fit with what publishers expect from him — work that describes the “African American experience” — so he writes a parody novel about life in the ghetto. The publishers go crazy for it and, to the protagonist’s horror, it becomes the next big thing. This sophisticated novel is both ironic and tender, leaving its readers with much food for thought.

Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction is pretty broad: it applies to anything that does not claim to be fictional (although the rise of autofiction has definitely blurred the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction). It encompasses everything from personal essays and memoirs to humor writing, and they range in length from blog posts to full-length books. The defining characteristic of this massive genre is that it takes the world or the author’s experience and turns it into a narrative that a reader can follow along with.

Here, we want to focus on novel-length works that dig deep into their respective topics. While very different, these two examples truly show the breadth and depth of possibility of creative nonfiction:

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Men’s bodies litter my family history. The pain of the women they left behind pulls them from the beyond, makes them appear as ghosts. In death, they transcend the circumstances of this place that I love and hate all at once and become supernatural. 

Writer Jesmyn Ward recounts the deaths of five men from her rural Mississippi community in as many years. In her award-winning memoir , she delves into the lives of the friends and family she lost and tries to find some sense among the tragedy. Working backwards across five years, she questions why this had to happen over and over again, and slowly unveils the long history of racism and poverty that rules rural Black communities. Moving and emotionally raw, Men We Reaped is an indictment of a cruel system and the story of a woman's grief and rage as she tries to navigate it.

Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

He believed that wine could reshape someone’s life. That’s why he preferred buying bottles to splurging on sweaters. Sweaters were things. Bottles of wine, said Morgan, “are ways that my humanity will be changed.” 

In this work of immersive journalism , Bianca Bosker leaves behind her life as a tech journalist to explore the world of wine. Becoming a “cork dork” takes her everywhere from New York’s most refined restaurants to science labs while she learns what it takes to be a sommelier and a true wine obsessive. This funny and entertaining trip through the past and present of wine-making and tasting is sure to leave you better informed and wishing you, too, could leave your life behind for one devoted to wine. 

Illustrated Narratives (Comics, graphic novels)

Once relegated to the “funny pages”, the past forty years of comics history have proven it to be a serious medium. Comics have transformed from the early days of Jack Kirby’s superheroes into a medium where almost every genre is represented. Humorous one-shots in the Sunday papers stand alongside illustrated memoirs, horror, fantasy, and just about anything else you can imagine. This type of visual storytelling lets the writer and artist get creative with perspective, tone, and so much more. For two very different, though equally entertaining, examples, check these out:

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

"Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure." 

A Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. A little blond boy Calvin makes multiple silly faces in school photos. In the last panel, his father says, "That's our son. *Sigh*" His mother then says, "The pictures will remind of more than we want to remember."

This beloved comic strip follows Calvin, a rambunctious six-year-old boy, and his stuffed tiger/imaginary friend, Hobbes. They get into all kinds of hijinks at school and at home, and muse on the world in the way only a six-year-old and an anthropomorphic tiger can. As laugh-out-loud funny as it is, Calvin & Hobbes ’ popularity persists as much for its whimsy as its use of humor to comment on life, childhood, adulthood, and everything in between. 

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell 

"I shall tell you where we are. We're in the most extreme and utter region of the human mind. A dim, subconscious underworld. A radiant abyss where men meet themselves. Hell, Netley. We're in Hell." 

Comics aren't just the realm of superheroes and one-joke strips, as Alan Moore proves in this serialized graphic novel released between 1989 and 1998. A meticulously researched alternative history of Victorian London’s Ripper killings, this macabre story pulls no punches. Fact and fiction blend into a world where the Royal Family is involved in a dark conspiracy and Freemasons lurk on the sidelines. It’s a surreal mad-cap adventure that’s unsettling in the best way possible. 

Video Games and RPGs

Probably the least expected entry on this list, we thought that video games and RPGs also deserved a mention — and some well-earned recognition for the intricate storytelling that goes into creating them. 

Essentially gamified adventure stories, without attention to plot, characters, and a narrative arc, these games would lose a lot of their charm, so let’s look at two examples where the creative writing really shines through: 

80 Days by inkle studios

"It was a triumph of invention over nature, and will almost certainly disappear into the dust once more in the next fifty years." 

A video game screenshot of 80 days. In the center is a city with mechanical legs. It's titled "The Moving City." In the lower right hand corner is a profile of man with a speech balloon that says, "A starched collar, very good indeed."

Named Time Magazine ’s game of the year in 2014, this narrative adventure is based on Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. The player is cast as the novel’s narrator, Passpartout, and tasked with circumnavigating the globe in service of their employer, Phileas Fogg. Set in an alternate steampunk Victorian era, the game uses its globe-trotting to comment on the colonialist fantasies inherent in the original novel and its time period. On a storytelling level, the choose-your-own-adventure style means no two players’ journeys will be the same. This innovative approach to a classic novel shows the potential of video games as a storytelling medium, truly making the player part of the story. 

What Remains of Edith Finch by Giant Sparrow

"If we lived forever, maybe we'd have time to understand things. But as it is, I think the best we can do is try to open our eyes, and appreciate how strange and brief all of this is." 

This video game casts the player as 17-year-old Edith Finch. Returning to her family’s home on an island in the Pacific northwest, Edith explores the vast house and tries to figure out why she’s the only one of her family left alive. The story of each family member is revealed as you make your way through the house, slowly unpacking the tragic fate of the Finches. Eerie and immersive, this first-person exploration game uses the medium to tell a series of truly unique tales. 

Fun and breezy on the surface, humor is often recognized as one of the trickiest forms of creative writing. After all, while you can see the artistic value in a piece of prose that you don’t necessarily enjoy, if a joke isn’t funny, you could say that it’s objectively failed.

With that said, it’s far from an impossible task, and many have succeeded in bringing smiles to their readers’ faces through their writing. Here are two examples:

‘How You Hope Your Extended Family Will React When You Explain Your Job to Them’ by Mike Lacher (McSweeney’s Internet Tendency)

“Is it true you don’t have desks?” your grandmother will ask. You will nod again and crack open a can of Country Time Lemonade. “My stars,” she will say, “it must be so wonderful to not have a traditional office and instead share a bistro-esque coworking space.” 

An open plan office seen from a bird's eye view. There are multiple strands of Edison lights hanging from the ceiling. At long light wooden tables multiple people sit working at computers, many of them wearing headphones.

Satire and parody make up a whole subgenre of creative writing, and websites like McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and The Onion consistently hit the mark with their parodies of magazine publishing and news media. This particular example finds humor in the divide between traditional family expectations and contemporary, ‘trendy’ work cultures. Playing on the inherent silliness of today’s tech-forward middle-class jobs, this witty piece imagines a scenario where the writer’s family fully understands what they do — and are enthralled to hear more. “‘Now is it true,’ your uncle will whisper, ‘that you’ve got a potential investment from one of the founders of I Can Haz Cheezburger?’”

‘Not a Foodie’ by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell (Electric Literature)

I’m not a foodie, I never have been, and I know, in my heart, I never will be. 

Highlighting what she sees as an unbearable social obsession with food , in this comic Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell takes a hilarious stand against the importance of food. From the writer’s courageous thesis (“I think there are more exciting things to talk about, and focus on in life, than what’s for dinner”) to the amusing appearance of family members and the narrator’s partner, ‘Not a Foodie’ demonstrates that even a seemingly mundane pet peeve can be approached creatively — and even reveal something profound about life.

We hope this list inspires you with your own writing. If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be that there is no limit to what you can write about or how you can write about it. 

In the next part of this guide, we'll drill down into the fascinating world of creative nonfiction.

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

    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.

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

    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.

  3. What Is Creative Writing? (Definition & 11 Best Steps)

    Creative writing is the cosmic echo of the human soul, resonating through the annals of time and leaving an indelible imprint on the fabric of society. It serves as a literary constellation, illuminating the collective consciousness with narratives that mirror, challenge, and redefine societal values.

  4. What Is Creative Writing? Types, Techniques, and Tips

    Types of Creative Writing. Examples of creative writing can be found pretty much everywhere. Some forms that you’re probably familiar with and already enjoy include: • Fiction (of every genre, from sci-fi to historical dramas to romances) • Film and television scripts. • Songs. • Poetry.

  5. Elements of Creative Writing - Open Textbook Library

    This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing in the genres of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review, the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. They’ve selected ...

  6. 1.1: Intro to Creative Writing - Humanities LibreTexts

    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.

  7. the cambridge companion to creative writing

    to creative writing Creative writing has become a highly professionalised academic discipline, with popular courses and prestigious degree programmes worldwide. This book is a must for all students and teachers of creative writing, indeed for anyone who aspires to be a published writer. It engages with a complex art in an accessible

  8. Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Get Started

    Creative writing is writing meant to evoke emotion in a reader by communicating a theme. In storytelling (including literature, movies, graphic novels, creative nonfiction, and many video games), the theme is the central meaning the work communicates. Take the movie (and the novel upon which it’s based) Jaws, for instance.

  9. Creative writing - Wikipedia

    Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, 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 ...

  10. 10 Types of Creative Writing (with Examples You’ll Love)

    A lot falls under the term ‘creative writing’: poetry, short fiction, plays, novels, personal essays, and songs, to name just a few. By virtue of the creativity that characterizes it, creative writing is an extremely versatile art. So instead of defining what creative writing is, it may be easier to understand what it does by looking at ...