What is creative writing? It is every form of narrative writing from poetry to feature articles in newspapers and novels, anything that is not academic and technical.
Creative writing is a powerful tool for telling a story. It helps our social and individual growth, stretches the imagination and offers a wonderful outlet for self-expression. That is why creative writing is one of the most important skills we have to learn like walking, swimming and driving. Since I have mentioned it, imagine that someone pushed you into the water, and you can’t swim. The chance you will drown is much higher than the chance you will learn how to swim. So, you need to start with the basics of swimming. The same thing goes for creative writing. So, let’s explore its basics.
Read More for Creative Ideas
Since I have been studying writing, I have heard all sorts of advice. Like my creativity will be stimulated if I lie in a dark room or in a bathtub, if I try to sleep 20 minutes every 3 hours or eat 150 g of nuts every day, etc. None of these tricks work. I know because there are times I have been desperate enough to try them. If creative writing is a skill that we can learn, the most important part of our training is reading.
You have to read. Maybe, it sounds kind of banal, but there is a rule – those who read more actually tend to write better and more creatively. The more you read, the more you consume stories, the more it just becomes part of how you tell stories. In case you have an urgent assignment and do not have time to read a lot, our writing service will help you with that.
Let me ask you, how many movies have you seen in your lifetime? Hundreds, probably. And because of that you have a natural sense of how a movie story in two hours should be told to you. So, when the film is over you can say “Oh, I love that movie” or “I think it was too boring.” Based on your background, movies have created expectations for you on how a story should be told and whether or not it is actually fulfilling. The same thing is for creative writing. By reading, you are actually learning how to tell stories through the written word, so that you naturally get better at actually telling them.
Here are 10 great books to generate creative ideas.
Observe people around you, listen to conversations, look at what people are wearing or carrying, notice small details while you are stuck in traffic. Sometimes when I am really bored on the bus, train or plane, I divide people into categories. These two men are in the group of successful businessmen, these are sportsmen, three girls beside me are the fun students.
When you are observing, you go deeper into the society and learn the things which really matter to people. And what is important about this is using that to create a character profile. Joanne Rowling did this for all her Harry Potter books.
If you ask writers where they get their ideas, they will get really mean. And a true reason why they do that is because writers do not really know. Stephen King mentioned that his inspiration came from a bunch of places – desperation, deadlines, etc. But most of all, he gets ideas from a confluence – two things flowing together. The point is, writers aim to train themselves to notice when they have an idea. It is not that they have more ideas or get inspired more than anyone. Writers just notice when it happens a little bit more.
So, reading and observing are the basics; they are the creative education for your writing. Let’s move on to practical tips.
Structure Your Writing
To put it simply, the character feels a certain way, something happens, and then he feels a different way. A very simple structure. Provide a solution to your problem, do not just present the problem. Because I am trying to help you with creative writing, let’s add some metaphors.
A rollercoaster gives us a great analogy for the structure of a story. Imagine you set off on this rollercoaster. You are getting higher and higher, your cabin is creaking, and you are enjoying the view. Through most of the ride not much is happening, but you are certainly not bored. Your excitement is building all the time because the higher you get, the further and more dramatic the plunge will be.
The story is like a rollercoaster: it must escalate, intensify. If at the beginning the protagonist feels a bit reflective, by the second half of your writing he or she probably feels an intensely melancholic nostalgia. The pressure builds inside the reader and in the end, there is a climatic release, a thrilling plunge into something new.
Use Comparisons and Synonyms for Creative Expressions
Compare two different things or ideas using like or as, and your writing will be much more creative. Instead of saying she was gray, compare it to something. For instance, say she was gray like the clouds when it was about to rain. Here is another example – the forest was calm like a sleeping dog. Such comparisons bring out your experience, memories and thoughts.
Verbs are vital for creative writing as much as comparisons. They are the muscles of your text. The use of verb shapes your writing whether you are composing the narrative or the essay. Therefore, you should always be on the hunt for interesting verbs you can add to your text. A strong verb choice helps us break a story. Let’s look at the most common verbs we use. Can you think of a more creative word for “running”? Speeding, dashing, jogging, sprinting. What about the strong words for walking? Strutting, striding, strolling, ambling, wandering, jaunting, meandering, limping. Use creative synonyms.
Rather than saying I run all the time, you may say I sprinted away from her as fast as I could. She dashed behind me. She was wandering in between the trees. It is much more interesting than “she walks.” It adds a better rhythm to your story.
Let’s review some more examples of creative synonyms. Instead of looking, you can observe, stare, spy, peek, peer, peep, notice, search, gaze, blimp, glance. Instead of shouting, you can exclaim, scream, whisper, cry, sob, whimper, brag or boast.
When you are writing, imagine you have a limited budget to finish your story, and every word costs you a dollar. Use words only if you think they are worth it.
Add Metaphors, Creative Synonyms and Descriptions
Let’s say, you want to describe the first date of two persons who are madly in love with each other. How would you describe it? It was a romantic occasion, and the couple were so fixated on each other that hours passed, and they hardly noticed. This sounds kind of bland and vague, as it could apply to any date. Ask yourself if there are any ways you can show through some detail that the couple really enjoy their time together?
Let’s use candles as an example to show the date in a different light. They sat until the candles had burned right down to the wick. It is more interesting, but a bit obvious and overused. If you are struggling to come up with something creative and new, often the secret is to be more specific. Let’s think about what kind of candles the character would use? Maybe, they stick candles in empty wine bottles – now you get a clear visualization of the passage of time. You could write this way – they sat until the candles had dripped trails of wax the length of the empty wine bottles. You can make creative expressions out of every sentence.
A metaphor is another creative solution. It is also a great way to show your creative capabilities.
What can you do metaphorically with this idea of the candle wax dripping? What does this candle wax dripping down the bottle look like? The first thing I thought of was tentacles, but it is not so romantic. The next idea was the lightning, but it is quite a fleeting phenomenon. Then I imagined the icicles, but they are cold, which is not good for a blossoming love. What about the roots of a tree? Visually the comparison is not so strong, but the tree takes time to develop roots. So, this metaphor suggests a new growth just as the characters are at the beginning of a new relationship.
They sat until the candle wax dripped like roots on the empty wine bottles. Or they sat until the candles grew roots on the empty wine bottles. Or they sat until the candles were rooted in the empty wine bottles. How does it sound to you?
Show, Do Not Tell
Do not tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of the light on broken glasses – Anton Chekhov.
Take a moment to close your eyes and picture what you see. If you use your five senses when you write, it really helps create a photograph. The truth is, it is not about telling, it is about showing. And there is a big difference between these two. Compare – Lili Kember lives in the forest and Lili Kember lives under a lush canopy of palm trees. Which one is more like a photograph in your mind? The second one, of course.
So, if you are thinking about the forest where your character lives, name some flowers you might see. Maybe, it is the vines that are dangling down from a sacred ceiba tree. Use your creative thinking. If you describe what they are wearing, use the same technique. His coffee-stained shirt was tattered and torn, tucked into pants. His boots caked in mud. Not he was wearing shirt and boots.
Do Not Be Too Obvious
Avoid summary and generalization. Creative writing depends on invocative details. Once I decided to count about how many cups of tea and coffee I had to read in a month. 42. 42 description of characters drinking cups of tea or coffee. Since this is fiction, since you are making this stuff up, you can have Kate/Robert/Tina/Alex do anything. Why not have him or her argue while taking their clothes from the laundry or hiking by the Grand Canyon or investigating the dry rot in the attic, repairing a bicycle, doing anything except sitting there drinking another bloody cup of coffee? Get you character somewhere interesting.
Create a Key Idea
What you want the key idea of your creative writing to be? The key idea is what your narrative will teach the reader about the human experience. The examples of the main idea might be the importance of family, destiny, exploring individual’s connections with God or the reality of climate change, etc. Provide an antidote to one of the life’s problems.
Write What You Know
This is really valuable advice to consider – write about events and emotions that you have experienced, and you will have a wider range of feelings to operate. Of course, you can write from the perspective of another person, but it is more difficult. Start with describing your personal experience, life lessons, situations you were in.
Record Your Ideas
Buy a notebook and write down all the crazy ideas which spring to your mind while you are on the subway, at a monotonous lecture in college or even at the supermarket. You never know when the creative idea might strike, so be fully prepared.
Now I am sitting in a comfortable chair, staring at a blinking cursor and have no idea how to finish this article. But I do not believe in writer’s block. There are millions of words in our heads, and all we need to do is to write them down. Then the art of creative writing comes, you mix, combine the words, choose the metaphors, synonyms, add jokes and creative dialogues.
If you do not feel like writing something, just write down what your inner voice is saying at the moment – like me! I am hungry, I should get some tea, it would help me think. But I should finish first and then reward myself with a cup of tea. It does not sound like a great finish, so I need to dig further. To dig. Writing is like a dig of your memories. You just need to dredge up something from inside, something honest. Sounds good? Now I’ll just go and make that cup of tea.