It takes time to create an original work of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction. Practice and persistence are key in this process. However, creative writing doesn't follow an exact science or a set framework of rules.

Writing, in all its varied forms, is an empowering and complex process.

Psychologists argue that there are 4 basic skills shared by the majority of successful writers, indeed successful individuals.

  1. The awareness of the need for attention as well as generosity in giving and appreciating
  2. The awareness of respecting others and reaching out to them in difficult times
  3. Having a compassionate and automatic ‘nurturing voice’ that reassures others that it is okay to make mistakes
  4. A sense of mission and vision - being clear about one's goals, with a strong sense of purpose.

The process varies for creative writers of different genres. To understand what works best for you, let's understand all about creative writing.

creative writing
Inspirstion for a story or a poem or a song can come from anywhere, and at any time. | Image source: Markus Winkler on Unsplash
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What is Creative Writing?

A broad definition of creative writing could be the writing of fiction, where the author creates events, scenes, and characters, sometimes even a world. In reality, all writing involves a degree of creativity. Creative writing is selective and is written from the writer’s perspective.

Genres of Creative Writing Genres

  • Poetry of all kinds
  • Short stories
  • Novels, including westerns, romances, science fiction, detective stories, mysteries, fantasy, etc.
  • Stage play scripts
  • Film and television screenplays
  • Lyrics

Genres that we may not think of as creative writing include:

  • Magazine articles
  • Newspaper feature stories
  • Essays
  • Biographies
  • Advertisements
  • Card greetings
  • Books or articles on science, history, etc.

Techniques used in creative writing include:

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

Examples of Creative Writing

  1. Fiction Writing
  2. Creative Nonfiction Writing
  3. Screenwriting
  4. Play-writing
  5. Poetry Writing
  6. Personal Essays
  7. Journals and Diaries
  8. Memoirs
  9. Letters
  10. Songs

Creative Writing Courses Near Me

Creative writing courses are mostly found online in India. However, there are a few creative writing programs in universities, which can be categorized as certificate courses.

Students can avail online certificate courses in creative writing on platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, Become a Writer Today, Edx, along with foreign universities like the University of Michigan, etc.

The various modules under the certificate programs in creative writing help students learn about narrative writing, persuasive writing, descriptive writing. The key features of each type of creative writing course in India are:

  • Certificate Course
    • Generally of 3 days, 15 days, or 2-6 months.
    • Writing and editing, content strategy for professionals, creative writing specializations, novel writing, fiction writing, etc.
  • Diploma Courses
    • Diploma courses in writing are usually of 1-2 years.
    • Diploma in Creative Writing
  • Undergraduate Courses
    • Undergraduate courses in writing are usually of 3 years.
    • BA English and Creative Writing, BA Writing

Best Creative Writing Programs in Universities

train to write
Sign up for an online summer training program in creative writing. | Image source: Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Oxford University: Getting Started With Creative Writing 

The online program from Oxford University trains students in the basics of creative writing. Managed by Oxford professors, the course requires students to devote at least 100 hours of study time, including routine assignments and participation in course forums.

There is an advanced creative writing course available for more seasoned writers. Students are awarded a certification of completion from Oxford after finishing the course.

Wesleyan University: Creative Writing Specialization

This is a 5-course specialization that the University offers through Coursera. One of the more affordable creative writing programs online, the 5 courses focus on 5 different aspects of storytelling and creative writing:

  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Setting and Description
  • Style
  • Creating a story

University of British Columbia: How to Write a Novel (Writing the Draft)

Taught by professors of the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) Program in UBC, the course is spread over 60 weeks, spanning different aspects of storytelling, including:

  • Creation of a plot
  • Introduction of conflicts and tension
  • Handling active/passive characters
  • Crafting believable dialogues

University of Michigan: Writing Your First Novel

A rare species, this free online creative writing course, offered through Coursera, includes over 26 modules to help students write their first novel. Students can also avail peer-to-peer reviews of their assignments.

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

The Diploma in Creative Writing in English (DCE) is an affordable, 1-year distance learning creative writing program offered by IGNOU.

Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning

Symbiosis offers a 1-year diploma course in creative writing, Diploma in Creative Writing in English (DCWE) with a rigorous course structure.

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Skills and Techniques to Improve Creative Writing

The most identifiable skills of a creative writer, that can help you get enrolled in the best creative writing programs, include:

  • Imagination: You need a great deal of this to excel as a creative writer. Readers are always looking for novelty in the stories they read – something that makes them go wow!
  • Persistence: Writing takes time and effort – be it a poem or a novel. The most successful creative writers spend hours, days, and even weeks and months perfecting their ideas and working out a presentable plot. This is followed by the editing and publishing processes. The process of becoming a great writer doesn't happen overnight.
  • Resilience: The life of a creative writer can be hard with a lot of criticism from all sorts of people. Some might think your story is not realistic, others might say your plot is a little dull. But you need to be able to handle criticism and build from it. Criticism is not a bad thing if it helps you become a better writer.
  • Writing ability: The words that you write must make grammatical and logical sense. You can't be a professional creative writer if you’re unsure where to place your commas or don’t know how to format the dialogue properly. Thus, it is important to understand the basics of writing before taking up creative writing.

Useful Techniques to Become a Better Creative Writer

Follow these simple techniques to develop and improve your creative writing skills further.

Snowflake

The snowflake method is employed to craft a novel from scratch by starting with a basic story summary and then layering in additional elements. It can be applied to all types of creative writing. The different steps of this method are:

  • Think of a big-picture story idea
  • Describe it with a 1-sentence summary
  • Build that sentence into a paragraph
  • Create various character descriptions from the paragraph
  • Create a series of storylines involving those characters.
  • Trace each storyline back to the basic idea

Freewriting

Freewriting is the practice of writing without a prescribed structure. The technique allows writers to follow their impulses. Extensive freewriting practice enables writers to refine their techniques.

snowflake writing technique
The snowflake method has become very popular in modern writing. | Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Three-Act Structure

The three acts in this structure are setup, confrontation, and resolution, which flow seamlessly through the piece.

  1. The setup establishes characters, how they relate, and their world.
  2. The confrontation represents the central problem which the main character attempts to resolve with much adversity.
  3. The resolution consists of the climax and the resolution of the problem.

Various Aspects of Creative Writing

Popular elements of creative writing include:

  • Suspense and conflict
  • Figures of speech and points of view
  • Rhyme and rhythm
  • Setting and scene
  • Form and structure
  • Diction and dialogue
  • Exposition and narration
  • Plot and theme
  • Assonance and consonance
  • Induction and deduction
  • Line breaks and stanzas

Creative writers must learn some basic elements to begin their writing journey. All the best creative writing courses in India have modules incorporating these elements of creative writing.

The Author's Voice

A piece of writing usually reflects the writer's unique style and technique of saying things. Creative writers must identify their own written voice. This is the first goal of creative writing, also known as the author's writing footprint. For writers, the best way to reach this inner voice is to avoid wordiness, awkward use of language, awkward syntax, and lack of clarity in your writing.

Characters

Characters are the readers' guides in a piece of writing, facilitating the understanding of plots and themes. Character development is the act of imagining and portraying characters in such detail that they appear to be real, both to the author and the reader.

Setting

Setting refers to the historical moment in time and geographic location in which a story takes place. The setting of the story introduces its main premise and mood. In creative writing, the setting is referred to as a story world or milieu that includes a context (usually, social) beyond the immediate surroundings of the story.

The sub-elements of the setting include:

  1. Culture
  2. Historical period
  3. Geography
  4. Hour

A setting can be of various types, such as:

  • Alternate history
  • Campaign setting
  • Constructed world
  • Dystopia
  • Fantasy world
  • Fictional city
  • Fictional country
  • Fictional crossover
  • Fictional location
  • Fictional universe
  • Future history
  • Imaginary world
  • Mythical place
  • Parallel universe
  • Planets in science fiction
  • Simulated reality
  • Virtual reality
  • Utopia

Make a Career in Creative Writing

There can be many job opportunities for those fluent in creative writing. These are:

  1. Writer: Creative writing is often the first step to becoming a successfully published author. In India, there are a few high-quality programs for learning creative writing online. They cover the basics of creative writing that help a writer lay the groundwork for their professional writing career.
  2. Copywriter: Creative writers can avail commercial job opportunities, including the writing of advertising copy (both print and online), creating web pages for businesses of all sizes, and so on. Copywriting also offers opportunities in its varied related parts, such as production, marketing, and web development.
  3. Journalist: Creative writers can become journalists for news media or a magazine. However, the financial reward of journalism may not be what you expect and the competition is stiff.
  4. Web Content Editor: There is a high demand for web content editors, especially in startup businesses.
  5. SEO Specialist: SEO writers are in high demand in India. SEO specialists are responsible for researching and mining content that best fits into an organization's business strategy. SEO specialists are also expected to work out ways to improve web content for both search engines and readers.
  6. Proofreader/Sub-Editor: The world of editing will never be out of a job. Proofreaders and sub-editors screen copy errors before publication.
  7. Content Marketing Specialist: Content marketing, in any form, requires great copywriting, which makes good writers a valuable asset to the job.
  8. Social Media Specialist: Knowing what to write to engage an audience is an essential skill for those working with social media. Some old-school and old-fashioned writers might be appalled at the several language corruptions on display in social media, but for those who can communicate well through their writing, this is secondary.
  9. Email Marketer: Email marketing is still relevant and, in fact. an enormous industry. For online writing professionals, an interest in design, HTML, and CSS are pretty handy skills.
  10. Public Relations: Public relations offer a huge scope for creative writers, with copy needed for press releases, publicity material, and client promotions. If working in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment is something that excites you, this could be the role for you. PR comes with its perks too – attending events and receiving free products from clients!

Best Creative Writing Courses in India

Here is a look at India's top 3 when it comes to training programs in creative writing. Take your pick now!

writing online
The online world offers many work opportunities for creative writers. | Image source: Dan Counsell on Unsplash

British Council India

British Council’s Introduction to Creative Writing course is designed to help students:

  • Develop their unique writer’s voice and perspective
  • Stimulate out-of-the-box thinking
  • Enhance their artistic expression
  • Express their thoughts clearly
  • Develop a critical appreciation of different writing styles.

The course duration is 50 hours, spread over 9 weeks, with weekend online classes on offer. The required English Language level for admission to this course is 'Above the Upper-Intermediate level (Grade B2)'.

IIM Skills

IIM Skills offers the Content Writing Master Course which is 4-weeks-long and conducted through Live Online Classroom Training. The course includes 16 hours of lectures, 60 hours of practical assignments, 10+ hours of internship lectures, and much more.

The range of topics covered in the course includes:

  • Industry Case Studies
  • Hands-On Assignments
  • Web Development
  • Social Media Marketing
  • SEO Writing
  • Content Writing.

Henry Harvin

The institute that introduced certificate courses in creative writing to South Asia, Henry Harvin's Certified Creative Writing Course is offered in Online and Offline modes. The Offline mode offers 24 hours of training as well as 24 hours of brush-up sessions. The Online mode offers 50 hours of e-Learning access.

During the course of the training program, students get to experience real-world content writing projects. Every student, who successfully completes the course, earns the Henry Harvin alumni status.

The Certified Creative Writing Specialist (CCWS) certification from Henry Harvin® Education is recognized by the American Association of EFL, UK Cert, UKAF, Content Writing Association in India, MSME & Govt of India.

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.