What comes to mind when we think "writing"? To put it simply, the act of writing is the physical manifestation of a spoken language. The word creative is defined in various ways, some of which are:
- The ability to create
- Productive and imaginative
- Characterized by expressiveness and originality
Historians and archaeologists believe that humans developed languages around 35,000 BCE. The evidence of this creative evolution in humans can be found in the cave paintings from the period of the Cro-Magnon Man (circa 50,000-30,000 BCE) which appear to express concepts concerning daily life. Scholars believe these images to a form of language because they seem to tell a story (for instance, of a hunting expedition in which specific events occurred) rather than being mere pictures of animals and people.
What is Creative Writing?
The most common definition of creative writing can be the writing of fiction, where the author creates events, scenes, and characters, sometimes even a world. In reality, aside from instinctive utterances like the yelp of an injured child or a delighted ‘Oh!’, all expressions are creative.
All writing involves creativity since it is selective and is written from the writer’s perspective. Similar to informative writing, expositions (detailed statements or explanations), or instructions, creative writing also conveys information. In fact, information is the basic component of all communication, no matter what kind.
The overall intent of creative writing is not to inform. It is to stir the emotions, to elicit an emotional response.
A storyteller uses creative writing to express his/her feelings about some aspect of life and to engage the reader in those feelings. A poet uses events, images, and people in his/her poetry to deliver concentrated emotion. Dramatists and screenwriters convey and stir emotions through action and dialogue. A feature writer in a magazine comments on real people and real lives to arouse sympathy, delight, horror, or concern.
Creative Writing Genres
The word genre is used to describe categories or types of written text. Some familiar genres of creative writing are:
- Poetry of all kinds
- Short stories
- Novels, including westerns, romances, science fiction, detective stories, mysteries, fantasy, etc.
- Stage play scripts
- Film and television screenplays
On the other hand, there are those genres that we may not think of as creative writing. They are:
- Magazine articles
- Newspaper feature stories
- 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
- Metaphors and similes
- Figures of speech
- Imaginative language
- Emotional appeal
- Heavy description
Examples of Creative Writing
Creative writing, as already mentioned, can take many forms and is widely accessible to all kinds of writers. We may find writers dabbling in creative writing throughout high school, while others join creative writing courses to improve their professional prospects, such as a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Creative writing can be pursued for fun, while there are those creative writers who see themselves as the next bestselling author.
Both short story-writing and novel-writing involve a wide breadth of themes, styles, and details created by authors to build worlds that feel like real life. Writing fiction gives the writer plenty of freedom to craft an imaginative original story with three-dimensional fictional characters who are relatable.
Creative Nonfiction Writing
This genre incorporates different creative writing techniques and literary styles to convey truthful, non-fictional narratives. Creative nonfiction writing, like memoirs and personal essays, uses more emotion and emphasizes story and tone over more traditional sub-genres of nonfiction.
Screenwriting weaves a narrative into its blocks of action and dialogue text, setting up whole scenes and often following a three-act structure to tell a story. Traditionally, scripts were written exclusively for either television shows or films, but the introduction of new technology and streaming devices has made it possible for a variety of formats to exist.
Playwriting is a form of creative writing that is meant to be performed live on stage. Plays can be one-act-long or several. However, due to limitations on space, effects, and live capabilities, plays often utilize creativity to properly tell a complete and immersive story.
Poetry is rhythmic prose that expresses ideas with musicality. It can be written or performed. Poetry can be short or contain multiple verses. It can have no rhyme scheme or an intricate and repetitive one. Poetry, like songwriting, is a versatile writing form that allows the author to use cadence and meter to enhance their expressiveness.
Creative writing doesn't always have to be made up! In fact, creative non-fiction comes in several forms, one of which is the personal essay, In a personal essay, the writer explores his/her own life experiences or opinions. Writing an essay on oneself isn't always as easy as it may sound. However, it is an important skill to have for any form of writing - from college applications to family history.
Journals and Diaries
Journals are usually perceived as a therapeutic exercise or a way to record the day's events. However, journals can also be a type of creative writing, especially if the writer incorporates their entries with their own emotions and personal experiences. Take some time to read journal writing prompts and try your hand at this creative writing form.
Memoirs are a longer form of personal essay or journal. It is a type of creative nonfiction that explores a person's life or experiences. The writer can focus on a single period or their entire life. A memoir is different from an autobiography in that it includes feelings and thoughts and not just the facts of what happened.
Some scholars consider letters as a form of creative writing because they contain more than a basic reporting of the facts. This is especially true of letters that discuss emotion or opinion. In the mood for a love letter?
Songwriting may be usually thought of as a purely musical form of creative expression. However, any song which has lyrics belongs to the world of creative writing. Lyrics are similar to poetry in that they can have many forms, although some type of rhyme scheme is common.
Getting Started with Creative Writing
Some writers find it easier to start the process of writing. However, there are those who may know that they want to write but aren’t sure how to begin. And, this can happen to experienced writers too who panic at the sight of that empty first page. Fret not! We bring you a few ideas that might help to uncover those words hidden away in the deep recesses of your mind (and heart).
If you are not in the habit of reading, you don't have a reference to draw from. And, this makes getting started on creative writing that much more difficult. The works of celebrated writers throughout history should be required reading for any budding creative writer. Read famous works by great writers across multiple genres to get a feel for your own interests.
Habit of Writing
Always be in the habit of writing. Random ideas may pop into your head at the most unexpected of times. Sometimes, these can give rise to really great ideas. Keep a notepad or download a notes app on your phone to jot down or record any content you may think of.
Develop a Point of View
Most fiction writings have a story, message, or lesson to share. A narrative without a perspective will feel flat. Your readers will be left guessing about the point of your story. You have your unique voice to share through your writing. Write so that your story resonates with your audience and connects with them to leave a lasting impression.
Use Literary Devices
Literary devices are used to make writing more vivid. Literary devices are integral to good writing. Metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech reflect the writer's creativity and paint powerful pictures. Alliterations, consonance, and assonance can enhance the sound and rhythm of your words.
For aspiring writers who don't know how to start writing, why not join a group of people who sometimes have the same problem? Writers’ groups often hold workshops and sessions with exercises where you’ll have to write something. Who knows? You may end up with writing material or ideas you can use later.
Try writing exercises on your own. Examples of exercises can be found in writing handbooks or online. They may involve you building a character, creating a setting, or drafting out a storyline. Whatever type of writing exercise you take up, they encourage you to create material that you can rework, edit, augment, and build up into something greater.
Set Realistic Goals
Suppose you started out with the dream of writing a novel or a memoir. Don't be disheartened if that takes time. Have a go at writing a short story or an essay or a poem - shorter forms of creative writing that offer achievable targets for completion, and perhaps a greater likelihood of achieving publication.
Creative Writing Courses
There are a plethora of creative writing courses out there - many of them online - that cater to different types of writers. Depending on what you aim to achieve out of such a course, here is a list of 5 creative writing courses to set your writing dreams on the path of realization!
1. Henry Harvin
Henry Harvin Education offers South Asia's first Certified Creative Writing Course. The course is offered in online and offline mode. While 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. The course is recognized by the American Association of EFL, UK Cert, UKAF, Content Writing Association in India, MSME & Govt of India. The starting fee for the course is as low as INR 9500/-
2. British Council India
The British Council offers its unique Introduction to Creative Writing course to writers of all kinds - whether you are a hobbyist, a scribbler, a journalist, and so on. The course is designed to help students to:
- Develop their unique writer’s voice and perspective
- Stimulate out-of-the-box thinking
- Enhance the writer's artistic expression
- Express the writer's thoughts clearly
- Develop a critical appreciation of different writing styles
The course duration is 50 hours, spread over 9 weeks, with online weekend classes on offer as well. The course fee starts at INR 9,000/- Students who are members of the British Council library can avail of a special discount of 10% on the course fee. The required English Language level for admission to this course must be above the Upper-Intermediate level (Grade B2).
Wesleyan University offers a specialization course through Coursera. This course covers elements of 3 major creative writing genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. The intensive course is designed to help students master the techniques that good writers use to compose a captivating story, with memorable characters in an interesting setting, written in a fresh descriptive style. Students get to analyze and constructively evaluate peer writing. In the Capstone, students are required to draft, rewrite, and complete a substantial original story in a genre of their choosing.
Udemy's Complete Creative Writing Course enables students to write engaging fiction, poetry, drama, and creative non-fiction, on their way to becoming successful writers. The course is a fun and practical way to learn creative writing in which students get to create their own works of the four genres of creative writing, namely, fiction, poetry, drama, and creative non-fiction.
The course includes 43 video lessons, each of which is broken down into multiple video lectures, including a quick writing assignment aligned with the day's goals, a lesson covering an area of course content, a practical application project, 37 online review quizzes over major concepts, quizzes that are designed to reinforce major concepts discussed in the class, and over 12 hours of video lessons.
5. IIM SKILLS
The Content Writing Master Course from IIM Skills helps students master all forms of content, of varying lengths. The course duration is 4 weeks, conducted through live online classroom training. The training includes 16 hours of lectures, 60 hours of practical assignments, and 10+ hours of internship lectures. Students who complete the course successfully, are offered freelance opportunities through IIM Skills Dedicated Placement Cell.
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