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Writing advice for small business
11 Creative Writing Techniques
Learn how to add pizzazz to any type of writing.
The articles below show you how to use creative writing tools in fiction or non-fiction. Each article features a series of examples so it becomes easier to apply the technique.
List of creative writing techniques
Click the links below to go to a specific section:
Show don’t tell
Repetition in writing
Contrast in writing
The rule of three in writing
Learn how to use metaphors and get inspired by these examples …
Learn how to use metaphors >>
Metaphor examples >>
Get inspired by over 10 simile examples by various authors …
Simile examples >>
Get inspired by these analogy examples …
Analogy examples >>
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Get inspired by these imagery examples …
Imagery examples >>
Learn how to use personification to make your writing sparkle …
Personification examples >>
6. Show don’t tell
Get inspired by these examples of “show, don’t tell” …
Show don’t tell examples >>
7. Repetition in writing
Get inspired by these examples of word repetition …
Examples of repetition in writing >>
8. Contrast in writing
Discover how to use contrast in your writing …
Examples of contrast in writing >>
9. The rule of 3 in writing
Get inspired by these examples of the rule of 3 …
The rule of 3 in writing >>
10. Parallelism in writing
Get inspired by these examples of the parallelism …
Parallelism examples >>
11. Switch the point of view (POV)
Discover how to switch the point of view …
Point of view examples >>
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What Is Creative Writing? Types, Techniques, and Tips
by Kaelyn Barron | 5 comments
Even if you’re not a big reader of fiction, you’ve more than likely encountered creative writing—or at least, the outcomes of creative writing—at some point. In fact, you can thank creative writing for your favorite films, songs, musicals, and much more.
But what exactly makes writing “creative?”
Simply put, creative writing is any writing that falls outside of technical, journalistic, or academic writing.
You can think of it as classic storytelling. It can be written with a number of intentions: to entertain us, comfort us, or teach us a lesson; most importantly, good creative writing speaks to our shared human experience. It shouldn’t just tell us something—it should make us feel something new.
Creative Writing: An Overview
We’re all familiar with school-required “creative writing exercises.” Maybe you had a traumatizing experience when your eighth grade teacher forced you to write a story and read it aloud for the class (no? just me?).
Or maybe you think creative writing is reserved for the artsy free spirits who churn out novels in coffee shops or on sunny farms in Tuscany.
In reality, creative writing is much more than something for your great aunt to scoff at when discussing your major at Thanksgiving dinner.
In this post, we’ll break down creative writing and explain everything you need to know, including:
• Types and examples • Techniques • Who should practice creative writing? • Creative writing exercises to get started
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 • Plays • Vignettes
But creative writing doesn’t have to be limited to fictitious content. It can also include:
• Personal essays • Memoirs • Journals and diaries • Letters
As we can see from this list, some works of nonfiction can also constitute creative writing. After all, many books and films tell stories of real people and real events.
Take, for example, the 2010 film The King’s Speech . The film tells the story of real people and real events, but the script can be considered creative writing as much as the script for Jurassic Park, because it charges historical events with emotion and makes the audience feel invested in the characters.
Writing about your own life is no different. Journals and diaries—when they contain personal thoughts, experiences, or emotions—can also constitute creative writing. Even letters can be included, when they do more than stating facts (not just “today I went to the store” or “today it rained.”)
Creative writing doesn’t require you to make up names or inject unicorns into your manuscript. It just requires a bit of storytelling through more imaginative techniques.
Techniques Used in Creative Writing
You’ll want to make your story one that resonates with people, since creative writing is ultimately telling stories about the human experience. To achieve this, you can apply some of these techniques and literary devices:
Including conversations between characters can help bring them to life, while also moving the plot along without relying solely on the narrator.
This was a favorite technique of Ernest Hemingway. Famous for his simple, straightforward style, he let his characters do most of the talking, which also helped to make them more accessible and relatable.
One great example of character development through dialogue can be found in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice :
“A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”
“How so? How can it affect them?”
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”
“Is that his design in settling here?”
“Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them, and therefore you must visit him as soon as he comes.”
Without Austen telling us anything directly, we as readers can get a feel for Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, their relationship, and what they each prioritize.
Good dialogue should sound realistic, but also carry a purpose so that the story can progress in a natural way.
Metaphors and similes
Alternatively, writers can choose to pack their prose with imaginative language, offering the reader vivid descriptions to evoke emotion. This is typical in many forms of creative writing, and it is often achieved through literary devices, like similes and metaphors.
For example, in “A Red, Red Rose,” Robert Burns writes:
“O my Love is like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O my Love is like the melody That’s sweetly played in tune.”
Similes create images for the reader by using comparisons, rather than simple adjectives. (What kind of poem would the example above be if Burns just told us his love is “beautiful”?)
While similes can help us to imagine a scene more vividly, they can also be open to interpretation. Because similes rely on association, one word might carry different connotations for different readers (this may very well be the author’s intention).
Metaphors, instead, draw parallels and can take up a few lines, like this famous excerpt from Romeo and Juliet :
“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!”
Or sometimes, metaphors can be recurring elements in a text, like in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist , where the desert setting serves as a metaphor for life itself.
Good metaphors can serve as a shortcut to understanding a text because they can convey something complex in terms that are more concise, yet universal. For this reason, metaphors can add extra depth to your story.
Point of view
Deciding which point of view you want to tell your story from is an essential step because it will determine the story’s voice.
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby , for example, is written in the first-person limited perspective—but imagine how different the story would be if Daisy were narrating instead of Nick! Changing the point of view can change the entire story.
Anecdotes are like small stories within the big story. When used in creative writing, they offer readers a chance to learn more about a character without simply stating it directly. They can be used to evoke empathy, to entertain, to teach a lesson, or simply to reveal other dimensions of a character.
We can turn to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for one such example:
“Justine, you may remember, was a great favorite of yours; and I recollect you once remarked, that if you were in an ill-humor, one glance from Justine could dissipate it, for the same reason that Ariosto gives concerning the beauty of Angelica—she looked so frank-hearted and happy. My aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which she was induced to give her an education superior to that which she had first intended.”
This anecdote, delivered by Elizabeth to Victor Frankenstein, provides background for Justine’s character and reveals the history between the characters’ families. By testifying to Justine’s “frank-hearted and happy” nature, readers are led to sympathize with the character even more, especially in light of her tragic fate (she confesses to a crime she did not commit and is promptly executed).
Making proper use of the right techniques can make any writing better, but it’s especially important in creative writing if you want a well-developed story that resonates with readers and doesn’t feel forced.
Who Should Practice Creative Writing?
Now that we’ve gone over what exactly creative writing is and the techniques used to compose it, you might be wondering what exactly you can do with this information.
Because creative writing isn’t just for English majors and best-selling authors. We all have stories to tell, and even if you never show your work to anyone, practicing creative writing can be beneficial to just about everyone.
Aside from proven therapeutic benefits , creative writing exercises can help to:
Build your imagination and creativity: By stimulating the parts of your brain responsible for creativity, you’ll train your mind to think “outside the box” to find new, innovative solutions.
Organize your thoughts: Developing a plot requires the ability to think logically, since you’ll want to make the underlying point clear. This kind of thinking can of course be helpful in the workplace and many other parts of your life.
Grow your confidence: Putting your thoughts down on paper takes guts. Expressing yourself through writing and seeing your ideas translated to words can help build self-confidence.
Improve your communication skills : By refining your writing skills, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively, both in speech and on paper.
Give your mind a break: Like reading, creative writing offers the perfect escape from everyday life. You’re in complete control of everything that happens, so let yourself go and see the wonderful things your mind builds when you set it free.
How Can You Get Started?
If you’re new to creative writing, there are a number of ways to get started. Keeping a diary to write down your thoughts and ideas can be extremely helpful. Or, check out our many great writing prompts to get your creativity flowing!
What do you love to write about? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
- 70 Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire You to Write
- 10 Creative Writing Exercises for Beginners and Writers
- How Writing Prompts Can Boost Your Creative Writing Skills
- Fast and Loose: 3 Ways Freewriting Will Upgrade Your Creative Career
As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working remotely allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.
I see during my searches of creating writing that the term, snippet is not used. Why is this, as it is a very entertaining concept, as I enclose an example.
The small boy asks his grandpa, “Grand daddy, what will you do if you ever catch the last beaver in th e world?”
“Well son, that will be the saddest day that I ever could imagine.”
“You know son, that almost happened a couple hundred years or so ago. Money was hard to come by and rich people over in Europe wanted all the beaver they could buy from men that were willing to risk their lives in the new America that had a seemingly endless supply of the rich furred animals.”
The old man said, “the only thing that stopped the beaver from being totally wiped out was the silk worm.”
That didn’t stop the boy from his original line of questions about beavers, he could care less about any worms. After all he was a trapper, in his own mind.
The boy, stopped his Grandpa again, in the manner that young kids do, that are impatient for another answer. “Granddaddy, how long have you been trapping beavers?”
“Well son, let me see; I started just about the time I was your age I think.”
“How many have you caught,” came next.
“There’s no telling, maybe a truck load, maybe two.”
The boys next words took the old trapper back a step or two when the boy said, “Granddaddy do we have to catch them all, or can we leave me a few so I can take my son, someday, and show and tell him what you’ve taught me.”
Thanks, hope you enjoyed the post!
Great article. I appreciate reading even more now. Understanding these things has opened a new door for me. I mostly wrote for my own entertainment, but what I have learned here, I am inspired to give it a try on a bigger scale.
Thank you for the inspiration.
You’re very welcome Cindy, and thank you for the kind words! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article :) Happy writing!
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8 Creative Writing Tips and Techniques
Table of Contents
What is creative writing, forms of creative writing, top 8 creative writing tips, how to get better at creative writing.
Creative writing transcends the realms of technical, business, and academic writing and focuses on elements such as plot, creative development, and narrative structure.
There’s no set formula for creative writing , but there are ways you can improve your writing technique.
If you want to learn more about creative writing , keep reading as we discuss what creative writing is, its various forms, and tips on how to get started.
Creative writing is a style of writing that is focused on expressing the writer’s imagination and creativity.
Creative writing often involves the creation of fictional or nonfictional works that go beyond the formal, professional, and traditional styles of writing. This type of writing allows writers to express themselves in a more personal and original way.
What Do You Do in Creative Writing?
Creative writing gives writers the opportunity to be original and express themselves. It involves the use of literary techniques and devices to tell a story or to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.
There are many different forms of creative writing, such as novels, poems, screenplays, and even songs.
The main goal of creative writing is to entertain, inspire, or convey an idea or message to the reader. It is a form of self-expression that allows the writer to explore their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
It can also be a way for writers to explore new ideas, to entertain and inspire readers, and to share their perspectives and experiences with others.
Ultimately, the purpose of creative writing is to connect with the reader on a deep level and to leave a lasting impression.
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Creative writing is an expressive form of writing that takes many forms and styles. Let’s look at a few examples of creative writing forms.
Fiction involves the creation of imaginary characters, settings, and plots. You can write fiction in many different genres, such as mystery, romance, fantasy, and more.
You can also write fiction in any length you want. For example, flash fiction is shorter than 1,000 words, while the average novel is around 90,000 words.
Poetry is a type of creative writing that uses expressive language. Poets use techniques such as rhyme, meter, and figurative language to create meaning and convey emotions and ideas.
Poems come in many different forms. You can try writing a haiku, a sonnet, a free-verse poem, or any other poetic structure that appeals to you.
A screenplay tells a story through the medium of film or television. It includes descriptions of characters, settings, and actions, as well as dialogue and stage directions.
A play is meant to be performed on stage. It includes dialogue, stage directions, and descriptions of characters and settings. Plays can be a powerful way to engage the audience’s emotions and imagination to convey complex themes.
Songs are a musical expression of creative writing . Songs can be written in a variety of genres, such as pop, rock, folk, hip-hop, and more. They can be written to express a wide range of emotions and ideas, from love and heartbreak to social and political issues.
A graphic novel is a type of creative writing that combines text and illustrations to tell a story. It can be a work of fiction or nonfiction and can be written in a variety of genres.
Creative writing is typically associated with fiction, but there are nonfiction works that fall under the creative categories, too. These nonfiction works deal with real events, people, and ideas. Creative nonfiction can take the form of personal essays, memoirs, biographies, or even news articles.
There’s no scientific formula for creative writing . It all comes down to your own self-expression and the limitlessness of your imagination. However, there are a few creative writing techniques you can use in your next writing.
Here are eight ways you can improve your creative writing skills.
1. Find Inspiration
The first step for any creative writing project is to find your inspiration. This can come from a variety of sources, such as your own life experiences, your interests and passions, or even something as simple as a newspaper article or a conversation with a friend.
Take some time to think about what inspires you, and use that as the foundation for your writing.
2. Read Widely
To be a good creative writer, you need to be a good reader. Reading widely exposes you to different styles, genres, and techniques, and it can help you develop your own voice as a writer.
You’ll get to learn from a variety of authors, and you may discover new ways of structuring a story, creating compelling characters, or using language in a way that resonates with readers.
So read widely, and don’t be afraid to try out new genres or authors.
3. Try Freewriting
Freewriting is a writing exercise in which the writer allows their thoughts and inspiration to flow onto the page without any prescribed structure or editorial oversight.
It involves letting the mind wander and following the impulses of your subconscious, allowing you to tap into your creativity and explore new ideas.
While the first time you try freewriting you may end up with mostly unusable material, with practice, it can help you refine your writing style and unleash your creativity.
4. Write Often
The more you write, the better you’ll be. By writing every day, you’ll develop a habit that will make it easier to sit down and write even when you don’t want to.
Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, use that time to jot down some ideas or work on a scene.
5. Use Literary Devices
Literary devices are techniques writers use to add depth, interest, and emotion to their writing. By using these devices, you can create vivid imagery, convey complex ideas, and engage the reader’s emotions in a way that goes beyond simple storytelling.
For example, you can use descriptive language to paint a picture of a character’s appearance, which allows readers to feel like they are truly immersed in the story. Other literary devices include symbols, allegory, emotional language, metaphors, and similes.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, incorporating these techniques into your writing can help you craft more compelling and engaging stories.
6. Get Feedback
Getting feedback from other people helps you improve your creative writing skills.
Sometimes it feels intimidating to share your work, especially when you’re new to creative writing, but it’s a crucial step to help you progress.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your work and tell you what they think. Alternatively, you can attend a workshop for writers, where you can get more targeted feedback.
You can also join writing communities to meet like-minded creative writers. Spaces such as ProWritingAid’s Community allow writers to come together and support each other in their writing journey. You’ll get access to feedback and constructive criticism on different aspects of your writing, such as plot, character development, setting, and language use.
7. Edit Your Work
The editing process is an essential part of creative writing . Once you’ve finished your first draft, it’s important to continue making changes to your work, whether it’s cutting unnecessary words, reworking a scene, or adding details.
Many successful creative writers suggest editing after you’ve finished writing so it doesn’t interrupt your creative flow.
Editing can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it to produce the best work possible. You can use an editing software like ProWritingAid to show you where you can improve your writing.
ProWritingAid goes beyond just correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues by also showing you style improvement suggestions. Plus, if you’re looking to improve your creative writing skills, you can use ProWritingAid to compare your work to your favorite authors.
8. Have Fun
Creative writing is all about originality and self-expression, so above all, have fun with your writing. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and to take things too seriously, but it’s important to remember that writing is supposed to be enjoyable.
So relax, let your creativity flow, and have fun with it.
Creative writing is a form of self-expression that allows you to use your imagination and creativity to share your ideas and thoughts in a unique way.
Venturing into creative writing can be intimidating at first, but remember that you’ll get better with practice.
Take time to read widely, try writing exercises, and gather feedback on your work. Don’t be afraid to join creative writing communities so you can access support in your writing journey.
And above all, remember: there’s no limit to your creativity.
Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.
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- 7 Techniques from Creative Writing You Can Use to Improve Your Essays
You wouldn’t have thought that essays have much in common with creative writing.
You should also read…
- How to Improve Your English Writing Skills
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Creative writing , by definition, involves being ‘creative’: making things up, letting your imagination run wild. Essays are about being factual and objective, communicating ideas and arguments in the clearest way possible and attempting to enhance the reader’s knowledge, rather than their imagination. But while the literary devices and colourful tales we associate with creative writing are indeed out of place in an essay, these two very different kinds of writing actually have a few similarities. Above all, they’re both meant to be read by other people, and that means that they need to sustain the reader’s interest. So, are there any writing techniques you can borrow from creative writing to help make your essays more interesting and original? Yes there are, and in this article, we’re going to show you how.
1. Think about your reader
With creative writing, as with any kind of writing, your reader is your most important consideration. You need to know and understand whom you’re writing for if you’re to do a good job of keeping them interested. Let’s think for a moment about the kind of person you’re writing for when you’re writing an essay and what you need to do to write specifically for them:
- Teachers or university lecturers – they’re going to be marking your essay, so it needs to answer the question effectively.
- They’ve set the question and they probably have a pretty good idea of how you’re going to answer it – so be original and unpredictable; catch them by surprise with an unusual approach or structure.
- They’re going to be reading many other responses to the same question – so they may well be bored by the time they get to yours. Keep them interested!
- They’re probably going to be pressed for time – so they won’t have time to reread badly written passages to try to understand what you’re getting at. Keep your writing easy to read, succinct and to the point.
What all these points boil down to is the importance of keeping your reader interested in what you have to say. Since creative writing is all about holding the reader’s interest, there must be some lessons to be learned from it and techniques that can be applied within the more limited style constraints of the academic essay. We’ll now turn to what these are.
2. Three-act structure
The three-act structure is a writing device used extensively in modern writing, including for film and television dramas. These ‘acts’ aren’t as distinct as acts in a play, as one follows seamlessly on from another and the audience wouldn’t consciously realise that one act had ended and another began. The structure refers to a plotline that looks something like this:
- Set-up – establishes the characters, how they relate to each other, and the world they inhabit. Within this first ‘act’, a dramatic occurrence called an ‘inciting incident’ takes place (typically around 19 minutes into a film) involving the principal character. They try to deal with it, but this results in another dramatic occurrence called a ‘turning point’. This sets the scene for the rest of the story.
- Confrontation – the turning point in the previous ‘act’ becomes the central problem, which the main character attempts to resolve – usually with plenty of adversity thrown their way that hampers their efforts. In a murder mystery, for example, this act would involve the detective trying to solve the murder. The central character – with the help of supporting characters – undergoes a journey and develops their knowledge, skills or character to a sufficient degree to be able to overcome the problem.
- Resolution – the climax of the story, in which the drama reaches a peak, the problem is overcome, and loose ends are tied up.
This structure sounds all very well for made-up stories, but what has it got to do with essay-writing? The key similarities here are:
- The central argument of your essay is the equivalent of the main character.
- The essay equivalent of the set-up and resolution are the introduction and conclusion.
- The inciting incident in an essay encourages you to get to the point early on in the essay.
- The equivalent of character development in the second act is developing your argument.
- The equivalent of the supporting characters is the evidence you refer to in your essay.
So, applying the three-act structure to an essay gives you something like this:
- Set-up – the introduction. This establishes what you’re talking about, setting the scene. The ‘inciting incident’ could be the introduction of evidence that contradicts a common theory, or the highlighting of a central disagreement in how something is interpreted.
- Confrontation – you discuss the different problems surrounding the topic you’re writing about. You develop the argument using various bits of evidence, moving towards an overall conclusion.
- Resolution – the conclusion. You summarise and resolve the argument with your own opinion, by coming down on one side or the other, having weighed up the evidence you’ve discussed. You could perhaps tie up loose ends by offering an alternative explanation for evidence that doesn’t sit with your conclusion.
Using this structure keeps you focused on the central point, and stops you from waffling, because everything you write is working towards resolving your argument. The use of the inciting incident in the first ‘act’ encourages you to get to the point early on in your essay, thereby keeping the reader interested. The principles of good plot-writing are centred around the connection between different events that show cause and effect, and this central tenet of the three-act structure has obvious parallels with the way in which essays work through presenting evidence in support of arguments.
3. An attention-grabbing opening
An oft-spouted piece of advice in creative writing is to use an attention-grabbing opening. One way of doing this is to start with a ‘flashback’, which could disrupt the chronology of events by transporting the reader directly back to the midst of the action, so that the story begins with maximum excitement. In a murder mystery, for instance, the writer might skip a slow build-up and instead use the murder itself to form the opening of the novel, with the rest of the story charting the efforts of the detective to uncover the perpetrator and perhaps telling the events prior to the murder in a series of flashbacks. The same principle can be applied to essays, though it’s easier to use in some subjects than others. To take an example, let’s say you were writing about how the First World War started. Rather than building up slowly with the various factors, an attention-grabbing opening could (briefly) describe the drama of the Battle of the Somme, perhaps citing some statistics about the number of men involved and killed, and quoting some war poetry about the horrors faced by the soldiers on the Front Line. Then, to introduce the purpose of the essay and launch into your argument about what started the war, a phrase such as, “It seems hard to imagine that all this began with…”. Alternatively, a rhetorical question: “But how did these tens of thousands of soldiers end up in the mud and horror of trench warfare? The story begins several years earlier, with…” It may not be the standard way of writing an essay, but you’ll certainly score points for originality and perhaps ruffle a few feathers.
4. Extended metaphors
Creative writing often makes use of extended metaphors. For example, when Shakespeare wrote the passage in Romeo and Juliet referring to “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!” he was using an extended metaphor. With this in mind, it’s time to revisit a point we made in a previous article about writing more original essays , in which we argued that, rather than battling on with trying to explain a complex concept in a straightforward way, it might be easier to use an analogy to convey the meaning by drawing comparisons, which people find easier to understand. A metaphor is a kind of analogy, so the similarities with creative writing are strong here. In our previous article we used the example of radioactive decay. An analogy for this is the pressure with which water escapes from a hole in a bucket. It does so exponentially, just as radioactive substances decay exponentially. In both instances, the rate of a consumptive process depends on how much there is left of whatever is being depleted, which results in an exponential rate of decay. This concept is so much easier to explain using the analogy of water flowing from a hole in a bucket, as you give your reader something familiar to visualise in order to explain a concept with which they are unfamiliar.
5. Interesting details about setting and location
Another way of keeping your reader interested is to bring your essay to life with details about setting and location, just as creative writers do. Essays can become quite dry if you focus solely on the academic problems, but you can make them more interesting by peppering them with details. This may not work quite so well for a scientific essay, but it’s certainly relevant for some humanities subjects, in particular English literature, history and archaeology. For example, an essay about the Roman emperor Augustus could mention that he lived a famously modest lifestyle, quoting details from Roman writers and archaeological evidence that support this: Suetonius mentions his “low bed” (interesting because of what it says about accepted standards of Roman beds!) and coarse bread and cheese diet, and the relatively small and non-lavish remains of his house on the Palatine Hill in Rome back up the idea of his having lived a modest life. Incidental details like these can actually prove to be more significant than you initially realise, and you can use them to build your argument; in the case of Augustus, for example, his modest lifestyle is particularly important when seen in the context of Rome’s troubled history with kings. As he gradually acquired more power and became Rome’s first emperor, he had to avoid coming across as being too ‘regal’, and the little details we know about his way of life are significant in light of this. So, not only have you brought your essay to life, but you’ve raised an interesting point, too.
Few writers get it right first time . Once you’ve written a first draft, read through it and think about whether the order of your points is optimal and whether what you’ve written actually makes sense. It’s easy in the age of computers to chop and change – you can simply copy and paste part of your essay into another part where it might fit better, and then make minor changes to your wording so that it flows. After you’ve finished editing, have a final read through and check that you’re happy with the wording. Don’t forget to proofread to ensure that your spelling and grammar is impeccable!
7. And finally… record your ideas
Creative writers swear by having a notebook with them at all times, ready to jot down any ideas that suddenly spring to mind. You can adopt the same principle for your essay-writing, because you never know when the inspiration might strike. Have a think about your essay topic when you’re out and about; you’d be surprised what occurs to you when you’re away from your normal place of study. As you can see, there are more similarities between two apparently unrelated kinds of writing than you might have realised. It is, of course, possible to go too far with the creative writing idea when you’re essay-writing: literary devices aren’t always appropriate, and your essay still needs to retain objectivity and conform to the more formal conventions of academic writing. But there are certainly techniques to be borrowed from creative writing that will help your essays stand out from the crowd and give your teacher or lecturer a welcome break from the monotony of essay-marking.
See also our fabulous guide explaining more about ” What is Creative Writing ”.
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Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Get Started
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.
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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 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 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.
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.
When You Write
Essential Creative Writing Tips and Techniques
Creative writing has no written formula and no immutable laws, you just need a good imagination and good writing skills.
And you’re good to go!
Creative writing presents us with fewer tethers than other forms of writing. This means that we have more liberty when we want to express our imagination artistically.
With all this freedom, defining and serving creative writing techniques is a bit hard, and some tips are frowned upon as they seem to infringe upon the liberties of some creative writers.
Still, some writers need guidance.
So, I have taken it upon myself to be this guide and dish out much-needed tips and discuss some creative writing techniques.
If you’ve been looking for guidance and insight, here’s a no-frills article full of practical tips on creative writing for you.
What Is Creative Writing?
Creative writing is writing that uses imagination , creativity, and mastery of the art of writing to evoke emotion in a reader.
It could be a fictional story, a nonfiction piece, or movie script, a play, a poem, et cetera. Creative writing oftentimes springs up from experimentation and good, imaginative use of knowledge and ideas.
One of the things that make creative writing different from other forms of writing is the underlying message or theme. Unlike other forms of writing, creative writing sometimes hides a message under the entertaining, saddening, or horrifying part of the written content.
Other archetypal elements of creative writing include creating an emotional connection with the reader (and sometimes evoking a response), having a deliberate point of view, using a narrative structure, and use of imaginative and descriptive language.
What Isn’t Creative Writing?
Whatever lacks the elements I just listed isn’t creative writing. Written pieces such as company reports, statements, and other professional communications aren’t regarded as creative writing.
Similarly, personal documents and communications such as emails, social media content, and personal communications all fit in the non-creative writing category.
In addition to that, research papers and pieces that are in the “Academic Writing” category do not qualify as creative writing.
Most often the type of content that I have listed is devoid of deliberate themes. Often, these types of pieces have goals similar to those prevalent in creative writing, but they’re presented differently.
But—as a reminder to myself or you, the reader—I would like to say that they’re blurred boundaries in some forms of content. For example, we can’t outrightly classify content such as blog posts as creative writing non-creative. Blog content belongs to a broader category that is as flexible as creative writing itself.
Therefore, you would have to analyze the elements of each blog post to see if they fit a particular category.
Forms of Creative Writing
Given the freedom that creative writing gets, it is just right that it takes many forms.
Here are some of the forms of creative writing:
This is one of the most popular forms of creative writing. Novels are also the first thing people think about when it comes to books (apart from academicians who are religiously into textbooks).
Novels are extended fictional works in prose that usually (or always?) come in the form of a story.
Most of them are in the range of 50,000 to 150,000 words, but some are told in less than 50,000 and others extend beyond 150,000.
Pieces that are too short to qualify as novels and too long to qualify as short stories automatically qualify as novellas and novelettes.
Novellas often fall in the range of 10,000-40,000 words, while novelettes generally have a word count of 7,500-19,000 words.
Word count boundaries are usually varied—and they are oftentimes at the discretion of the publisher or competition organizers.
Short stories as the name suggests are on the other end (the shorter word count end) of the fiction word count spectrum.
Short stories generally fall between 2,500 and 7,500 words but sometimes extend to 10,000 words.
Unlike novels, short stories tell stories with fewer characters, details, and backstories, among other deficiencies.
Then there are other forms of short fiction told in 1,000 words, and they’re called flash fiction and micro-fiction.
The unrestricted and spontaneous nature of poetry embodies the artistic multifariousness of creative writing.
Poetry is as emotional as it is rebellious—and word counts and rhyming rarely matter for poems, i.e., those in the free verse category.
There are different types of poems such as sonnets, haikus, sestinas, limericks, and free verses.
The spontaneous nature of poetry does connote lawlessness. The thing is, the different types of poetry originated from different cultures around the world and many come with rules.
However, for most of these types of poetry, the rules are adaptable. A few types such as haikus have specific rules on the number of lines or structure.
Plus, just because there aren’t many rules governing the structure, content, and length of poetry it doesn’t mean that you can brush aside the use of perfect grammar, the importance of POV, the need for a theme, and the need to evoke the reader’s emotions.
TV scripts, stage play scripts, and screenplays
This category comprises stage plays and scripts for films, television programs, and other types of video content.
A majority of content in this category has a lot in common with novels and short stories. Although different scripts have different formatting requirements, they carry a message or central theme and try to appeal to their audience’s emotions.
In a way, these scripts depart from the highly descriptive nature of novels and short stories. There’s much more dialogue in scripts with a bit of stage or scene directions in stage plays screenplays.
Creative writing doesn’t always have to be works of fiction, some nonfiction also qualifies as creative writing.
Here are some of the works that can be called creative nonfiction:
- Lyric essays
- Humor Writing
- Literary Journalism
Tips and Techniques for Creative Writing
1. read widely and learn from other writers.
You can improve by focusing on looking at your writing only. If you want to be a good creative writer, you have to read.
When you read other people’s work, you discover other writing styles and get inspired in the process.
There are lots of reading resources on creative writing out there. You can find books, essays, blog articles, and video content covering different aspects of creative writing.
Some works will comprise fiction and nonfiction pieces (novels, short stories, poetry, lyrical essays. Et cetera) while others seek to cover interviews and personal essays that talk about the authors’ creative processes.
2. Benefit from Your Imagination
A wild imagination represents superiority for creative writers, especially fiction writers.
This is the only time you’re allowed to play god!
By using a crazy imagination you can conceive an exciting story, build a unique world, and come up with convincing, never-imagined-before characters.
Heck! You can even create your own language!
Be as imaginative as you can be, even going into a trance, and create a creative piece using your own rules!
3. Focus on Understanding and Improving Yourself as a Writer
You cannot improve something you don’t fully understand; therefore, you have to understand your strengths and weaknesses as a writer to become a better writer.
I wrote an article on this, explaining some general strengths and weaknesses that writers have. As a creative writer, you have to identify problem areas such as bad sense of rhythm, dodgy flow, lack of creativity, et cetera.
As a creative writer, there are things you must have in your armory, such as a rich and relevant vocabulary, organized writing, and a unique writing style (which also happens to be the next tip on the list).
4. Develop or Discover a Unique Writing Style
Creative writers are better off seeking inspiration from other creative writers while trying to follow their path.
In short: study other writers, but develop your writing style. Take a look at all the best, and you’ll discover that most of them developed a unique style.
So, have your writing style. And, it should fit the niche you want to specialize in—if it’s horror, a befitting style. You could also focus on developing vibrant writing full of eccentric characters.
Likewise, you could become a writer who always writes in a specific POV.
5. Create Space for Creative Writing and Stick to a routine
Writing routinely and total focus are tremendously important for creative writers. If you’re a spontaneous writer who scarcely writes and only writes whenever they feel like it, you’re bound to fail as a writer!
You need to have a schedule and some working space. The ideas might come spontaneously and anywhere, but it’s hard to write without proper planning and a distraction-free setting.
It’s unproductive trying to squeeze writing into your day.
When you start writing routinely, in a ‘comfortable’ place, creative writing becomes natural. Even when you’re out of ideas experiencing writer’s block, you have to practice the habit of writing stuff daily—just write some fluff if you’re bored.
6. Know your audience
“Why do you write?”
The most popular answer to the question is, “because I love it!”
But if the question was rephrased and we asked “why do you publish your works?” the previous answer would be ‘half true.’
You write because it’s the love of your life and you publish for your audience. So, creative writing isn’t always about you, but your fans too.
You have to know what your readers are like. Even when you haven’t published a single piece, it’s easy to research readers’ interests using web-based analytics resources.
Armed with this knowledge, you can craft a piece that strikes a chord with your target audience, with a high potential of becoming a bestseller.
7. Always Start and End Strong
Our English teacher constantly reminded us that when she was going through our essays, she started with the introduction and summary before moving to the body.
“They’re the most important parts of your essay.” She’d always say.
Later, I found out that this applied to almost every form of writing.
Your readers want your piece to either start with a bang or catch their attention. Once the reader feels underwhelmed, they won’t read all the way through.
Strong endings are just as important, but it doesn’t mean that you always have to end on a happy note. You can close on a sad note or give them a cliffhanger.
As long as you effectively use your imagination and the end doesn’t turn out to be a clichéd one.
The Best Books on Creative Writing
- 1. Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell
- 2. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- 3. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
- 4. On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
Writing—whatever form it takes—isn’t a simple chore, but as hard as it is, it is also fun!
The goal is always to become a better writer and learn different techniques that will make our content impactful.
Every writer should fear stagnation and continue learning. Utilize today’s easy access to resources, read, ask for help, and let your wild imagination run loose.
While there’s no fixed formula in creative writing, tips from experienced writers will help you improve in some areas.
So, always be inquisitive and reach out to other writers.
Crafting an original work of fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction takes time, practice, and persistence.
Crafting compelling game stories: a guide to video game writing, how to write a murder mystery: figuring out whodunit, good story starters for your next bestseller, 100 fluff prompts that will inspire creativity.
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Last updated on Aug 18, 2023
60 Literary Devices and Techniques Every Writer Must Know
A literary device is a writing technique that writers use to express ideas, convey meaning, and highlight important themes in a piece of text. A metaphor, for instance, is a famous example of a literary device.
These devices serve a wide range of purposes in literature. Some might work on an intellectual level, while others have a more emotional effect. They may also work subtly to improve the flow and pacing of your writing. No matter what, if you're looking to inject something special into your prose, literary devices are a great place to start.
Alliteration describes a series of words in quick succession that all start with the same letter or sound. It lends a pleasing cadence to prose and Hamlet and the dollar as currency in Macbeth .
Example: “ One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.” — “Death, Be Not Proud” by John Donne
Exercise: Pick a letter and write a sentence where every word starts with that letter or one that sounds similar.
Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of a series of clauses or sentences. It’s often seen in poetry and speeches, intended to provoke an emotional response in its audience.
Example: Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.
"… and I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
"… I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Exercise: Pick a famous phrase and write a paragraph elaborating on an idea, beginning each sentence with that phrase.
Similar term: repetition
Anastrophe is a figure of speech wherein the traditional sentence structure is reversed. So a typical verb-subject-adjective sentence such as “Are you ready?” becomes a Yoda-esque adjective-verb-subject question: “Ready, are you?” Or a standard adjective-noun pairing like “tall mountain” becomes “mountain tall.”
Example: “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing.” — “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Exercise: Write a standard verb-subject-adjective sentence or adjective-noun pairing then flip the order to create an anastrophe. How does it change the meaning or feeling of the sentence?
Chiasmus is when two or more parallel clauses are inverted. “Why would I do that?” you may be wondering. Well, a chiasmus might sound confusing and unnecessary in theory, but it's much more convincing in practice — and in fact, you've likely already come across it before.
Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” — John F. Kennedy
Congeries is a fancy literary term for creating a list. The items in your list can be words, ideas, or phrases, and by displaying them this way helps prove or emphasize a point — or even create a sense of irony. Occasionally, it’s also called piling as the words are “piling up.”
Example: "Apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order, what have the Romans done for us?" — Monty Python’s Life of Brian
6. Cumulative sentence
A cumulative sentence (or “loose sentence”) is one that starts with an independent clause, but then has additional or modifying clauses. They’re often used for contextual or clarifying details. This may sound complex, but even, “I ran to the store to buy milk, bread, and toilet paper” is a cumulative sentence, because the first clause, “I ran to the store,” is a complete sentence, while the rest tells us extra information about your run to the store.
Example: “It was a large bottle of gin Albert Cousins had brought to the party, yes, but it was in no way large enough to fill all the cups, and in certain cases to fill them many times over, for the more than one hundred guests, some of whom were dancing not four feet in front of him.” – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Example: Write three sentences that are related to each other. Can you combine the information into a cumulative sentence?
Literary Devices Cheatsheet
Master these 40+ devices to level up your writing skills.
Epistrophe is the opposite of anaphora, with this time a word or phrase being repeated at the end of a sentence. Though its placement in a sentence is different it serves the same purpose—creating emphasis—as an anaphora does.
Example: “I’ll be ever’where – wherever you look. Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there . If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ – I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build, why, I’ll be there .” — The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Similar terms: repetition, anaphora
Exercise: Write a paragraph where a phrase or a word is repeated at the end of every sentence, emphasizing the point you’re trying to make.
Erotesis is a close cousin of the rhetorical question. Rather than a question asked without expectation of an answer, this is when the question (and the asker) confidently expects a response that is either negative or affirmative.
Example: “ Do you then really think that you have committed your follies in order to spare your son them?” — Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Similar term: rhetorical question
Hyperbaton is the inversion of words, phrases, or clauses in a sentence that differs from how they would normally be arranged. It comes from the Greek hyperbatos, which means “transposed” or “inverted.” While it is similar to anastrophe, it doesn’t have the same specific structure and allows you to rearrange your sentences in whatever order you want.
Example: “Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.” — “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe
Similar terms: anastrophe, epistrophe
If you’re a neat freak who likes things just so , isocolon is the literary device for you. This is when two or more phrases or clauses have similar structure, rhythm, and even length — such that, when stacked up on top of each other, they would line up perfectly. Isocolon often crops up in brand slogans and famous sayings; the quick, balanced rhythm makes the phrase catchier and more memorable.
Example: Veni, vidi, vici (“I came, I saw, I conquered”)
Litotes (pronounced lie-toe-teez ) is the signature literary device of the double negative. Writers use litotes to express certain sentiments through their opposites, by saying that that opposite is not the case. Don’t worry, it makes more sense with the examples. 😉
Examples: “You won’t be sorry” (meaning you’ll be happy); “you’re not wrong” (meaning you’re right); “I didn’t not like it” (meaning I did)
If Shakespeare is the king of metaphors, Michael Scott is the king of malapropisms . A malapropism is when similar-sounding words replace their appropriate counterparts, typically to comic effect — one of the most commonly cited is “dance a flamingo,” rather than a “flamenco.” Malapropisms are often employed in dialogue when a character flubs up their speech.
Example: “I am not to be truffled with.”
Exercise: Choose a famous or common phrase and see if you can replace a word with a similar sounding one that changes the meaning.
Amusingly, onomatopoeia (itself a difficult-to-pronounce word) refers to words that sound like the thing they’re referring to. Well-known instances of onomatopoeia include whiz, buzz, snap, grunt, etc.
Example: The excellent children's book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type . “Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears: Click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo. Clickety, clack, moo. ”
Exercise: Take some time to listen to the sounds around you and write down what you hear. Now try to use those sounds in a short paragraph or story.
An oxymoron comes from two contradictory words that describe one thing. While juxtaposition contrasts two story elements, oxymorons are about the actual words you are using.
Example: "Parting is such sweet sorrow.” — Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. (Find 100 more examples of oxymorons here .)
Similar terms: juxtaposition, paradox
Exercise: Choose two words with opposite meanings and see if you can use them in a sentence to create a coherent oxymoron.
Parallelism is all about your sentence structure. It’s when similar ideas, sounds, phrases, or words are arranged in a way that is harmonious or creates a parallel, hence the name. It can add rhythm and meter to any piece of writing and can often be found in poetry.
Example: “ That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” — Neil Armstrong
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Instead of using a single conjunction in lengthy statements, polysyndeton uses several in succession for a dramatic effect. This one is definitely for authors looking to add a bit of artistic flair to their writing, or who are hoping to portray a particular (usually naïve) sort of voice.
Example: “Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.” — The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Exercise: Write three or four independent sentences. Try combining them using conjunctions. What kind of effect does this have on the overall meaning and tone of the piece?
A portmanteau is when two words are combined to form a new word which refers to a single concept that retains the meanings of both the original words. Modern language is full of portmanteaus. In fact, the portmanteau is itself a portmanteau. It’s a combination of the French porter (to carry) and manteau (cloak).
Example: Brunch (breakfast and lunch); cosplay (costume and roleplay); listicle (list and article); romcom (romance and comedy)
Exercise: Pick two words that are often used together to describe a single concept. See if there’s a way to combine them and create a single word that encompasses the meaning of both.
Repetition , repetition, repetition… where would we be without it? Though too much repetition is rarely a good thing, occasional repetition can be used quite effectively to drill home a point, or to create a certain atmosphere. For example, horror writers often use repetition to make the reader feel trapped and scared.
Example: In The Shining , Jack Torrance types over and over again on his pages, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In this case, obsessive repetition demonstrates the character’s unraveling mind.
Similar term: anaphora
Exercise: Repetition can be used to call attention to an idea or phrase. Pick an idea you want to emphasize and write a few sentences about it. Are there any places where you can add repetition to make it more impactful?
A tautology is when a sentence or short paragraph repeats a word or phrase, expressing the same idea twice. Often, this is a sign that you should trim your work to remove the redundancy (such as “frozen ice”) but can also be used for poetic emphasis.
Example: "But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door" – “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
Tmesis is when a word or phrase is broken up by an interjecting word, such as abso-freaking-lutely. It’s used to draw out and emphasize the idea, often with a humorous or sarcastic slant.
Example: "This is not Romeo, he's some-other-where." – Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
An allegory is a type of narrative that uses characters and plot to depict abstract ideas and themes . In an allegorical story, things represent more than they appear to on the surface. Many children's fables, such as The Tortoise and the Hare , are simple allegories about morality — but allegories can also be dark, complex, and controversial.
Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell. This dystopian novella is one of modern literature’s best-known allegories. A commentary on the events leading up to Stalin's rise and the formation of the Soviet Union, the pigs at the heart of the novel represent figures such as Stalin, Trotsky, and Molotov.
Exercise: Pick a major trend or problem in the world and consider what defines it. Try and create a story where that trend plays out on a smaller scale.
An anecdote is like a short story within a story. Sometimes, they are incredibly short—only a line or two—and their purpose is to add a character’s perspective, knowledge, or experience to a situation. They can be inspirational, humorous, or be used to inspire actions in others. Since anecdotes are so short, don’t expect them to be part of a main story. They’re usually told by a character and part of the dialogue.
Example: Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way , part of his series of novels, In Search of Lost Time, deals with the themes of remembrance and memory. In one section of this book, to illustrate these ideas, the main character recalls an important memory of eating a madeleine cookie. “Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell.”
23. Deus Ex Machina
Literally meaning “god in the machine” in Greek, deus ex machina is a plot device where an impossible situation is solved by the appearance of an unexpected or unheard of character, action, object, or event. This brings about a quick and usually happy resolution for a story and can be used to surprise an audience, provide comic relief, or provide a fix for a complicated plot. However, deus ex machinas aren’t always looked upon favorably and can sometimes be seen as lazy writing, so they should be used sparingly and with great thought.
Example: William Golding’s famous novel of a group of British boys marooned on a desert island is resolved with a deus ex machina. At the climax of The Lord of the Flies, just as Ralph is about to be killed by Jack, a naval officer arrives to rescue the boys and bring them back to civilization. It’s an altogether unexpected and bloodless ending for a story about the boys’ descent into savagery.
Exercise: Consider the ending of your favorite book or movie and then write an alternate ending that uses a deus ex machina to resolve the main conflict. How does this affect the overall story in terms of theme and tone?
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24. Dramatic irony
Dramatic irony is when the readers know more about the situation going on than at least one of the characters involved. This creates a difference between the ways the audience and the characters perceive unfolding events. For instance, if we know that one character is having an affair, when that character speaks to their spouse, we will pick up on the lies and double-meanings of their words, while the spouse may take them at face value.
Example: In Titanic , the audience knows from the beginning of the movie that the boat will sink. This creates wry humor when characters remark on the safety of the ship.
Exposition is when the narrative provides background information in order to help the reader understand what’s going on. When used in conjunction with description and dialogue, this literary device provides a richer understanding of the characters, setting, and events. Be careful, though — too much exposition will quickly become boring, thus undercutting the emotional impact of your work.
Example: “The Dursley’s had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Exercise: Pick your favorite story and write a short paragraph introducing it to someone who knows nothing about it.
Flashbacks to previous events split up present-day scenes in a story, usually to build suspense toward a big reveal. Flashbacks are also an interesting way to present exposition for your story, gradually revealing to the reader what happened in the past.
Example: Every other chapter in the first part of Gone Girl is a flashback, with Amy’s old diary entries describing her relationship with her husband before she disappeared.
Similar term: foreshadowing
Foreshadowing is when the author hints at events yet to come in a story. Similar to flashbacks (and often used in conjunction with them), this technique is also used to create tension or suspense — giving readers just enough breadcrumbs to keep them hungry for more.
Example: One popular method of foreshadowing is through partial reveals — the narrator leaves out key facts to prompt readers’ curiosity. Jeffrey Eugenides does this in The Virgin Suicides : “On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide — it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese, the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.”
Similar term: flashback
Exercise: Go back to your favorite book or movie. Can you identify any instances of foreshadowing in the early portions of the story for events that happen in the future?
28. Frame story
A frame story is any part of the story that "frames" another part of it, such as one character telling another about their past, or someone uncovering a diary or a series of news articles that then tell the readers what happened. Since the frame story supports the rest of the plot, it is mainly used at the beginning and the end of the narrative, or in small interludes between chapters or short stories.
Example: In The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Kvothe is telling Chronicler the story of his life over the span of three days. Most of the novel is the story he is telling, while the frame is any part that takes place in the inn.
29. In Medias Res
In medias res is a Latin term that means "in the midst of things" and is a way of starting a narrative without exposition or contextual information. It launches straight into a scene or action that is already unfolding.
Example: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” — The opening line of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Exercise: Pick a story you enjoy and rewrite the opening scene so that it starts in the middle of the story.
30. Point of view
Point of view is, of course, the mode of narration in a story. There are many POVs an author can choose, and each one will have a different impact on the reading experience.
Example: Second person POV is uncommon because it directly addresses the reader — not an easy narrative style to pull off. One popular novel that manages to employ this perspective successfully is Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney: “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy.”
Exercise: Write a short passage in either first, second, or third person. Then rewrite that passage in the other two points of view, only changing the pronouns. How does the change in POV affect the tone and feel of the story?
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Soliloquy involves a character speaking their thoughts aloud, usually at length (and often in a Shakespeare play). The character in question may be alone or in the company of others, but they’re not speaking for the benefit of other people; the purpose of a soliloquy is for a character to reflect independently.
Example: Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” speech, in which he ruminates on the nature of life and death, is a classic dramatic soliloquy.
Exercise: Pick a character from your favorite book or movie and write a soliloquy from their point of view where they consider their thoughts and feelings on an important part of their story or character arc.
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Tone refers to the overall mood and message of your book. It’s established through a variety of means, including voice, characterization, symbolism, and themes. Tone sets the feelings you want your readers to take away from the story.
Example: No matter how serious things get in The Good Place , there is always a chance for a character to redeem themselves by improving their behavior. The tone remains hopeful for the future of humanity in the face of overwhelming odds.
Exercise: Write a short paragraph in an upbeat tone. Now using the same situation you came up with, rewrite that passage in a darker or sadder tone.
Tragicomedy is just what it sounds like: a blend of tragedy and comedy. Tragicomedy helps an audience process darker themes by allowing them to laugh at the situation even when circumstances are bleak.
Example: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events uses wordplay, absurd situations, and over-the-top characters to provide humor in an otherwise tragic story.
An allusion is a reference to a person, place, thing, concept, or other literary work that a reader is likely to recognize. A lot of meaning can be packed into an allusion and it’s often used to add depth to a story. Many works of classic Western literature will use allusions to the Bible to expand on or criticize the morals of their time.
Example: “The two knitting women increase his anxiety by gazing at him and all the other sailors with knowing unconcern. Their eerie looks suggest that they know what will happen (the men dying), yet don’t care.” The two women knitting in this passage from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness are a reference to the Fates from Greek mythology, who decide the fate of humanity by spinning and cutting the threads of life.
Exercise: In a relatively simple piece of writing, see how many times you can use allusions. Go completely crazy. Once you’re finished, try to cut it down to a more reasonable amount and watch for how it creates deeper meaning in your piece.
An analogy connects two seemingly unrelated concepts to show their similarities and expand on a thought or idea. They are similar to metaphors and similes, but usually take the comparison much further than either of these literary devices as they are used to support a claim rather than provide imagery.
Example: “ It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.” — P.G. Wodehouse
Exercise: Pick two seemingly unrelated nouns and try to connect them with a verb to create an analogy.
To anthropomorphize is to apply human traits or qualities to a non-human thing such as objects, animals, or the weather. But unlike personification, in which this is done through figurative description, anthropomorphism is literal: a sun with a smiling face, for example, or talking dogs in a cartoon.
Examples: In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast , Mrs. Potts the teapot, Cogsworth the clock, and Lumière the candlestick are all household objects that act and behave like humans (which, of course, they were when they weren’t under a spell).
Similar term: personification
Exercise: Pick a non-human object and describe it as if it was human, literally ascribing human thoughts, feelings, and senses to it.
An aphorism is a universally accepted truth stated in a concise, to-the-point way. Aphorisms are typically witty and memorable, often becoming adages or proverbs as people repeat them over and over.
Example: “To err is human, to forgive divine.” — Alexander Pope
An archetype is a “universal symbol” that brings familiarity and context to a story. It can be a character, a setting, a theme, or an action. Archetypes represent feelings and situations that are shared across cultures and time periods, and are therefore instantly recognizable to any audience — for instance, the innocent child character, or the theme of the inevitability of death.
Example: Superman is a heroic archetype: noble, self-sacrificing, and drawn to righting injustice whenever he sees it.
Exercise: Pick an archetype — either a character or a theme — and use it to write a short piece centered around that idea.
A cliché is a saying or idea that is used so often it becomes seen as unoriginal. These phrases might become so universal that, despite their once intriguing nature, they're now looked down upon as uninteresting and overused.
Examples: Some common cliches you might have encountered are phrases like “easy as pie” and “light as a feather.” Some lines from famous books and movies have become so popular that they are now in and of themselves cliches such as Darth Vader’s stunning revelation from The Empire Strikes Back, “Luke, I am your father.” Also, many classic lines of Shakespeare are now considered cliches like, “All that glitters is not gold” from The Merchant of Venice.
Exercise: Write a short passage using as many cliches as possible. Now try to cut them out and replace them with more original phrasing. See how the two passages compare.
Colloquialism is the use of casual and informal language in writing, which can also include slang. Writers use colloquialisms to provide context to settings and characters, and to make their writing sound more authentic. Imagine reading a YA novel that takes place in modern America, and the characters speak to each other like this:
“Good morning, Sue. I hope that you slept well and are prepared for this morning’s science exam.”
It’s not realistic. Colloquialisms help create believable dialogue :
“Hey Sue, what’d you get up to last night? This science test is gonna suck.”
Example: Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh takes place in Scotland, a fact made undeniably obvious by the dialect: “Thing is, as ye git aulder, this character-deficiency gig becomes mair sapping. Thir wis a time ah used tae say tae aw the teachers, bosses, dole punters, poll-tax guys, magistrates, when they telt me ah was deficient: ’Hi, cool it, gadge, ah’m jist me, jist intae a different sort ay gig fae youse but, ken?’”
Exercise: Write a dialogue between two characters as formally as possible. Now take that conversation and make it more colloquial. Imagine that you’re having this conversation with a friend. Mimic your own speech patterns as you write.
A euphemism is an indirect, “polite” way of describing something too inappropriate or awkward to address directly. However, most people will still understand the truth about what's happening.
Example: When an elderly person is forced to retire, some might say they’re being “put out to pasture.”
Exercise: Write a paragraph where you say things very directly. Now rewrite that paragraph using only euphemisms.
Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement that emphasizes the significance of the statement’s actual meaning. When a friend says, "Oh my god, I haven't seen you in a million years," that's hyperbole.
Example: “At that time Bogotá was a remote, lugubrious city where an insomniac rain had been falling since the beginning of the 16th century.” — Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel García Márquez
Exercise: Tall tales often make use of hyperbole to tell an exaggerated story. Use hyperbole to relate a completely mundane event or experience to turn it into a tall tale.
Hypophora is much like a rhetorical question, wherein someone asks a question that doesn't require an answer. However, in hypophora, the person raises a question and answers it immediately themselves (hence the prefix hypo, meaning 'under' or 'before'). It’s often used when characters are reasoning something aloud.
Example: “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.” — Daisy in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
An idiom is a saying that uses figurative language whose meaning differs from what it literally says. These phrases originate from common cultural experiences, even if that experience has long ago been forgotten. Without cultural context, idioms don’t often make sense and can be the toughest part for non-native speakers to understand.
Example: In everyday use, idioms are fairly common. We say things like, “It’s raining cats and dogs” to say that it’s downpouring.
Exercise: Idioms are often used in dialogue. Write a conversation between two people where idioms are used to express their main points.
Imagery appeals to readers’ senses through highly descriptive language. It’s crucial for any writer hoping to follow the rule of "show, don’t tell," as strong imagery truly paints a picture of the scene at hand.
Example: “In the hard-packed dirt of the midway, after the glaring lights are out and the people have gone to bed, you will find a veritable treasure of popcorn fragments, frozen custard dribblings, candied apples abandoned by tired children, sugar fluff crystals, salted almonds, popsicles, partially gnawed ice cream cones and wooden sticks of lollipops.” — Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Exercise: Choose an object, image, or idea and use the five senses to describe it.
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Irony creates a contrast between how things seem and how they really are. There are three types of literary irony : dramatic (when readers know what will happen before characters do), situational (when readers expect a certain outcome, only to be surprised by a turn of events), and verbal (when the intended meaning of a statement is the opposite of what was said).
Example: This opening scene from Orson Welles’ A Touch of Evil is a great example of how dramatic irony can create tension.
Juxtaposition places two or more dissimilar characters, themes, concepts, etc. side by side, and the profound contrast highlights their differences. Why is juxtaposition such an effective literary device? Well, because sometimes the best way for us to understand something is by understanding what it’s not .
Example: In the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities , Charles Dickens uses juxtaposition to emphasize the societal disparity that led to the French Revolution: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”
Similar terms: oxymoron, paradox
Exercise: Pick two ideas, objects, places, or people that seem like complete opposites. Introduce them side by side in the beginning of your piece and highlight their similarities and differences throughout.
A metaphor compares two similar things by saying that one of them is the other. As you'd likely expect, when it comes to literary devices, this one is a heavy hitter. And if a standard metaphor doesn't do the trick, a writer can always try an extended metaphor : a metaphor that expands on the initial comparison through more elaborate parallels.
Example: Metaphors are literature’s bread and butter (metaphor intended) — good luck finding a novel that is free of them. Here’s one from Frances Hardinge’s A Face Like Glass : “Wishes are thorns, he told himself sharply. They do us no good, just stick into our skin and hurt us.”
Similar term: simile
Exercise: Write two lists: one with tangible objects and the other concepts. Mixing and matching, try to create metaphors where you describe the concepts using physical objects.
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Metonymy is like symbolism, but even more so. A metonym doesn’t just symbolize something else, it comes to serve as a synonym for that thing or things — typically, a single object embodies an entire institution.
Examples: “The crown” representing the monarchy, “Washington” representing the U.S. government.
Similar term: synecdoche
Exercise: Create a list of ten common metonymies you might encounter in everyday life and speech.
Whatever form a motif takes, it recurs throughout the novel and helps develop the theme of the narrative. This might be a symbol, concept, or image.
Example: In Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, trains are an omnipresent motif that symbolize transition, derailment, and ultimately violent death and destruction.
Similar term: symbol
Exercise: Pick a famous book or movie and see if you can identify any common motifs within it.
51. Non sequitur
Non sequiturs are statements that don't logically follow what precedes them. They’ll often be quite absurd and can lend humor to a story. But they’re just not good for making jokes. They can highlight missing information or a miscommunication between characters and even be used for dramatic effect.
Example: “It was a spring day, the sort that gives people hope: all soft winds and delicate smells of warm earth. Suicide weather.” — Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Exercise: Write a conversation that gets entirely derailed by seemingly unrelated non sequiturs.
Paradox derives from the Greek word paradoxon , which means “beyond belief.” It’s a statement that asks people to think outside the box by providing seemingly illogical — and yet actually true — premises.
Example: In George Orwell’s 1984 , the slogan of the totalitarian government is built on paradoxes: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.” While we might read these statements as obviously contradictory, in the context of Orwell’s novel, these blatantly corrupt sentiments have become an accepted truth.
Similar terms: oxymoron, juxtaposition
Exercise: Try writing your own paradox. First, think of two opposing ideas that can be juxtaposed against each other. Then, create a situation where these contradictions coexist with each other. What can you gather from this unique perspective?
Personification uses human traits to describe non-human things. Again, while the aforementioned anthropomorphism actually applies these traits to non-human things, personification means the behavior of the thing does not actually change. It's personhood in figurative language only.
Example: “Just before it was dark, as they passed a great island of Sargasso weed that heaved and swung in the light sea as though the ocean were making love with something under a yellow blanket, his small line was taken by a dolphin.” — The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Similar term: anthropomorphism
Exercise: Pick a non-human object and describe it using human traits, this time using similes and metaphors rather than directly ascribing human traits to it.
54. Rhetorical question
A rhetorical question is asked to create an effect rather than to solicit an answer from the listener or reader. Often it has an obvious answer and the point of asking is to create emphasis. It’s a great way to get an audience to consider the topic at hand and make a statement.
Example: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?” — The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Writers use satire to make fun of some aspect of human nature or society — usually through exaggeration, ridicule, or irony. There are countless ways to satirize something; most of the time, you know it when you read it.
Example: The famous adventure novel Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift is a classic example of satire, poking fun at “travelers' tales,” the government, and indeed human nature itself.
A simile draws resemblance between two things by saying “Thing A is like Thing B,” or “Thing A is as [adjective] as Thing B.” Unlike a metaphor, a similar does not posit that these things are the same, only that they are alike. As a result, it is probably the most common literary device in writing — you can almost always recognize a simile through the use of “like” or “as.”
Example: There are two similes in this description from Circe by Madeline Miller: “The ships were golden and huge as leviathans, their rails carved from ivory and horn. They were towed by grinning dolphins or else crewed by fifty black-haired nereids, faces silver as moonlight.”
Similar term: metaphor
Authors turn to tangible symbols to represent abstract concepts and ideas in their stories Symbols typically derive from objects or non-humans — for instance, a dove might represent peace, or a raven might represent death.
Example: In The Great Gatsby , Fitzgerald uses the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg (actually a faded optometrist's billboard) to represent God and his judgment of the Jazz Age.
Similar term: motif
Exercise: Choose an object that you want to represent something — like an idea or concept. Now, write a poem or short story centered around that symbol.
Synecdoche is the usage of a part to represent the whole. That is, rather than an object or title that’s merely associated with the larger concept (as in metonymy), synecdoche must actually be attached in some way: either to the name, or to the larger whole itself.
Examples: “Stanford won the game” ( Stanford referring to the full title of the Stanford football team) or “Nice wheels you got there” ( wheels referring to the entire car)
Similar term: metonymy
Zeugma is when one word is used to ascribe two separate meanings to two other words. This literary device is great for adding humor and figurative flair as it tends to surprise the reader. And it’s just a fun type of wordplay.
Example: “ Yet time and her aunt moved slowly — and her patience and her ideas were nearly worn out before the tete-a-tete was over.” — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Zoomorphism is when you take animal traits and assign them to anything that’s not an animal. It’s the opposite of anthropomorphism and personification, and can be either a physical manifestation, such as a god appearing as an animal, or a comparison, like calling someone a busy bee .
Example: When vampires turn into bats, their bat form is an instance of zoomorphism.
Exercise: Describe a human or object by using traits that are usually associated with animals.
Similar terms: anthropomorphism, personification
Readers and writers alike can get a lot out of understanding literary devices and how they're used. Readers can use them to gain insight into the author’s intended meaning behind their work, while writers can use literary devices to better connect with readers. But whatever your motivation for learning them, you certainly won't be sorry you did! (Not least because you'll recognize the device I just used in that sentence. 😏)
Ron B. Saunders says:
16/01/2019 – 19:26
Paraprosdokians are also delightful literary devices for creating surprise or intrigue. They cause a reader to rethink a concept or traditional expectation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraprosdokian)
17/01/2019 – 02:07
That's pore, not pour. Shame.....
↪️ Coline Harmon replied:
14/06/2019 – 19:06
It was a Malapropism
↪️ JC JC replied:
23/10/2019 – 00:02
Yeah ManhattanMinx. It's a Malepropism!
↪️ jesus replied:
07/11/2019 – 13:24
Susan McGrath says:
10/03/2020 – 10:56
"But whatever your motivation for learning them, you certainly won't be sorry you did! (Not least because you'll recognize the device I just used in that sentence. 😏)" Litote
Comments are currently closed.
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Writing techniques refer to different styles and literary devices a writer can use to communicate a message to the reader. Creative writing techniques are particularly important to follow if you plan on having anybody enjoy your writing.
In your career, you’ll need to write various types of writing meant for different target readers. Knowing how to apply the best writing techniques can help you adjust your style to the audience you’re writing for and reach your goal.
Most of these writing techniques are also covered in MasterClass where you can learn from famous writers such as Neil Gaiman to name a few.
#1: Use metaphors
A metaphor is a literary device where you refer to an object by describing something else similar (especially when readers are more familiar with that something else). Using metaphors isn’t desirable when you need to write directly, but there are topics that allow more creativity.
This technique can make your article more interesting and lively. Keep in mind that the metaphor is an effective literary device that can bring your creative writing to a whole new level.
Compared to a metaphor, a simile directly compares two things and can be used much more frequently, albeit often lacking the desired narrative effect that a good metaphor can bring to a story. Metaphors also shine in a poem or a memoir, where similes might fail in that regard for being too unimaginative.
It’s one of the most popular writing techniques in marketing. Storytelling allows you to use narration, description, and create the whole event in the mind of your reader. It’s particularly useful in persuasive writing, like when you’re telling a client’s story to gain the trust of a prospective one. Posts on social media by established brands often use this strategy to convey their brands personality to their audience.
A solid narrative writing technique is critical to master if you plan on telling a story that people will actually want to listen to. It might sound odd, but the fact is that this is even more important for writing something like a short story, when you want to convey a full story in just a few pages.
Fiction writers often have a much harder time with storytelling as it’s all made up out of thin air, and not based on real life. Having good grammar is crucial because you could be a great storyteller but your story would have less of an impact if the reader notices little errors every now and then.
#3: Use euphemisms
A milder expression used to avoid offending someone or sounding too negative is called a euphemism. If you think your article sounds too pessimistic, you can use euphemisms to make it sound more cheerful. For example, instead of saying that something is annoying, you can use “not very pleasant.”
( Image Source )
#4: Use empathy
Using emotive language and showing empathy for your readers means you describe their feelings and showing them you understand. This technique makes your writing more relatable and establishes a good relationship between you and your audience.
Empathy is a great literary device to use in expository writing, when you want people to listen to the truth and to side with your opinion.
#5: Be specific
Instead of being vague and using general information, don’t be afraid to be more specific when writing. Don’t say you use many writing techniques to improve your writing – tell your readers what they are. It will contribute to them perceiving you as an expert.
Yeah, it all starts with an idea, but it needs to be a specific and refined idea if you want it to make sense in the grand scheme of things.
#6: Use active voice
Putting the verbs in the active voice will make your article more dynamic. When you use too many passive constructions , it can slow down your storyline and make it unclear. But when you express the verbs in the active form, you can encourage your audience to take some action.
#7: Use colloquial language
Sometimes, your topic will require a conversational tone. It’s like you’re talking to a friend. This technique is common when your readers are young. They can relate better to an article that doesn’t feature too many “big” words that they might have to look up. When it comes to things like business writing however, using colloquial language might not be the best idea.
#8: Use hyperbole
When you need to emphasize a point in your article and you don’t want to repeat yourself, you can use a hyperbole. It refers to excessive exaggeration, like in the following example: I told you a million times to stop biting your nails.
You can also use this technique for persuasion purposes. Take a look at this example from Mark Twain’s “Old Times on the Mississippi.” Using hyperbole can often be an effective tool to use in persuasive writing.
#9: Target positive emotions
Using a light tone and lots of positive words in your article can provoke positive emotions in your readers. Focus on love, empowering messages, humor, and optimism when writing.
One of the best recent examples is the story of the fireman who saved numerous animals from a fire in Australia. The photo of him giving water to a koala quickly went viral, giving people hope.
#10: Use descriptions
Describing is one of the basic writing techniques. Use adjectives and consult a thesaurus to find more picturesque synonyms for your words. It’s something like painting with words – you’re helping the reader visualize your story. That’s why we sometimes don’t like the choice of actors when watching a movie based on a book.
We’ve been imagining them differently. The paragraph in the picture illustrates the point perfectly.
#11: Create an unexpected turn
Letting your reader think that the plot will go one way and then creating an unexpected turn of events can make them sit up and listen. The best thrillers are based on this writing technique. Sudden changes in the storyline can make the reader race to the end of the text.
#12: Use assonance and alliteration
These writing techniques refer to the use of specific words where sounds and vowels repeat. It can add to a better flow of your article or make it sound more poetic, if necessary. It can also sound very catchy if you’re writing slogans, for instance.
You’ve probably heard of Jaguar’s slogan: “Don’t dream it. Drive it.”
This is an example of alliteration — one of the best literary devices out there in terms of descriptive writing that really pops off the page.
#13: Avoid digressions
Among all the writing techniques, this one may be the toughest when you’re writing about a personal experience. Make sure you stick to the main storyline and skip unnecessary details and digressions. You don’t want to leave the reader confused – they may miss the point of your article.
#14: Use the PAS formula
PAS stands for “problem, agitate, solution.” This is a great template to follow if you’re not sure where to start. It’s quite good for writing “how to” articles. First, identify the issue. Then agitate to make it more painful (but not too far). Then offer a solution.
#15: Use a proven structure
A familiar structure, such as the one we all use for writing essays in school, can prevent you from losing track. Introduce the topic, analyze the existing data, raise counterarguments, and then conclude. Sticking to a structure like this will create a logical flow and make your writing look neat.
#16: Write in the first person
Writing in first person may sound more persuasive. If you’ve written an article, but it doesn’t feel trustworthy to you, it probably won’t sound convincing to your readers either. If you put the whole article into the first person, it may have the effect of a testimonial and higher validity.
Academic Writing Techniques
While the above techniques are great for general use articles, novels, and professional writing, there is a notable exception that requires a different set of rules.
Academic writing much prefers the use of passive voice. Sentences in a passive voice might appear dull and boring, but they are much better at conveying objectivity and distance from the subject of the academic paper at hand.
However, some recent scientific papers have also called for the increased use of active writing to make researchers and scientists appear more involved in the process rather than merely being observers.
The use of passive voice can also apply to writing an essay. In education, knowing how to best approach a subject and write objectively about it is the key to submitting a successful academic paper, no matter your knowledge or education level.
Additionally, using hyperbole or colloquialism is highly discouraged. A scientific paper aims to convey facts, and as such, the related writing process will naturally differ from the works of a fiction writer, who has much more freedom.
Additionally, it helps to write in the third person, as these have to be rather impersonal. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the memoir, which is the incarnation of subjectivity.
Can Online Tools Help?
If you don’t think you have a handle on the above-mentioned techniques, there are several apps available that can help you with them.
English writing technique assistants have evolved from simple grammar and spell checker software to become AI-powered and effective at helping writers achieve their potential.
Microsoft Word has a basic spell checker and punctuation module that will eliminate small errors that can ruin what is generally good writing. Google Docs have a similar feature. However, these don’t have the necessary robustness to be sufficient for fiction writing or story crafting.
Grammarly is a great online tool that has a free version to get you started on your writing journey. While the free add-on is pretty bare-bone, only focusing on basic sentence structure, misspellings, and punctuation, the Premium version includes more options. These include repetition checking, as well as the detection of generally overused words or phrases.
Grammarly can also be set according to your writing technique and writing style, meaning that you can use it for an academic paper, essay, poem, or story.
Another great app for this purpose is Writer . However, it focuses more on professional writing, brand awareness, and a cohesive writing style among groups of writers. It also has several advanced features, such as improving a writing method by suggesting words already used or favored by your company.
With Writer , you can craft a story related to your brand that resonates across the platforms you use and captivates your target audience with good writing, storytelling, and character.
On the other hand, the Scrivener app is all you need to craft a compelling story, outline your memoir, or decide where to go next with your narrative. It has excellent features that make a story easy to sort, separate, and overview, as well as great character sheets that can be used for reference at any time.
Find What Works for You
We hope this article helps you understand writing techniques better. It’s essential to remember that you should experiment and mix different techniques until you find what works for you and your audience. The bottom line is that it’s the reader that needs to enjoy and understand your writing.
If you experience the writer’s block, just select one of these and start writing whatever comes to your mind. It’s an excellent way to break the blockade.
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Exploring the Different Types of Creative Writing
- on Sep 26, 2022
- in Writing Tips
- Last update: November 16th, 2023
Writing comes in all forms and sizes. But in order for a work to be considered creative writing, it must come from a place of imagination and emotion.
This is something many people pursuing a creative writing degree online at first struggle to get a handle on. Take for example what Franz Kafa said about creative writing, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
Many authors who choose to follow Kafka’s advice—to write “mercilessly” and from the soul—find it comforting that their writing doesn’t have to conform to one style. But this variety of types and forms might leave some writers a bit confused.
That’s why, in this article, we are going to walk you through the most popular types of creative writing, with some great examples from authors who absolutely rocked their respective forms.
In this article:
- Creative Writing Definition
- Creative Writing Techniques
- Free Writing
- Journal Diaries
- Personal Essays
- Short Fiction
What Is Creative Writing?
Think of creative writing as a form of artistic expression. Authors bring this expression to life using their imagination, personal writing style, and personality.
Creative writing is also different from straightforward academic or technical writing. For instance, an economics book like Khalid Ikram’s The Political Economy of Reforms in Egypt is an academic monograph. This means that readers would rightfully expect it to contain analytic rather than creative writing.
So what are some elements that make a written piece more creative than analytic?
Popular Techniques Used in Creative Writing
Despite the fact that creative writing can be “freer” and less traditional than academic writing, it is likely to contain one or more of the following six elements:
1. Literary Devices
Many creative writers use literary devices to convey the meaning and themes of their work. Some common literary devices are allegories , metaphors and similes , foreshadowing , and imagery . These all serve to make the writing more vivid and descriptive .
Authors often use this technique to engage readers through storytelling. Narrative isn’t limited to novels and short stories; poems, autobiographies, and essays can be considered narratives if they tell a story. This can be fiction (as in novels) or nonfiction (as in memoirs and essays).
3. Point of View
All creative writing must have a point of view; that’s what makes it imaginative and original. The point of view is the perspective from which the author writes a particular piece. Depending on the type of work, the point of view can be first person, third person omniscient, third person limited , mixed (using third- and first-person writing), or—very rarely—second person.
Characterization is the process by which authors bring their characters to life by assigning them physical descriptions, personality traits, points of view, background and history, and actions. Characterization is key in creative writing because it helps drive the plot forward.
An important element used in many creative writing works is dialogue . Assigning
dialogue to characters is a way for authors to show their characters’ different traits without explicitly listing them.
Dialogue also immerses readers in the narrative’s action by highlighting the emotions and tensions between characters. Like characterization, it also helps drive the plot forward.
The plot is the sequence of events that make up a narrative and establish the themes and conflicts of a work . Plots will usually include an exp osi tion (the introduction), rising action (the complications), climax (the peak in action and excitement), falling action (the revelations and slowing down of events), and denouement (the conclusion).
The Main Types of Creative Writing (With Examples)
What’s great about creative writing is that there are so many types to choose from. In this section, we’ll walk you through the most popular types of creative writing, along with some examples.
Type 1: Free writing
Free writing, also known as stream-of-consciousness writing, is a technique that allows words and images to spill onto the page without giving thought to logic, sequence, or grammar. Although authors often use it as an exercise to get rid of the infamous writer’s block , free writing is also useful within a larger work.
For instance, let’s take a look at this excerpt from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.
Beloved by Toni Morrison [an excerpt]
the air is heavy I am not dead I am not there is a house there is what she whispered to me I am where she told me I am not dead I sit the sun closes my eyes when I open them I see the face I lost Sethe’s is the face that left me Sethe sees me see her and I see the smile her smiling face is the place for me it is the face I lost she is my face smiling at me
Note how the author uses free writing to convey the character’s disjointed and agitated thoughts. Even punctuation has been set aside here, adding to the rush of the character’s fear and confusion. The imagery is powerful (“the sun closes my eyes”; “her smiling face is the place for me”) and relies on repetitions like “I am not dead” and “I see” to immerse the readers in the character’s disturbed mental state.
Type 2: Journals and Diaries
A journal is a written account of an author’s experiences, activities, and feelings. A diary is an example of a journal, in which an author documents his/her life frequently.
Journals and diaries can be considered creative writing, particularly if they offer more than just a log of events. For instance, if a diary entry discusses how the writer ran into an old friend, it might include details of the writer’s emotions and probably use literary devices to convey these feelings.
It’s almost impossible to read the word “diary” and not think of Anne Frank. Let’s look at this excerpt from her work The Diary of a Young Girl .
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl [an excerpt]
Saturday, 20 June, 1942: I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I—nor for that matter anyone else—will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.
In the extract above, Anne adopts a reflective tone. She uses the rhetorical question “what does that matter?” to illustrate how she arrived at the conclusion that this diary will help bring out what is “buried deep in her heart.”
In this way, the diary serves as a log of events that happened in Anne’s life, but also as a space for Anne to reflect on them, and to explore her resulting emotions.
Type 3: Memoir
Although they might seem similar at first, memoirs and diaries are two different creative writing types. While diaries offer a log of events recorded at frequent intervals, memoirs allow the writer to select key moments and scenes that help shed light on the writer’s life.
Let’s examine this excerpt from the memoir of Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist .
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay:
I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.
Roxanne Gay offers readers a powerful work on anxiety, food, and body image by taking them on a journey through her past . Using evocative imagery in the excerpt above (“I buried the girl I was”; “I was trapped in my body”) the author shares her psychological trauma and resulting tumultuous relationship with food.
As with most memoirs—and diaries—this one is intimate, allowing readers into the dark crevices of the author’s mind. However, unlike a diary, this memoir does not provide an account of the writer’s day-to-day life, but rather focuses on certain events—big and small—that the author feels made her who she is today.
Type 4: Letters
Unlike diary and journal entries—which usually don’t have a specific recipient—letters address one target reader. Many famous authors have had collections of their letters published, revealing a side of them that isn’t visible in other works.
Letter writing uncovers the nature of the relationship between sender and recipient, and can include elements of creative writing such as imagery, opinion, humor, and feeling.
Here is an excerpt from a letter by Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood .
Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote , edited by Gerald Clarke
Dear Bob; Have come, am here, am slowly freezing to death; my fingers are pencils of ice. But really, all told, I think this is quite a place, at least so far. The company is fairly good… I have a bedroom in the mansion (there are bats circulating in some of the rooms, and Leo keeps his light on all night, for the wind blows eerily, doors creak, and the faint cheep cheep of the bats cry in the towers above: no kidding.
In his letter to editor and friend Robert “Bob” Linscott, Truman paints a scene of his new setting . He uses hyperbole (“freezing to death”) and a powerful metaphor (“my fingers are pencils of ice”) to convey the discomforting cold weather. Truman also uses sound imagery (“doors creak”; “wind blows eerily”; “cheep cheep of the bats”) to communicate the creepy, sinister mood to his reader.
Type 5: Personal Essays
Many of us don’t normally think of essays as creative writing, but that’s probably because our minds go to academic research essays. However, there are many types of essays that require creative rather than analytic writing, including discursive essays, descriptive essays, and personal essays.
A personal essay, also known as a narrative essay, is a piece of nonfiction work that offers readers a story drawn from the author’s personal experience. This is different from a memoir, in which the primary focus is on the author and their multiple experiences.
A personal essay, on the other hand, focuses on a message or theme , and the author’s personal experience is there to communicate that theme using memorable characters and setting , as well as engaging events . These, of course, all have to be true, otherwise the personal essay would turn into a fictional short story.
Here is an excerpt from a personal essay by writers Chantha Nguon and Kim Green.
The Gradual Extinction of Softness by Chantha Nguon and Kim Green
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge informed the Cambodian people that we had no history, but we knew it was a lie. Cambodia has a rich past, a mosaic of flavors from near and far: South Indian traders gave us Buddhism and spicy curries; China brought rice noodles and astrology; and French colonizers passed on a love of strong coffee, flan, and a light, crusty baguette. We lifted the best tastes from everywhere and added our own.
The opening of this paragraph establishes the author’s strong and unwavering opinion : “we knew it was a lie.” Instead of providing a history of Cambodia, she demonstrates the country’s rich past by discussing its diverse “flavors”: “spicy curries”; “strong coffee”; “light, crusty baguette”, etc.
Using gustatory imagery , which conveys a sense of taste , the authors reveal their personal version of what makes Cambodia wonderful. The writer communicates the essay’s theme of food and memories through a story of her childhood.
Type 6: Poetry
Robert Frost once wrote: “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Good poetry is effective because it uses the power of imagery to convey what it is to be human. Every word in a poem counts, and the best poems are those that evoke the reader’s emotions without unpacking too much.
As one of the most diverse types of creative writing, poetry can come in many forms. Some poets prefer to write in the more traditional forms such as sonnets , villanelles , and haikus , where you have particular structures, rhyme, and rhythm to follow. And others prefer the freedom of free verse and blackout poetry .
Let’s take a look at this excerpt from Maya Angelou’s powerful lyric poem , “Still I Rise.”
“Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems by Maya Angelou
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
Packed with powerful language, this excerpt from Angelou’s poem gives us absolute
chills! The refrain “I rise” is repeated 7 times in these two verses alone,
hammering home the idea that the speaker cannot be defeated.
The imagery, repetition, and rhyme scheme all work together to convey the emotions of pride and resilience. Both verses also rely heavily on metaphors (“I’m a black ocean”; “I am the dream and the hope of the slave”) to convey the speaker’s power. She is not like an ocean or a dream; she is both, and she is unstoppable.
Type 7: Song Lyrics
Song lyrics are in many ways similar to poems, except that lyrics are meant to be sung . They are a form of creative writing that allows writers to surpass the rules of grammar and punctuation in favor of creating rhyme and rhythm . This means that the creativity of a song lyricist is free from the traditional restrictions of language.
Type 8: Scripts
Scriptwriting is a form of creative writing that relies heavily on character dialogue , stage directions , and setting . Scripts are written for films and TV shows (known as screenplays and teleplays), stage plays, commercials, and radio and podcast programs.
Like song lyrics, scripts are written with the intention of reaching a non-reading audience. In other words, scriptwriters must bear in mind how their writing will be 1) interpreted by other storytellers , such as directors, designers, etc., and 2) performed by actors.
Let’s examine the iconic opening scene from the screenplay of the film Forrest Gump .
Forrest Gump , screenplay by Eric Roth [an excerpt]
THE MAN Hello, I’m Forrest. I’m Forrest Gump. She nods, not much interested. He takes an old candy kiss out of his pocket. Offering it to her: FORREST (cont’d) Do you want a chocolate? She shakes “no.” He unwraps it, popping it in his mouth. FORREST (cont’d) I could eat about a million and a half of these. Mama said, “Life was just a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.”
From the dialogue and stage directions in this opening scene, the audience can see that there is something innocent, kind-hearted, and simple about the character Forrest Gump. This is conveyed through the way he introduces himself with a slight repetition (“I’m Forrest. I’m Forrest Gump.”) to a complete stranger, and the way he quotes his mother to her.
Moreover, the action of Forrest “popping” the candy in his mouth is almost childlike , and that the stranger is reluctant to communicate with him foreshadows the fact that the people Forrest meets are initially suspicious of him and his innocence. Thus, the pauses and silences in the scene are just as important to the work as what is explicitly said.
Type 9: Short Fiction
Short fiction is a form of creative fiction writing that typically falls between 5,000 to 10,000 words ; however, there is definitely room to go lower than 5,000 words, depending on the topic.
For instance, flash fiction is a form of short fiction that can be 1,000 words or less. In the case of flash fiction, the author unpacks the “skeleton” of a story in as few words as possible. For instance, legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote a 6-word “story”:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
In just six words, the reader is led to understand that this is a story of death and loss.
Nevertheless, the average short story is usually structured around the following elements: characterization , setting , plot , and conflict . Many fiction authors start out writing short fiction because it enables them to nail all the essential elements, which they can then expand upon in longer works.
Let’s look at an excerpt from Janet Frame’s short story, “The Bath”
“The Bath” by Janet Frame [an excerpt]
She leaned forward, feeling the pain in her back and shoulder. She grasped the rim of the bath but her fingers slithered from it almost at once. She would not pancic, she told herself; she would try gradually, carefully, to get out. Again she leaned forward; again her grip loosened as if iron hands had deliberately uncurled her stiffened blue fingers from their trembling hold. Her heart began to beat faster, her breath came more quickly, her mouth was dry. She moistened her lips. If I shout for help, she thought, no-one will hear me. No-one in the world will hear me. No-one will know I’m in the bath and can’t get out.
In this paragraph, there is an image of a frail, old woman, physically unable to get out of her bathtub. The diction , or word choice, serves to convey the woman’s sense of fear and helplessness. For instance, words like “grasped,” “slithered,” “uncurled,” and “stiffened,” demonstrate the immense effort it takes for her to try to get out.
The image of her “moistening” her lips illustrates that fear has turned her mouth dry. And the repetition of “no-one” in the last few sentences highlights the woman’s loneliness and entrapment —two of the story’s main themes. Indeed, the bath symbolizes the unavoidable obstacles brought about by old age.
Type 10: Novellas / Novels
Novels are one of the most popular forms of creative writing. Though they vary in length, depending on the subject, they’re generally considered a long form of fiction , typically divided into chapters .
Novellas, on the other hand, are shorter than novels but longer than short stories. Like short stories, novels, and novellas contain characters , plot , dialogue , and setting ; however, their longer forms allow writers a chance to delve much deeper into those elements.
Type 11: Speeches
Speeches are a form of writing similar to essays in that both forms are non-fiction , and both usually entail a discussion of the writer’s personal experiences and include engaging events and a particular theme.
However, speeches differ from essays in that the former are meant to be recited (usually in front of an audience), and tend to be persuasive and inspirational. For instance, think of the purpose of graduation speeches and political speeches: they aim to inspire and move listeners.
One of the most well-known speeches from the 20th century is Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”. Let’s examine the excerpt below:
“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King [an excerpt]
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
What immediately catches the eye (and ear) in this paragraph is the speaker’s usage of anaphora : the repetition of the phrase “now is the time” serves to emphasize the urgency of the matter being discussed (i.e. the prevalence of racial injustice).
The speaker’s repetition of the pronoun “our” is an appeal to his audience’s emotions and their sense of unity. Both he and they are in this together, and thus he is motivating them to take on the challenge as one.
Moreover, the use of figurative language is abundant here and can be found in similar inspirational and motivational styles of creative writing. The imagery created by the metaphor and alliteration in “the d ark and d esolate valley of segregation,” and its juxtaposition with “sunlit path of racial justice,” together aim to convey the speaker’s main message. Segregation has brought nothing but darkness and ruin to American society, but there is hope and light on the path toward racial equality.
Creative writing acts as a medium for artistic expression. It can come in a variety of forms, from screenplays and speeches to poetry and flash fiction. But what groups all of these different types of creative writing under the “creative” umbrella, regardless of form, is their display of a writer’s imagination, creativity, and linguistic prowess.
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I appreciate you offering such a thought-provoking perspective. It should be useful for academic writing in addition to creative writing, in my opinion. Each method you listed is pertinent and appropriate.
You’re absolutely right! Many of these writing methods can be applied to both creative and academic writing, enhancing the depth and effectiveness of communication.
Robert smith enago
Thank you for sharing this enlightening blog post on the various types of creative writing. Your exploration of different writing methods and styles provides an inspiring perspective on the boundless possibilities within the realm of creativity.
It is remarkable to see how creative writing encompasses an array of forms, each with its unique allure and artistic essence. From poetry, fiction, and drama to screenwriting, creative nonfiction, and even songwriting, each avenue offers writers a chance to express their thoughts, emotions, and imagination in captivating ways.
We truly appreciate your kind words! Creative writing is indeed a vast and fascinating world with endless opportunities for self-expression 🙂
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Creative Writing Ideas Techniques: 10 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills
By: Author Paul Jenkins
Posted on Published: June 9, 2023 - Last updated: July 31, 2023
Categories Writing , Creativity
Creative writing is an art form that allows individuals to express themselves through their writing. It is a way to convey emotions, thoughts, and ideas uniquely and creatively.
However, coming up with new and exciting ideas for creative writing can be challenging. Whether you are a seasoned writer or just starting, having a toolbox of techniques and ideas to draw from can help you develop your skills and take your writing to the next level.
Many techniques and strategies can be used to generate creative writing ideas.
One approach is focusing on a character and building a story around them. Another technique is to use visuals or prompts as a starting point for your writing.
Additionally, brainstorming and freewriting can help you generate ideas and get your creative juices flowing. By incorporating these techniques and others, you can develop your unique writing style and voice.
Creative Writing Basics
As a creative writer, it is essential to master the basics of craft, structure, and literary devices. These three elements are the foundation of any successful piece of writing, whether it is a novel, short story, or poem.
This section will explore these elements in-depth and provide tips and exercises to help you improve your creative writing skills.
Craft refers to the technical skills involved in writing, such as grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. It also includes creating vivid descriptions, believable characters, and engaging dialogue.
To improve your craft, it is essential to practice regularly and seek feedback from other writers or writing groups. You can also read books on writing to learn about different techniques and approaches.
Structure refers to writing organization, including its plot, point of view, and setting.
A well-structured story has a clear beginning, middle, and end; each scene or chapter should move the plot forward.
Choosing the right point of view and setting is essential to convey the story’s emotions and perspective effectively. To improve your structure, you can use outlines, storyboards, or other planning tools to help you map your story’s structure before you begin writing.
Literary devices are techniques writers use to create meaning and impact.
These include metaphors, similes, imagery, and symbolism. Using literary devices can help create a more vivid and engaging story that resonates with readers. To improve your use of literary devices, you can study examples from other writers or experiment with different techniques in your writing.
In conclusion, mastering the basics of craft, structure, and literary devices is essential for any creative writer. By practicing regularly and seeking feedback from others, you can improve your writing skills and create stories that captivate readers.
In creative writing, generating ideas is one of the most important steps. Without a good idea, it can be difficult to get started and keep going. Fortunately, many techniques can help you develop great ideas for your writing. Here are a few techniques to consider:
Creative Writing Prompts
One of the easiest ways to generate ideas is to use creative writing prompts. These are short, simple ideas or phrases that can be used as a starting point for your writing. You can find creative writing prompts online or in books or come up with your own.
Some popular prompts include:
- Write a story about a character who falls in love with someone unexpectedly.
- Describe a place you’ve never been to before.
- Write a story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world.
Another way to generate ideas is to observe the world around you. Pay attention to the people, places, and things you encounter daily. Take notes on interesting details or observations that you can use in your writing. For example, if you notice a couple having an argument in a coffee shop, you could use that as inspiration for a scene in a romance novel.
Freewriting is a technique that involves writing without stopping for a set period. The goal is to write whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. This can help you get past writer’s block and generate new ideas. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write whatever comes to mind. You might be surprised at what you come up with!
Reading is a great way to get inspired and generate new ideas. When you read, pay attention to the writing techniques that the author uses. Take notes on interesting phrases, descriptions, or characterizations that you can use in your writing. You can also use reading to spark your imagination. For example, if you’re writing a nonfiction essay about love, you could read a romance novel to get ideas.
Research is another way to generate ideas for your writing. Look up information on topics that interest you, and take notes on interesting facts or details you can use in your writing. You can also use research to spark your imagination. For example, if you’re writing a nonfiction essay about love, you could research the history of marriage to get ideas.
One of the most important aspects of creative writing is character development. Characters are the driving force behind any story, and their actions and motivations are what keep readers engaged. Here are a few techniques to help you develop compelling characters:
Understanding Your Characters
Before you start writing, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your characters. This means knowing their backstory, their motivations, and their personality traits.
One way to do this is by creating a character profile including their age, occupation, hobbies, and fears. This will help you create a fully realized character that feels real.
Writing prompts can be a great way to develop your characters. For example, you could write a scene where your character faces a difficult decision. This will help you understand your character’s thoughts and values. You could also try writing a scene from your character’s past to explore their backstory.
Like any skill, character development takes practice. One way to improve is by writing character sketches. These short scenes focus on a specific aspect of your character, such as their relationship with another character or their reaction to a specific event.
By writing these sketches, you’ll better understand your character and how they fit into your story.
Overall, character development is a crucial part of creative writing. By understanding your characters, using writing prompts, and practicing, you can create compelling characters that will keep your readers engaged from beginning to end.
Narrative techniques are the tools that writers use to tell a story effectively. They can help to create a sense of atmosphere, convey emotions, and develop characters. In this section, we will discuss some of the most important narrative techniques that writers use.
Point of View
The point of view is the perspective from which a story is told. It can be first person, second person, or third person. The First-person point of view uses “I” or “we” to tell the story. The second-person point of view uses “you” to address the reader directly. The third-person point of view uses “he,” “she,” or “they” to describe the characters.
The point of view can affect the reader’s understanding of the story and their relationship with the characters.
The setting is the time and place in which the story takes place. It can be used to create a sense of atmosphere and convey the story’s mood.
The setting can also affect the characters and their actions. For example, a story set in a dark, eerie forest will have a different feel than one set in a bright, sunny meadow.
Emotions are an important part of any story. They can help to create tension and conflict, and they can also help to develop the characters. Writers can use descriptive language and imagery to convey emotions and create a sense of empathy with the characters.
Perspective refers to how the story is told. It can be objective or subjective. An objective perspective is when the narrator is neutral and does not take sides.
A subjective perspective is when the narrator has a specific point of view and may be biased. Perspective can affect the reader’s understanding of the story and their relationship with the characters.
Storytelling is how the story is told. It can be linear or non-linear. Linear storytelling is when the story is told in chronological order. Non-linear storytelling is when the story is told out of order. Storytelling can affect the reader’s understanding of the story and their relationship with the characters.
Metaphors are comparisons between two things that are not alike. They can be used to create imagery and to convey emotions. Metaphors can help to make the story more vivid and memorable.
Narrative techniques are essential for writers to tell a story effectively.
The point of view, setting, emotions, perspective, storytelling, and metaphors are all important elements that can help to create a compelling story. Using these techniques, writers can create an atmosphere, convey emotions, and develop characters that readers will remember.
Regarding creative writing, different genres require different techniques to make the story stand out. Here are some genre-specific techniques to help you write your next masterpiece.
Romance novels require strong character development and emotional depth. To create a compelling romance story, consider the following techniques:
- Develop relatable characters with vulnerabilities and flaws
- Use vivid sensory details to bring scenes to life
- Build tension and conflict between characters
- Use dialogue to reveal character personalities and motivations
- Create a satisfying resolution that leaves readers feeling fulfilled
Nonfiction writing requires extensive research and a clear, concise writing style. To make your nonfiction work stand out, consider the following techniques:
- Use storytelling techniques to make the information engaging and memorable
- Use clear, concise language to convey complex ideas
- Use concrete examples and evidence to support your arguments
- Use formatting techniques such as headings, bullet points, and tables to organize information
- Use a strong voice and point of view to connect with readers
Fantasy writing requires world-building and a vivid imagination. To create a captivating fantasy story, consider the following techniques:
- Create a unique and believable world with its own rules and customs
- Develop complex characters with their motivations and backstories
- Use vivid sensory details to bring the world to life
- Use magic and supernatural elements to create a sense of wonder and awe
- Use themes that resonate with readers, such as the battle between good and evil
Mystery writing requires a strong plot and attention to detail. To write a compelling mystery story, consider the following techniques:
- Create a complex and intriguing plot with unexpected twists and turns
- Develop a strong protagonist with a unique perspective and backstory
- Use vivid sensory details to create a sense of atmosphere and tension
- Use foreshadowing and clues to keep readers engaged and guessing
- Create a satisfying resolution that ties up loose ends and surprises readers
Sci-fi writing requires a strong imagination and attention to scientific detail. To create a captivating sci-fi story, consider the following techniques:
- Create a unique and believable world with its own scientific rules and technology
- Use themes that resonate with readers, such as the impact of technology on society
- Use scientific concepts and theories to create a sense of wonder and awe
Fairy tale writing requires a sense of magic and whimsy. To create a captivating fairy tale story, consider the following techniques:
- Create a unique and fantastical world with its own rules and customs
- Develop archetypal characters such as heroes, villains, and mentors
- Use vivid sensory details to create a sense of enchantment and wonder
- Use themes that resonate with readers, such as the power of love and the battle between good and evil
- Use magical elements such as spells and curses to create a sense of danger and suspense
Dramatic writing requires a strong plot and emotional depth. To write a compelling dramatic story, consider the following techniques:
- Use themes that resonate with readers, such as the struggle for power and the search for identity
Improving Your Writing
Improving your writing is a continuous process that requires dedication and practice. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, new techniques and ideas exist to explore.
This section will discuss some effective ways to improve your writing skills.
Writing techniques are essential tools that can help you enhance your writing skills. Some of the most effective writing techniques include:
- Brainstorming : This technique involves generating ideas and concepts about a specific topic. Brainstorming can help you develop new and creative ideas for your writing.
- Outlining : Outlining is organizing your ideas and thoughts before you start writing. It can help you create a clear structure for your writing and make the writing process more efficient.
- Drafting : Drafting involves writing a rough version of your work. It can help you identify areas that need improvement and refine your writing.
- Editing : Editing involves reviewing and revising your work to improve its quality. It can help you identify errors and inconsistencies and refine your writing.
Observation is an important skill that can help you improve your writing. Observing the world around you can help you develop new ideas and perspectives for your writing. Some effective ways to observe include:
- People-watching : Observing people and their behavior can help you develop realistic and relatable characters in your writing.
- Nature-watching : Observing nature can help you develop vivid descriptions and settings in your writing.
Freewriting is a technique that involves writing continuously for a set amount of time without worrying about grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Freewriting can help you generate new ideas and overcome writer’s block.
Reading is an essential part of improving your writing skills. Reading can help you better understand different writing styles and techniques. Some effective ways to read include:
- Reading widely : Reading a variety of genres and styles can help you develop a diverse range of writing skills.
- Analyzing literature : Analyzing literature can help you understand the techniques and styles used by other writers and apply them to your writing.
There are many resources available to help you improve your writing skills. Some of the most effective resources include:
- Writing courses : Writing courses can help you develop new skills and techniques for your writing.
- Writing groups : Writing groups can provide feedback and support for your writing.
- Writing books : Writing books can provide valuable insights and techniques for improving your writing.
By utilizing these techniques and resources, you can improve your writing skills and develop your unique writing style.
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is a common problem that many writers face. It can be frustrating and discouraging, but there are several techniques that you can use to overcome it.
One way to overcome writer’s block is to change your environment. Sometimes, being in the same place for too long can stifle creativity. Try a new location, such as a coffee shop or a park, to get a fresh perspective.
If you can’t physically change your environment, try changing your workspace’s lighting, music, or scents.
Another technique to overcome writer’s block is approaching your writing differently. If you’re stuck on a particular scene or character, try writing from a different character’s point of view or in a different tense. This can help you see your writing in a new light and develop fresh ideas.
In addition to changing your environment and perspective, several other techniques can help you overcome writer’s block. These include:
- Freewriting: Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammar or structure.
- Outlining: Create an outline of your story or essay to help you organize your thoughts and break down your writing into manageable chunks.
- Brainstorming: Write down every idea that comes to mind, no matter how silly or impractical it may seem. This can help you generate new ideas and get unstuck.
Using these techniques, you can overcome writer’s block and return to writing with renewed creativity and confidence.
Publishing and Community
Publishing and community are two essential aspects of creative writing that every writer should consider. While publishing is about sharing your writing with the world, the community is about finding an audience and connecting with other writers.
This section explores how to publish your writing and build a community around your work.
The publishing industry is vast, and there are many genres to choose from regarding creative writing. Every genre has its unique audience and publishing opportunities, from romance to horror to science fiction.
For example, if you’re interested in writing romance novels, you might consider submitting your work to Harlequin, one of the largest publishers of romance novels.
Novels are one of the most popular forms of creative writing, and many publishing opportunities are available for aspiring novelists.
Some publishers specialize in specific genres, while others accept a wide range of fiction. Before submitting your work, research the publisher’s submission guidelines to ensure that your manuscript meets their requirements.
Short stories are a great way to hone your writing skills and build a portfolio of published work. Many literary magazines and journals accept short story submissions, and there are also many online platforms where you can publish your work.
If you’re interested in publishing your short stories, research the submission guidelines for each publication to ensure that your work is a good fit.
Playwriting is a unique form of creative writing that requires a different set of skills than other forms of writing. If you’re interested in writing plays, there are many opportunities to have your work produced and published.
Some theaters accept unsolicited submissions, while others only accept submissions through agents. Research the submission guidelines for each theater before submitting your work.
Personal essays are a popular form of creative nonfiction, allowing writers to share their experiences and insights.
Many literary magazines and online publications accept personal essay submissions, and there are also many opportunities to publish personal essays in anthologies and collections. If you’re interested in publishing your essays, research the submission guidelines for each publication to ensure that your work is a good fit.
Blogging is a popular way for writers to share their work and connect with readers. Whether you’re interested in starting your blog or contributing to an existing blog, there are many opportunities to publish your writing online. If you’re interested in blogging, research the platform’s guidelines and audience to ensure your content is a good fit.
Building a community around your writing is essential for finding an audience and connecting with other writers. There are many ways to build a writing community, from attending workshops and conferences to joining online writing groups.
Connecting with other writers allows you to receive feedback on your work, share resources and ideas, and find support and encouragement throughout your writing journey.
In conclusion, creative writing is a valuable skill that can be developed through various techniques and approaches. As we have seen, there are many different ways to approach creative writing, from using similes and imagery to exploring different points of view and narrative structures.
One key aspect of successful creative writing is originality. By exploring new ideas and perspectives, writers can develop unique stories that stand out. Additionally, turning points and resolutions can add depth and meaning to a story, helping to engage readers and keep them interested.
Another important factor to consider is the writing style. Whether you prefer the concise, straightforward prose of Ernest Hemingway or the more elaborate language of a crime novel, developing your unique writing style can help you stand out as a writer.
Of course, it’s also important to remember that creative writing should be fun! Whether you’re exploring funny story ideas or delving into more serious themes, writing should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
If you struggle to develop ideas for your next writing project, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family for inspiration. You can also explore literature, movies, video games, and other sources for creative writing ideas and techniques.
Ultimately, the key to successful creative writing is to stay true to your voice and vision. You can develop your skills and boost your confidence as a writer with practice and perseverance. So go forth and write, and see where your imagination takes you!
List Of The 15 Best Writing Strategies And Examples
When you’re a writer , you need to know the best strategies to get your reader’s attention and hold onto it.
The goal is to get them hooked on your content, so they’ll want to read more.
Only then can you cultivate a relationship that serves you both.
So, how do you do that (without actually hypnotizing them)?
You learn different writing strategies, applied to advantage by the pros, and work on making them your own.
The first question to answer is, “What is a writing strategy?”
What Are the Different Types of Writing Strategies?
1. start with a strong hook. , 2. give your opening paragraph a strong sense of direction. , 3. be authentic in every sentence. , 4. create a reader avatar. , 5. create an outline. , 6. have fun with it. , 7. start a dialogue with your reader. , 8. get time on your side. , 9. prioritize clarity. , 10. break it up with visuals. , 11. put your reader to the test., 12. dazzle them with surprising facts. , 13. add interesting quotes from authorities in the field. , 14. ask questions to get your readers thinking , 15. tell your reader a story. , which writing strategies will you use.
A strategy is a general plan — or set of plans — you make to achieve a goal. So, a writing strategy involves tactics you use to ensure your writing meets the goals you’ve set for it.
Your number one goal is to capture and hold onto your reader’s interest. Your related goals will depend on the overall purpose of your writing:
- To sell something (and make money)
- To motivate your reader to do something
- To evoke an emotional response (pathos, anger, levity, etc.)
While the reason for your writing goal can vary, the goal itself does not. And the sooner you learn how to put the following 15 writing strategies into practice, the sooner your audience will grow.
List of the Best 15 Writing Strategies with Examples
No doubt, you’ve already become familiar with some of these time-tested examples of writing strategies. It’s what you don’t (yet) know that can hold you back and limit your influence.
That’s about to change.
Your first sentence should hook your reader and make them curious enough to read the second sentence, which should lead them irresistibly to the third, and so on.
That first sentence should grab hold of their interest and get them thinking, “I need to know what will come next.” Your entire opening hook doesn’t have to consist of one sentence, but a few sentences at most should suffice to get under your reader’s skin.
Strong hooks can include any of the following:
- Probing or rhetorical questions
- Bold claims
“Did you know every year the amount of garbage we toss into the ocean is three times the weight of fish caught?” (statistic)
Your first paragraph should clearly communicate the direction of your piece. And it should give the reader a reason to care about it. They should want to know more and feel compelled to see what you’ll reveal. Give them a reason to feel invested.
Otherwise, they might bookmark your page to “save it for later,” but we all know what that usually means. It’s the internet version of walking away.
“As a lifelong crabber (that is, one who catches crabs, not a chronic complainer), I can tell you that anyone who has patience and a great love for the river is qualified to join the ranks of crabbers. However, if you want your first crabbing experience to be a successful one, you must come prepared.”
– (Mary Zeigler, “How to Catch River Crabs” )
Come as you are. This is not a place to show off or pretend to be someone else. Try to trick your reader, and they’ll most likely leave and never return. So, ix-nay on the bait and switch. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and give them what you know they would want.
Be genuine, and show that you care as much about their time as you do about yours.
“I haven’t wanted to call myself a functional alcoholic . For just a second, the word “functional” makes it easier to accept the word that comes after it.
“Then the reality hits: I’m not as functional as I’d like to think. And being an alcoholic means having to give up alcohol….”
Design an ideal reader based on what you know — including demographic info (married/single, age range, interests, culture, politics, geographical area). Then write as if addressing a respected friend.
Don’t assume your reader can’t figure stuff out, but don’t use ten-dollar words when one-dollar words will do. Write the way you would talk in a friendly conversation.
Ideal reader Alexis is a health-conscious socialite in her mid-twenties. Her interests include public relations, fashion, and social media (mainly Instagram). She reads to stay well-informed about things that matter to her. She’s visually oriented. Her dream is to work in New York as a successful public relations professional.
The easiest way to make sure you make all your points in a logical, easy-to-follow manner is to start with an outline, breaking down your work into smaller, more focused sections. Use your outline to plan your subheadings and brainstorm content ideas.
As you add content, you can connect each thought, making every sentence earn its place and respect its neighbors to ensure each thought flows effortlessly to the next.
I. Why soy candles are healthier than paraffin.
- All natural (no toxic chemicals)
- Supports U.S. soy farmers
- Cleaner, cooler burn with less soot
II. 5 Best Sources of Ethically-Made Soy Candles
III. 3 Candle-Making Charities That Support Women
If you’re not all that interested in what you’re writing, your reader will pick up on that. Boredom is contagious. The good news? The opposite is even more so. Find something to love about what you’re writing, and your reader will feel your excitement and lean in.
The more fun you have with the writing, the more your audience will enjoy reading it.
- Include a fun, illustrative bit of dialogue.
- Paint a (word) picture your reader will want to be a part of.
- Lead with the thing that excites you (an interesting bit of news, etc.)
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Remember that bit about seeing your reader as a respected friend? The more you see your article or blog post as a friendly conversation with your reader, the easier (and more fun) it will be to write, and the more invested you’ll feel in being as helpful as possible.
Imagine a friendly, animated dialogue with your ideal reader and write as you hear the words in your head.
“I’m glad you’re here. I have so many questions! First, I have to ask, how do you feel about zombie fiction? I have a theory, and you can tell me if I’m wrong.
“For starters, I’ll make the bold guess that if you’re reading this blog, you’re not into the gory, graphic zombie violence some shows glory in. In fact, I’m willing to bet you’re more of an I Zombie fan. Because you’re not an all-or-nothing thinker.
“Here’s where I’m going with this…”
It can only benefit you to address timely issues that matter to your reader. If you’re writing about a subject that’s dominating the headlines, put your own creative spin on it to make it stand out. What can you bring to the subject that few or no one else can?
Make the subject more personal to your reader, and your content will be timeless.
“It’s happened! The results of the 2020 election are finally in, and people around the world (not to mention over half the U.S. population) are celebrating, crying tears of relief, and dancing in the streets for joy.
“So, what comes next? Specifically, what comes next for you? ”
Know your message and express it with clarity, simplicity, and elegance. Every thought should be organic, and every sentence’s meaning should be unmistakable. Confuse your reader, and they’re far more likely to stop reading and move on.
Don’t make them work to decipher what you’re trying to say. It’s not their job.
Examples of strategies for writing with clarity:
- Know your message, and write with intention.
- Know your audience and speak their language.
- Define your (unfamiliar) terms.
- Use your punctuation wisely (especially commas).
- Use strong , active, and carefully-chosen verbs.
If all you’re giving your reader is a long succession of paragraphs with some subheads thrown in, consider adding some relevant visuals — images, graphs, infographics, tables, diagrams, etc. Give their brain a brief but meaningful eye-candy break.
By varying the delivery of helpful information, you hit “refresh” on their attention and keep them curious.
Examples of effective visuals:
- Infographics or diagrams to visually illustrate your points
- Images that set the mood and make your content more relatable
- Graphs and tables to show organized and relevant data.
Include an interesting quiz/test for your reader to take, with a result they can share. Give them a chance to test their knowledge while they learn something new. Quizzes that give them a result they can feel good about and make your content more memorable.
Challenge your reader with questions that make them think, and they’re more likely to respect and remember you.
Examples of quiz ideas:
“How compatible are you and your partner?”
“How much do you know about climate change?”
“What crystals are best for your personality?”
Throw in some juicy facts to make your readers think, “Wow! I didn’t know that.” Keep them short and easy to remember and make sure they add value to your whole piece. It should feel organic — not like it came out of nowhere.
Your reader shouldn’t have to wonder if they accidentally clicked on a different link.
- Surprising statistics about bullying to reconsider “zero-tolerance” policies.
- The truth about “German” chocolate cake in a post on a beloved family recipe.
- Daniel Radcliffe’s allergy to his Harry Potter glasses in a post on unusual allergies.
Quotes from well-known authorities can add credibility to your piece if it bolsters one of the points you’re making. Depending on your quote choice, It can also add a touch of humor or pathos to draw your reader in and encourage a stronger connection.
A short, powerful quote can make your work more memorable by association.
- Shocking or funny quotes from famous authors in a post on the creative process.
- Quotes from famous fictional sleuths in a post about cozy mysteries.
- Quotes from disgruntled politicians in a post about running for office.
Another way to make your reader feel more invested in what they’re reading is to ask them questions about something that matters to them.
Get them thinking about the answer, and they’ll be more likely to feel a need to answer it or find the answer in what you’ve written. And if your answer satisfies them, or if their own answer leads to other meaningful discoveries, they’re likely to come back for more.
- Questions about your reader’s writing process in a post on the same.
- Questions on your reader’s biggest fears in a post about anxiety
- Questions on favorite scents and related memories in a post about candles.
Everyone loves a good story . Introduce a compelling story early on in your post (or chapter), and your reader is much more likely to keep reading. Your story should closely relate to the rest of your content, so it can communicate useful information while it entertains your audience. Keep it short, relevant, and memorable.
- A brief fable that teaches a moral lesson
- A brief story from your past that illustrates a point you’re trying to make
- A short, funny story that leads to a surprising revelation
Now that you’re more familiar with the 15 best writing strategies, how will this change the way you write from now on? What strategies will you implement in your next project?
The best part about using these strategies is their potential for making the writing itself more enjoyable and fulfilling for you — as well as more engaging for your reader.
May your skill and influence grow as you put these strategies to work.
Please talk about the different poetic techniques used in the poems...
Answer & explanation.
In "First Books" by Andrea Hollander Budy, the poet employs several poetic techniques, particularly focusing on form and imagery. The poem's structure mirrors the theme of first-time experiences, using free verse with no strict rhyme or meter, creating a casual and conversational tone.
The imagery in the poem revolves around the visual aspects of first books. The "Splashes of color on the cover" evoke a sense of vibrancy and newness, while the description of the lettering in "wedding invitation script" suggests a delicate and perhaps overly ornate presentation. The mention of the writer's name being "unreadably fancy" adds humor and emphasizes the novice nature of the designer.
The comparison between first-time authors and first-time lovers introduces a metaphor that runs through the poem. The analogy of lovers forgiving fumbling moments mirrors the way first-time authors hope readers will overlook the initial shortcomings of their books. This comparison is sustained through the reference to the relief and forgiveness experienced after the first time, both in intimate encounters and in the publishing world.
The use of the bathroom mirror scene adds a touch of intimacy and vulnerability, with the authors giggling at themselves and spotting imperfections. This image enhances the relatability of the poem, as readers can empathize with the universal experience of nervousness and self-consciousness associated with new endeavors.
Overall, "First Books" combines a free verse form with vivid imagery and metaphorical language to capture the emotions and uncertainties of first-time authors, drawing parallels to the intimate and awkward moments of first-time lovers.
More detailed analysis of "First Books" by Andrea Hollander Budy, focusing on its poetic techniques, form, and imagery.
1. Free Verse Form: The poem is written in free verse, a form characterized by the absence of a regular rhyme or meter. This choice in form contributes to the poem's conversational and casual tone, allowing the poet to explore the theme of first-time experiences without the constraints of a formal structure. The lack of a rigid form mirrors the unpredictability and variability of first-time encounters.
- Cover Description: The poet uses vivid imagery to describe the covers of first books. "Splashes of color" evoke a sense of vibrancy and excitement, suggesting the newness and freshness associated with first-time authors.
- Lettering: The mention of "lettering in wedding invitation script" paints a picture of delicate, possibly overly ornate, and unreadable writing. This visual detail adds a layer of humor and emphasizes the amateur nature of the designer, reinforcing the idea of a first-time attempt.
3. Metaphor of First-time Lovers:
The central metaphor compares first-time authors to first-time lovers. This metaphor is sustained throughout the poem, drawing parallels between the intimate experiences of new authors and new lovers. The forgiveness granted by readers mirrors the forgiving nature of first-time lovers who overlook awkward or fumbling moments.
Belt, Eyelets, Straps: The poet extends the metaphor by mentioning the fumbling of "belts, eyelets, straps," which implies the awkwardness and clumsiness associated with first-time encounters. This extends the metaphor beyond writing to a broader exploration of the human experience.
Relief and Forgiveness: The poem describes the relief and forgiveness experienced after the first time, both in intimate encounters and in the publishing world. This shared emotional experience connects the two seemingly disparate realms, making the poem relatable on a universal level.
4. Intimate Scene: The reference to the authors giggling at themselves in a bathroom mirror adds a personal and intimate touch to the poem. This scene not only humanizes the authors but also underscores the vulnerability and self-consciousness associated with embarking on something new. The mention of imperfections like "mascara on a nose" and "pimples on a chin" further emphasizes the genuine, unfiltered nature of these first-time experiences.
5. Fear of the Only Time: The poem concludes with a sudden shift in tone, expressing the fear that the first time might be the only time it will ever happen. This adds a layer of anxiety and uncertainty to the poem, highlighting the fragility of new beginnings and the lingering doubt that accompanies them.
In summary, "First Books" uses free verse, vivid imagery, extended metaphor, and an intimate scene to explore the emotions and uncertainties surrounding first-time experiences, drawing parallels between the world of publishing and the intimate moments of new lovers. The poem captures the universal essence of vulnerability and the hope for forgiveness in the face of initial imperfections.
The answer is correct and concise! Thank you!!
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