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Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing: All you Need to Know

Learn the art of storytelling with our comprehensive blog on the Elements of Creative Writing. Discover the vital components that transform ordinary words into extraordinary tales. Dive into character development, plot intricacies, and more as we cover the core aspects of crafting captivating narratives. Read more to find out!

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Whether you're an aspiring novelist, a poet, or simply someone who loves to pen down your ideas, understanding the key Elements of Creative Writing can significantly enhance your skills. In this blog, we will explore the top 10 Elements of Creative Writing that are essential for creating compelling and impactful written works, along with tips. 

Table of Contents  

1) The i mportance of Creative Writing elements 

2) Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing 

   a)  Imagery and descriptive language  

   b)  Character development 

   c)  Plot structure 

   d)  Dialogue and conversations 

   e)  Point of View (POV) 

   f)  Setting and world-building 

   g)  Tone and Style 

   h)  Conflict and resolution 

   i)   Theme and symbolism  

   j)  Editing and revision 

3)  Conclusion 

The importance  of Creative Writing elements  

Creative writing isn't confined to the pages of novels or the lines of poetry; it's a fundamental human expression that predates recorded history. It has been a conduit for cultural preservation, knowledge transfer, and emotional catharsis. But how exactly mastering these elements can improve your writing?   

Every art has its tools, and Creative Writing is no different. The elements we'll delve into aren't just guidelines; they're the building blocks that transform your words from ordinary to extraordinary. By understanding and mastering these Creative Writing elements, you'll be equipped to craft narratives that draw readers in, keep them engaged, and leave an indelible mark on their minds and hearts. 

Unlock your creative potential with our expert-led Creative Writing Training – Register now to ignite your imagination!  

Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing    

Generally, there are various Elements of Creative Writing, each possessing its own unique features. However, many forms of Creative Writing also share some common features. Here’s a detailed explanation of each element every Writer must follow:  

Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing

1) Imagery and d escriptive l anguage   

Imagery and descriptive language are the brushes with which writers paint vivid mental pictures for their readers. By skillfully weaving sensory details, you bring scenes to life and evoke emotions. The rustling leaves, the scent of freshly baked bread, the gritty texture of sand beneath one's feet—these details create a sensory symphony that immerses readers in your world.    

Metaphors, similes, and analogies act as bridges, connecting the familiar with the unfamiliar. Through them, you can compare the indescribable to the known, enriching your narrative with layers of meaning. Mastery of imagery and descriptive language transforms passive reading into an active experience where readers can taste, smell, hear, see, and feel the world you've created.   

Tips :   

a)  When selecting details, focus on the ones that have the most impact and avoid including unnecessary clutter.   

b)  Use metaphors and similes sparingly, making them truly resonate.   

c) T ailor your descriptions to the tone and mood of the scene or story. 

2) Character d evelopment   

Character development is the art of breathing life into your fictional personas. Well-crafted characters are not only relatable but also complex, with layers of personality, desires, flaws, and history. They drive the plot forward, compelling readers to invest emotionally in their journeys. Backstories provide context, explaining why characters behave the way they do.   

Effective character development allows readers to understand, empathise, and even dislike characters. The key lies in making them authentic and evolving. Just as people change, so should your characters. They learn, grow, and adapt, making their arcs believable and satisfying. The beauty of character development is in its ability to mirror the human experience, forging connections between fictional worlds and real hearts.  

a)  Explore your characters' pasts to understand their motivations and fears.  

b) Create a character profile detailing their appearance, background, and personality traits. 

c) Show character development through actions and decisions rather than telling.  

Creative Writing Training Course

3) Plot s tructure   

Plot structure is the architecture that holds your narrative together. Think of it as a roller coaster, with highs and lows that keep readers engaged. The introduction sets the stage, introducing characters, settings, and the initial conflict. Rising action builds tension, propelling the story forward. At its peak is the climax, the turning point that determines the characters' fate.   

Falling action allows for a gradual untwisting of events, leading to the resolution. Effective plot structure balances pacing, ensuring readers remain intrigued without feeling rushed. Twists and turns add surprise, while cause-and-effect relationships maintain coherence. A well-structured plot keeps readers invested, eagerly flipping pages to discover what happens next.  

a)  Introduce the main conflict early to hook readers' curiosity.  

b) Use cliffhangers and unexpected twists to maintain suspense.  

c)  Ensure each scene contributes to character development or plot progression.  

4) Dialogue and c onversations   

Dialogue and conversations are windows into your characters' minds and hearts. Natural and dynamic dialogue conveys information and reveals personalities and relationships. Each character's speech patterns, vocabulary, and tone should be distinct, reflecting their backgrounds and emotions .   

Through dialogue, conflicts can be ignited, alliances forged, and secrets unveiled. Subtext—the unspoken thoughts beneath the spoken words—adds depth and intrigue. Conversations can quicken the story's pace, providing relief from dense narrative passages. Dialogue-driven scenes foster engagement, inviting readers to eavesdrop on captivating interactions that fuel the narrative's fire.  

a)  Listen to real conversations to capture natural rhythms and speech patterns.  

b)  Use interruptions and nonverbal cues to make dialogue dynamic.  

c)  Balance dialogue with narrative to avoid overwhelming the reader.  

5) Point of View (POV)  

Plot structure

Point of view (POV) is the lens through which your story is perceived. The choice of POV shapes the reader's relationship with characters and events. First-person offers intimacy, allowing readers to see the world through a character's eyes. Second person immerses readers directly into the narrative. Third person limited provides insight into a character's thoughts, while third-person omniscient offers a broader perspective.   

Consistency in POV is vital; changing viewpoints can confuse readers. The chosen POV influences what readers know and when they know it. It also affects emotional connection and empathy. Selecting the appropriate POV requires consideration of the story's needs and the desired reader experience.  

a)  Experiment with different POVs to find the best fit for your story.  

b)  Consider the level of intimacy and distance you want between characters and readers.  

c)  Be aware of the limitations and advantages of each POV.   

6) Setting and w orld- b uilding   

The setting isn't just a backdrop; it's a dynamic element that influences mood and plot. A well-defined setting isn't merely a stage but an active participant, influencing characters and events. You transport readers to a different reality through meticulous detail, allowing them to immerse themselves fully.  

Effective world-building extends beyond the physical, encompassing societal norms, rules, and even magic systems in speculative fiction. The environment can reflect themes and impact mood. Whether in a fantasy realm or a contemporary city, the authenticity of the setting enhances the reader's experience.   

a)  Research settings thoroughly to ensure accuracy and authenticity.  

b)  Show how characters interact with their environment to convey their experiences.  

c)  Create a sense of place by using unique and specific details.  

7)   Tone and style   

Tone and style are the fingerprints that make your writing uniquely yours. The tone is the distinctive way you express yourself through words—a combination of tone, diction, and syntax. It reflects your personality as an author. Style encompasses sentence structure, pacing, and word choice, influencing the overall feel of your work .   

A comedic style might employ wordplay and witty dialogue, while a dramatic style could use evocative descriptions and emotional introspection. Finding your voice and style involves self-discovery and experimenting with different approaches until you uncover what feels authentic. A strong voice and style leave an indelible mark on readers, making your work instantly recognisable   

a)  Read more to familiarise yourself with different writing styles.  

b)  Practice writing in different tones to discover your preferred voice.  

c)  Revise with a focus on refining your voice; eliminate elements that don't align. 

8)  Conflict and r esolution   

Conflict and resolution are the engine that drives your narrative forward. Conflict introduces challenges that characters must overcome, making their journeys compelling and relatable. There are various types of conflict—internal struggles within characters, external conflicts with other characters or nature, and interpersonal conflicts between characters. Conflict creates tension, propelling the story toward its climax.   

The resolution, whether happy or bittersweet, provides closure and offers insights into the characters' growth. Well-crafted conflicts test characters' limits, forcing them to confront their fears, flaws, and desires. Through the resolution, readers witness the transformation and the culmination of the character's arcs. 

a)  Vary the types of conflict to maintain reader engagement.  

b)  Build tension gradually; escalate the stakes as the story progresses.  

c)  Avoid convenient solutions; resolutions should arise from the characters' choices and actions.  

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9) Theme and symbolism  

Theme and symbolism

Theme and symbolism lend depth and layers to your writing. Themes are the underlying ideas, beliefs, or messages that resonate with readers. They can explore love, friendship, power, or mortality, connecting the narrative to universal human experiences. Symbolism employs objects, actions, or concepts to convey abstract ideas, often adding an element of intrigue.  

A red rose might symbolize love or passion, while a broken mirror could represent self-perception. Themes and symbols intertwine, enriching the story's interpretation and emotional impact. Skilful use of theme and symbolism transforms a tale into an exploration of human nature and society.  

Tips:   

a)  Reflect on the themes that resonate with you and explore them in your writing.  

b)  Use recurring symbols to reinforce thematic elements.  

c)  Allow themes to emerge naturally from the characters' struggles and growth. 

10) Editing and r evisi on    

Editing and revising are the crucial phases that turn your initial draft into a polished masterpiece. Writing is rewriting; the initial draft is a raw exploration of ideas. Editing involves refining sentences for clarity, coherence, and flow. It ensures grammar and punctuation are correct. Revising delves deeper, examining plot holes, character consistency, and thematic resonance.  

Seeking feedback from peers or professionals is invaluable, offering fresh perspectives. The revision process is where your story truly comes to life. It's an opportunity to tighten narrative threads, enhance descriptions, and amplify emotions. Embrace the iterative nature of editing and revising; each pass brings your writing closer to its full potential.  

a) Revise in multiple passes, focusing on different aspects in each round.  

b)  Cut unnecessary details or scenes that don't contribute to the narrative.  

c)  Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and spelling to ensure a polished final product.  

Conclusion   

Creative Writing is a journey of discovery, both for the Writer and the reader. In this blog post, we've explored the essential elements that constitute effective Creative Writing. From the foundation of imagination to the nuances of dialogue, style, and conflict, each element plays a pivotal role in crafting a compelling narrative. By mastering these top 10 Elements of Creative Writing, you'll be equipped to create stories that resonate, inspire, and captivate audiences.  

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Writing Beginner

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

Creative writing begins with a blank page and the courage to fill it with the stories only you can tell.

I face this intimidating blank page daily–and I have for the better part of 20+ years.

In this guide, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of creative writing with tons of examples.

What Is Creative Writing (Long Description)?

Creative Writing is the art of using words to express ideas and emotions in imaginative ways. It encompasses various forms including novels, poetry, and plays, focusing on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes.

Bright, colorful creative writer's desk with notebook and typewriter -- What Is Creative Writing

Table of Contents

Let’s expand on that definition a bit.

Creative writing is an art form that transcends traditional literature boundaries.

It includes professional, journalistic, academic, and technical writing. This type of writing emphasizes narrative craft, character development, and literary tropes. It also explores poetry and poetics traditions.

In essence, creative writing lets you express ideas and emotions uniquely and imaginatively.

It’s about the freedom to invent worlds, characters, and stories. These creations evoke a spectrum of emotions in readers.

Creative writing covers fiction, poetry, and everything in between.

It allows writers to express inner thoughts and feelings. Often, it reflects human experiences through a fabricated lens.

Types of Creative Writing

There are many types of creative writing that we need to explain.

Some of the most common types:

  • Short stories
  • Screenplays
  • Flash fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction

Short Stories (The Brief Escape)

Short stories are like narrative treasures.

They are compact but impactful, telling a full story within a limited word count. These tales often focus on a single character or a crucial moment.

Short stories are known for their brevity.

They deliver emotion and insight in a concise yet powerful package. This format is ideal for exploring diverse genres, themes, and characters. It leaves a lasting impression on readers.

Example: Emma discovers an old photo of her smiling grandmother. It’s a rarity. Through flashbacks, Emma learns about her grandmother’s wartime love story. She comes to understand her grandmother’s resilience and the value of joy.

Novels (The Long Journey)

Novels are extensive explorations of character, plot, and setting.

They span thousands of words, giving writers the space to create entire worlds. Novels can weave complex stories across various themes and timelines.

The length of a novel allows for deep narrative and character development.

Readers get an immersive experience.

Example: Across the Divide tells of two siblings separated in childhood. They grow up in different cultures. Their reunion highlights the strength of family bonds, despite distance and differences.

Poetry (The Soul’s Language)

Poetry expresses ideas and emotions through rhythm, sound, and word beauty.

It distills emotions and thoughts into verses. Poetry often uses metaphors, similes, and figurative language to reach the reader’s heart and mind.

Poetry ranges from structured forms, like sonnets, to free verse.

The latter breaks away from traditional formats for more expressive thought.

Example: Whispers of Dawn is a poem collection capturing morning’s quiet moments. “First Light” personifies dawn as a painter. It brings colors of hope and renewal to the world.

Plays (The Dramatic Dialogue)

Plays are meant for performance. They bring characters and conflicts to life through dialogue and action.

This format uniquely explores human relationships and societal issues.

Playwrights face the challenge of conveying setting, emotion, and plot through dialogue and directions.

Example: Echoes of Tomorrow is set in a dystopian future. Memories can be bought and sold. It follows siblings on a quest to retrieve their stolen memories. They learn the cost of living in a world where the past has a price.

Screenplays (Cinema’s Blueprint)

Screenplays outline narratives for films and TV shows.

They require an understanding of visual storytelling, pacing, and dialogue. Screenplays must fit film production constraints.

Example: The Last Light is a screenplay for a sci-fi film. Humanity’s survivors on a dying Earth seek a new planet. The story focuses on spacecraft Argo’s crew as they face mission challenges and internal dynamics.

Memoirs (The Personal Journey)

Memoirs provide insight into an author’s life, focusing on personal experiences and emotional journeys.

They differ from autobiographies by concentrating on specific themes or events.

Memoirs invite readers into the author’s world.

They share lessons learned and hardships overcome.

Example: Under the Mango Tree is a memoir by Maria Gomez. It shares her childhood memories in rural Colombia. The mango tree in their yard symbolizes home, growth, and nostalgia. Maria reflects on her journey to a new life in America.

Flash Fiction (The Quick Twist)

Flash fiction tells stories in under 1,000 words.

It’s about crafting compelling narratives concisely. Each word in flash fiction must count, often leading to a twist.

This format captures life’s vivid moments, delivering quick, impactful insights.

Example: The Last Message features an astronaut’s final Earth message as her spacecraft drifts away. In 500 words, it explores isolation, hope, and the desire to connect against all odds.

Creative Nonfiction (The Factual Tale)

Creative nonfiction combines factual accuracy with creative storytelling.

This genre covers real events, people, and places with a twist. It uses descriptive language and narrative arcs to make true stories engaging.

Creative nonfiction includes biographies, essays, and travelogues.

Example: Echoes of Everest follows the author’s Mount Everest climb. It mixes factual details with personal reflections and the history of past climbers. The narrative captures the climb’s beauty and challenges, offering an immersive experience.

Fantasy (The World Beyond)

Fantasy transports readers to magical and mythical worlds.

It explores themes like good vs. evil and heroism in unreal settings. Fantasy requires careful world-building to create believable yet fantastic realms.

Example: The Crystal of Azmar tells of a young girl destined to save her world from darkness. She learns she’s the last sorceress in a forgotten lineage. Her journey involves mastering powers, forming alliances, and uncovering ancient kingdom myths.

Science Fiction (The Future Imagined)

Science fiction delves into futuristic and scientific themes.

It questions the impact of advancements on society and individuals.

Science fiction ranges from speculative to hard sci-fi, focusing on plausible futures.

Example: When the Stars Whisper is set in a future where humanity communicates with distant galaxies. It centers on a scientist who finds an alien message. This discovery prompts a deep look at humanity’s universe role and interstellar communication.

Watch this great video that explores the question, “What is creative writing?” and “How to get started?”:

What Are the 5 Cs of Creative Writing?

The 5 Cs of creative writing are fundamental pillars.

They guide writers to produce compelling and impactful work. These principles—Clarity, Coherence, Conciseness, Creativity, and Consistency—help craft stories that engage and entertain.

They also resonate deeply with readers. Let’s explore each of these critical components.

Clarity makes your writing understandable and accessible.

It involves choosing the right words and constructing clear sentences. Your narrative should be easy to follow.

In creative writing, clarity means conveying complex ideas in a digestible and enjoyable way.

Coherence ensures your writing flows logically.

It’s crucial for maintaining the reader’s interest. Characters should develop believably, and plots should progress logically. This makes the narrative feel cohesive.

Conciseness

Conciseness is about expressing ideas succinctly.

It’s being economical with words and avoiding redundancy. This principle helps maintain pace and tension, engaging readers throughout the story.

Creativity is the heart of creative writing.

It allows writers to invent new worlds and create memorable characters. Creativity involves originality and imagination. It’s seeing the world in unique ways and sharing that vision.

Consistency

Consistency maintains a uniform tone, style, and voice.

It means being faithful to the world you’ve created. Characters should act true to their development. This builds trust with readers, making your story immersive and believable.

Is Creative Writing Easy?

Creative writing is both rewarding and challenging.

Crafting stories from your imagination involves more than just words on a page. It requires discipline and a deep understanding of language and narrative structure.

Exploring complex characters and themes is also key.

Refining and revising your work is crucial for developing your voice.

The ease of creative writing varies. Some find the freedom of expression liberating.

Others struggle with writer’s block or plot development challenges. However, practice and feedback make creative writing more fulfilling.

What Does a Creative Writer Do?

A creative writer weaves narratives that entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

Writers explore both the world they create and the emotions they wish to evoke. Their tasks are diverse, involving more than just writing.

Creative writers develop ideas, research, and plan their stories.

They create characters and outline plots with attention to detail. Drafting and revising their work is a significant part of their process. They strive for the 5 Cs of compelling writing.

Writers engage with the literary community, seeking feedback and participating in workshops.

They may navigate the publishing world with agents and editors.

Creative writers are storytellers, craftsmen, and artists. They bring narratives to life, enriching our lives and expanding our imaginations.

How to Get Started With Creative Writing?

Embarking on a creative writing journey can feel like standing at the edge of a vast and mysterious forest.

The path is not always clear, but the adventure is calling.

Here’s how to take your first steps into the world of creative writing:

  • Find a time of day when your mind is most alert and creative.
  • Create a comfortable writing space free from distractions.
  • Use prompts to spark your imagination. They can be as simple as a word, a phrase, or an image.
  • Try writing for 15-20 minutes on a prompt without editing yourself. Let the ideas flow freely.
  • Reading is fuel for your writing. Explore various genres and styles.
  • Pay attention to how your favorite authors construct their sentences, develop characters, and build their worlds.
  • Don’t pressure yourself to write a novel right away. Begin with short stories or poems.
  • Small projects can help you hone your skills and boost your confidence.
  • Look for writing groups in your area or online. These communities offer support, feedback, and motivation.
  • Participating in workshops or classes can also provide valuable insights into your writing.
  • Understand that your first draft is just the beginning. Revising your work is where the real magic happens.
  • Be open to feedback and willing to rework your pieces.
  • Carry a notebook or digital recorder to jot down ideas, observations, and snippets of conversations.
  • These notes can be gold mines for future writing projects.

Final Thoughts: What Is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is an invitation to explore the unknown, to give voice to the silenced, and to celebrate the human spirit in all its forms.

Check out these creative writing tools (that I highly recommend):

Read This Next:

  • What Is a Prompt in Writing? (Ultimate Guide + 200 Examples)
  • What Is A Personal Account In Writing? (47 Examples)
  • How To Write A Fantasy Short Story (Ultimate Guide + Examples)
  • How To Write A Fantasy Romance Novel [21 Tips + Examples)

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Elements of Creative Writing

This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review , the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. We’ve selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing that has appeared in our pages over the years. Because we had a hand in publishing these pieces originally, our perspective as editors permeates this book. As such, we hope that even seasoned writers might gain insight into the aesthetics of our magazine as we analyze and discuss some reasons we think this work is so remarkable—and therefore teachable.

example of elements of creative writing

Cover image credit: Hannah Olinger, https://unsplash.com/photos/8eSrC43qdro Used under Unsplash license: https://unsplash.com/license Background image credit: Copyright University of Northern Iowa. All rights reserved.

example of elements of creative writing

Introduction

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Chapter One One Great Way to Write a Short Story

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Chapter Two Plotting

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Chapter Three Counterpointed Plotting

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Chapter Four Show and Tell

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Chapter Five Characterization and Method Writing

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Chapter Six Character and Dialogue

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Chapter Seven Setting, Stillness, and Voice

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Chapter Eight Point of View

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Chapter Nine Learning the Unwritten Rules

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Chapter One A Poetry State of Mind

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Chapter Two The Architecture of a Poem

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Chapter Three Sound

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Chapter Four Inspiration and Risk

Chapter five endings and beginnings.

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Chapter Six Figurative Language

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Chapter Seven Forms, Forms, Forms

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Chapter Eight Go to the Image

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Chapter Nine The Difficult Simplicity of Short Poems and Killing Darlings

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Creative Nonfiction

Chapter one creative nonfiction and the essay.

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Chapter Two Truth and Memory, Truth in Memory

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Chapter Three Research and History

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Chapter Four Writing Environments

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Chapter Five Notes on Style

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Chapter Seven Imagery and the Senses

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Chapter Nine Forms

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Back Matter

Contributors, north american review staff, resource collections, single resources, creative nonfiction: alison alstrom, "good morning, heartache", creative nonfiction: lucienne bloch, "365 new words a year: october", creative nonfiction: traci brimhall, "philematophilia", creative nonfiction: taylor brorby, "confluence", creative nonfiction: lee ann roripaugh, "notes on beauty", creative nonfiction: paul crenshaw, "fire", fiction: sarah cypher, "ghost town", fiction: marc dickinson, "three days discovered", fiction: frannie dove, "a twister on stage 14", creative nonfiction: samantha edmonds, "an incomplete list of sad beautiful things...".

  • isbn 978-0-915996-17-9
  • publisher Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa with support from North American Review Press. Funding for this project was provided through the University of Northern Iowa Textbook Equity Mini-Grant Program.
  • publisher place Cedar Falls, IA
  • rights Original textbook content (Introduction, Fiction, Poetry, & Creative Non-Fiction sections) is CC BY-NC 4.0. Readings and examples in Resources section are used with author permission; all rights reserved.
  • rights holder Jeremy Schraffenberger, Rachel Morgan, & Grant Tracey except where noted.

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Elements of Creative Writing

Elements of Creative Writing

Grant Tracey , University of Northern Iowa Follow Rachel Morgan , University of Northern Iowa Follow Jeremy Schaffenberger , University of Northern Iowa

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This is an Open Access book.

Description

This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review, the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. We’ve selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing that has appeared in our pages over the years. Because we had a hand in publishing these pieces originally, our perspective as editors permeates this book. As such, we hope that even seasoned writers might gain insight into the aesthetics of our magazine as we analyze and discuss some reasons we think this work is so remarkable—and therefore teachable. -- Provided by the publisher

Document Type

978-0-915996-17-9

Publication Date

UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA

Department of Languages and Literatures

  • Disciplines

Creative Writing

Object Description

Creative commons license.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Recommended Citation

Tracey, Grant; Morgan, Rachel; and Schaffenberger, Jeremy, "Elements of Creative Writing" (2023). Faculty Book Gallery . 531. https://scholarworks.uni.edu/facbook/531

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Creative Primer

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

Brooks Manley

Not all writing is the same and there’s a type of writing that has the ability to transport, teach, and inspire others like no other.

Creative writing stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination. Here’s how to get started and grow as you explore the broad and beautiful world of creative writing!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as:

  • short stories
  • screenplays

It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way . It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

5 Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing your creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share your perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces .

For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , you must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques.

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.

Screenplays

Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing.

If you’re interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you.

For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits – let’s take a closer look.

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages you to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This leads to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview , both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively .

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as you often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This leads to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings , allowing you to express yourself in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping you process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into your own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery , helping you to understand yourself and the world around you better.

So, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

4 Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start creative writing .

1. Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Editor’s Note : When something excites or interests you, stop and take note – it could be the inspiration for your next creative writing piece.

2. Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining:

  • the main points

Remember, this can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process. A plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

3. Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper . You can always refine and polish your work later. And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

4. Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling . You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice . Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Read Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques . Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practice Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice . Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attend Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like .

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing .

Start Creative Writing Today!

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

example of elements of creative writing

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

Here’s my favorite journal for 2024: 

the five minute journal

Gratitude Journal Prompts Mindfulness Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Anxiety Reflective Journal Prompts Healing Journal Prompts Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Journal Prompts Mental Health Journal Prompts ASMR Journal Prompts Manifestation Journal Prompts Self-Care Journal Prompts Morning Journal Prompts Evening Journal Prompts Self-Improvement Journal Prompts Creative Writing Journal Prompts Dream Journal Prompts Relationship Journal Prompts "What If" Journal Prompts New Year Journal Prompts Shadow Work Journal Prompts Journal Prompts for Overcoming Fear Journal Prompts for Dealing with Loss Journal Prompts for Discerning and Decision Making Travel Journal Prompts Fun Journal Prompts

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Last updated on Feb 15, 2022

7 Elements of a Story: How to Create an Awesome Narrative

If you're looking to turn an original idea into a story, you're in luck: thanks to the groundwork laid by storytellers over the years, we now know the secrets of creating an engaging narrative. You can turn the slightest concept into a gripping tale by mastering the seven essential elements of a story — theme, characters, setting, plot, conflict, point of view, and style.

To help you better understand how stories come together, here are seven elements you'll find in almost any story:

Story Element #1: Theme

Story element #2: characters, story element #3: setting, story element #4: plot, story element #5: conflict, story element #6: point of view, story element #7: style.

GsF4reOqsGE Video Thumb

Before you can work out what’s driving your characters or your plot, it helps to know what’s driving you to write this story in the first place. Is there an overarching lesson or message you want to get across? Are you looking to evoke a certain feeling?

A clear, artfully deployed theme will elevate your story beyond the sum of its parts and help it stick in the minds of your readers. Make sure you give those readers some credit, though: instead of spelling it out, weave aspects of your theme into other elements of your story and let them discover it on their own.  

Learn more:

  • What is the Theme of a Story? (Guide)

Your characters give your story the depth it needs to keep readers wanting more — they are, quite literally, the life force of your story. Their personalities and interactions with one another will naturally create conflict and drive your story forward.

elements of a story | still from 1985's Anne of Green Gables

Well-crafted characters will also make your story more relatable. If your readers can imagine themselves in your characters’ shoes — or recognize aspects of characters’ personalities in people they know — they’ll develop a stronger connection with your story as a whole.

  • Character Development 101: Writing Characters Readers Won’t Forget
  • 12 Types of Characters Every Writer Should Know

FREE RESOURCE

FREE RESOURCE

Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

The setting is the world in which your story will take place — this includes the broader locations and time, as well as more specific details like your characters’ school or workplace. You’ll often see writers transplant well-known plots into a new setting ( Romeo & Juliet in Space! Cinderella in 1960s Brooklyn!). Whenever this happens, the new environment always finds a way to influence and adapt the story into something new.

elements of a story | a still from 2021's Dune

While rich setting descriptions will captivate your readers, it’s important not to bore them with paragraphs upon paragraphs of pure description. As with the theme, weaving exposition into your story little by little will allow the reader to gradually create a mental image of your fictional world as the story unfolds, making for a much more immersive experience.

  • Setting of a Story: What Is It? And How to Write It
  • Worldbuilding: the Master Guide (with Template)

ORKI1h1xWLM Video Thumb

Now we’re getting to the main event — the plot, aka the things that actually happen in your story. In almost all genres (the exception being literary fiction), as your story progresses, the stakes for your protagonist escalate and lead to an inevitable climax.

If your plot comes across as a sequence of random events, your readers will tend to get bored or confused

This happened, then this happened, and then THIS also happened.

Instead, each point of your plot must happen as a result of a character's actions. 

This happened, therefore that happened, which then caused THIS to happen.

This pattern of "cause and effect" induces a sense of intrigue and suspense , making the audience want to find out what happens next.

FREE RESOURCE

Get our Book Development Template

Use this template to go from a vague idea to a solid plan for a first draft.

  • What is Plot? An Author's Guide to Storytelling
  • Story Structure: 7 Narrative Structures All Writers Should Know
  • Rising Action: Where the Story Really Happens (With Examples)

We mentioned rising stakes just now — the reason underlying this tension is your story’s conflict. Whether the source of this conflict is external, like an unyielding antagonist , or internal, like a moral struggle for your main character, it’ll be one of the most important elements of your story. Conflict creates tension by giving your protagonist some sense of purpose. It gets readers invested in the story, encouraging them to keep turning the page. 

If you're still not convinced, remember that every story always asks the same question:

Will the protagonist overcome their obstacles to get what they want?

In other words, conflict is story.

  • Internal vs External Conflict: How Conflict Drives a Story
  • How to Create Conflict in a Story (with 6 Simple Questions)

Your book’s point of view is the perspective from which the story is told. You’ve got a few options here, all of which have different impacts on the overall tone of your story. A close viewpoint like first person or third person limited will feel more intimate while ones that hold the protagonist at arm’s length (such as third person omniscient or second person ) may feel more objective and formal. 

FREE COURSE

FREE COURSE

Understanding Point of View

Learn to master different POVs and choose the best for your story.

The character you choose for your book’s POV can also determine the arc of the entire narrative. Take a murder mystery novel : telling the story through the viewpoint of the murderer (possibly an unreliable narrator ) will be drastically different than if it had been seen through the detective's eyes.

elements of a story | a still from Kurosawa's Rashomon

By choosing an unusual viewpoint character, you can completely upend how your plot unfolds, the central conflict, and how your audience sympathizes with certain characters.

  • Point of View: The Ultimate POV Guide — with Examples
  • Understanding Point of View (Free Course)  

Which POV is right for your book?

Take our quiz to find out! Takes only 1 minute.

Your writing style is the culmination of all the features that make your storytelling so unique — that’s everything from your pacing and tone to the specific words or phrases you use. While reflection and deliberation can help you refine your style, there really aren’t any particular criteria to determine what “good” prose means.

Take Ernest Hemmingway and Toni Morrison, two of America’s most celebrated authors — their writing styles couldn’t be more different. Hemmingway is known for his concise and straightforward prose, invoking scenes with a few sparse sentences. On the other hand, Morrison leans more towards rich and vivid imagery that relishes in the language. This goes to show that no style is better than another — as long as you’re being true to yourself, your personality will shine through and make your story one to be remembered.

  • 45+ Literary Devices and Terms Everybody Should Know
  • How to Find Your Author Voice (video)

So there you have it, seven essential story elements that any narrative can’t live without. Bear these in mind as you work on your book, and you’ll be a master storyteller in no time!

If you’re ready to take your story to the next level, check out our guide to professional editing to help you work out your next steps.

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Writing Tips Oasis

Writing Tips Oasis - A website dedicated to helping writers to write and publish books.

21 Top Examples of Creative Writing

By Rofida Khairalla

examples of creative writing

Let’s be practical: anyone can be a writer.

Sure, practicing the skill and perfecting the art takes a certain modicum of natural interest in the profession.

But the thing that so many people can often overlook is that being a “writer” isn’t defined by how much you write.

So many times we can get hung up on trying to write a bestselling novel or groundbreaking book that we can forget that there are so many other types of writing out there.

Take a step back for a moment and think about it this way:

Whether you have a blog, a social media page, or spend all day texting that special someone, there’s probably an inner literary genius inside you waiting to burst out on the page.

Maybe you don’t have the time or the patience to write a novel, and that’s okay. There are plenty of different types of writing out there and you can most likely find one category, or several, that allow you to get your thoughts on paper in a way that works for you.

If you’re curious to know more, or are just interested in trying out a new writing genre, we’ve made it easier for you by compiling a list of the top 21 examples of creative writing.

1. Novel Writing

A novel is probably the most popular example of creative writing out there. When you think “creative writing” an image of Stephen King typing madly at his computer is probably the first thing that pops into your head. And that’s okay. Given that novels have been a popular form of entertainment for centuries, it’s not surprising.  Typically what distinguishes a novel from other forms of writing is that novels are usually works of fiction that are longer in length and follow a set of characters and plot structure.

2. Short Stories

When it comes to examples of imaginative writing, not unlike its longer counterpart, the novel, short stories also follow a set plot and typically feature one character or a selection of characters. However, the thing to keep in mind about short stories is that they typically resolve in fewer than 50 pages.

creative writing examples

3. Flash Fiction

If you’re up for a real challenge, try your hand at some flash fiction . This type is similar to a short story or novel in the sense that it follows some form of a plot. However, flash fiction usually resolves within a few hundred words or less. There are a few kinds of flash fiction that exist: the six word story, the 50 word story, and the hundred word story. Additionally, flash fiction also has another faction known as sudden fiction, which usually tells a full story in about 750 words.

As an example of imaginative writing, the incredible thing about poetry is that there are so many kinds. From narrative to lyrical and even language poetry there’s so many different ways you can express yourself through a poem. You might be especially interested in pursuing poetry if you enjoy word play or experimenting with the musicality behind words.

Although rap is somewhat of a subcategory of poetry, it’s one of the few forms of poetry that can often get over looked in academic classes. However, it’s probably one of the more contemporary types of poetry available while still sticking to many of the classical rules (or tools) of poetry, including rhyme. Also, it’s one of the areas where the best writers are really produced. The reason for that is because rap forces writers to think on their feet in a way that many other genres don’t.

Playwriting is another great writing style to experiment with, especially if you enjoy the idea of seeing your work come to life. Typically, playwriting involves developing a script that both clearly sets the setting, plot, and characters while also minimizing the amount of description used. One of the key elements of a play is that it’s a collaboration of minds, even though they often don’t work together at the same time. Yet the final product, the performance, is always the end result of work done by the playwright as well as the director, actors and even set designers.

7. Scripts (T.V./Movies)

Like traditional plays, movie or T.V. scripts are often the result of collaboration between a team of people including the cast and crew. However, the big difference is that when you’re writing a T.V. or movie script , you’re often working together with the director and the actors as part of the production team.

Not a fiction writer? No problem! You probably have a unique story worth sharing: it’s called your life. Here’s the deal when it comes to memoirs: the biggest thing to remember is that not everything in your life is considered readership-worthy. In fact, most things probably aren’t. But, most likely, there is a unique angle or perspective that you can take when examining your life.

For example, if you have a really distinctive family history and you’re looking into exploring it, that could be a great subject for a memoir. Maybe you have a really interesting job that exposes you to lots of different people and events on a regular basis; you could write a book about your experiences in that field. The key to writing a good memoir is knowing what angle to take on any subject.

9. Non-Fiction Narratives

Of course, a memoir is just a subsection of a category known as the non-fiction narrative. But not all non-fiction narratives are memoirs. Take for example author Tim Hernandez, who wrote the book Mañana means Heaven . Hernandez writes in a style that is inherently descriptive and interesting, despite the fact that the book’s narrative is mostly based on research and interviews.

10. Songs/Lyrics

Another sector of poetry, songs and lyrics are also a great place where you can express your thoughts and emotions not only through words, but also through music. Whether you’re writing a love ballad or a hymn, there are lots of reasons to enjoy working in this genre. While a lot of this genre is relatively unrestrictive in terms of what you can create, it’s a really good idea to get familiar with the basics of song writing. Especially in an era where so much of the music we hear is impacted by technology, the more you know about the art of song writing, the freer you will be to experiment.

11. Speeches

Speech writing is another great way to express yourself and also reach a wider audience. The thing about speeches is that they are both a form of oral and written text, so the key to writing a really good speech is to take into consideration your phrasing, word choice and syntax. More importantly, the way a speech is delivered can really make or break its success. Practice strong enunciation, confident body language and invoking a clear voice.

12. Greeting Cards

You might hear a lot about greeting cards when people talk about how to make easy money as a writer. But the truth is, being a greeting card writer is anything but easy. You have to be able to keep the greeting card expressions short, catchy and, in a lot of cases, funny. However, if you’ve got the chops to try your hand at a few greeting cards, practice writing limericks and other forms of short poetry. More importantly, read lots of greeting cards to get an idea of how the best writers go about creating the really fun cards that you enjoy purchasing.

It used to be that blogs were the place where teenagers could go to express their teenage angst. But nowadays, blogs are also a great place to be if you’re a writer. There are an unlimited amount of topics you can successfully blog on that will garner attention from audiences. You can use your blog as a forum to share your writing or even reflect on current events, the stock market—really anything! The possibilities are endless, but the key is finding a subject and sticking to it. For example, if you decide to start a blog dedicated to rock music, stick to rock music. Avoid long tangents about politics or other unrelated subjects.

14. Feature Journalism

Feature Journalism is a great place to start if you want to get your feet wet if you’re interested in reporting. Why? Because there are a lot more creative aspects to feature journalism compared to news journalism. Feature stories typically allow you more flexibility with the kinds of details you put into the article, as well as more room for creativity in your lede.

15. Column Writing

If you like the idea of journalism but feel you could never be a journalist in light of your strong opinions, column writing is another avenue you can take. The thing about columns is that they’re typically based in ideas and opinions rather than fact. Yet, because columnists are considered experts in their respective fields, their opinion tends to hold more sway with readers.

As part of the non-fiction narrative family, the personal essay, or even the academic essay, has plenty of elements that are creative. Whether you’re writing about personal experiences or a science project, there are lots of opportunities you have to be creative and hook your reader. Even the most mundane reports have the opportunity to become interesting if you know how to present your topic. As with a lot of non-fiction writing, the secret to writing a good essay is all about your framing. When you begin writing, think about explaining the issue in the most engaging way possible. Just because your writing should cut to the chase doesn’t mean that it should be bland, boring or bogged down in technical jargon. Use anecdotes, clear and concise language, and even humor to express your findings.

17. Twitter Stories

With only 140 characters, how can you tell a story? Well, when you use Twitter, that’s exactly what you’re doing. However, a new phenomenon that’s currently taking over the site is a type of flash fiction called Twitterature, where writers tell a full story or write a poem in 140 characters or less.

18. Comic Strips

If you have a knack for writing and drawing, then you might be especially interested in working on a comic strip. Comic strips are harder project to tackle because they require a lot of preplanning before you start writing. Before you begin drafting you need to know the plot and have a strong outline for how the graphics will look.

19. Collaboration

This is typically a writing exercise that writers do with other writers to expand on their creativity. Essentially the way the exercise works is that one writer will start a story and another will finish it. You might be especially familiar with this kind of work if you’ve ever read the work of an author that was completed AFTER their death. However, collaboration is just another way you can bounce ideas off another person. You can also collaborate with other writers for world building , character development and even general brainstorming.

20. Novella

An example of creative writing, a novella is essentially the love child of a short story and a novel. Although the novella does feature a plot, the plot is typically less complicated compared to that of a novel. Usually novellas are about 50 pages.

21. Genre Writing

Another type of writing that fiction writers can do is genre writing. If you think of popular writers like Stephen King, Nora Roberts and James Patterson, then you’re probably familiar with genre writing. Essentially, genre writing is when a writer explores different stories in one particular genre, like romance, fantasy, or mystery. There’s a huge market out there for genre fiction, which makes it definitely worth pursuing if you a have preference for a particular kind of literature.

The important thing to keep in mind as a writer is that experimentation is never a bad idea. If you’re genuinely curious about one or more items on this list, give it a go! Some of the best literary works were created by accident.

What did you think of our list of 21 creative writing examples? Do you have experience in any of these types of creative writing? Do you know of any other creative writing examples? Please tell us more in the comments box below!

21 Top Examples of Creative Writing is an article from Writing Tips Oasis . Copyright © 2014-2017 Writing Tips Oasis All Rights Reserved

As a graduate from the University of Arizona in English and Creative Writing, Rofida Khairalla’s love for classical literature and post-modern fiction extends beyond the realm of books. She has provided her services independently as a freelance writer, and wrote on the news desk for the student-run newspaper, The Daily Wildcat. As an aspiring children’s book author, she’s refined her craft amongst the grand saguaros of the Southwest, and enjoys playing with her German Shepherd on the slopes of Mount Lemmon.

  • Material Detail: Elements of Creative Writing

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Elements of Creative Writing

Elements of Creative Writing

This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the  North American Review , the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. We’ve selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing that has appeared in our pages...

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This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the  North American Review , the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. We’ve selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing that has appeared in our pages over the years.

This textbook is designed to be used in a multi-genre creative writing class, but you can take or leave whatever parts you like. There is very little in the way of sequencing, so you can sample individual sections, chapters, or exercises as you find most useful. Because the book is an Open Educational Resource (OER), your teacher might also mix and match, adapt, truncate, or otherwise revise for their own purposes. You might also simply dip into some readings as an anthology of outstanding contemporary creative writing. We anticipate updating this textbook periodically with new work from the  North American Review .

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example of elements of creative writing

Creative Writing 101

You love to write and have been told you have a way with words. So you’ve decided to give writing a try—creative writing.

The problem is, you’re finding it tougher than you thought it would be.

You have a great story idea , but you’re not sure how to turn it into something people will read.

Don’t be discouraged—writing a compelling story can be grueling, even for veterans. Conflicting advice online may confuse you and make you want to quit before you start.

But you know more than you think. Stories saturate our lives.

We tell and hear stories every day in music, on television, in video games, in books, in movies, even in conversation.

  • What is Creative Writing?

Creative Writing is prose that tells a story featuring someone who wants something.

That person runs into trouble and begins an adventure, a journey, or a quest, faces obstacles, and is ultimately transformed—for the good or for the bad.

While Creative Writing can also educate and/or entertain, but it does its best work when it emotionally moves the reader.

  • Elements of Creative Writing

Writing a story is much like building a house.

You may have all the right tools and design ideas, but if your foundation isn’t solid, even the most beautiful structure won’t stand.

Most storytelling experts agree, these 7 key elements must exist in a story.

Plot (more on that below) is what happens in a story. Theme is why it happens.

Before you begin writing, determine why you want to tell your story.

What message do you wish to convey?  What will it teach the reader? 

Resist the urge to explicitly state your theme. Just tell the story, and let it make its own point.

Give your readers credit. Subtly weave your theme into the story and trust them to get it.

They may remember a great plot, but you want them thinking about your theme long after they’ve finished reading.

2. Characters

Every story needs believable characters who feel knowable.

In fiction, your main character is the protagonist, also known as the lead or hero/heroine.

The protagonist must have:

  • redeemable flaws
  • potentially heroic qualities that emerge in the climax
  • a character arc (he must be different, better, stronger by the end)

Resist the temptation to create a perfect lead. Perfect is boring. (Even Indiana Jones suffered a snake phobia.)

You also need an antagonist, the villain , who should be every bit as formidable and compelling as your hero.

Don’t make your bad guy bad just because he’s the bad guy. Make him a worthy foe by giving him motives for his actions.

Villains don’t see themselves as bad. They think they’re right! A fully rounded bad guy is much more realistic and memorable.

Depending on the length of your story , you may also need important orbital cast members.

For each character, ask:

  • What do they want?
  • What or who is keeping them from getting it?
  • What will they do about it?

The more challenges your characters face, the more relatable they are.

Much as in real life, the toughest challenges result in the most transformation.

Setting may include a location, time, or era, but it should also include how things look, smell, taste, feel, and sound.

Thoroughly research details about your setting so it informs your writing, but use those details as seasoning, not the main course. The main course is the story.

But, beware.

Agents and acquisitions editors tell me one of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make is feeling they must begin by describing the setting.

That’s important, don’t get me wrong. But a sure way to put readers to sleep is to promise a thrilling story on the cover—only to start with some variation of:

The house sat in a deep wood surrounded by…

Rather than describing your setting, subtly layer it into the story.

Show readers your setting. Don’t tell them. Description as a separate element slows your story to crawl.

By layering in what things look and feel and sound like you subtly register the setting in the theater of readers’ minds.

While they’re concentrating on the action, the dialogue , the tension , the drama, and conflict that keep them turning the pages, they’re also getting a look and feel for your setting.

4. Point of View

POV is more than which perspective you choose to tell your story: First Person ( I, me ), Second Person ( you, your ), or Third Person ( he, she, or it ).

Determine your perspective (POV) character for each scene—the one who serves as your camera and recorder—by deciding who has the most at stake. Who’s story is this?

The cardinal rule is that you’re limited to one perspective character per scene, but I prefer only one per chapter, and ideally one per novel.

Readers experience everything in your story from this character’s perspective.

For a more in-depth explanation of Voice and POV, read A Writer’s Guide to Point of View .

This is the sequence of events that make up a story —in short, what happens. It either compels your reader to keep turning pages or set the book aside.

A successful story answers:

  • What happens? (Plot)
  • What does it mean? (Theme: see above)

Writing coaches call various story structures by different names, but they’re all largely similar. All such structures include some variation of:

  • An inciting incident that changes everything
  • A series of crises that build tension
  • A resolution (or conclusion)

How effectively you create drama, intrigue, conflict, and tension, determines whether you can grab readers from the start and keep them to the end.

6. Conflict

This is the engine of fiction and crucial to effective nonfiction as well.

Readers crave conflict and what results from it.

If everything in your plot is going well and everyone is agreeing, you’ll quickly bore your reader—the cardinal sin of writing.

If two characters are chatting amicably and the scene feels flat (which it will), inject conflict. Have one say something that makes the other storm out, revealing a deep-seated rift.

Readers will stay with you to find out what it’s all about.

7. Resolution

Whether you’re an Outliner or a Pantser like me (one who writes by the seat of your pants), you must have an idea where your story is going.

How you expect the story to end should inform every scene and chapter. It may change, evolve, and grow as you and your characters do, but never leave it to chance.

Keep your lead character center stage to the very end. Everything he learns through all the complications you plunged him into should, in the end, allow him to rise to the occasion and succeed.

If you get near the end and something’s missing, don’t rush it. Give your ending a few days, even a few weeks if necessary.

Read through everything you’ve written. Take a long walk. Think about it. Sleep on it. Jot notes. Let your subconscious work. Play what-if games. Reach for the heart, and deliver a satisfying ending that resonates .

Give your readers a payoff for their investment by making it unforgettable.

  • 14 Types of Creative Writing 

Novels are fiction by definition. Lengths typically fall between 75,000 to 100,000 words. The author must create a story that can carry an entire book.

Novellas usually run between 10,000 and 40,000 words and typically follow a single character’s point of view. Otherwise, they tend to feature the structural and narrative elements of a full-length novel. Example: Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome.

Short Story

Short stories, including super short micro or flash fiction—which can be as short as just a few words, are usually between a thousand and five thousand words and thus must telescope the creative writing techniques and properties of a novel. This creative writing type gained popularity during the 19th century in literary magazines, and many such magazines still carry short stories.

Narrative Nonfiction

Also known as Creative Nonfiction, this form displays techniques and literary styles such as story and tone to convey emotion in nonfiction narratives. A common example is a personal essay.

Biographies capture the stories of individuals whose lives can provide a lesson to readers.

Autobiography

An autobiography is written by the author, about the author, following a chronological account of their life.

As opposed to an autobiography, a memoir emphasizes takeaway value to the reader and is thus theme-oriented. Readers should be able to see themselves in the anecdotes chosen to show life transformation. Creative writing techniques similar to those in a novel will bring the story to life.

Poets use traditional structures such as rhyme, rhythm, and subject matter to tell their stories. They can also experiment with prose-poetry or free verse.

Song lyrics

Song lyrics are another form of poetry, the aim being to tell a story in the fewest, most evocative words possible.

Speeches require creative writing to keep audiences engaged.

A blog is usually based on the writer’s own life and interests. The best ones tell stories readers relate to and interact with.

Journaling, usually intended for the author’s eyes only, can become, in essence, a creatively written diary.

Screenwriting

Screenwriting is a form of scriptwriting specific to television shows, films, and other visual media. Screenwriting relies heavily on dialogue to tell a story, but not exclusively. The writer must include action and response takes.

Playwriting

Playwriting is a form of scriptwriting specific to theater productions, again relying heavily on dialogue and action. Playwriting also requires stage direction suggestions for lighting, sound, and actors.

  • 11 Creative Writing Tips

In How to Write a Novel , I cover each step of the writing process:

Come up with a great story idea .

That may sound obvious, but make sure it’s compelling enough to draw you back to the keyboard every day.

Determine whether you’re an Outliner or a Pantser or a Hybrid.

If you’re an Outliner, you prefer to map out everything before you start writing your novel.

If you’re a Pantser, you write by the seat of your pants, putting, as Stephen King advises, interesting characters in difficult situations and writing to find out what happens.

I cover both types and how to structure a novel here .

And though I’m primarily a Pantser, I never start writing a novel without an idea where I’m going — or think I’m going.

Create an unforgettable main character.

Resist the temptation to create a perfect character, even if it’s a superhero. Main characters must exhibit human flaws to make them relatable.

For more on character development, check out my blog posts Your Ultimate Guide to Character Development: 9 Steps to Creating Memorable Heroes , How to Create a Powerful Character Arc , and Character Motivation: How to Craft Realistic Characters .

Expand your idea into a plot.

Regardless of whether you’re a Panster or an Outliner, you need some semblance of a structure.

Dean Koontz calls this the Classic Story Structure (in his How to Write Best-Selling Fiction ):

  • Plunge the main character into terrible trouble
  • Everything the character does to get out of trouble makes things worse until…
  • All appears hopeless
  • The qualities the main character develops trying to fix the trouble make him heroic enough to succeed in the end

Conduct your research.

The best fiction must ironically feel believable.

You must research to add flavor and authenticity.

One caveat : Resist the urge to show off your research by loading your story with every esoteric fact you’ve learned. Add specifics the way you would season food. It enhances the experience, but it’s not the main course.

Choose your Voice and Point of View.

Point of View (POV) is more than simply deciding what voice to use:

First Person ( I, me ), Second Person ( you, your ), or Third Person ( he, she, or it ).

It also involves deciding who will be your perspective character, serving as your story’s camera.

The cardinal rule is one POV character per scene .

For a more in-depth explanation, read my post A Writer’s Guide to Point of View .

Start in medias res (in the midst of things).

Grab the reader by the throat on page one.

Avoid what’s called throat clearing—too much scene setting and description. Get to the good stuff—the guts of the story .

The goal of every sentence, in fact of every word , is to compel the reader to read the next.

Intensify your main character’s problems.

Do not give him a break. Remember, conflict is the engine of fiction.

(For more on conflict, read my post Internal and External Conflict: Tips for Creating Unforgettable Characters )

Your main character’s trouble should escalate with his every attempt to fix it.

Make the predicament appear hopeless.

You’ll be tempted to give your protagonist a break, invent an escape, or inject a miracle. Don’t do it!

This darkest, bleakest moment forces your hero to use every new skill and muscle gained through battling those obstacles.

The more hopeless the situation appears, the more powerful your climax will be.

Bring it all to a climax.

This is where your hero faces his toughest test yet. The stakes must be dire, the prospect of failure catastrophic.

The tension that has been building throughout crescendos during an ultimate confrontation, and all the major book-length setups are paid off.

Note: the climax is not the end. The real conclusion ties up loose ends and puts the journey into perspective.

Leave readers wholly satisfied.

A great ending :

  • Honors the reader for his investment of time and money.
  • Aims for the heart.
  • Keeps your hero on stage till the last word.

Don’t rush it.

A fully satisfying ending drops the curtain with a resounding thud.

  • More to Think About

1. Carry a writing pad, electronic or otherwise. I like the Moleskine™ notebook . 

Ideas can come at any moment. Record ideas for:

  • Anything that might expand your story

2. Start small. 

Take time to learn the craft and hone your skills on smaller projects before attempting to write a book . A book is not where you start; it’s where you arrive.

Journal. Write a newsletter. Start a blog. Write short stories . Submit articles to magazines, newspapers, or e-zines.

Take a night school or online course in journalism or creative writing. Attend a writers conference.

3. Keep perfectionism in its place. 

Reserve it for the editing and revision stage.

While writing, take off that perfectionist cap and just get the story down. At that stage, perfectionism is the enemy of progress.

  • Time to Get to Work

Few pleasures in life compare to getting lost in a great story.

Learn how to write creatively, and the characters you birth have the potential to live in readers’ hearts for years.

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Just tell me where to send it:

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example of elements of creative writing

31 Stylistic Devices for Creative Writers

Today’s guest post is by Rose Scott:

Without figurative language , writing would be plain and shallow. The more stylistic devices you know, the more unique your writing can be. If writing is your passion, you probably already know a dozen or so stylistic devices, but I’m betting there are a few on this list you’ve never heard of.

Take a look at this comprehensive list of stylistic devices and see if any might work in your current WIP (work in progress). Of course, you want to be reasonable and not go overboard with forced prose. But I’m sure you can find great places to utilize these wonderful literary techniques.

1. Adnomination

Repetition of words with the same root. The difference lies in one sound or letter. A nice euphony can be achieved by using this poetic device.

Examples: “Nobody loves no one.” (Chris Isaak). Someone, somewhere, wants something.

2. Allegory

Representation of ideas through a certain form (character, event, etc.). Allegory can convey hidden meanings through symbolic figures, actions, and imagery.

Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell is all about the Russian Revolution. And characters stand for working and upper classes, military forces, and political leaders.

3. Alliteration

The repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of words, or the repetition of the same sounds of the same kind at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase.

Examples: A lazy lying lion. Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers. Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

4. Allusion

Reference to a myth, character, literary work, work of art, or an event.

Example: I feel like I’m going down the rabbit hole (an allusion to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll).

5. Anaphora

Word repetition at the beginnings of sentences in order to give emphasis to them.

Example: “Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.” (Martin Luther King)

Opposite: Epiphora. Word repetition at the end of sentences.

Example: “And that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (Abraham Lincoln)

6. Antithesis

Emphasizing contrast between two things or fictional characters.

Example: “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

7. Apostrophe

Directed speech to someone who is not present or to an object.

Example: “Work on, my medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught.” (William Shakespeare)

8. Assonance

Repetition of vowels in order to create internal rhyming.

Example: “Hear the mellow wedding bells.” (Edgar Allan Poe)

Related: Consonance. Repetition of consonants.

9. Cataphora

Mentioning of the person or object further in the discourse.

Examples: I met him yesterday, your boyfriend who was wearing the cool hat. If you want some, here’s some cheese. After he had received his orders, the soldier left the barracks.

Arranging text in such a manner that tension gradually ascends.

Example. He was a not bad listener, a good speaker and an amazing performer.

Opposite: Anticlimax. Tension descends.

11. Charactonym (or Speaking Name)

Giving fictional characters names that describe them.

Example: Scrooge, Snow White.

12. Ellipsis

Word or phrase omission.

Example: I speak lots of languages, but you only speak two (languages).

13. Euphemism

Replacing offensive or combinations of words with lighter equivalents.

Example: Visually challenged (blind); meet one’s maker (die)

Opposite: Dysphemism . Replacing a neutral word with a harsher word.

14. Epigram

Memorable and brief saying, usually satirical.

Example: “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” (Virginia Woolf)

15. Hyperbole

Exaggeration of the statement.

Example: If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.

Opposite: Litotes. Understatement.

Asking a question and answering it right away.

Example: Are you going to leave now? I don’t think so.

There are three types of irony:

  • Verbal (Antiphrasis) – using words to express something different from their literal meaning for ironic effect (”I’m so excited to burn the midnight oil and write my academic paper all week long”).
  • Situational – result differs from the expectation (Bruce Robertson, a character of Filth, is a policeman. Nonetheless, he does drugs, resorts to violence and abuse, and so on).
  • Dramatic – situation is understandable for the audience but not the fictional character/actor (audience sees that the fictional characters/actors will be killed now, though the characters don’t expect it).

Describing people/objects by enumerating their traits.

Example: Lock, stock, and barrel (gun); heart and soul (entirety)

18. Metalepsis

Referencing one thing through the means of another thing, which is related to the first one.

Example: “Stop judging people so strictly—you live in a glass house too.” (A hint at the proverb: people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.)

19. Metaphor

Comparing two different things that have some characteristics in common.

Example: “Love is clockworks and cold steel.” (U2)

20. Metonymy

Giving a thing another name that is associated with it.

Example: The heir to the crown was Richard. (the crown stands for authority)

21. Onomatopoeia

Imitating sounds in writing.

Example: oink, ticktock, tweet tweet

22. Oxymoron

Combining contradictory traits.

Example: Living dead; terribly good; real magic

23. Parallelism

Arranging a sentence in such a manner that it has parallel structure.

Example: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn.” (Benjamin Franklin)

Opposite: Chiasmus . An inverted parallelism.

Examples: “To stop, too fearful, and too faint to go.” (Oliver Goldsmith); “My job is not to represent Washington to you but to represent you to Washington.” (Barack Obama)

24. Parenthesis

Interrupting a sentence by inserting extra information enclosed in brackets, commas, or dashes.

Example: Our family (my mother, sister, and grandfather) had a barbeque this past weekend.

25. Personification

Attributing human characteristics to nonhumans.

Example: Practically all animals in fairy tales act like human beings. They speak and have traits that are typical of people.

A kind of wordplay. Here are a few types of puns:

  • Antanaclasis – repetition of the same word or phrase, but with a different meaning (“Cats like Felix like Felix.”—“Felix” catfood slogan).
  • Malapropism – usage of the incorrect word instead of the word with a similar sound (“optical delusion” instead of “optical illusion”).
  • Paradox – self-contradictory fact; however, it can be partially true (“I can resist anything but temptation.”—Oscar Wilde).
  • Paraprosdokian – arranging a sentence in such a manner so the last part is unexpected (You’re never too old to learn something stupid).
  • Polyptoton – repetition of the words with the same root (“The things you  own  end up  owning  you.”—Chuck Palahniuk).

27. Rhetorical question

Questioning without expecting the answer.

Example: Why not? Are you kidding me?

Direct comparison.

Example: “Your heart is like an ocean, mysterious and dark.” (Bob Dylan)

29. Synecdoche

Generalization or specification based on a definite part/trait of the object.

Example: He just got new wheels. (car)

30. Tautology

Saying the same thing twice in different ways.

Example: first priority; I personally; repeat again

31. Zeugma (or Syllepsis)

Applying a word to a few other words in the sentence in order to give different meaning.

Example: Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it.

Quite a huge list, right? With all these stylistic devices, your writing can potentially be so much more attractive. If you find it difficult to memorize them all, here’s what I recommend you do: make flashcards. Write a stylistic device on one side of the flashcard and its meaning on the other side, then work on memorizing a few a day. Voila! Enjoy your learning and writing.

Rose Scott head shot

Feature photo by Heather Wilson Smith

Have you been learning helpful insights on how to spot flaws in your fiction writing? Know some writers who might benefit from these in-depth posts? The book is out!

You can find  5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing on all online venues, in print or as an ebook.

Fatal Flaws ebook cover

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Don’t just give  any book as a gift this holiday season. Give  the book that will help the writers in your life become better writers! They’ll thank you!

Reviewers say:

“I wish I’d had this book when I wrote my first manuscript.”

“Every author needs this book on their shelf. From nothing happening to too much backstory to body parts behaving badly, this book has it all and tells you how to fix it with examples you can follow. Don’t have the money to hire an editor for your novel? Use this book, one of several in the Writer’s Toolbox Series, to mark your own book up in red. The fun part of this book is being able to read each entry and then determining what is wrong with it before you read the answer. Not quite sure what is wrong? That is okay, because the fatal flaw is fixed right before your eyes.”

“Another new and favorite part of the book is the checklist at the end of each chapter. I like having a quick wrap-up to check my work against. It’s great to rifle back through the detailed information after reading, but I’m more likely to use the checklists reminders over and over.”

“I have well over a hundred writing books on my bookcase and dozens more on my Kindle, but Fatal Flaws deserves to become the newest addition.”

“Got a feeling that something’s not quite right in your story? Maybe you don’t even know what it is, but you sense something’s not working? Get this book! It’s a mini-lecture series and workshop taught in a friendly manner. Your writing will significantly improve if you read this book and follow the suggestions.”

“This is an excellent study book for published and non-published writers alike. I love the fact that I got input five different editors. So many teaching books are written by just one person. Besides, where else can you get this much writing instruction for $4.99?”

Exactly! Our thanks to all who did an early read and review. Your comments will help others see the value of this comprehensive book. And may this book help you all to write awesome books in 2016!

~Susanne, Linda, Christy, Robin, and Rachel

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12 Comments

great post! thanks Rose, for a super stellar list of dynamic devices! i’ve saved the list for future and fair-constant reference. there’s always something good on this blog! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Oh man, it’s like Christmas has come early. I love posts like this – and I’ll both share it *and* copy it to my desktop ha!

Items I didn’t know about but immediately fell in love with: adnomination, anaphora, hypophora (I hadn’t realised, but I do this all of the time, which now seems pretty annoying!), and zeugma. Thank you once again!

Glad you enjoyed this post! Have a happy Christmas!

Thanks much for you “31 Stylistic Devices … …” I was in the process of writing a transcript when I sort of stumbled across the need to correctly define a scenario.

I did a quick surf, directly asking for what I wanted, this popped up. I scanned your list and had the “Eureka!” moment. “METAPHOR!”

It’s really great of you also sharing without obligation. We do a lot of that in our realm of things.

Okay! Thanks again! Please, have a great weekend!

P.S. For you Ms. Lakin. Thanks for making this site available! Please, have a great weekend, as well!

Thanks for the kind words! Glad you are getting some benefit from the blog’s content!

Do you have a list of stylised paragraphs? Not just the main 4 (descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive), but other types of paragraphs that apply rhetorical ornaments and devices.

Forgot to say thank you for this lovely and informative post.

Wow this post has boost my understanding of the analysing the prose techniques in a book. Thank u very much

I greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into constructing this list. I especially enjoy how you introduced me to unfamiliar and complex stylistic devices. I will attempt to incorporate these techniques in my future writing. Synecdoche is a wonderful device that I have not heard of before, I’ll have to steal it :P. Is there any way I can contact you? I would love to have a nerdy conversation about English!

Sincerely, Jenny Wales

It was interesting when you talked about how parallelism arranges sentences so their structure is parallel to each other. I’ve been wanting to find some poetry online to help me sort through my emotions from a loved one’s death last month. Thanks for teaching me these writing devices to look out for so I can understand the poems as effectively as possible.

Hi Rose I like your terms and I am using it on my writing my thesis on stylistics.

Actually, there are 32 stylistic devices in your list, since there are two no. 17.

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Fundamentals of Creative Writing

7 minutes reading time

A notebook, pen, and laptop

  • 03. Characters
  • 04. Setting
  • 05. Point-Of-View (POV)
  • 07. Dialogue
  • 09. Learn The Elements Of Creative Writing With An Accomplished Writer

Like any other form of writing, creative writing takes time to excel at. However, it may be complicated to grasp because of the layers that make up a good piece of creative work.

It demands a set of skills and elements combined to form valuable work. And an author cannot succeed in their creative writing career unless they use every aspect in their writing.

Therefore, if you wish to practice and master them, you should register for online creative writing courses .

In the meantime, here are the key elements of creative writing to brush up on:

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You might be thinking, what is creative writing , and how does it have themes? A theme isn't the plot of the story; instead, it is the fundamental message being passed on.

Themes are usually common narratives, which means readers can easily perceive the subject of the story regardless of the culture they belong to or the country they live in.

A few great themes for you to practice creative writing include:

  • Good vs. evil
  • Circle of life

While themes convey moralistic messages, they must never be openly instructive. This is known as didacticism – preaching a subject so openly that readers lose interest in the story and ignore its true meaning.

There may be primary and secondary themes in a story. And books for kids usually only have a single primary theme, which is the central message of the story.

However, books for older people might have more than one theme as adults are capable of greater understanding.

Furthermore, creative writing embraces two kinds of themes:

  • Explicit theme : A theme openly and directly stated
  • Implicit theme : An indirectly hinted or indicated theme

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A library stocked with books

Style in creative writing is defined as the kind of language used. A writer is responsible for creating a writing style as they put their words together to form a story.

Most story writers use a standard writing style. It might sound natural at first, but when you read it closely, you may realize that it is quite formal.

Utterances like "uh," are avoided, and the sentences are better tied together. Moreover, the use of contractions is also minimized. And as easy as it is to understand, it is nothing like conversational English.

Stories written in conversational style are informal as they sound like regular speech. The storyteller's part and the character's dialogues both sound like a normal conversation.

However, a decorative or unusual style of creative writing is used in historical fiction or extreme-fantasy novels.

Furthermore, the earlier editions of traditional English literature might have some examples of unusual writing styles.

But, unfortunately, old-age poetry also uses the same style, so it is pretty challenging to read and comprehend.

Log story short, authors use a various mix of styles to write captivating stories.

Character development is the most crucial element of creative writing! It is the element that explains your narrative to the readers and investigates your subject.

Yet, characters are more than that. They permanently reside in the memories due to the impact they make on the reader's mind.

Characters are often used to help the reader relate to the story. Readers connect themselves to the personalities in the novels they read, which creates a sense of intimacy.

Spending long hours thinking about the best possible character arcs is an essential element of composing fiction.

Any story holds two main types of characters:

  • Protagonists : The main character in the story's plot
  • Antagonist: The opposing force against the good character. This could also either be a person, civilization, nature, or destiny

Other characters in the story are considered side roles or minor roles. Therefore, they have little effect on the proceedings.

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A writer writing in her journal

The setting  involves the location and the era in which the story occurred, according to the writer.

However, it might not have as significant an impact on the story as other elements of creative writing have.

There are two types of settings in creative writing;

  • Integral setting is crucial and relevant to the plot as it inspires the kind of activities, characters, or subject that any other location could not have
  • Background setting, on the other hand, is comparatively less plot-pertinent. We can say that it plays the role of a bland curtain or regular scenery set in a theater

However, it depends on the readers to interpret the setting as they like. For instance, if the story should occur in a vast city, it could be considered an integral setting. This is better explained in these tips .

But other readers might perceive the same location differently because the story could occur in any city according to them.

The setting is still an essential element of creative writing as it simplifies conflict, highlights characters, and influences moods.

Furthermore, if the conflict is "human against nature" then, the setting can play the antagonist's role in the story.

Point-Of-View (POV)

Point of view is the storyteller's perception of the characters and events. In fictional stories, it is either shared by using a first person or third person speech.

The first-person point of view is always a self-witnessed opinion by the author, while the third-person point of view helps describe the events happening to other characters.

A plot is an artistic tool used by writers to structure the events in a story . It is the responsibility of the plot to introduce an occasion, event, or defining moment .

Then, this moment may lead to tension, struggle and bring up the primary narrative in the book. The plot always leads to a series of events that are associated with unlocking the dramatic mystery.

Often, it may also involve a conflict, which is usually the main fight between the protagonist and antagonist.

Either way, it is supposed to be a life-altering event for the protagonist as they either defeat their fears, foes, or inhibitions.

Meanwhile, the beginning of any story holds incredible worth. It needs to:

  • Catch the reader's interest
  • Define the characters
  • Lay the setting
  • Materialize the conflict mentioned above

Moreover, the beginning also weaves into the eventual plot of the story. This plot also ends up developing towards the ending of the story.

This is how a plot focuses on maintaining the reader's attention throughout the story. The goal is that the story leaves the reader with a feeling of fulfillment and content.

Another valuable element of creative writing is creating natural scenes. To compose great scenes in your tale, you must already be able to visualize them.

A writer needs to realize what their scenes will be about and what they want the characters to say – the dialogue!

Dialogues are not just about what the characters say; it is also about what they wear and where they reside.

A good writer figures these details out beforehand. However, if you are just beginning your creative writing career , you should focus on the following questions to comprise a great dialogue:

  • What details is your audience to be told?
  • Is there any information you can skip without hurting the quality of your piece?

Details are good; they allow the reader to imagine and see the writer's story practically. But adding unnecessary amounts of irrelevant information can curtail your writing progress.

This might also bore your readers and make them lose interest. Remember, the dialogue and scenes should always be moving towards the climax.

The last question you should consider is how you will compose your dialogue. If you wish to learn how to be a good composer, you must focus on your dialogues' tempo, sound, and fluency.

A collection of books laid out open

The tone is the most crucial element of creative writing as it sets a connection between the reader and the writer.

It can be described as the attitude displayed by the writer towards their subject of writing. To put it simply, the tone is the gravitas that you, as a reader, get from the author's writing.

You may have noticed that it is pretty difficult to describe the concept of tone. This is because the tone is the toughest creative writing element – it is easy to identify but harder to put into words.

Authors use various tones in their novels; however, humor is the easiest one to identify. Therefore, if you are trying to describe the style of your writing to a friend or professor, you should use adjectives like:

  • Straight-forward
  • Suspenseful

Learn The Elements Of Creative Writing With An Accomplished Writer

This might have provided you with a detailed understanding of the elements of creative writing.

However, if you wish to practice, learn and improve your writing, sign up with Superprof for the best creative writing classes.

Superprof is a platform where teachers and students can find each other. Enter your preferences and choose from a list of experienced professionals in your area.

You may find someone who will offer a free first lesson alongside flexible class schedules and creative writing guides .

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The Ultimate Guide to 12 Different Forms of Creative Writing

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When you hear the word “creative writing”, you might think of writing novels, telling stories, or something like that. But it turns out there are lots of different forms of creative writing.

Speaking of which, this exciting blog post will shed light on different forms of creative writing put to paper by the expert paper writing service provider . So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Different Forms of Creative Writing

Short story.

Structure:  Short stories often involve just one storyline and a relatively small number of characters, typically following one narrative arc.

Length:  Usually, these stories can be told in a few hundred to a few thousand words, so you can get the point across quickly.

Elements:  This story has all the key bits and pieces, like plot, setting, characters, conflict, and resolution, that make it what it is. Being so short, every word matters in getting the story across properly.

Forms:  Poetry comes in many different shapes and lengths. You’ve got your sonnets, haikus, limericks, free verse, and plenty more. Each one has its own rules (or lack thereof) when it comes to how it’s structured and rhymed.

Imagery:  Uses lots of bright pictures, metaphors, beats, and noises to stir up feelings and express complicated ideas in a few words.

Emotion and Language:  Frequently looks at how we feel, what we go through, what we notice, or problems in our society by using words with strong feelings and special literary techniques.

Scope:  It offers lots of opportunities for telling stories, with lots of different story arcs, loads of characters with complex personalities, and detailed worlds.

Length:  Novels are generally more lengthy than short stories, and they can have anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 words.

Genres:  Covers a wide range of genres, from romance and fantasy to mysteries, sci-fi, historical fiction, and beyond.

Flash Fiction

Conciseness:  It takes an expert storyteller to effectively tell a story or evoke emotions within a very short number of words, usually 1000 or less.

Punchy Impact:  Short stories usually try to have a powerful or unexpected conclusion because they’re so brief, using storytelling that packs a punch in just a few words.

Playwriting

Dialogues and Actions:  Emphasizes conversations, what the actors do, and how they act, to make the characters seem real in a theatre production.

Scenes and Acts:  Using scenes and acts to divide up the play, taking into account the performance dynamics and how the audience is reacting.

Screenwriting

Visual Storytelling:  Formatting for visuals such as movies or TV shows, putting together scene descriptions, dialogues, and actions to make an interesting story.

Technical Elements:  Needs an understanding of how to write a screenplay and how to time it for telling a story on the screen.

Creative Nonfiction

Factual yet Creative:  Mixing real-life stories or events with literary elements to create exciting stories.

Personal Reflection:  Often includes the author’s own musings, feelings, and emotions, making it more personal and easier for readers to relate to.

Personal Expression:  It’s a way to think about yourself, express yourself, and explore your feelings and ideas.

Varied Forms:  You can express yourself in so many different ways – from telling stories to being creative – to capture your experiences and thoughts.

Experimental Writing

Innovation:  Trying out different formats, structures, vocab, or ways of telling a story instead of sticking to the standard.

Pushing Boundaries:  They like to think outside the box when it comes to getting people’s attention and coming up with innovative ways to express their thoughts.

Epistolary Writing

Unique Perspective:  Share an account of events and characters by using documents, letters, emails, or journal entries. It’s a great way to get a personal and in-depth look.

Character Development:  This allows for the creation of more detailed and complex characters through their letters and conversations.

Songwriting

Lyrics and Melodies:  Uses stories and music to make us feel something and get the message across through songs.

Versatility:  This opens up different kinds of singing, from telling stories in a song to expressing yourself with poetic lyrics set to music.

Graphic Novels/Comics

Visual Narrative:  They combine art and story to make something interesting, using pictures and speech bubbles to tell their tale.

Panel Sequencing:  Uses panels and visuals to show a story, display character feelings, and present action.

Examples of Each Forms of Creative Writing

Creative writing examples are often the best way to master this art. Here you go with some examples.

Example of Short Story

“The sun set as the old man reminisced, painting the sky in shades of orange and pink. An elderly figure sat on a familiar park bench, memories like wisps of smoke playing in his eyes. A young girl’s laughter broke the silence, and the old man found himself entranced by their conversation. He shared stories of his younger days, of loves won and lost, and adventures taken. As the sky darkened, his mind was filled with nostalgia.”

Example of Poetry (Haiku)

“Beneath cherry trees,

Petals whispering their tales,

Nature’s fleeting grace.”

Example of Novel

“In the mystical world of Eldoria, where magic filled the atmosphere and mythical creatures were around every corner, Elara, a young magician, discovered an old prophecy written in a long-forgotten book. This prophecy stated that darkness was coming to their world, threatening to take it over. With her trusty sidekicks—a humorous thief and a reliable warrior—Elara set off on a dangerous journey to uncover secrets hidden in the past and protect her realm from impending destruction.”

Example of Flash Fiction

“The door creaked open, showing a room that was barely lit. The walls had old and worn-out tapestries hanging on them. There was a candle that was flickering on an old table, casting some creepy-looking shadows. Next to it was a note with some mysterious directions. It said, “Find me in the labyrinth of time”. That’s how the journey of the searcher began, searching for a way through the winding hallways and the forgotten memories of the past.”

Example of Playwriting

[Opening scene stage directions]

Location:  A bustling city street.

Characters:  LENA, a young artist absorbed in sketching; JACK, a hurried businessman.

Action:  Lena, perched on a bench, meticulously sketches the towering skyline. Jack, lost in thought and rushing past, collides with her, scattering her art supplies.

Example of Screenwriting

[Scene from a screenplay]

INT. COFFEE SHOP – DAY

Character: JESSICA (mid-20s), nervously sips her coffee.

JESSICA: “I never thought I’d see you again.”

MARK (across the table): “Fate has a way of surprising us.”

Example of Creative Nonfiction (Personal Essay Excerpt)

“The Himalayas took my breath away with their stunning snow-capped peaks, a reminder of how tough nature can be. I enjoyed the peaceful valleys and the crisp mountain air, and I also found something else – a chance to get to know myself better, all while taking in the beauty of the mountains.”

Example of Journaling (Reflective Entry )

“The rain was constantly tapping on my window today, like a slow, calming beat. Even though there was a lot of chaos going on outside, each raindrop seemed to take away some of my stress, leaving me feeling relaxed and peaceful.”

Example of Experimental Writing (Fragmented Narrative)

“She stepped into the hallway, a maze of memories, where time was all over the place. Every doorway reminded her of something from her past, a story that wasn’t finished. She could hear laughter, crying, and whispers that had been forgotten all around, telling a story that didn’t seem to have any kind of order.”

Example of Epistolary Writing (Excerpt from a letter)

“Hey buddy, I can’t put into words what I’m feeling, so I wrote it down instead. Read between the lines and you’ll get a better understanding of how strongly I feel about our bond.”

Example of Songwriting (Verse from a song)

“Underneath the starry night,

Dreams take flight, shining bright,

Guided by the moon’s soft light,

We’ll find our way through the night.”

Example of Graphic Novels/Comics (Comic Panel Sequence)

Panel 1:  A shadowy figure emerges from the mist, cloak billowing in the wind.

Panel 2:  The figure’s piercing eyes glow with an otherworldly power, illuminating the darkness.

Panel 3:  A sudden burst of blinding light engulfs the scene, revealing a mysterious symbol etched in the air.

Creative writing is more than storytelling and poetry. In fact, it includes songwriting, screenwriting, and more. This interesting blog post discusses 12 types of creative writing with examples for your understanding. Hopefully you have now a good knowledge of the 12 different forms of creative writing.

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Humanities LibreTexts

2.2: Elements of Creative Nonfiction

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  • Page ID 40374

  • Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

The main elements of creative nonfiction are setting, descriptive imagery, figurative language , plot , and character . The overarching element or requirement that distinguishes creative nonfiction from any other genre of writing is that while other literary genres can spring from the imagination, creative nonfiction is, by definition, true. As you complete the assigned readings in this chapter, keep track of the following elements as they arise in your readings: see if you can identify each of them. Learning these elements now will form a solid foundation for the rest of the class.

Each story has a setting. The setting is the place where the story takes place. Usually, an effective story establishes its setting early in the story: otherwise readers will have a difficult time visualizing the action of the story. Below is an example of how a writer might establish setting in a way which immerses the reader: by showing rather than telling.

Which of the above lakes would you want to visit? Which one paints a more immersive picture, making you feel like you are there? When writing a story, our initial instinct is usually to make a list of chronological moments: first I did this, then I did this, then I did that, it was neat-o. That might be factual, but it does not engage the reader or invite them into your world. It bores the reader. Ever been stuck listening to someone tell a story that seems like it will never end? It probably was someone telling you a story rather than using the five senses to immerse you . In the example above, the writer uses visual (sight), auditory (sound), olfactory (smell), tactile (touch), or gustatory (taste) imagery to help the reader picture the setting in their mind. By the final draft, the entire story should be compelling and richly detailed. While it's fine to have an outline or first draft that recounts the events of the story, the final draft should include dialogue, immersive description, plot twists, and metaphors to capture your reader's attention as you write.

an aquamarine alpine lake surrounded by trees with a snow-capped mountain in the background

"Eibsee Lake" by barnyz , 2 August 2011, published on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Descriptive Imagery

You have probably encountered descriptive imagery before. Basically, it is the way the writer paints the scene, or image, in the mind of the reader. It usually involves descriptions of one or more of the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste. For example, how would you describe a lemon to a person who has never seen one before?

activity: describe a lemon

a lemon cut into slices

"Lemon" by André Karwath (2005) is licensed CC BY-SA 2.5

Imagine you are describing a lemon to someone who has never seen one before. How would you describe it using all five senses?

One might describe a lemon as yellow, sour-smelling and tasting, and with a smooth, bumpy skin. They might describe the sound of the lemon as a thump on the table if it is dropped, or squelching if it is squished underfoot. By painting a picture in the reader's mind, it immerses them in the story so that they feel they are actually there.

Figurative Language

As a counterpart to descriptive imagery, figurative language is using language in a surprising way to describe a literary moment. Figurative language can take the form of metaphor, such as saying "the lemon tree was heavy with innumerable miniature suns." Since the lemons are not actually suns, this is figurative. Figurative language can also take the form of simile: "aunt Becky's attitude was as sour as a lemon." By comparing an abstract concept (attitude) to an object (lemon), it imparts a feeling/meaning in a more interesting way.

Plot is one of the basic elements of every story: put simply, plot refers to the actual events that take place within the bounds of your narrative. Using our rhetorical situation vocabulary, we can identify “plot” as the primary subject of a descriptive personal narrative. Three related elements to consider are scope, sequence, and pacing.

The term scope refers to the boundaries of plot. Where and when does the story begin and end? What is its focus? What background information and details does the story require? I often think about narrative scope as the edges of a photograph: a photo, whether of a vast landscape or a microscopic organism, has boundaries. Those boundaries inform the viewer’s perception.

The way we determine scope varies based on rhetorical situation, but I can say generally that many developing writers struggle with a scope that is too broad: writers often find it challenging to zero in on the events that drive a story and prune out extraneous information.

Consider, as an example, how you might respond if your friend asked what you did last weekend. If you began with, “I woke up on Saturday morning, rolled over, checked my phone, fell back asleep, woke up, pulled my feet out from under the covers, put my feet on the floor, stood up, stretched…” then your friend might have stopped listening by the time you get to the really good stuff. Your scope is too broad, so you’re including details that distract or bore your reader. Instead, focus on the most exciting or meaningful moment(s) of your day: "I woke up face-down to the crunch of shattered glass underneath me. When I wobbled to my feet I realized I was in a large, marble room with large windows overlooking the flashing neon lights of the Las Vegas strip. I had no idea how I got there!" Readers can expect this story will focus on how the storyteller arrived in Las Vegas, and it is much more interesting than including every single detail of the day.

The sequence of your plot—the order of the events—will determine your reader’s experience. There are an infinite number of ways you might structure your story, and the shape of your story is worth deep consideration. Although the traditional forms for a narrative sequence are not your only options, let’s take a look at a few tried-and-true shapes your plot might take.

Freytag's Pyramid is in the public domain

Freytag's Pyramid: Chronological

A. Exposition : Here, you’re setting the scene, introducing characters, and preparing the reader for the journey.

B. Rising action : In this part, things start to happen. You (or your characters) encounter conflict, set out on a journey, meet people, etc.

C. Climax : This is the peak of the action, the main showdown, the central event toward which your story has been building.

D. Falling action : Now things start to wind down. You (or your characters) come away from the climactic experience changed—at the very least, you are wiser for having had that experience.

E. Resolution : Also known as dénouement, this is where all the loose ends get tied up. The central conflict has been resolved, and everything is back to normal, but perhaps a bit different.

In Medias Res

While Freytag's Pyramid tends to follow a linear or chronological structure, a story that begins in medias res begins in the middle of the action. In fact, the Latin translation for this term most literally means "in the middle of things." This is a more exciting way to start a story in that it grabs the readers' attention quickly.

There I was floating in the middle of the ocean, the sharks with laser beams attached to their heads circling hungrily, the red lights bouncing off of the floating disco ball upon which I clung to for dear life, when I thought back to the events which led to this horrifying situation...

The best In Medias Res beginnings make the reader go "WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?" and want to continue reading. They will usually follow the following inversion of Freytag's Pyramid:

C. Climax : This is the peak of the action, the main showdown, the central event of the story where the conflict comes to a head. A. Exposition : Here, you’re setting the scene, introducing characters, and preparing the reader for the journey.

B. Rising action : In this part, things start to happen. You (or your characters) encounter conflict, set out on a journey, meet people, etc. C. Climax : the story briefly returns to the moment where it started, though usually not in a way which is redundant (not the exact same writing or details)

Nonlinear Narrative

A nonlinear narrative may be told in a series of flashbacks or vignettes. It might jump back and forth in time. Stories about trauma are often told in this fashion. If using this plot form, be sure to make clear to readers how/why the jumps in time are occurring. A writer might clarify jumps in time by adding time-stamps or dates or by using symbolic images to connect different vignettes.

While scope determines the boundaries of plot, and sequencing determines where the plot goes, pacing determines how quickly readers move through the story. In short, it is the amount of time you dedicate to describing each event in the story.

I include pacing with sequence because a change to one often influences the other. Put simply, pacing refers to the speed and fluidity with which a reader moves through your story. You can play with pacing by moving more quickly through events, or even by experimenting with sentence and paragraph length. Consider how the “flow” of the following examples differ:

A major requirement of any story is the use of characters. Characters bring life to the story. Keep in mind that while human characters are most frequently featured in stories, sometimes there are non-human characters in a story such as animals or even the environment itself. Consider, for example, the ways in which the desert itself might be considered a character in "Bajadas" by Francisco Cantú.

Characterization

Whether a story is fiction or nonfiction, writers should spend some time thinking about characterization: the development of characters through actions, descriptions, and dialogue. Your audience will be more engaged with and sympathetic toward your narrative if they can vividly imagine the characters as real people.

Like setting description, characterization relies on specificity. Consider the following contrast in character descriptions:

How does the “cry-smile” detail enhance the characterization of the speaker’s parent?

To break it down to process, characterization can be accomplished in two ways:

  • Directly , through specific description of the character—What kind of clothes do they wear? What do they look, smell, sound like?—or,
  • Indirectly , through the behaviors, speech, and thoughts of the character—What kind of language, dialect, or register do they use? What is the tone, inflection, and timbre of their voice? How does their manner of speaking reflect their attitude toward the listener? How do their actions reflect their traits? What’s on their mind that they won’t share with the world?

Thinking through these questions will help you get a better understanding of each character (often including yourself!). You do not need to include all the details, but they should inform your description, dialogue, and narration.

Point of View

The position from which your story is told will help shape your reader’s experience, the language your narrator and characters use, and even the plot itself. You might recognize this from Dear White People Volume 1 or Arrested Development Season 4, both Netflix TV series. Typically, each episode in these seasons explores similar plot events, but from a different character’s perspective. Because of their unique vantage points, characters can tell different stories about the same realities.

This is, of course, true for our lives more generally. In addition to our differences in knowledge and experiences, we also interpret and understand events differently. In our writing, narrative position is informed by point-of-view and the emotional valences I refer to here as tone and mood.

point-of-view (POV): the perspective from which a story is told.

  • This is a grammatical phenomenon—i.e., it decides pronoun use—but, more importantly, it impacts tone, mood, scope, voice, and plot.

Although point-of-view will influence tone and mood, we can also consider what feelings we want to convey and inspire independently as part of our narrative position.

tone: the emotional register of the story’s language.

  • What emotional state does the narrator of the story (not the author, but the speaker) seem to be in? What emotions are you trying to imbue in your writing?

mood: the emotional register a reader experiences.

  • What emotions do you want your reader to experience? Are they the same feelings you experienced at the time?

A Non-Comprehensive Breakdown of POV

Typically, you will tell your story from the first-person point-of-view, but personal narratives can also be told from a different perspective; I recommend “Comatose Dreams” to illustrate this at work. As you’re developing and revising your writing, try to inhabit different authorial positions: What would change if you used the third person POV instead of first person? What different meanings would your reader find if you told this story with a different tone—bitter instead of nostalgic, proud rather than embarrassed, sarcastic rather than genuine?

Furthermore, there are many rhetorical situations that call for different POVs. (For instance, you may have noticed that this book uses the second-person very frequently.) So, as you evaluate which POV will be most effective for your current rhetorical situation, bear in mind that the same choice might inform your future writing.

dialogue: communication between two or more characters. For example...

"Hate to break it to you, but your story is boring."

"What? Why do you say that?" he stuttered as his face reddened.

"Because you did not include any dialogue," she laughed.

Think of the different conversations you’ve had today, with family, friends, or even classmates. Within each of those conversations, there were likely pre-established relationships that determined how you talked to each other: each is its own rhetorical situation. A dialogue with your friends, for example, may be far different from one with your family. These relationships can influence tone of voice, word choice (such as using slang, jargon, or lingo), what details we share, and even what language we speak.

Good dialogue often demonstrates the traits of a character or the relationship of characters. From reading or listening to how people talk to one another, we often infer the relationships they have. We can tell if they’re having an argument or conflict, if one is experiencing some internal conflict or trauma, if they’re friendly acquaintances or cold strangers, even how their emotional or professional attributes align or create opposition.

Often, dialogue does more than just one thing, which makes it a challenging tool to master. When dialogue isn’t doing more than one thing, it can feel flat or expositional, like a bad movie or TV show where everyone is saying their feelings or explaining what just happened. For example, there is a difference between “No thanks, I’m not hungry” and “I’ve told you, I’m not hungry.” The latter shows frustration, and hints at a previous conversation. Exposition can have a place in dialogue, but we should use it deliberately, with an awareness of how natural or unnatural it may sound. We should be aware how dialogue impacts the pacing of the narrative. Dialogue can be musical and create tempo, with either quick back and forth, or long drawn out pauses between two characters. Rhythm of a dialogue can also tell us about the characters’ relationship and emotions.

Contributors and Attributions

  • Adapted from "Chapter 2: Telling a Story" from EmpoWord by Shane Abrams, Chapter 2, licensed CC BY NC 4.0 by Portland State University

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Examples

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example of elements of creative writing

A memoir is a personal narrative that captures an individual’s unique experiences and emotions. It delves into the author’s intimate memories, focusing on specific events or periods that shaped their life. Unlike autobiographies , which often cover an entire life span, memoirs zero in on a distinct theme or series of events, providing deep insights and personal reflections. This genre allows readers to see through the author’s eyes, offering a profound connection to their inner world.

What is a Memoir?

A memoir is a form of autobiographical writing where an author recounts and reflects on personal experiences and significant events in their life. It emphasizes emotional truth, focusing on a particular aspect or period, and provides a deep insight into the author’s personal perspective and growth. Unlike full autobiographies, memoirs are selective in content, creating a profound and intimate narrative that connects with readers on emotional levels.

Pronunciation of Memoir

The pronunciation of memoir is:

Here is a phonetic breakdown to help:

  • MEH (rhymes with “pet”)
  • mwahr (sounds similar to “war” with a soft ‘m’)

Purpose of a Memoir

A memoir serves several key purposes, both for the author and the reader. Here’s a closer look at why people write and read memoirs:

  • Self-Reflection and Insight : Writing a memoir allows authors to reflect on their life experiences, understand their choices, and recognize their personal growth. It is a therapeutic process that helps authors make sense of their past and often find closure or new meaning in events.
  • Preservation of History : Memoirs capture personal and historical events through the lens of individual experience. They preserve details that might otherwise be forgotten, offering future generations a unique glimpse into the past.
  • Share Lessons Learned : Authors often use memoirs to impart wisdom gained from their experiences. These lessons can inspire, motivate, and guide others facing similar challenges.
  • Connection with Others : Memoirs build empathy and understanding by exposing readers to the intimate realities of another’s life. They foster a deeper connection by illustrating shared human experiences and emotions.
  • Artistic Expression : Writing a memoir provides a creative outlet for authors to tell their stories through vivid narratives and crafted prose, showcasing their writing skills and artistic vision.
  • Raise Awareness : Many memoirs aim to highlight important issues, advocate for causes, or shed light on lesser-known conditions or communities. They can be powerful tools for social change by bringing attention to specific societal or personal challenges.

Elements of a Memoir

Memoirs, as a distinct form of literary non-fiction, incorporate several key elements to effectively convey personal stories and resonate with readers. Understanding these elements can enhance both the writing and reading of memoirs:

  • Narrative Voice : The author’s voice in a memoir is deeply personal and reflective. It’s essential for establishing authenticity and connecting with the reader on an emotional level.
  • Vivid Description : To immerse readers in their world, memoirists use detailed descriptions of people, setting , and events. These description help to recreate the atmosphere and context of the experiences shared.
  • Introspection : A memoir is not just a recounting of events but an exploration of the author’s inner thoughts and feelings. Introspection allows readers to see the author’s personal growth and the lessons learned from their experiences.
  • Structure : Unlike autobiographies, which often follow a chronological order, memoirs may have a more fluid structure. They might focus on thematic or episodic elements, weaving together various times and experiences around a central theme.
  • Conflict and Resolution : Central to any engaging story, including memoirs, is conflict—whether internal or external. The resolution of these conflicts provides a narrative arc and leads to a satisfying conclusion, illustrating the author’s development.
  • Dialogue : Effective use of dialogue can bring scenes to life, adding dynamism to the narrative and providing insights into relationships and character traits.
  • Honesty : The credibility of a memoir relies heavily on the author’s honesty. Openly sharing failures, weaknesses, and doubts helps to establish a trustworthy connection with readers.
  • Reflective Insight : Memoirs often include reflective passages that explain the significance of events and decisions. These insights help readers understand the broader implications of the author’s experiences.
  • Theme : Central themes in a memoir go beyond the personal to touch on universal truths, which help readers relate the story to their own lives or to larger societal issues.

Types of Memoir

Memoirs come in various forms , each focusing on different aspects of life experiences. Understanding the different types of memoirs can help readers and writers select the style that best fits their narrative goals or reading preferences:

  • Personal Memoir : This is the most common type, focusing on the author’s own life experiences. It explores personal growth, significant events, or a particular period in the author’s life.
  • Confessional Memoir : In this type, the author shares deeply personal and often painful experiences with honesty and vulnerability. It’s intended to reveal secrets, admit to faults, or discuss taboo topics, providing a cathartic experience for both writer and reader.
  • Professional Memoir : These memoirs center around the author’s career and professional experiences. They offer insights into a particular industry or profession, discussing successes, failures, and the lessons learned along the way.
  • Celebrity Memoir : Written by or about celebrities, these memoirs give insights into the lives of public figures, revealing behind-the-scenes details of their personal and professional lives.
  • Travel Memoir : This style focuses on the author’s travels and the adventures and insights gained from different cultures and places. It blends personal reflection with travelogue.
  • Spiritual Memoir : These memoirs explore the author’s spiritual journey, detailing experiences with faith, significant transformative moments, and the quest for spiritual meaning.
  • Historical Memoir : Combining personal memoir with historical context, these books provide a first-person perspective on historical events, offering a unique view of the past as experienced by the author.
  • Illness Memoir : These memoirs deal with experiences of illness and health challenges, often focusing on the author’s battle with a specific disease. They can offer support and understanding to others facing similar situations.
  • Adventure Memoir : Focused on tales of adventure, survival, or exploration, these memoirs recount extraordinary physical and psychological challenges faced by the author.
  • Family Memoir : These stories delve into family histories and dynamics, exploring relationships and ancestry. They can reveal secrets, trace genealogies, and discuss the impact of family on the author’s life.

Structure for a Memoir

Crafting a memoir involves more than just recounting events; it requires structuring those events in a way that enhances the storytelling and deepens the emotional impact. Here are some common structural elements used in memoirs to create a compelling narrative:

1. Chronological Structure

This is the most straightforward approach, where events are presented in the order they occurred. It is effective for stories that benefit from a linear progression, showing how one event leads to another naturally over time.

2. Thematic Structure

In a thematic structure, the memoir is organized around specific themes or topics rather than the sequence of events. This approach allows the author to group related experiences or reflections together, even if they occurred at different times.

3. Anecdotal Structure

This structure is built around a series of anecdotes or short stories that are loosely connected. Each anecdote stands alone as a complete story but collectively, they illustrate a larger theme or message.

4. Reflective Structure

Here, the focus is on the author’s reflections on past events rather than the events themselves. The narrative might move back and forth between past and present, showing how the author’s understanding of the events has changed over time.

5. Circular Structure

A circular structure begins and ends at the same place, often with the same scene or a reflection that ties back to the beginning. This approach can emphasize the journey’s impact and how it brought about change or led back to the origins.

6. Braided Structure

In a braided structure, two or more narrative strands are woven together. This could involve multiple timelines, stories, or themes that intersect and diverge throughout the memoir, enriching the overall narrative and providing a complex, layered reading experience.

7. Framed Structure

A memoir with a framed structure starts with a specific event or scene that sets up a question or a theme and then ‘frames’ the rest of the narrative. The bulk of the memoir works to fill in the background, eventually returning to the initial event to provide closure.

8. In Media Res

Starting “in the middle of things,” this structure plunges readers directly into a significant event or moment, then explores its backstory and consequences. This approach can grab attention from the start and engage readers by making them wonder how things came to be.

9. Non-linear Structure

A non-linear memoir deliberately scrambles the chronological order of events. This can create suspense or allow the author to connect different moments based on emotional impact or thematic relevance rather than temporal sequence.

Memoir Format

When formatting a memoir, writers must consider the overall presentation of their story to ensure it resonates with readers. The format of a memoir is crucial as it influences how the narrative is perceived and absorbed. Here’s a guide on how to format a memoir effectively:

Introduction

  • Purpose and Theme : Start by introducing the main theme or purpose of the memoir. This sets the tone and provides readers with an understanding of what to expect.
  • Hook : Begin with a compelling hook that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be a pivotal moment, a surprising revelation, or an intriguing statement that raises questions.
  • Chronological or Thematic Chapters : Depending on the chosen structure (chronological, thematic, etc.), organize the body into chapters that logically segment the narrative. Each chapter should focus on a particular phase of life, theme, or event.
  • Vivid Descriptions and Settings : Use descriptive writing to bring scenes to life. Include sensory details that help the reader visualize the settings and feel present in the moments being described.
  • Character Development : Present well-rounded characters by sharing their backgrounds, motivations, and changes over time. Even if the primary focus is the author, other characters should be depicted with depth and relevance.
  • Conflict and Resolution : Each chapter should ideally present some form of conflict or challenge and the resolution or learning that came from it, contributing to the overall narrative arc.
  • Reflection : In the final chapters, reflect on the journey. Discuss how the experiences shared in the memoir have shaped the author’s life and perspective.
  • Resolution : Tie together the main threads of the memoir, providing closure on key events and themes.
  • Final Thoughts : End with final thoughts that leave the reader with something to ponder, whether it’s an inspirational message, a philosophical insight, or a call to action.

Epilogue (Optional)

  • Updates : If applicable, include an epilogue to update readers on events or developments that occurred after the main timeline covered in the memoir.
  • Additional Reflections : This can also be a space for further reflections or revelations that have come with time and distance from the events narrated.

Additional Formatting Tips

  • Photographs and Illustrations : Include photographs or illustrations when relevant to enhance the storytelling and provide a visual dimension to the narrative.
  • Footnotes or Endnotes : If you reference historical facts, unfamiliar terms, or additional anecdotes, consider using footnotes or endnotes so as not to distract from the flow of the narrative.
  • Index : If the memoir covers complex topics or numerous locations and characters, an index can be helpful for readers to reference specific points.

How to Write a Memoir

Writing a memoir is a profound way to share your life’s stories, reflecting on personal experiences and the lessons learned from them. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you craft an engaging and impactful memoir:

1. Choose Your Focus

  • Identify the Theme : Determine the central theme or message you want to convey. This could be overcoming adversity, personal growth, a journey of discovery, or relationships that shaped you.
  • Select Your Stories : Choose the stories and events from your life that best illustrate your theme. Focus on those that have significant emotional or practical impacts.

2. Outline Your Story

  • Structure Your Narrative : Decide on the structure (chronological, thematic, etc.) that suits your story best. Outline the major parts of your memoir, including the introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Chapter Breakdown : Organize your outline into chapters, each focusing on specific events or periods in your life. This helps keep your memoir organized and clear.

3. Gather Material

  • Collect Memories : Use journals, letters, photographs, and conversations with friends and family to gather detailed memories and factual accuracy.
  • Research Context : If your memoir involves historical events or cultural details, conduct research to ensure accuracy and richness in your storytelling.

4. Start Writing

  • First Draft : Begin with a rough draft, focusing on getting your memories down on paper. Don’t worry about making it perfect on the first go.
  • Show, Don’t Tell : Use vivid descriptions and sensory details to bring your stories to life. Include dialogues and depict emotions to allow readers to experience the events as if they were there.

5. Develop Characters

  • Portray Real People : Develop well-rounded characters by portraying people realistically, including their flaws and virtues. Even if you are the central character, be honest about your own flaws and growth.
  • Relationship Dynamics : Explain relationships and how they have influenced your life, providing depth to the narrative.

6. Incorporate Reflection

  • Reflect on Events : Throughout your memoir, include your thoughts, reflections, and the insights you gained from your experiences. This adds depth to the narrative and helps readers understand your personal growth.

7. Revise and Edit

  • Revise for Clarity : Review your draft for narrative flow and clarity. Make sure each chapter contributes to the overall theme and purpose of your memoir.
  • Edit for Style : Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and style. Consider the voice and tone throughout the memoir to ensure they are consistent.

8. Seek Feedback

  • Get Beta Readers : Share your drafts with trusted friends or fellow writers. Their feedback can be invaluable in spotting issues and providing insights you might have missed.
  • Professional Editing : Consider hiring a professional editor to polish your manuscript, especially if you plan to publish.

9. Prepare for Publication

  • Decide on Publishing : Choose whether to pursue traditional publishing, self-publish, or use digital platforms.
  • Format and Design : Ensure your manuscript is properly formatted, and consider professional help for designing the cover and layout if publishing a print version.

10. Promote Your Memoir

  • Marketing : Develop a marketing plan to promote your memoir. Utilize social media, book readings, and interviews to reach potential readers.

Memoir vs. Biography

Memoir vs. Biography

Memoir vs. Autobiography

Examples of memoir for students.

Memoirs offer students a profound way to connect with real-life experiences and learn from others’ journeys. Here’s a list of ten engaging and insightful memoirs that are suitable for student readers, providing both educational and emotional growth opportunities:

  • Theme: Women’s education rights; overcoming adversity after being attacked for her activism.
  • Theme: Life during WWII; a Jewish girl’s experiences hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.
  • Theme: Childhood stories; whimsical and sometimes mischievous tales from a beloved children’s author.
  • Theme: Growing up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s; the power of writing and self-expression.
  • Theme: Resilience and survival; a girl’s nomadic and poverty-stricken upbringing with her dysfunctional family.
  • Theme: Fight against apartheid; Mandela’s journey from prisoner to president of South Africa.
  • Theme: Pursuit of knowledge; a woman’s quest for education despite her isolated and unorthodox upbringing.
  • Theme: Desegregation in America; one of the Little Rock Nine recounts the harsh realities of integrating a white high school.
  • Theme: Cultural identity and assimilation; a young girl’s move from rural Puerto Rico to New York City.
  • Theme: Consequences and redemption; how a young man’s poor decisions led him to prison before he found his way to becoming an award-winning children’s author.

Examples of Memoir About life

Memoirs about life offer readers a window into the personal experiences and reflections of the author, often providing insights into broader human conditions. Here are several notable memoirs that explore the intricate dynamics of life through various lenses:

  • This poignant memoir explores Didion’s year of grieving following the sudden death of her husband, capturing the profound moments of personal adjustment and reflection.
  • After a personal tragedy and the collapse of her marriage, Strayed recounts her journey of self-discovery while hiking over a thousand miles alone on the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • Smith’s memoir of her youth in New York City details her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe during the late sixties and seventies, reflecting on art, love, and the emergence of her music career.
  • Noah’s memoir provides a humorous yet insightful look into growing up in South Africa during apartheid, focusing on his life as the son of a black South African mother and a white Swiss father.
  • Walls offers a gripping account of her nomadic, impoverished childhood and her family’s eccentric nature, highlighting themes of resilience and forgiveness.
  • After a painful divorce, Gilbert sets out on a year-long journey across Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of self-discovery and healing, exploring different aspects of her life through food, spirituality, and love.
  • This memoir chronicles McCourt’s impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland, detailing his struggles with poverty and his dreams of a better life in America.
  • Wolff’s memoir describes his challenging early years, dealing with a nomadic and troubled childhood under the care of his mother and abusive stepfather, showcasing his eventual escape through academic success.
  • Burroughs writes about his bizarre and chaotic adolescent years living with his mother’s psychiatrist, in a household that disregarded conventional boundaries.
  • In this deeply personal memoir, Ward recounts the lives and untimely deaths of five young Black men in her life, weaving their stories into a larger narrative about race and poverty in rural America.

Examples of Memoir in Literature

Memoirs in literature provide a unique blend of personal narrative and artistic expression, offering readers insights into authors’ lives and the events that shaped their perspectives and artistry. Here are some exemplary memoirs from the literary world:

  • This literary memoir by Nabokov recounts his aristocratic upbringing in Russia, his emigration to Europe, and his insights into his family and formative years. It is renowned for its exquisite prose and rich detail.
  • Dinesen’s account of her life managing a coffee plantation in Kenya is a poignant exploration of colonial Africa, the landscape, and her relationships with the people of Kenya.
  • Angelou’s first memoir narrates her life from her early years up to age 17, detailing her experiences with racism, trauma, and eventual personal liberation. It’s a profound reflection on overcoming adversity through strength and self-expression.
  • Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s provides a vivid portrait of his life as a young writer during his formative years, including interactions with other literary greats like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.
  • Blending autobiography and mythology, Kingston’s memoir discusses the complexities of growing up as a female Chinese American, integrating her mother’s narrative tales with her own experiences.
  • Didion examines her life following the sudden death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, offering profound insights into grief and mourning, framed by her sharp critical and observational skills.
  • Wiesel’s memoir of his survival in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust is a powerful testament to the horrors of genocide and a poignant reflection on human cruelty and resilience.
  • This spiritual autobiography charts Lewis’s conversion to Christianity, exploring his early atheism, his various philosophical musings, and the personal experiences that led to his profound Christian faith.
  • In this graphic memoir, Bechdel explores her relationship with her father, her experiences coming out as lesbian, and her family’s secrets. It’s renowned for its intricate narrative and its portrayal of family dynamics.
  • Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this book delves into King’s experiences as a writer and his advice for aspiring writers.

Examples of Memoir for Kids

Memoirs written for children provide an accessible way for young readers to connect with real-life stories and gain insights into diverse life experiences. These memoirs often address themes of growing up, overcoming challenges, and discovering one’s identity. Here are some engaging memoirs suitable for young readers:

  • This poetic memoir shares Woodson’s experiences growing up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, exploring her family life, the joy of finding her voice through writing, and her awareness of racial tensions.
  • In this graphic memoir, Bell shares her childhood experiences with hearing loss and the challenges of fitting in and finding a friend. The book is both funny and poignant, presenting her story through colorful comic panels.
  • Dahl recounts his experiences as a boy from his summer vacations to boarding school adventures. His humorous and sometimes mischievous tales capture the essence of childhood.
  • This powerful memoir tells the story of Ruby Bridges, who, at six years old, became the first African American student to integrate an all-white school in New Orleans in 1960.
  • Kehret describes her experience with polio at age twelve, detailing her recovery struggles and the personal strength she gained through the ordeal.
  • Lowry shares her journey through personal photographs and memories, giving readers insights into her life that led to her becoming a beloved author.
  • This young readers’ version of Noah’s adult memoir offers a funny, moving, and inspiring account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid.
  • This dual memoir tells the story of an American girl and a Zimbabwean boy who become pen pals and forge a life-changing friendship.
  • Hamilton shares her inspiring story of losing her arm to a shark attack and her determination to return to competitive surfing.
  • “Guts” by Raina Telgemeier
  • A graphic memoir which explores Telgemeier’s childhood anxiety and stomach problems, illustrating how she learns to face her fears.

Examples of Memoir in Sentence

Here are several examples of how you might use the word “memoir” in a sentence, illustrating its application and context:

  • After retiring, she decided to start writing a memoir to share the tales of her adventures across the globe with future generations.
  • His memoir, detailing his years in the diplomatic service, provides an intriguing insider’s view of international politics.
  • The library hosted a reading session where the author discussed her latest memoir, which explores her struggle with identity and belonging.
  • Critics praised the memoir for its raw honesty and beautifully crafted prose that captured the essence of growing up in rural Ireland.
  • In her memoir, she recounts the challenges she faced starting a business in the tech industry, aiming to inspire other young women with entrepreneurial aspirations.
  • While researching for his role, the actor read several memoirs of war veterans to understand their experiences and portray his character authentically.
  • The memoir workshop encouraged participants to dig deep into their personal histories and find stories worth telling.
  • Her memoir goes beyond personal history, incorporating elements of cultural critique and philosophical musings on modern life.
  • Despite the controversy, his memoir sold thousands of copies in its first week, highlighting the public’s fascination with scandal and redemption stories.
  • She used her memoir to address misconceptions about mental health, drawing on her own experiences to advocate for better support systems.

What type of writing is a Memoir?

A memoir is a form of autobiographical writing that focuses on personal experiences and significant events from the author’s life, emphasizing emotional truth and personal reflection, often centered around a specific theme or period.

What to write a Memoir about?

Write a memoir about your transformative journey through unexpected challenges, finding resilience in the face of adversity, and the profound lessons learned along the way. It’s a narrative of personal growth, triumph, and the power of the human spirit.

What is usually in a Memoir?

A memoir typically includes personal anecdotes, reflections, and experiences from a specific period or theme in the author’s life. It delves into emotions, relationships, and significant events, offering insights into the author’s perspective, growth, and life lessons.

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Book News & Features

Ai is contentious among authors. so why are some feeding it their own writing.

Chloe Veltman headshot

Chloe Veltman

A robot author.

The vast majority of authors don't use artificial intelligence as part of their creative process — or at least won't admit to it.

Yet according to a recent poll from the writers' advocacy nonprofit The Authors Guild, 13% said they do use AI, for activities like brainstorming character ideas and creating outlines.

The technology is a vexed topic in the literary world. Many authors are concerned about the use of their copyrighted material in generative AI models. At the same time, some are actively using these technologies — even attempting to train AI models on their own works.

These experiments, though limited, are teaching their authors new things about creativity.

Best known as the author of technology and business-oriented non-fiction books like The Long Tail, lately Chris Anderson has been trying his hand at fiction. Anderson is working on his second novel, about drone warfare.

He says he wants to put generative AI technology to the test.

"I wanted to see whether in fact AI can do more than just help me organize my thoughts, but actually start injecting new thoughts," Anderson says.

Anderson says he fed parts of his first novel into an AI writing platform to help him write this new one. The system surprised him by moving his opening scene from a corporate meeting room to a karaoke bar.

Authors push back on the growing number of AI 'scam' books on Amazon

"And I was like, you know? That could work!" Anderson says. "I ended up writing the scene myself. But the idea was the AI's."

Anderson says he didn't use a single actual word the AI platform generated. The sentences were grammatically correct, he says, but fell way short in terms of replicating his writing style. Although he admits to being disappointed, Anderson says ultimately he's OK with having to do some of the heavy lifting himself: "Maybe that's just the universe telling me that writing actually involves the act of writing."

Training an AI model to imitate style

It's very hard for off-the-shelf AI models like GPT and Claude to emulate contemporary literary authors' styles.

The authors NPR talked with say that's because these models are predominantly trained on content scraped from the Internet like news articles, Wikipedia entries and how-to manuals — standard, non-literary prose.

But some authors, like Sasha Stiles , say they have been able to make these systems suit their stylistic needs.

"There are moments where I do ask my machine collaborator to write something and then I use what's come out verbatim," Stiles says.

The poet and AI researcher says she wanted to make the off-the-shelf AI models she'd been experimenting with for years more responsive to her own poetic voice.

So she started customizing them by inputting her finished poems, drafts, and research notes.

"All with the intention to sort of mentor a bespoke poetic alter ego," Stiles says.

She has collaborated with this bespoke poetic alter ego on a variety of projects, including Technelegy (2021), a volume of poetry published by Black Spring Press; and " Repetae: Again, Again ," a multimedia poem created last year for luxury fashion brand Gucci.

Stiles says working with her AI persona has led her to ask questions about whether what she's doing is in fact poetic, and where the line falls between the human and the machine.

read it again… pic.twitter.com/sAs2xhdufD — Sasha Stiles | AI alter ego Technelegy ✍️🤖 (@sashastiles) November 28, 2023

"It's been really a provocative thing to be able to use these tools to create poetry," she says.

Potential issues come with these experiments

These types of experiments are also provocative in another way. Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger says she's not opposed to authors training AI models on their own writing.

"If you're using AI to create derivative works of your own work, that is completely acceptable," Rasenberger says.

Thousands of authors urge AI companies to stop using work without permission

Thousands of authors urge AI companies to stop using work without permission

But building an AI system that responds fluently to user prompts requires vast amounts of training data. So the foundational AI models that underpin most of these investigations in literary style may contain copyrighted works.

Rasenberger pointed to the recent wave of lawsuits brought by authors alleging AI companies trained their models on unauthorized copies of articles and books.

"If the output does in fact contain other people's works, that creates real ethical concerns," she says. "Because that you should be getting permission for."

Circumventing ethical problems while being creative

Award-winning speculative fiction writer Ken Liu says he wanted to circumvent these ethical problems, while at the same time creating new aesthetic possibilities using AI.

So the former software engineer and lawyer attempted to train an AI model solely on his own output. He says he fed all of his short stories and novels into the system — and nothing else.

Liu says he knew this approach was doomed to fail.

That's because the entire life's work of any single writer simply doesn't contain enough words to produce a viable so-called large language model.

"I don't care how prolific you are," Liu says. "It's just not going to work."

Liu's AI system built only on his own writing produced predictable results.

"It barely generated any phrases, even," Liu says. "A lot of it was just gibberish."

Yet for Liu, that was the point. He put this gibberish to work in a short story. 50 Things Every AI Working With Humans Should Know , published in Uncanny Magazine in 2020, is a meditation on what it means to be human from the perspective of a machine.

"Dinoted concentration crusch the dead gods," is an example of one line in Liu's story generated by his custom-built AI model. "A man reached the torch for something darker perified it seemed the billboding," is another.

Liu continues to experiment with AI. He says the technology shows promise, but is still very limited. If anything, he says, his experiments have reaffirmed why human art matters.

"So what is the point of experimenting with AIs?" Liu says. "The point for me really is about pushing the boundaries of what is art."

Audio and digital stories edited by Meghan Collins Sullivan .

  • large language model
  • mary rasenberger
  • chris anderson
  • sasha stiles
  • authors guild

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  1. Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing: Explained

    2) Top 10 Elements of Creative Writing. a) Imagery and descriptive language. b) Character development. c) Plot structure. d) Dialogue and conversations. e) Point of View (POV) f) Setting and world-building. g) Tone and Style. h) Conflict and resolution.

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

    Creative writing is an art form that transcends traditional literature boundaries. It includes professional, journalistic, academic, and technical writing. This type of writing emphasizes narrative craft, character development, and literary tropes. It also explores poetry and poetics traditions.

  3. Elements of Creative Writing

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

  4. 10 Types of Creative Writing (with Examples You'll Love)

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

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

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

  6. PDF Creative Writing Fundamentals

    Creative Writing is a very subjective discipline and mode of writing. However, there are some universal elements to consider and strengthen, no matter what genre you wish to write in. This guide will briefly go over images, voice, setting and story, which are central to any kind of Creative ... Example from Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights by ...

  7. Creative Writing

    The eight elements of creative writing that are used in short stories and novels are character development, setting, plot, conflict, theme, point of view, tone, and style. Some of these elements ...

  8. Elements of Creative Writing

    This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review , the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. <br><br>We've selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing ...

  9. "Elements of Creative Writing" by Grant Tracey, Rachel Morgan et al

    This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review, the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. We've selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing that has ...

  10. All The Elements Of Creative Writing (Complete Guide)

    Some of the most common elements of creative writing include creating believable characters, developing a strong plot, and using descriptive language to evoke emotion in the reader. Additionally ...

  11. What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer's Toolbox

    5 Key Characteristics of Creative Writing. Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression: 1. Imagination and Creativity:Creative writing is all about harnessing your creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work.

  12. The Important Elements of Creative Writing You Should Know

    The Elements of Creative WritingYou Should Know Characterization. Development: Characters with a range of features including emotions, depth, and complexity can capture readers' attention and propel the story along.Character development is an important element of creative writing! Arcs and Growth: The development of characters throughout the narrative can create an interesting journey that ...

  13. Creative Writing Examples (20 Types for You to Try)

    Authors will often use creative storytelling or creative writing skills to tell engaging, interesting stories, or to convey information in an interesting manner. The Creative Pen by Joanna Penn. The Artist's Road by Patrick Ross. terribleminds by Chuck Wendig.

  14. 7 Elements of a Story: How to Create an Awesome Narrative

    Click to tweet! To help you better understand how stories come together, here are seven elements you'll find in almost any story: Story Element #1: Theme. Story Element #2: Characters. Story Element #3: Setting. Story Element #4: Plot. Story Element #5: Conflict. Story Element #6: Point of view.

  15. 21 Top Examples of Creative Writing

    As part of the non-fiction narrative family, the personal essay, or even the academic essay, has plenty of elements that are creative. Whether you're writing about personal experiences or a science project, there are lots of opportunities you have to be creative and hook your reader. ... An example of creative writing, a novella is ...

  16. Elements of Creative Writing

    This free and open access textbook introduces new writers to some basic elements of the craft of creative writing. The authors—Rachel Morgan, Jeremy Schraffenberger, and Grant Tracey—are editors of the North American Review, the oldest and one of the most well-regarded literary magazines in the United States. We've selected nearly all of our readings and examples from writing that has ...

  17. Creative Writing 101

    Elements of Creative Writing. Writing a story is much like building a house. You may have all the right tools and design ideas, but if your foundation isn't solid, even the most beautiful structure won't stand. ... Otherwise, they tend to feature the structural and narrative elements of a full-length novel. Example: Edith Wharton's Ethan ...

  18. 31 Stylistic Devices for Creative Writers

    4. Allusion. Reference to a myth, character, literary work, work of art, or an event. Example: I feel like I'm going down the rabbit hole (an allusion to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll). 5. Anaphora. Word repetition at the beginnings of sentences in order to give emphasis to them.

  19. What Are The Elements Of Creative Writing?

    Tone. The tone is the most crucial element of creative writing as it sets a connection between the reader and the writer. It can be described as the attitude displayed by the writer towards their subject of writing. To put it simply, the tone is the gravitas that you, as a reader, get from the author's writing.

  20. 6 Elements of Good Fiction Writing

    6 Elements of Good Fiction Writing. Fiction stories have captured our collective imagination for centuries. Learning to write fiction can be an incredibly rewarding and exciting journey for new writers. Understanding the basic elements of fiction books and stories will go a long way in preparing you to write your own pieces.

  21. Forms of Creative Writing

    Different Forms of Creative Writing Short Story. Structure: Short stories often involve just one storyline and a relatively small number of characters, typically following one narrative arc. Length: Usually, these stories can be told in a few hundred to a few thousand words, so you can get the point across quickly. Elements: This story has all the key bits and pieces, like plot, setting ...

  22. 2.2: Elements of Creative Nonfiction

    Contributors and Attributions. The main elements of creative nonfiction are setting, descriptive imagery, figurative language, plot, and character. The overarching element or requirement that distinguishes creative nonfiction from any other genre of writing is that while other literary genres can spring from the imagination, creative nonfiction ...

  23. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects.

  24. Memoir

    Elements of a Memoir. Memoirs, as a distinct form of literary non-fiction, incorporate several key elements to effectively convey personal stories and resonate with readers. Understanding these elements can enhance both the writing and reading of memoirs: Narrative Voice: The author's voice in a memoir is deeply personal and reflective. It ...

  25. Authors feed their own literary works into AI models for the sake of

    The vast majority of authors don't use artificial intelligence as part of their creative process — or at least won't admit to it. Yet according to a recent poll from the writers' advocacy ...