One might think that creative writing is actually easy. “After all, you only need to develop a good story and tell it,” some believe. But if you’ve ever had to do a fiction writing assignment, you know this couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s not just about being imaginative or thinking outside the box. You may have an intriguing plot, but if you don’t have a guiding theme or good character development, your writing can leave much to be desired.
There is nothing to worry about if you think you have the imagination but still need to polish your creative writing skills!
Especially when starting, the creative writing experience can be complex, uncertain, and filled with writers’ blocks. You may have questions such as: What should I focus on if I want to tell a good story? How can I create better characters? How can I keep the reader invested in my writing?
Even if your creative writing skills improve with practice, there are a few tips you need to have in mind to start making a difference as soon as possible. You want those tips, and you have found them!
Here at Gradehacker, we are experts in all types of writing. We have years of experience helping non-traditional students in their literary studies essays and classes, and we want you to become the best creative writer you can be.
That’s why we are sharing the best five hacks to improve your creative writing.
So, let’s first answer the most basic question.
What is Creative Writing?
Creative writing is the writing in which you develop a subject, usually by telling a story, with creativity and imagination.
Contrary to academic writing, critical thinking or technical skills are not required. Even though all skills can be helpful, creative writing goes further away from the formality and factual process of writing an academic essay. It requires innovation and out-of-the-box thinking skills to develop an interesting story with strong written visuals, complex characters, and clear themes that can evoke specific emotions in the reader.
Creative writing can be fiction or nonfiction and can be written in tons of different forms: short stories, novels, poems, screenplays, comics, and more!
While both styles share some elements, it’s worth mentioning that we’ll be mainly focusing on fiction writing.
What Are The Elements of Creative Writing?
If you want to enhance your skills truly, you must understand the elements of creative writing.
To write an outstanding story, you should always develop each of these elements in-depth. It may sound hard at first, but you’ll see how greatly it benefits your writing once you finish it. This is because all elements are related, and the more you focus on each, the more the others will improve.
Now that we understand what creative writing is and what elements we need to consider, we can start with the tips.
1. Choose a Theme From The Start
The theme is the soul of writing, and it’s the true meaning behind a story; and the message that adds your unique touch to the creative writing sphere.
Some critics argue that the theme is not as important as it used to be. Instead, readers of contemporary literature now find it sufficient to have a cohesive story with proper plot development.
So, you should always start by defining the theme you’ll be covering. Not only will it make your work stand out from the rest, but it will also help you shape the rest of your writing. Once you have the theme, it will be easier to create your characters, visualize the setting, and organize how all of these elements can merge into a well-defined plot.
2. Develop Thoroughly Your Characters
Characters are the ones who drive your narrative. Whether it’s a protagonist or a secondary character, they are the big stars of your story, and their actions make a fiction story compelling.
See it for yourself. Think of all of the best short stories, novels, comics, or whichever you pick, and you’ll see that they all have unique characters.
If you want to write an unforgettable story, focus on your characters’ development.
How can you do this? Well, you’ll need to know more about your characters than what you will actually use in your story. Besides having a vague idea of their age, ethnicity, and appearance, try imagining all the details you can and why they define them.
You can write an outline where you can fill in the following:
And if you think of any other trait, be sure to add it to your file! Fill in this information, and you’ll know your characters better than themselves!
It doesn’t matter if you leave some of these details behind during the writing process. This will happen, and sometimes including too much information all at once feels overwhelming and boring to the reader.
As the reader will end up with a limited scope of your character, you need to consider the most important details they have to understand when writing.
3. Think About How You Can Use Tension to Build The Climax
The imminent revelation of how the protagonist will act and the consequences of those actions is why a reader is still reading your story; they want to know how it all ends.
But before seeing how you can keep the reader’s attention, it’s important to know how the plot works.
As we briefly mentioned before, a plot consists of conflict, crisis, and resolution.
Conflict occurs at the beginning after we meet our characters and something happens that challenges them. This can be an internal or external conflict, and next, it becomes a crisis that the protagonist has to overcome. Once the characters choose to face this crisis, the climax occurs, the crisis is resolved, then the story concludes with the denouement.
Everything that takes place between the beginning of the conflict and the climax includes most of the story. And getting from one place to the other can sometimes be hard.
You need to keep up with the rhythm, continue developing your characters, and most importantly, maintain the reader hooked on your writing. And the best way to achieve this is through tension.
Make sure the stakes are high so the reader feels invested in your story. Keep it interesting by creating a complex conflict, where the protagonist’s action (or inaction) can lead to a terrible consequence. Or keep adding new conflicts or crises while the main characters move through their journey.
Fiction writers who lose the tension out of sight lose their readers too.
4. Know Which Emotions You Want to Evoke in Your Reader
Just as having a clear theme to organize your writing, you’ll need to know beforehand which emotions you want your readers to feel to determine your style.
Do you want them to feel sad because they empathize with the tragedies of the protagonist? Do you want them to feel more encouraged to strive in life after reading the success story of your characters? Do you want them to feel powerless and outraged after realizing that the injustices your characters suffered are real for many people? Or do you want them to be afraid of what is below their beds while your lead character wakes up after listening to a strong noise in the middle of the night?
Knowing what emotions you want to evoke is key to defining your writing style, vocabulary, which point of view you’ll use, and the rhythm of your story.
If you ever feel stuck during your creative writing experience, try thinking about the feelings you want to transmit. You’ll have a better idea of how you can follow up.
5. Read, Read, And Read
We saved for last, arguably the most important tip you should know. Never stop reading, and always be open to reading about new things.
There is so much you can gain from reading almost everything out there. Read your favorite short story collection, go back to the novel that made you want to start writing, discover beauty in a book of poems, and learn something new while reading a journalistic magazine.
Try new things as well! Even if it’s not something you really like or completely understand, if you find a topic at least a bit interesting, it’s worth the time. It will open your mind to new worlds, situations, and ideas that you can come back to when you are writing! Or do you think award-winning authors only read books within their area of expertise?
Plus, reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary and gain further knowledge in new areas that you would have never learned in any other moment of your life.
So, if you are a creative writing student that wants to improve your skills, read!
Time to Put Your Creative Writing Into Practice
Next time you write, you’ll:
And never, ever, stop reading or close your mind to new areas.
Now you are ready to put these five hacks into practice and see how you get better at writing. But remember, polishing writing skills takes time and practice.
We hope that you better understand how creative writing works and what you can do to truly excel in it with this article. If you ever have any doubts or need further help with any of your college assignments, you can count on Gradehacker to help you with anything you need.
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