A Look Into Creative Writing | Oxford Summer Courses
Exploring the magic of creative writing with oxford summer courses.
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Defining Creative Writing
Creative writing , as taught at Oxford Summer Courses, is the process of crafting original and imaginative works of literature, poetry, prose, or scripts. It transcends conventional writing, encouraging individuals to explore language, structure, and narrative. Whether it's a heartfelt poem, a captivating short story, or a thought-provoking novel, creative writing allows us to communicate our unique perspectives and experiences with the world.
The Magic of Imagination
Creative Writing is a catalyst that sparks our creativity and empowers us to breathe life into our ideas on the page. With Oxford Summer Courses, aspiring writers aged 16-24 can embark on an extraordinary journey of creative expression and growth. Immerse yourself in the captivating realms of Oxford and Cambridge as you explore our inspiring creative writing programs. Teleport readers to distant lands, realms of fantasy and creation, introduce them to captivating characters, and craft new worlds through the transformative art of storytelling. Discover more about our creative writing course here . Unleash your imagination and unlock the writer within.
What Are the Different Types of Creative Writing?
Creative Writing comes in many forms, encompassing a range of genres and styles. There are lots of different types of Creative Writing, which can be categorised as fiction or non-fiction. Some of the most popular being:
- Fiction: novels, novellas, short stories, etc.
- Poetry and Spoken word
- Personal essays
At Oxford Summer Courses, students have the opportunity to delve into these various types of Creative Writing during the Summer School.
The Benefits of Creative Writing with Oxford Summer Courses
Engaging in Creative Writing with Oxford Summer Courses offers numerous benefits beyond self-expression. By joining our dedicated Creative Writing summer school programme, you would:
- Foster self-discovery and gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, emotions, and personal experiences.
- Improve your communication skills, honing your ability to express yourself effectively and engage readers through refined language and storytelling abilities.
- Enhance empathy by exploring diverse perspectives and stepping into the shoes of different characters, broadening your understanding of the world around you.
- Gain new skills for further education or work, expanding your repertoire of writing techniques and abilities to enhance your academic or professional pursuits.
- Nurture your creativity, encouraging you to think outside the box, embrace unconventional ideas, and challenge the status quo, fostering a life-long mindset of innovation and originality.
Embracing the Journey
To embark on a journey of creative writing, embrace curiosity, take risks, and surrender to the flow of imagination. Write regularly, read widely, embrace feedback from tutors and peers at Oxford Summer Courses. Begin to experiment with styles and genres, and stay persistent in your course of action. The path of creative writing requires dedication, practice, and an open mind. Join us as we provide tips to help you start your creative writing journey and unleash your full creative potential under the guidance of industry professionals.
Creative Writing is a remarkable voyage that invites us to unleash our imagination, share our stories, and inspire others. It offers countless personal and professional benefits, nurturing self-expression, empathy, and creativity. So, grab a pen, open your mind, and embark on this enchanting journey of creative writing with Oxford Summer Courses. Let your words paint a vivid tapestry that captivates hearts and minds under the guidance of experienced tutors from Oxford and Cambridge. Join us as we explore the magic of creative writing and discover the transformative power it holds within through the renowned Oxford Summer Courses summer school.
Ready to study Creative Writing? Apply now to Oxford Summer Courses and join a community of motivated learners from around the world. Apply here .
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Discover the enchantment of creative writing with Oxford Summer Courses. Unleash your imagination, explore different genres, and enhance your communication skills. Nurture self-expression, empathy, and creativity while gaining valuable writing techniques.
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Writing styles may be hard to define, but something separates Hemingway from Steinbeck, Atwood from LeGuin, or Keats from Wordsworth. Though two given writers might dwell on similar themes, every writer expresses a unique writing style, conveyed through elements like word choice, narrative structure, and the author’s own voice.
But what is style in writing? On some level, style is ineffable. It’s also emergent: when you parse the elements of writing styles, you lose something that lives in how you put them together.
This article provides tips for honing style in your own work. We’ll analyze the different types of writing styles, look at examples of different writing styles from famous authors, and suggest different ways to experiment in your own work.
But first, let’s clarify what we mean when we say “writing styles.” What is style in writing?
What is Style in Writing?
Think of writing style as the author’s thumbprint—a unique and indelible mark on the voice and personality of the work. If a writer’s work is a house, style is what adorns that house: the window blinds, the doormat, the freshly painted eaves.
Style is like an author’s thumbprint—a unique and indelible mark on the voice and personality of the work.
Authors doesn’t only hone their style deliberately: writing styles emerge as a result of dedication, the author’s own personality, and a continuous experimentation with language and meaning.
To illustrate what we mean by style, let’s compare two examples of different writing styles from two different works of fiction. Each excerpt talks about the same dilemma—the endurance of memory—but approaches that dilemma in uniquely stylish ways.
“Perhaps you have forgotten. That’s one of the great problems of our modern world, you know. Forgetting. The victim never forgets. Ask an Irishman what the English did to him in 1920 and he’ll tell you the day of the month and the time and the name of every man they killed. Ask an Iranian what the English did to him in 1953 and he’ll tell you. His child will tell you. His grandchild will tell you. And when he has one, his great-grandchild will tell you too. But ask an Englishman—” He flung up his hands in mock ignorance. “If he ever knew, he has forgotten. ‘Move on!’ you tell us. ‘Move on! Forget what we’ve done to you. Tomorrow’s another day!’ But it isn’t, Mr. Brue.” He still had Brue’s hand. “Tomorrow was created yesterday, you see. That is the point I was making to you. And by the day before yesterday, too. To ignore history is to ignore the wolf at the door.”
—John le Carré, A Most Wanted Man
Compare this with the following excerpt:
“The ones who did it can always rationalize their actions and even forget what they did. They can turn away from things they don’t want to see. But the surviving victims can never forget. They can’t turn away. Their memories are passed on from parent to child. That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.”
—Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
Each quote addresses a similar theme : how the perpetrators forget, but the victims always remember, and how that remembering shapes the world. Yet they approach the topic in different ways. John le Carré illustrates his point by examining historical, world-altering events. He uses dialogue and describes the gestures of his characters to punctuate his ideas, and he ends by suggesting that, if we do not remember, then we are infinitely more vulnerable to the metaphorical “wolf at the door.”
Haruki Murakami, by contrast, uses far fewer words to illustrate the same idea. His sentences are less laden with imagery and description; they are merely vehicles to his conclusion that the world is “an endless battle of contrasting memories.”
Each author takes his own route, and each excerpt will connect with the reader in different ways. Such differences in expression are the essence of style. Writing styles showcase how a writer reaches their point, encompassing the totality of the author’s word choice, sentence structures, use of literary devices, etc. It is the gestalt of every decision, both conscious and unconscious, that the writer makes in the text.
What Authors Say About Writing Style
Before we move on, let’s illustrate this point about authors’ writing styles in another way: different quotes from authors on writing styles themselves.
- “Style is the dress of thoughts; and let them be ever so just, if your style is homely, coarse, and vulgar, they will appear to as much disadvantage.” —Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield
- “When we see a natural style, we are astonished and delighted; for we expected to see an author, and we find a man.” —Blaise Pascal
- “The essence of a sound style is that it cannot be reduced to rules–that it is a living and breathing thing with something of the devilish in it–that it fits its proprietor tightly yet ever so loosely, as his skin fits him. It is, in fact, quite as seriously an integral part of him as that skin is. . . . In brief, a style is always the outward and visible symbol of a man, and cannot be anything else.” —H.L. Mencken
- “You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being.” —Katherine Anne Porter
- “Style is that which indicates how the writer takes himself and what he is saying. It is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward.” —Robert Frost
- “Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that. It’s not what we say but how we say it that matters.” —Federico Fellini
- “Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of style.” —Jonathan Swift
- “The web, then, or the pattern, a web at once sensuous and logical, an elegant and pregnant texture: that is style.” —Robert Louis Stevenson
- “Thought and speech are inseparable from each other. Matter and expression are parts of one; style is a thinking out into language.” —Cardinal John Henry Newman
- “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” —Stephen King
- “It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.” —P.D. James
Elements of Writing Styles
Every author makes key decisions about their writing, and those decisions build over time into a cohesive writing style. What decisions do they have to make? In other words, what are the elements of writing styles?
Creative writing styles are honed through a combination of the following:
- Word choice
- Economy and concision
- Literary devices
- Context and purpose
- The author’s location, time period, and influences
Let’s explore each element in detail.
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Elements of Writing Styles: Word Choice
Also called diction, word choice refers to the artistic decisions a writer makes in choosing one word over another, and how those decisions affect the meaning, mood , tone , and ideas conveyed to the reader.
Word choice refers to the artistic decisions a writer makes in choosing one word over another, and how those decisions affect the meaning, mood, tone, and ideas conveyed to the reader.
Take a look at the following two example sentences. Only one word has been changed in each sentence, and those words are synonyms, but the changed word has a huge impact on the way each sentence is read.
- The Union beat The Confederacy during the American Civil War.
- The Union subjugated The Confederacy during the American Civil War.
As you can see, changing “beat” to “subjugated” affects every part of the sentence. The sentence moves from neutral and informative to passionate and descriptive; the idea, once impartial, now comes across as heavily invested in the outcome of the Civil War. A word like “subjugated” transmits to the reader that the Union was extremely powerful, even suggesting that the Confederacy was a victim of the North.
Small details such as word choice can have huge impacts on writing styles. Another important element to consider is syntax.
Elements of Writing Styles: Syntax
Syntax refers to sentence structure—how rearranging the order of words impacts the meaning transmitted to the reader. It is closely related to diction, but where diction is concerned with the choice of words, syntax is concerned with the arrangement of those words, as well as the length and complexity of sentences.
Syntax is concerned with the arrangement of words, as well as the length and complexity of sentences.
Much of syntax is innately learned, especially to native English speakers. For example, an English sentence is typically constructed with the subject first, and then the verb, followed by the object of that verb. See below:
- The quick brown fox (subject) jumped (verb) over the lazy dog (object).
If the daring writer wanted to complicate this syntactical order, they might write “Over the lazy dog, the quick brown fox jumped.” Of course, such experimentations can prove dangerous, as the reader might misinterpret that construction, or read it as shallow or pretentious.
Nonetheless, paying close attention to the structure, length, and word order of sentences can allow writers to develop their writing styles. Here are some other ways one might experiment with syntax:
- Structure (active to passive): The lazy dog was jumped over by the quick brown fox.
- Length : The fox jumped over the dog. OR: The quick, sly, and daring fox jumped right over the lazy and motionless dog.
- Word order : The brown fox jumped quickly over the dog lying lazily.
Notice how each of these syntactical changes affect the rhythm, meaning, and style of the sentences. Some changes certainly worsen the effect of the sentence.
A final element of syntax is punctuation. Commas, colons, semicolons, em-dashes, and periods each have their own specific use in English grammar. How the author decides to use each punctuation mark contributes to the overall style of their sentences.
Elements of Writing Styles: Economy and Concision
All stylish writers know how to use economy and concision. They know how to use fewer words, not more, and they know how to make every word count.
There are certainly rules and guidelines for concise writing. The economic writer knows to:
- Avoid adverbs.
- Use strong, visual verbs.
- Employ prepositions sparingly.
- Only use adjectives when necessary.
- Stay inside the active voice, unless the passive is necessary.
- Provide only the important details.
Later in this article, we dive deeper into concision. Nonetheless, let’s demonstrate this key facet of writing styles.
Here’s a simple, effective sentence:
We careened from California to Maine.
The wordy writer has many reasons to make this sentence more complicated. Perhaps the reader does need more information. But, the writer might also be insecure about their own writing, or else they might think every detail needs to be ornate (a tactic called purple prose ). Here’s the above sentence, written wordier. In parentheses are the rules broken from the list above.
We were driven (5) swiftly (1) and without (3) direction in (3) our little blue Chevy (4, 6), somehow (1) finding (2) our way from California to Maine.
Perhaps the little blue Chevy is important to the story. It does add some personality to the people in the car. Otherwise, this sentence is haphazard, conveying too much to the reader in too many words.
Elements of Writing Styles: Literary Devices
Literary devices are specific writing techniques that forge novel connections and possibilities in language. You are probably familiar with common devices, like metaphors and similes . However, there is a wide range of devices available to creative writers, from the hyperbole to the synecdoche, from the onomatopoeia to the paranomasia .
In any work of creative writing, literary devices are essential to both the author’s meaning and their writing style.
In any work of creative writing, literary devices are essential to both the author’s meaning and their writing style. Sometimes, the device is confined to a single sentence in the text. Other times, various elements of the writing—its plot , characters, and settings—act as metaphors for broader ideas and themes.
Here’s an example of a metaphor that’s daring, stylish, and effective:
“Love is so embarrassing. I bled in your bed. I’m sorry. I have built you a shore with all my best words & still, the waves.”
Out of Bound by Claire Schwartz
This is a striking metaphor, heartbreaking in its imagery. The speaker laments at the imperfectness of love and language: how, no matter how carefully and precisely a lover chooses the words they use to love another, those words are, inevitably, broken down by “the waves.” What do those waves represent? Perhaps the limits of language—the ever-present gap between what is spoken and what is understood. In the same way that love is modified by language, the shore is always modified by the waves.
Many stylistic decisions go into the construction of literary devices, including:
- Which devices are used.
- The images used to convey deeper meanings.
- The word choice and syntax of those devices.
Indeed, the construction of literary devices is closely related to syntax and word choice, but the way that the writer employs those devices and makes connections and comparisons is key to honing an author’s writing style.
To learn more, check out our articles on common literary devices and rhetorical devices .
Elements of Writing Styles: Context and Purpose
While an author’s writing style is the product of their own artistic integrity, some creative writing styles develop in relation to the context and purpose of the writing itself.
Some creative writing styles develop in relation to the context and purpose of the writing itself.
For example, an author might choose to write a murder mystery novel, a middle grade fiction book, and a historical account of the Sino-Japanese War. Each publication would have its own unique writing style, because the writing serves a different purpose in each book, and the author will have to write towards different audiences. We’ll explore this shortly when we look at the different types of writing styles.
In creative writing, the question of audience can matter a great deal. You would not want someone with a hard-boiled writing style to publish a romance novel in the same voice, nor would you expect a law critic to write poetry using the same word choice.
While audience should not define the author’s style and intent, it is a necessary consideration in the editing process before a work is published.
It is also important to note that there are different types of writing styles for different contexts. Let’s review those briefly.
Different Types of Writing Styles
In standard rhetorical analysis, there are four different types of writing styles: narrative, descriptive, persuasive, and expository. We mention a fifth style, the creative style, because certain decisions and elements are available to creative works that are not usually available to other writing styles.
Narrative Writing Styles
At its simplest, narrative is a synonym for storytelling . As such, narrative writing styles employ certain storytelling tactics to communicate a plot with characters, settings , and themes.
Narrative writing styles employ storytelling tactics to communicate a plot with characters, settings, and themes.
Here’s an example of a narrative writing style, which seeks to communicate the essential details for a reader to understand the story:
“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.
I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.” —Opening lines of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
These two paragraphs give us the essentials. We know that the narrator is a child with an unkind family (character), that they live somewhere bleak and chilly (setting), and that the speaker has been made to feel inferior to her peers (theme).
Narrative writing styles are commonly used in the following:
- Creative nonfiction
- Narrative poetry
- Legal writing
- Marketing and brand development
Descriptive Writing Styles
Descriptive writing seeks to evoke sensory experiences. This type of writing concerns itself with the effective use of imagery , including non-visual forms of imagery like sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and kinesthetic and organic images.
Descriptive writing seeks to evoke sensory experiences.
Here’s an example of a descriptive writing style, which uses imagery and other devices to reconstruct a particular sensory experience through language:
“The flower shop was here and it was my father’s domain, but it was also marvelously other, this place heavy with the drowsy scent of velvet-petaled roses and Provencal freesias in the middle of winter, the damp-earth spring fragrance of just-watered azaleas and cyclamen all mixed up with the headachey smell of bitter chocolate.” —Patricia Hempl, excerpt from The Florist’s Daughter
The writer employs a variety of images, scents, and comparisons to describe the sensual intensity of the flower shop. Details of the shop’s setting, smells, and the narrator’s relationship to the shop itself combine to make this an effective, descriptive passage.
Descriptive writing styles are commonly used in the following:
- Medical writing
Persuasive Writing Styles
Persuasive writing wants to change your mind. By employing logic, argumentation, and various rhetorical strategies, persuasive writers seek to convince you that their argument or interpretation prevails.
Persuasive writing wants to change your mind.
Here’s an example of a persuasive writing style, which uses rhetorical strategies to convince you about a certain worldview:
“Perhaps everybody has a garden of Eden, I don’t know; but they have scarcely seen their garden before they see the flaming sword. Then, perhaps, life only offers the choice of remembering the garden or forgetting it. Either, or: it takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetual recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is mostly divided between madmen who remember and madmen who forget. Heroes are rare.” —James Baldwin, excerpt from Giovanni’s Room
In addition to Baldwin’s lyrical prose style, key elements of this passage try to persuade the reader of the narrator’s worldview. “Garden of Eden” and “flaming sword” are strong visual metaphors, and setting up this worldview as a binary (people who remember or forget) encourages the reader to sort people into one of two categories. While persuasive writing styles usually come off as confident, the narrator’s admission that he doesn’t precisely know the answer to this conundrum helps humanize the conflict he’s debating. Certainly, this is a depressing worldview, and one which the reader is free to disagree with, but the strategies Baldwin takes in constructing this paragraph are certainly compelling.
Persuasive writing styles are commonly used in the following:
Expository Writing Styles
Expository writing wants to tell you about something as neutrally as possible. The goal is to be informative: by conveying something with as little bias and interpretation, expository writing styles stick to the facts. Do note that bias is universal: it is nearly impossible for any text to remove itself from bias completely.
Expository writing wants to tell something as neutrally as possible.
Here’s an example of an expository writing style, which conveys facts in a linear and digestible paragraph:
“On June 13, 1910, Arthur James Balfour lectured the House of Commons on ‘the problems with which we have to deal in Egypt.’ These, he said, ‘belong to a wholly different category’ than those ‘affecting the Isle of Wight or the West Riding of Yorkshire.’ He spoke with the authority of a long-time member of Parliament, former private secretary to Lord Salisbury, former chief secretary for Ireland, former secretary for Scotland, former prime minister, veteran of numerous overseas crises, achievements, and changes.” —Edward W. Said, excerpt from Orientalism
This opening passage of Orientalism sets the scene factually: we learn the time period, some geopolitical issues, and a main actor in all of these events. Yes, the passage does play up the significance of Arthur James Balfour and his many accolades, but this, too, is expository description, letting the reader know exactly who and what we are dealing with.
Expository writing styles are commonly used in the following:
Creative Writing Styles
Creative writing styles combine the previous four types: a creative writer can employ narrative, descriptive, persuasive, and expository strategies in their work. You may have noticed that creative genres, like fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, routinely show up under the categories of writing that employ the above four styles. This is because authors must employ a variety of strategies to tell effective stories.
Creative writers can employ narrative, descriptive, persuasive, and expository strategies in their work.
But, in addition to employing the previous four styles, creative writing also seeks to experiment and find new, artistic possibilities in language. Poetry is an obvious example, as the use of stanzas and line breaks affects how the language is read and interpreted. But there are also countless examples of experimentation in prose, from the use of stream of consciousness to the Oulipian n+7 .
Here’s an example:
“I turned out the light and went into my bedroom, out of the gasoline but I could still smell it. I stood at the window the curtains moved slow out of the darkness touching my face like someone breathing asleep, breathing slow into the darkness again, leaving the touch. After they had gone up stairs Mother lay back in her chair, the camphor handker- chief to her mouth. Father hadn’t moved he still sat beside her holding her hand the bellowing hammering away like no place for it in silence When I was little there was a picture in one of our books, a dark place into which a single weak ray of light came slanting upon two faces lifted out of the shadow. You know what I’d do if I were King? she never was a queen or a fairy she was always a king or a giant or a general I’d break that place open and drag them out and I’d whip them good It was torn out, jagged out. I was glad.” —Excerpt from The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
This is, of course, a highly literary and experimental piece of writing, but it demonstrates something distinct to creative writing styles. The italicized portions of text are streams of consciousness—moments where the reader has direct access to the unfiltered thoughts, images, and memories flowing through the character’s mind. Understanding these passages requires close attention to the text, as well as several re-reads. While creative writing styles can be far simpler than this, the point is that a creative writer takes great liberties to experiment with language, in ways distinct to creative writing, which seek to mine the wide varieties of the human experience.
Creative writing styles are commonly used in the following:
- Lyric essays
- Creative journalism
Elements of Writing Styles: The Author’s Location, Time Period, and Influences
Lastly, writers are undeniably influenced by their location, time period, and literary influences. For example, if you’ve ever read a poem or novel from Victorian Era England, you know that the Victorian writers (like the Brontës, Charles Dickens, or Percy Bysshe Shelley) often wrote in elaborate and flowery language. By modern standards, Victorian writing styles might seem overwrought; but, that style was influenced by the era’s appreciation for emotional intensity, as well as the tendency to pay writers per-word.
Writing Styles: Examples and Analyses
Let’s take a look at three writing styles examples. For each writer, we will examine how various stylistic strategies affect the overall mood and interpretation of the text, while also discussing that writer’s influences and likely intent. All examples come from published works of classic literature.
Ernest Hemingway’s Writing Style
Ernest Hemingway once wrote “A writer’s style should be direct and personal, his imagery rich and earthy, and his words simple and vigorous. The greatest writers have the gift of brilliant brevity, are hard workers, diligent scholars and competent stylists.” Hemingway’s writing style certainly lives up to this quote, as his words are often simple, direct, and unadorned.
Here’s an excerpt from his short story “ A Clean, Well-Lighted Place .”
It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light. In the day time the street was dusty, but at night the dew settled the dust and the old man liked to sit late because he was deaf and now at night it was quiet and he felt the difference. The two waiters inside the cafe knew that the old man was a little drunk, and while he was a good client they knew that if he became too drunk he would leave without paying, so they kept watch on him.”Last week he tried to commit suicide,” one waiter said.
“He was in despair.”
“How do you know it was nothing?”
“He has plenty of money.”
Hemingway’s writing style seeks to dispense the precise amount of information necessary for the reader, without any garnishment. Notice the details he provides: the exact time does not matter, only that “it was very late.” Notice, also, a similar pattern with the dialogue. People generally don’t speak in such clipped sentences, but the characters of this story speak to give just enough context for the story’s themes.
Additionally, the visual details, such as the dew settling the dust and the shadows of leaves against the electric light, evoke the sensation of a space that’s quiet and comforting, if also a little bit eerie.
Notice, also, the general lengths of the sentences. The first paragraph is built on longer sentences and clauses, which inevitably juxtaposes sensory details (an old man in the shadow of leaves cast by an electric light.) The effect of these sentences is that time feels slower, as the reader’s focus is on the kaleidoscope of details paused in this one moment in a quiet café.
Finally, pay attention to the lack of pretensity in Hemingway’s word choice. While the story itself deals with complex themes, including the question of nihilism, the language itself is simple, direct, and accessible.
Hemingway got his start in writing as a journalist, then as a short story writer, both of which certainly influenced his economic style. He famously coined the “Iceberg Theory,” which describes writing that focuses on surface-level details without explicitly analyzing underlying themes, rather implying those themes for the reader to interpret. Hemingway was also greatly influenced by World Wars I and II, and his writing style may have been a reaction to these wars, eschewing the flowery language of pre-war literature for a hardened, masculine style.
Toni Morrison’s Writing Style
A master of voice and character, Toni Morrison’s writing style borrows heavily from vernacular, from history, and from her own unique relationship to analogies and metaphors. Morrison frequently plays with sentence lengths and imagery, but her writing never fails to be compelling, lyrical, and delicious to read.
Here’s an excerpt from Recitatif , her only published short story:
My mother danced all night and Roberta’s was sick. That’s why we were taken to St. Bonny’s. People want to put their arms around you when you tell them you were in a shelter, but it really wasn’t bad. No big long room with one hundred beds like Bellevue. There were four to a room, and when Roberta and me came, there was a shortage of state kids, so we were the only ones assigned to 406 and could go from bed to bed if we wanted to. And we wanted to, too. We changed beds every night and for the whole four months we were there we never picked one out as our own permanent bed.It didn’t start out that way. The minute I walked in and the Big Bozo introduced us, I got sick to my stomach. It was one thing to be taken out of your own bed early in the morning—it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race. And Mary, that’s my mother, she was right. Every now and then she would stop dancing long enough to tell me something important and one of the things she said was that they never washed their hair and they smelled funny. Roberta sure did. Smell funny, I mean. So when the Big Bozo (nobody ever called her Mrs. Itkin, just like nobody ever said St. Bonaventure)—when she said, “Twyla, this is Roberta. Roberta, this is Twyla. Make each other welcome.” I said, “My mother won’t like you putting me in here.”
Both lyrical and conversational, Morrison’s style simply makes you want to read more. Pay attention to two things:
One, the lengths of these sentences. Morrison routinely switches from short sentences to longer ones, partially to emphasize important details in short sentences, and partially to keep the pace of the story engaging. The alternation of short and long sentences mirrors a conversational storytelling style.
Two, the childlike voice behind the narration. It is clear that the narrator is a child. Despite being directly stated, this fact is also obvious when certain elements of word choice are analyzed. Phrases like “smell funny” and “Big Bozo” clue the reader towards a speaker whose words and observations are that of a child.
One thing that’s absent from these paragraphs, but very much present in Morrison’s writing style, is the use of surprising comparisons (similes, metaphors, and analogies). This example comes later in “Recitatif”:
“I used to dream a lot and almost always the orchard was there. Two acres, four maybe, of these little apple trees. Hundreds of them. Empty and crooked like beggar women when I first came to St. Bonny’s but fat with flowers when I left.”
The simile “empty and crooked like beggar women” might be shocking to the reader, but it provides great insight into the personality of the narrator. This sentence is also ripe with foreshadowing , since the trees were “fat with flowers” when the narrator leaves St. Bonny’s.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Writing Style
One of America’s most influential writers, Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry and fiction forged new possibilities in the written word. Poe’s writing is often dark, gothic, and tinged with insanity, and his style reflects the problems that haunt his protagonists. Notice how psychosis influences Poe’s writing style in this excerpt from “ The Tell-Tale Heart :”
Poe adapts his style quite well to write a character who is clearly self-aggrandizing and obsessed with his own genius. The storytelling here has lots of repetition , such as “slowly—very, very slowly” and “cautiously-oh, so cautiously—cautiously” which makes the narrator sound in love with his own voice. And, it takes a while for the reader to understand what the narrator is doing, as his erratic behavior, like poking his head into the door for an hour, goes without a clear explanation.
Nonetheless, this writing is typical of Poe’s Gothic style. The use of words like “madman,” “midnight,” “vulture,” and “Evil Eye” give this story the grim moodiness characteristic of Poe’s writing. Additionally, the frequent use of em dashes and lengthy sentences propels the reader slowly, as we come to understand every minute detail that forms the totality of this character’s psychosis. This methodical, psychological writing style helps define Poe as a master of mystery and suspense.
Tips for Honing Your Own Author’s Writing Style
Writing styles develop with time, and there’s no singular thing any writer can do to hone their style. Rather, an attentiveness to language and a willingness to experiment are the best things you can do for yourself as you hone your author’s writing style. Nonetheless, here’s 7 pieces of advice for anyone who wants to write with style, flare, and confidence.
1. Creative Writing Styles: Experiment with Language and Syntax
Take risks in your writing. Be unconventional, and don’t always go for the expected word or phrase. Style doesn’t develop from playing it safe—it develops from making active decisions in the words you use to express your ideas.
What do we mean by taking risks? Here’s an example of a risky sentence, from poet Eduardo C. Corral: “Moss intensifies up the tree, like applause.”
This is a daring comparison: we don’t often think of moss “intensifying,” and so that verb already seems strange and risky. But then the moss itself is compared to applause, so now the visual cue of intensifying moss is being compared to intensifying sound. The product of this simile is that we see moss blooming and expanding across the tree, which makes this an effective and stylish sentence—but there’s a level of risk, faith, and skill involved in making this simile work .
Taking risks allows you to see what works and what doesn’t in your writing. So make bold comparisons! End your paragraphs with em-dashes! Try using four different languages in a single sentence!
Just be sure to review your work after and assess what does and doesn’t work for the reader. And, when you’re not sure what to do, try doing the complete opposite of what seems intuitive. You might find a short sentence works better than a long one, for example.
2. Creative Writing Styles: Experiment with Writing Forms
Creative writing styles often adapt to the form of the writing itself. For example, genre writing styles vary from genre to genre. You wouldn’t expect a writer of hard-boiled noir to have the same terse, simplistic style when writing romance fiction (although I would love to read that).
As you hone your writing style, experiment reading and writing in different forms. Pay attention to how the form demands you to make different stylistic decisions. The words you choose in a love sonnet will be different from the words you choose in a flash essay about your childhood. And, certainly, your sentence lengths will differ when you’re writing literary fiction versus speculative fiction .
Getting into the habit of making these stylistic decisions, and paying attention to those decisions, will help you create a mental framework for the ways you approach writing. Such is the nature of style development.
3. Creative Writing Styles: Consider Character
Character development is an essential part of fiction writing, and it will naturally affect the style you use to write. If you’re writing in first person or third person limited, then your protagonist’s personality will affect everything, because their worldview tinges the way you tell their story. Key observational details and thought processes from main characters naturally bleed into the style of the writing itself.
You can see this in action in the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald. His second novel, The Beautiful and Damned , is written from the third person limited point of view of Anthony Patch, an unambitious libertine whose personality is defined by wry cynicism and a rigid belief in the purposelessness of life. These personality traits often affect the storytelling, as the reader sees the world through Anthony’s eyes, and thus trudges through a lot of Anthony’s ironic commentary and disdain for others.
Fitzgerald’s next novel, The Great Gatsby , is completely different, both tonally and stylistically. Written from the first person point of view of Nick Carraway, an optimistic bond salesman who wants to immerse himself in the high society of New York’s nouveau riche. Much of the style is poetic and introspective, honing in on the creative chaos of the Jazz Age and the tragedy of the American Dream.
For your own writing, alter your style to reflect the traits of your characters. Style reflects personality, and the person narrating your fiction will certainly want to tell their story in their own way.
4. Creative Writing Styles: Omit Needless Words
While style can take many forms, one thing that all good author’s writing styles have in common is an economy of language. In other words, no word in good writing is excessive or unnecessary. To sharpen your own style, you must omit needless words.
What does that look like? There are two ways to omit needless words: striking out redundancies, and rewriting phrases.
Here’s two examples. First, let’s look at redundancy. A redundancy is when you communicate something multiple times without refining the meaning of your words. Here’s a redundant sentence:
“The girl vaulted over the large gray boulder.”
Nothing is explicitly wrong with this sentence, but several words are giving repeat information. You don’t need the word “over,” because to vault means to jump over something. And, you don’t need the word “large,” because a boulder is, by definition, large. Finally, most rocks are gray, and the word “gray” isn’t offering much useful detail.
A much cleaner sentence would simply be “the girl vaulted the boulder.”
Another example is to rewrite phrases. If you don’t think about your words, it’s easy to communicate something in 10 words when 2 will do. Here’s another example sentence:
“She worked many long hours in order to secure a trade deal with the company.”
God, doesn’t that just read like a corporate memo? It’s passively worded and nondescript. Isolate any phrase in this sentence, and it can be truncated into something much more straightforward. Be sure to avoid phrases like “in order to”—simply “to” will always suffice.
Here’s a cleaner sentence: “She hustled to secure the Nike trade deal.”
Lastly, some categories of words are better than others. Nouns and verbs are necessary for understanding the action of a sentence. Adjectives should be used sparingly, and only when that description is necessary for the reader. Adverbs, which modify verbs, should only be used when there isn’t a sharper verb. For example, “breathing heavily” is much better written as “panting.”
For more advice, check out our article on how to omit needless words .
5. Creative Writing Styles: Read Like a Writer
How do published writers write so well? What did they do to craft such artful sentences, effective plots, or in-depth characters? While you can certainly learn these tricks by taking a writing class , you can also learn them by reading like a writer.
Reading like a writer means paying attention to the construction of a piece of literature and thinking about why that writing works. We did a little bit of this when we examined the above writing styles examples. By examining the elements of writing styles—word choice, sentence structure, character and voice, etc.—we paid attention to what makes each excerpt an effective piece of writing.
Employ those same strategies in the work you read. If there’s an author you like or whose style you admire, pay attention to what makes that style effective. And don’t be afraid to emulate that style in your own work: writers often borrow from each other’s styles and strategies to hone their own voice.
6. Creative Writing Styles: Study Poetry
The writing styles tips in this article primarily pertain to prose writers. But, whether you’re writing poetry, prose, or some secret third thing, reading poetry is essential to honing style.
Poets are masters of language. They know how to build tension, pacing, and rhythm in their sentences. They know how to make that tension correspond with what they’re writing about. They manipulate vowel sounds, constants, tools like rhyme and meter, and a whole other host of poetic devices to move their readers.
Writing poetry is its own separate challenge. Prose writers don’t need to write poetry to master their writing styles. But they absolutely should study poetry. What makes language beautiful? What makes a poem concise? How does the flow of a sentence accentuate its meaning? Asking these questions and listening to the poets will help you experiment in your own pages.
7. Creative Writing Styles: Write Every Day
The key to honing your style is to write every day. A diligent writing practice will train your brain to think about language and make continuous stylistic choices in your work. Even if you can only manage 10 minutes a day on a writing project, or even if you just keep a writing journal, the simple practice of putting thoughts to words and words to pages will naturally sharpen the personality you put into your writing.
Hone Your Own Writing Style at Writers.com
One last piece of advice on writing styles is to read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. You can find a free copy of it online here . Most of the advice in this book has remained true in the many decades since its publication, and while rules are certainly made to be broken, you should understand the rules first before breaking them.
Want clear, direct feedback on your writing styles and the other elements of your work? Take a look at any of the upcoming creative writing classes at Writers.com! Our instructors are masters of the craft and know how to sharpen your words so that they zing across the page.
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Exploring the Different Types of Creative Writing
- on Sep 26, 2022
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Writing comes in all forms and sizes. But in order for a work to be considered creative writing, it must come from a place of imagination and emotion.
This is something many people pursuing a creative writing degree online at first struggle to get a handle on. Take for example what Franz Kafa said about creative writing, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
Many authors who choose to follow Kafka’s advice—to write “mercilessly” and from the soul—find it comforting that their writing doesn’t have to conform to one style. But this variety of types and forms might leave some writers a bit confused.
That’s why, in this article, we are going to walk you through the most popular types of creative writing, with some great examples from authors who absolutely rocked their respective forms.
In this article:
- Creative Writing Definition
- Creative Writing Techniques
- Free Writing
- Journal Diaries
- Personal Essays
- Short Fiction
What Is Creative Writing?
Think of creative writing as a form of artistic expression. Authors bring this expression to life using their imagination, personal writing style, and personality.
Creative writing is also different from straightforward academic or technical writing. For instance, an economics book like Khalid Ikram’s The Political Economy of Reforms in Egypt is an academic monograph. This means that readers would rightfully expect it to contain analytic rather than creative writing.
So what are some elements that make a written piece more creative than analytic?
Popular Techniques Used in Creative Writing
Despite the fact that creative writing can be “freer” and less traditional than academic writing, it is likely to contain one or more of the following six elements:
1. Literary Devices
Many creative writers use literary devices to convey the meaning and themes of their work. Some common literary devices are allegories , metaphors and similes , foreshadowing , and imagery . These all serve to make the writing more vivid and descriptive .
Authors often use this technique to engage readers through storytelling. Narrative isn’t limited to novels and short stories; poems, autobiographies, and essays can be considered narratives if they tell a story. This can be fiction (as in novels) or nonfiction (as in memoirs and essays).
3. Point of View
All creative writing must have a point of view; that’s what makes it imaginative and original. The point of view is the perspective from which the author writes a particular piece. Depending on the type of work, the point of view can be first person, third person omniscient, third person limited , mixed (using third- and first-person writing), or—very rarely—second person.
Characterization is the process by which authors bring their characters to life by assigning them physical descriptions, personality traits, points of view, background and history, and actions. Characterization is key in creative writing because it helps drive the plot forward.
An important element used in many creative writing works is dialogue . Assigning
dialogue to characters is a way for authors to show their characters’ different traits without explicitly listing them.
Dialogue also immerses readers in the narrative’s action by highlighting the emotions and tensions between characters. Like characterization, it also helps drive the plot forward.
The plot is the sequence of events that make up a narrative and establish the themes and conflicts of a work . Plots will usually include an exp osi tion (the introduction), rising action (the complications), climax (the peak in action and excitement), falling action (the revelations and slowing down of events), and denouement (the conclusion).
The Main Types of Creative Writing (With Examples)
What’s great about creative writing is that there are so many types to choose from. In this section, we’ll walk you through the most popular types of creative writing, along with some examples.
Type 1: Free writing
Free writing, also known as stream-of-consciousness writing, is a technique that allows words and images to spill onto the page without giving thought to logic, sequence, or grammar. Although authors often use it as an exercise to get rid of the infamous writer’s block , free writing is also useful within a larger work.
For instance, let’s take a look at this excerpt from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.
Beloved by Toni Morrison [an excerpt]
the air is heavy I am not dead I am not there is a house there is what she whispered to me I am where she told me I am not dead I sit the sun closes my eyes when I open them I see the face I lost Sethe’s is the face that left me Sethe sees me see her and I see the smile her smiling face is the place for me it is the face I lost she is my face smiling at me
Note how the author uses free writing to convey the character’s disjointed and agitated thoughts. Even punctuation has been set aside here, adding to the rush of the character’s fear and confusion. The imagery is powerful (“the sun closes my eyes”; “her smiling face is the place for me”) and relies on repetitions like “I am not dead” and “I see” to immerse the readers in the character’s disturbed mental state.
Type 2: Journals and Diaries
A journal is a written account of an author’s experiences, activities, and feelings. A diary is an example of a journal, in which an author documents his/her life frequently.
Journals and diaries can be considered creative writing, particularly if they offer more than just a log of events. For instance, if a diary entry discusses how the writer ran into an old friend, it might include details of the writer’s emotions and probably use literary devices to convey these feelings.
It’s almost impossible to read the word “diary” and not think of Anne Frank. Let’s look at this excerpt from her work The Diary of a Young Girl .
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl [an excerpt]
Saturday, 20 June, 1942: I haven’t written for a few days, because I wanted first of all to think about my diary. It’s an odd idea for someone like me to keep a diary; not only because I have never done so before, but because it seems to me that neither I—nor for that matter anyone else—will be interested in the unbosomings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl. Still, what does that matter? I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.
In the extract above, Anne adopts a reflective tone. She uses the rhetorical question “what does that matter?” to illustrate how she arrived at the conclusion that this diary will help bring out what is “buried deep in her heart.”
In this way, the diary serves as a log of events that happened in Anne’s life, but also as a space for Anne to reflect on them, and to explore her resulting emotions.
Type 3: Memoir
Although they might seem similar at first, memoirs and diaries are two different creative writing types. While diaries offer a log of events recorded at frequent intervals, memoirs allow the writer to select key moments and scenes that help shed light on the writer’s life.
Let’s examine this excerpt from the memoir of Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist .
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxanne Gay:
I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.
Roxanne Gay offers readers a powerful work on anxiety, food, and body image by taking them on a journey through her past . Using evocative imagery in the excerpt above (“I buried the girl I was”; “I was trapped in my body”) the author shares her psychological trauma and resulting tumultuous relationship with food.
As with most memoirs—and diaries—this one is intimate, allowing readers into the dark crevices of the author’s mind. However, unlike a diary, this memoir does not provide an account of the writer’s day-to-day life, but rather focuses on certain events—big and small—that the author feels made her who she is today.
Type 4: Letters
Unlike diary and journal entries—which usually don’t have a specific recipient—letters address one target reader. Many famous authors have had collections of their letters published, revealing a side of them that isn’t visible in other works.
Letter writing uncovers the nature of the relationship between sender and recipient, and can include elements of creative writing such as imagery, opinion, humor, and feeling.
Here is an excerpt from a letter by Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood .
Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote , edited by Gerald Clarke
Dear Bob; Have come, am here, am slowly freezing to death; my fingers are pencils of ice. But really, all told, I think this is quite a place, at least so far. The company is fairly good… I have a bedroom in the mansion (there are bats circulating in some of the rooms, and Leo keeps his light on all night, for the wind blows eerily, doors creak, and the faint cheep cheep of the bats cry in the towers above: no kidding.
In his letter to editor and friend Robert “Bob” Linscott, Truman paints a scene of his new setting . He uses hyperbole (“freezing to death”) and a powerful metaphor (“my fingers are pencils of ice”) to convey the discomforting cold weather. Truman also uses sound imagery (“doors creak”; “wind blows eerily”; “cheep cheep of the bats”) to communicate the creepy, sinister mood to his reader.
Type 5: Personal Essays
Many of us don’t normally think of essays as creative writing, but that’s probably because our minds go to academic research essays. However, there are many types of essays that require creative rather than analytic writing, including discursive essays, descriptive essays, and personal essays.
A personal essay, also known as a narrative essay, is a piece of nonfiction work that offers readers a story drawn from the author’s personal experience. This is different from a memoir, in which the primary focus is on the author and their multiple experiences.
A personal essay, on the other hand, focuses on a message or theme , and the author’s personal experience is there to communicate that theme using memorable characters and setting , as well as engaging events . These, of course, all have to be true, otherwise the personal essay would turn into a fictional short story.
Here is an excerpt from a personal essay by writers Chantha Nguon and Kim Green.
The Gradual Extinction of Softness by Chantha Nguon and Kim Green
In 1975, the Khmer Rouge informed the Cambodian people that we had no history, but we knew it was a lie. Cambodia has a rich past, a mosaic of flavors from near and far: South Indian traders gave us Buddhism and spicy curries; China brought rice noodles and astrology; and French colonizers passed on a love of strong coffee, flan, and a light, crusty baguette. We lifted the best tastes from everywhere and added our own.
The opening of this paragraph establishes the author’s strong and unwavering opinion : “we knew it was a lie.” Instead of providing a history of Cambodia, she demonstrates the country’s rich past by discussing its diverse “flavors”: “spicy curries”; “strong coffee”; “light, crusty baguette”, etc.
Using gustatory imagery , which conveys a sense of taste , the authors reveal their personal version of what makes Cambodia wonderful. The writer communicates the essay’s theme of food and memories through a story of her childhood.
Type 6: Poetry
Robert Frost once wrote: “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Good poetry is effective because it uses the power of imagery to convey what it is to be human. Every word in a poem counts, and the best poems are those that evoke the reader’s emotions without unpacking too much.
As one of the most diverse types of creative writing, poetry can come in many forms. Some poets prefer to write in the more traditional forms such as sonnets , villanelles , and haikus , where you have particular structures, rhyme, and rhythm to follow. And others prefer the freedom of free verse and blackout poetry .
Let’s take a look at this excerpt from Maya Angelou’s powerful lyric poem , “Still I Rise.”
“Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems by Maya Angelou
Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
Packed with powerful language, this excerpt from Angelou’s poem gives us absolute
chills! The refrain “I rise” is repeated 7 times in these two verses alone,
hammering home the idea that the speaker cannot be defeated.
The imagery, repetition, and rhyme scheme all work together to convey the emotions of pride and resilience. Both verses also rely heavily on metaphors (“I’m a black ocean”; “I am the dream and the hope of the slave”) to convey the speaker’s power. She is not like an ocean or a dream; she is both, and she is unstoppable.
Type 7: Song Lyrics
Song lyrics are in many ways similar to poems, except that lyrics are meant to be sung . They are a form of creative writing that allows writers to surpass the rules of grammar and punctuation in favor of creating rhyme and rhythm . This means that the creativity of a song lyricist is free from the traditional restrictions of language.
Type 8: Scripts
Scriptwriting is a form of creative writing that relies heavily on character dialogue , stage directions , and setting . Scripts are written for films and TV shows (known as screenplays and teleplays), stage plays, commercials, and radio and podcast programs.
Like song lyrics, scripts are written with the intention of reaching a non-reading audience. In other words, scriptwriters must bear in mind how their writing will be 1) interpreted by other storytellers , such as directors, designers, etc., and 2) performed by actors.
Let’s examine the iconic opening scene from the screenplay of the film Forrest Gump .
Forrest Gump , screenplay by Eric Roth [an excerpt]
THE MAN Hello, I’m Forrest. I’m Forrest Gump. She nods, not much interested. He takes an old candy kiss out of his pocket. Offering it to her: FORREST (cont’d) Do you want a chocolate? She shakes “no.” He unwraps it, popping it in his mouth. FORREST (cont’d) I could eat about a million and a half of these. Mama said, “Life was just a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.”
From the dialogue and stage directions in this opening scene, the audience can see that there is something innocent, kind-hearted, and simple about the character Forrest Gump. This is conveyed through the way he introduces himself with a slight repetition (“I’m Forrest. I’m Forrest Gump.”) to a complete stranger, and the way he quotes his mother to her.
Moreover, the action of Forrest “popping” the candy in his mouth is almost childlike , and that the stranger is reluctant to communicate with him foreshadows the fact that the people Forrest meets are initially suspicious of him and his innocence. Thus, the pauses and silences in the scene are just as important to the work as what is explicitly said.
Type 9: Short Fiction
Short fiction is a form of creative fiction writing that typically falls between 5,000 to 10,000 words ; however, there is definitely room to go lower than 5,000 words, depending on the topic.
For instance, flash fiction is a form of short fiction that can be 1,000 words or less. In the case of flash fiction, the author unpacks the “skeleton” of a story in as few words as possible. For instance, legend has it that Ernest Hemingway wrote a 6-word “story”:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
In just six words, the reader is led to understand that this is a story of death and loss.
Nevertheless, the average short story is usually structured around the following elements: characterization , setting , plot , and conflict . Many fiction authors start out writing short fiction because it enables them to nail all the essential elements, which they can then expand upon in longer works.
Let’s look at an excerpt from Janet Frame’s short story, “The Bath”
“The Bath” by Janet Frame [an excerpt]
She leaned forward, feeling the pain in her back and shoulder. She grasped the rim of the bath but her fingers slithered from it almost at once. She would not pancic, she told herself; she would try gradually, carefully, to get out. Again she leaned forward; again her grip loosened as if iron hands had deliberately uncurled her stiffened blue fingers from their trembling hold. Her heart began to beat faster, her breath came more quickly, her mouth was dry. She moistened her lips. If I shout for help, she thought, no-one will hear me. No-one in the world will hear me. No-one will know I’m in the bath and can’t get out.
In this paragraph, there is an image of a frail, old woman, physically unable to get out of her bathtub. The diction , or word choice, serves to convey the woman’s sense of fear and helplessness. For instance, words like “grasped,” “slithered,” “uncurled,” and “stiffened,” demonstrate the immense effort it takes for her to try to get out.
The image of her “moistening” her lips illustrates that fear has turned her mouth dry. And the repetition of “no-one” in the last few sentences highlights the woman’s loneliness and entrapment —two of the story’s main themes. Indeed, the bath symbolizes the unavoidable obstacles brought about by old age.
Type 10: Novellas / Novels
Novels are one of the most popular forms of creative writing. Though they vary in length, depending on the subject, they’re generally considered a long form of fiction , typically divided into chapters .
Novellas, on the other hand, are shorter than novels but longer than short stories. Like short stories, novels, and novellas contain characters , plot , dialogue , and setting ; however, their longer forms allow writers a chance to delve much deeper into those elements.
Type 11: Speeches
Speeches are a form of writing similar to essays in that both forms are non-fiction , and both usually entail a discussion of the writer’s personal experiences and include engaging events and a particular theme.
However, speeches differ from essays in that the former are meant to be recited (usually in front of an audience), and tend to be persuasive and inspirational. For instance, think of the purpose of graduation speeches and political speeches: they aim to inspire and move listeners.
One of the most well-known speeches from the 20th century is Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”. Let’s examine the excerpt below:
“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King [an excerpt]
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
What immediately catches the eye (and ear) in this paragraph is the speaker’s usage of anaphora : the repetition of the phrase “now is the time” serves to emphasize the urgency of the matter being discussed (i.e. the prevalence of racial injustice).
The speaker’s repetition of the pronoun “our” is an appeal to his audience’s emotions and their sense of unity. Both he and they are in this together, and thus he is motivating them to take on the challenge as one.
Moreover, the use of figurative language is abundant here and can be found in similar inspirational and motivational styles of creative writing. The imagery created by the metaphor and alliteration in “the d ark and d esolate valley of segregation,” and its juxtaposition with “sunlit path of racial justice,” together aim to convey the speaker’s main message. Segregation has brought nothing but darkness and ruin to American society, but there is hope and light on the path toward racial equality.
Creative writing acts as a medium for artistic expression. It can come in a variety of forms, from screenplays and speeches to poetry and flash fiction. But what groups all of these different types of creative writing under the “creative” umbrella, regardless of form, is their display of a writer’s imagination, creativity, and linguistic prowess.
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I appreciate you offering such a thought-provoking perspective. It should be useful for academic writing in addition to creative writing, in my opinion. Each method you listed is pertinent and appropriate.
You’re absolutely right! Many of these writing methods can be applied to both creative and academic writing, enhancing the depth and effectiveness of communication.
Robert smith enago
Thank you for sharing this enlightening blog post on the various types of creative writing. Your exploration of different writing methods and styles provides an inspiring perspective on the boundless possibilities within the realm of creativity.
It is remarkable to see how creative writing encompasses an array of forms, each with its unique allure and artistic essence. From poetry, fiction, and drama to screenwriting, creative nonfiction, and even songwriting, each avenue offers writers a chance to express their thoughts, emotions, and imagination in captivating ways.
We truly appreciate your kind words! Creative writing is indeed a vast and fascinating world with endless opportunities for self-expression 🙂
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10 Tips for Developing Your Own Unique Writing Style
Table of contents.
If you’re a new or developing writer, finding your writing style can unlock your creativity, help you define your writing process, and even get you a writing career. Landing on your personal style can take a little exploration time, but the effort is well worth it.
I’m a former English teacher with a specialism in teaching creative writing, as well as a copywriter and award-winning novelist. In this article, I’ll help you to understand how to find your writing style and get started on your writing journey. This will be helpful for anyone who is interested in writing, whether you are pursuing it professionally, or as a personal passion.
First, let’s break down what writing style actually means.
What is a writing style?
Writing style encompasses a range of writing features. Essentially, it’s the voice and tone of your writing. These are made up of word choice, sentence structure, syntax, grammatical variations, literary or rhetorical techniques, rhythm — and more.
In general, writing style conforms to four categories:
- Expository: This is writing that explains something through delivery of facts. For example, articles, scientific reports and other academic writing, technical writing, or educational blog posts. It doesn’t usually give an opinion.
- Descriptive: As suggested by the title, this type of writing describes. It can be used in poetry, fiction, or descriptive nonfiction that needs to paint a picture (such as travel writing).
- Narrative: This tells a story. While most narrative writing is fictional, there is also a strong genre of narrative nonfiction (such as memoir).
- Persuasive: This aims to convince the reader of a particular opinion or viewpoint.
However, these categories are hugely generalized. In reality, each writer will have their own distinct style that reflects their personality as well as the aims of their writing.
Identifying your writing style
So, how can you find and develop your writing style? This is a great opportunity to do a deep dive into your own work so far, and the work of others you admire. It’s also a chance for self-reflection and considering your own personality as an artist and human being.
An important first step is to consider why you write. What do you want to put across? What effect(s) do you want to create?
Some writers will be highly motivated by a desire to inform and educate. This may apply particularly to those working in an academic field, journalists, or those with a passionate interest they want to convey, like specialist bloggers.
Others might have an artistic motivation. Creating a work of beauty can be a driver in itself, but many writers also want to evoke strong emotions like fear, pity, or desire. Poetry is a natural example of this, but writers pursuing an artistic motive might also be interested in writing plays, novels, or narrative nonfiction like memoir.
Your writing style should reflect what you want others to take away from your work.
1. Reflect on life experiences
Your writing “why” might come from some of your real life experiences. Whether you are writing about your own life or not, your past can have a huge influence on what and how you create.
Writing about your own life in the form of journal entries or memoir can be hugely beneficial here. Let your writing flow as you write about places and people that are familiar to you, or experiences that really stand out in your mind.
Pay attention to the kind of language you choose to describe your personal experiences as you tap into your core personality. Is it irreverent? Casual/informal? Highly descriptive? This writing style could be an important building block of your overall writer’s voice.
2. Analyze the types of writing you enjoy
You probably have a few authors whom you really admire. It’s time to consider why they make such an impact on you!
The purpose of this exercise is not to highlight weaknesses in your own work, or set up an unattainable goal (we can’t all be Ernest Hemingway). But looking closely at the types of writing styles that appeal to you can add a lot to your own writing voice.
Try to find a selection of passages or short texts that you really like, ideally across your desired genre. Look at how the writers have used descriptive language for effect, for example. Or, explore how sentence structure creates clarity and emphasis in expository writing.
You can also do this exercise with examples of narrative writing. For example, look at how different writers have opened or closed their stories, or described landscapes or characters. Again, you can compare linguistic techniques, sentence structure, and vocabulary choices.
Now look at a similar piece from your own work. Do you use any similar techniques? Could you introduce any of these to your piece? Conversely, there may be things in your own writing that are unique to you. These might be expressions, turns of phrase, or grammatical twists that are personal to you. Or, perhaps you come back to certain imagery or vocabulary on a regular basis. Identifying these can give you a stronger sense of your personal voice.
3. Examine sentence structure and word choice in your work
You can apply a similar method to other pieces of your existing creative writing or nonfiction work. Select some passages from things you have written already. This might work better if you compare like for like, e.g. opening paragraphs, descriptive passages, or short examples of persuasive writing.
Now look across these extracts and see if you can spot any similarities. Which techniques do you use the most often? Do your sentences follow a similar pattern?
Equally, you might also find places where your writing differs. What impact does that have on you as a reader? Which word choices really stand out?
Understanding your existing style can give you a basis from which to further develop your personal writing voice.
Developing your writing style
At the end of the day, when it comes to writing, there is no substitute for actually sitting down and doing it. The more you write, the more comfortable you will become with your personal style. As you create, take time to mindfully consider the style choices you are making, and how they reflect your aims and personality as a writer.
For example, notice the length of your sentences. Are you creating a fast or slow pace with your sentence structure? Pay attention to the imagery that comes up in your choice of language, too. Would this stand out when placed alongside other pieces of writing?
It’s also important to leave your comfort zone. Consistently writing in just one genre or form can leave you on autopilot. Trying something new can generate new aspects of style that you can incorporate into your overall writing voice.
4. Brainstorm ideas for creative writing projects
To get started with stretching your writing style, why not brainstorm some ideas for new creative projects? Try to come up with ideas across all four general categories listed above; this will really challenge you to grow as a writer.
We have given some ideas below, but you could also ask an AI tool to generate some ideas for you! Using a Generative AI tool, you can use a prompt like “Give three new briefs for writing [whatever form you wish], including a theme, title, and five key words to include.” This could be an interesting challenge to see if you can meet new and diverse writing briefs.
5. Write descriptive pieces to enhance description styles and imagery
Whether you normally write in a narrative style, or something more factual, it’s useful to develop your descriptive writing skills. Being able to describe something vividly can be useful for a variety of aims, including writing more narrative fiction or nonfiction, using your writing for persuasive purposes like sales, or becoming a blogger or reviewer.
You could try simply picking something from your day and describing it in as much detail as possible. Or, how about describing your dream travel destination? Focus on using a descriptive writing style with plenty of imagery (metaphors and similes, for example) and well-chosen vocabulary.
If you need support with building your skill in descriptive styles, consider using an AI writing tool like Wordtune . Wordtune can help you upgrade your writing by suggesting synonyms that make your vocabulary more effective.
6. Try technical writing for precision and clarity
Another great writing challenge to push you out of your comfort zone could be to try some technical writing. For example, write a blog post detailing how to use your favourite app, or a section for a user manual for your phone.
When writing for precision and clarity, it’s important to write in shorter sentences, avoiding the passive voice. You should also avoid abstract imagery and use scientific or official terminology where appropriate. If you usually write in a more imaginative, descriptive way, it can be quite an adjustment to reign in your style.
You could also challenge yourself to make your writing more precise by summarizing an existing text, like a scientific paper. You could then run the same paper through Wordtune’s summarizing tool, Read . Comparing the two pieces could show you how to make your writing even more concise when needed.
7. Experiment with narrative and business writing styles to expand your skillset
If you normally write nonfiction, challenge yourself to write narrative fiction for a change. Prompts could include images or text prompts/titles you find online, or you could use an existing poem or a line from another story to spark your own.
Or, if your focus is normally the narrative writing style, try switching to engaging but informative nonfiction for a business audience. For example, try writing a blog post for your existing or dream employer, or put together a report on a subject you know well.
Wordtune’s tone feature could help here. Input a base text like an existing blog and change the tone on Wordtune to something more casual by using the “casual” tone button. Now, rewrite it on your own to suit a formal, business context.
Practicing your writing style
Now, it’s time to put all your learning together and actually practice your writing style. With a little effort, you can enhance your writing skills and you’ll begin to write instinctively in your upgraded personal voice. There are a few key ways to achieve this, including:
8. Read examples from professional writers (e.g., Stephen King)
Continue to read widely to build your exposure to the type of writing styles you want to emulate, as well as other kinds of writing beyond that. As you read, you could keep a note of particularly effective passages or sentences.
You could also read books on the craft of writing, for example those by authors Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, or Toni Morrison. These can help you hone your technique with specific advice and creative exercises from professional and successful authors.
9. Pen to paper: practice every day
As with any skill, practice becomes effective when it’s regular. Try to build a daily habit of writing, even if it’s something small like a journal entry. The more you write, the more confident you’ll become in your own abilities.
It’s also a good idea to practice editing your own work. This can be tricky if you’re not used to looking at your own writing with a critical eye. Wordtune can help you identify spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes in moments. It can also suggest ways to expand on your work, and upgrade your vocabulary using effective synonyms. Editing your own work is a vital part of developing as a writer and you may need support to get there.
10. Take an online course or workshop on different aspects of the craft
There are loads of courses and workshops you can find to help you develop your writing skills. Some will focus on a specific style, such as narrative writing, while others might be thematic (nature writing) or more general.
It’s important to consider the format of the course before you begin. Some might have opportunities for peer or teacher feedback, which could be invaluable. Double-check if you will be able to interact with others in your class, or if the course is asynchronous. Of course, if you want to follow the sessions at your own pace, a totally self-studied course could be better for you.
Starting to explore how to find your writing style can build your confidence and creativity as a writer. Whether you are writing from your own life experience, creating new worlds, or informing your readers about important information, you can do this in your own distinct voice. Taking time to build and enhance your personal style will make your writing more memorable and original. Don’t forget that there are many resources out there to help you!
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What Is Style?
Definition & Examples of Style
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Style, to a creative writer, is essentially the way in which you write. It results from decisions a writer makes, such as word choice, tone, and syntax. It's the voice readers "hear" when they read your work.
Learn more about how style impacts writing, and the factors that impact writing styles.
The term "style" applies to writers much in the same way as it applies in other scenarios—it's the manner in which someone does something. A writer's style is the culmination of distinctive qualities that define their work. The words you use, the tone you develop, and the syntax of your sentences are perhaps the biggest factors in defining your writing style.
Style is unique, but it often also draws on literary traditions. For example, if someone uses simple, direct sentences with few adjectives, you might say their style of writing has been influenced by Ernest Hemingway. They probably don't write exactly as Hemingway did, but they follow in those stylistic traditions that have become associated with Hemingway.
How Does Style Work?
Your writing style will define your "voice." In other words, your writing style will determine the impact the piece has on readers. Two different writers can write about the exact same subject from the same point of view, but if they have different styles, their writing will have a different effect on the reader.
Even if you haven't studied writing extensively, you can naturally sense the differences between writing styles just by reading works by various authors. Word choice, sentence length, punctuation usage—these factors all have an impact on readers, even if they aren't actively assessing the piece to glean the writing style.
Naturally, your writing style may shift depending on your subject matter and the point of view . You wouldn't write a coming-of-age story from a teenager's point of view the same way you'd write a sci-fi novel about an alien invasion of Earth. However, when we talk about developing your writing style, we mean the voice that is uniquely yours. That voice will change as your writing develops, of course, but like your personality, the foundation remains there even as it develops and matures. That means, whether you're writing about teenagers or aliens, your unique voice will still come across in both works.
This idea becomes clear by reading professional writers' works. Hemingway didn't write about the same thing in every story, but you can recognize Hemingway's style in each piece. Whether you're reading about an old man in a boat, a bullfighter in Spain, or a soldier in World War I, the story is told with sparse language, short sentences, and powerfully minimalistic descriptions.
The Mechanics of Writing
There is a more technical definition of writing style, as well.
To an editor , style refers to the mechanics of writing, including grammar and punctuation. In this sense, "style" refers to the standardized rules that govern the correct way to write. These styles include the Associated Press (AP), Chicago, and Modern Language Association (MLA).
While creative writers should be intimately familiar with how to write in these technical styles, they aren't top of mind when they sit down to create prose or poetry. These technical styles create the frameworks within which creative writers can find their own style and voice. By adhering to some rules and purposefully breaking others, creative writers develop an individual approach to writing that has a unique effect on readers.
These technical rules change depending on what field you're in. For instance, a book publisher using Chicago style would italicize book titles. A journalist reporting on that same book would instead use quotation marks for the title as dictated by AP style guides. Literature students often use MLA style, which also italicizes book titles .
- Style, as it applies to creative writing, is the unique effect a writer has on readers.
- Style is dictated by factors including word choice, tone, and syntax.
- There are also technical writing styles, such as AP style and Chicago style, which standardize grammar and punctuation rules.
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Crafting a Unique Article Writing Style: A Step-by-Step Guide
Crafting a captivating and distinctive article writing style is like mastering a secret art - it sets you apart from the sea of mundane content and allows your words to dance off the page. It is an intriguing journey that combines a splash of creativity, a pinch of passion, and a dash of technique, resulting in a voice that is uniquely yours.
So, whether you're a budding writer looking to find your expressive groove or an experienced wordsmith aiming to enhance your repertoire, join me on this step-by-step guide to unlock the enchanting world of crafting a truly one-of-a-kind article writing style.
Defining Article Writing Style
- Article writing style refers to the unique tone, structure, and approach used to convey information or express opinions in written articles.
- It encompasses the use of language, sentence structure, and overall organization to engage readers and effectively communicate ideas.
- A distinctive article writing style is often characterized by clarity, conciseness, and a conversational tone that appeals to a specific target audience.
- It may vary depending on the purpose of the article, such as informative, persuasive, or entertaining.
- A well-defined writing style enhances readability, captures readers' attention, and reflects the author's personality while maintaining professionalism.
- It is important to balance creativity and credibility within the writing style to engage readers while establishing trust and authority.
- Effective article writing style is adaptable, allowing authors to adjust their approach to suit different topics and target audiences.
- By considering the purpose, audience, and desired outcome, writers can refine their article writing style to effectively convey information and leave a lasting impact.
Why Crafting a Unique Article Writing Style is Important
Crafting a unique article writing style is crucial. It sets you apart from the masses and makes your content memorable. A distinctive style captivates readers and keeps them engaged. It reflects your personality, expertise, and creativity. Plus, it helps build your brand and establishes your credibility as a writer. A unique style fosters trust and loyalty among your audience, making them more likely to return for more of your content.
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So, invest time in honing your writing style and let it shine through in every piece you write.
Identifying Your Writing Voice
Understanding your audience.
- Know your target readership : Research and identify the demographic characteristics of your intended audience, such as age range, gender, interests, and education level. This information will help tailor your writing style appropriately.
- Use appropriate language : Adjust your tone and vocabulary to match your audience's level of understanding. Simplify complex concepts for beginners or use technical terms for a more informed audience.
- Incorporate relatable examples : Use anecdotes or real-life scenarios that resonate with your readers, making your content more engaging and relatable.
- Consider their knowledge and expertise : Assess your audience's prior knowledge on the subject matter. Avoid overexplaining basic concepts or assuming too much expertise; strike the right balance to keep readers interested.
- Address their needs : Understand the problems and concerns your audience faces, and provide solutions or relevant information that adds value to their lives.
- Engage with your audience : Encourage feedback, comments, and questions to create a two-way conversation and build a sense of community around your content.
Analyzing Your Personal Writing Preferences
- Reflect on your preferred writing environment : Consider whether you work better in a quiet space or with background noise. Do you prefer natural light or artificial lighting? Understanding your optimal surroundings can enhance your writing productivity.
- Identify your writing process : Are you someone who needs to outline before diving into an article, or do you prefer a more spontaneous approach? Recognizing your own writing process can help you stay focused and organized.
- Evaluate your preferred writing style : Determine whether you lean towards concise or elaborate writing. Do you enjoy adding personal anecdotes or prefer staying objective? Knowing your style will assist in crafting articles that feel authentic to you.
- Recognize your topic preferences : Analyze the subjects you enjoy writing about the most. Whether it's technology, fashion, or sports, writing about topics that genuinely interest you will make the process more enjoyable and engaging.
- Learn from reader feedback : Pay attention to the articles that resonate with your readers.
Analyze the comments, shares, and engagement to gauge what type of content appeals to your audience, helping you refine your writing approach.
Developing a Strong Writing Foundation
Mastering grammar and punctuation.
Mastering grammar and punctuation is crucial for effective article writing. Grammatical errors can distract readers and undermine the credibility of your piece. One way to improve grammar is by reviewing common mistakes and understanding grammar rules.
Additionally, punctuation plays a vital role in conveying meaning and ensuring clarity. Properly placed commas, periods, and other punctuation marks help to structure sentences and avoid confusion. Proofreading your work multiple times can help identify and correct any errors. Practice and continuous learning are key to mastering grammar and punctuation, resulting in polished and professional articles.
Enhancing Vocabulary Skills
A robust vocabulary is vital for effective article writing. It allows the writer to convey ideas with precision, clarity, and nuance. To enhance vocabulary skills, reading widely from various genres is paramount. Exposure to diverse writing styles exposes one to new words and helps internalize their meanings and usage. Keeping a dictionary close by while reading can aid in quickly looking up unfamiliar words. Regular practice of vocabulary-building exercises, such as word games or flashcards, can also be beneficial.
Additionally, utilizing synonyms and antonyms effectively can enrich the quality of writing. Consistent effort combined with a curious and open-minded approach to language can lead to significant improvements in vocabulary skills.
Improving Sentence Structure and Flow
Improving sentence structure and flow is key to creating a captivating article. Start by keeping your sentences short and to the point. Avoid long, convoluted sentences that can confuse readers.
Additionally, use transition words to smoothly transition between ideas. This helps maintain the flow and coherence of your article. Furthermore, vary your sentence structure by incorporating different sentence types, such as simple, compound, and complex sentences. This adds variety and keeps readers engaged. Lastly, proofread your work to eliminate any grammar or punctuation errors that may disrupt the flow of your sentences. A well-structured article with a smooth flow will undoubtedly grab and hold the attention of your readers.
Exploring Different Writing Styles
Informative or educational writing.
Informative or educational writing is focused on providing knowledge and insights to the readers. Its purpose is to present facts, explanations, or instructions in a clear and concise manner. This style aims to educate and empower readers by offering valuable information on a particular subject. It is important to organize the content effectively, using headings and subheadings to enhance readability.
Additionally, using relevant examples and incorporating visuals like graphs or images can further enhance the educational experience. The language should be straightforward, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical terms that may confuse the audience.
Entertaining or Narrative Writing
Entertaining or narrative writing is a style that captivates readers through storytelling and engaging content. It focuses on delivering information while entertaining the audience. This style adds a personal touch to the article, making it relatable and enjoyable to read. By using anecdotes, humor, and vivid descriptions, the author creates a more intimate connection with the readers, making them feel part of the story.
This approach helps maintain interest and ensures that the information presented is memorable. Entertaining or narrative writing is particularly useful in articles where the primary goal is to engage and entertain the audience rather than provide in-depth analysis or technical information.
Persuasive or Opinion-based Writing
Persuasive or opinion-based writing relies on convincing readers to adopt the author's viewpoint or take a specific action. It presents subjective arguments supported by evidence, creating an emotional appeal. Crafted to influence readers, this style utilizes rhetorical techniques, such as ethos, pathos, and logos, to sway opinions. Persuasive writing demands a clear and assertive tone, backed by logical reasoning and factual information, while anticipating and addressing counterarguments.
By incorporating powerful language and compelling evidence, persuasive writing aims to engage readers, provoke thought, and inspire action.
Incorporating Personal Flair into Your Writing
Adding storytelling elements.
Adding storytelling elements to your article can captivate your readers. Start with an engaging introduction that hooks their attention. Craft a narrative arc by presenting your ideas or information in a logical and progressive manner. Use anecdotes, personal experiences, or case studies to illustrate your points and make them relatable. Create characters by highlighting the people involved or impacted by your topic. Develop tension and suspense to keep readers intrigued.
End with a satisfying conclusion that wraps up your article and leaves readers with something to ponder. By incorporating storytelling, you can transform your article into a compelling and memorable read.
Using humor or wit
Using humor or wit in your articles can make them more engaging and enjoyable for readers. Injecting a dash of humor can help to break the monotony and captivate your audience. Remember to keep it relevant and tasteful, as humor that is out of place or offensive can detract from your message. Clever wordplay or funny anecdotes can add a refreshing touch to your writing, leaving a memorable impression on the reader.
So, don't shy away from injecting some humor into your articles, as it can make them stand out and leave a lasting impact.
Injecting personal experiences or anecdotes
Practicing and refining your style, writing exercises and prompts.
Writing exercises and prompts are essential tools for honing your Article writing skills. They help stimulate creativity, improve fluency, and enhance the ability to convey ideas concisely. By setting constraints and focusing on specific topics or writing styles, exercises challenge you to think outside the box and craft engaging content.
For example, you can try freewriting to generate ideas quickly or experiment with different formats like listicles or opinion pieces. Prompts, on the other hand, provide specific themes or questions that inspire you to develop unique perspectives. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned writer, incorporating these exercises into your routine can greatly improve your article writing abilities. So, grab a pen and get started!
Seeking feedback and constructive criticism
When it comes to article writing, seeking feedback and constructive criticism is crucial. It helps you improve your writing skills and create better content. Look for individuals or groups who are knowledgeable in your field or have experience in writing. Ask them to review your work and provide honest feedback. Be open-minded and receptive to their suggestions, even if it means revising your article multiple times.
Constructive criticism can be tough, but it helps you grow as a writer and produce high-quality articles. Always remember that feedback is an opportunity for improvement and should be valued.
Reading and studying renowned writers
Reading and studying renowned writers is a crucial step in sharpening your article writing skills. By immersing yourself in their works, you gain exposure to different writing styles and techniques. You can analyze their sentence structure, vocabulary choices, and storytelling methods. This deep understanding allows you to absorb new ideas and perspectives, enhancing your own writing abilities. Take note of how these writers engage readers and maintain their interest throughout the article.
By delving into the works of renowned writers, you expose yourself to a wide range of writing approaches and ultimately refine your own unique style.
Maintaining Consistency while Being Adaptable
Balancing personal style and client guidelines.
When it comes to article writing, finding the right balance between personal style and client guidelines is crucial. While it's important to inject your unique voice and perspective into your writing, you also need to consider the specific requirements and preferences of your clients. It's essential to understand their target audience, tone, and any specific instructions they provide.
By melding your personal writing style with these guidelines, you can create compelling and engaging articles that satisfy both your clients and your own creative expression. Remember, it's about striking the perfect harmony between staying true to yourself as a writer and meeting the expectations of your clients.
Adapting to various subject matters and tones
When it comes to article writing, being able to adapt to different subject matters and tones is essential. Whether you're writing about technology or fashion, politics or entertainment, your style should match the topic at hand. This means using appropriate language and tone to engage your readers. For instance, a scientific article should be factual and objective, while a humorous piece may require a more relaxed and playful tone.
By adapting your writing style, you can effectively connect with your audience and deliver your message in a way that resonates with them.
Over to you
Crafting a unique article writing style is a creative process that allows writers to showcase their individuality and engage readers more effectively. To achieve this, there are several steps to follow.
Firstly, it's crucial to identify your target audience and understand their preferences and needs. This helps in tailoring your writing style to resonate with them.
Secondly, adopting a consistent tone throughout your articles can contribute to a distinctive and recognizable style. Whether it's formal or conversational, consistency is key.
Additionally, incorporating elements like storytelling, humor, or personal anecdotes can add personality and make your articles more enjoyable to read. Another step is to experiment with different sentence structures, lengths, and word choices to add variety and prevent monotony. Lastly, don't be afraid to break some grammar rules to make your writing more conversational and engaging. By following these steps, writers can develop a unique article writing style that captivates and retains the attention of their readers.
Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Get Started
Creative writing: You can take classes in it, you can earn a degree in it, but the only things you really need to do it are your creative thinking and writing tools. Creative writing is the act of putting your imagination on a page. It’s artistic expression in words; it’s writing without the constraints that come with other kinds of writing like persuasive or expository.
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What is creative writing?
Creative writing is writing meant to evoke emotion in a reader by communicating a theme. In storytelling (including literature, movies, graphic novels, creative nonfiction, and many video games), the theme is the central meaning the work communicates.
Take the movie (and the novel upon which it’s based) Jaws , for instance. The story is about a shark that terrorizes a beach community and the men tasked with killing the shark. But the film’s themes include humanity’s desire to control nature, tradition vs. innovation, and how potential profit can drive people in power to make dangerous, even fatal, decisions.
A theme isn’t the only factor that defines creative writing. Here are other components usually found in creative writing:
- Connecting, or at least attempting to connect, with the reader’s emotions
- Writing from a specific point of view
- A narrative structure can be complex or simple and serves to shape how the reader interacts with the content.
- Using imaginative and/or descriptive language
Creative writing typically uses literary devices like metaphors and foreshadowing to build a narrative and express the theme, but this isn’t a requirement. Neither is dialogue, though you’ll find it used in most works of fiction. Creative writing doesn’t have to be fictional, either. Dramatized presentations of true stories, memoirs, and observational humor pieces are all types of creative writing.
What isn’t creative writing?
In contrast, research papers aren’t creative writing. Neither are analytical essays, persuasive essays , or other kinds of academic writing . Similarly, personal and professional communications aren’t considered creative writing—so your emails, social media posts, and official company statements are all firmly in the realm of non-creative writing. These kinds of writing convey messages, but they don’t express themes. Their goals are to inform and educate, and in some cases collect information from, readers. But even though they can evoke emotion in readers, that isn’t their primary goal.
But what about things like blog posts? Or personal essays? These are broad categories, and specific pieces in these categories can be considered creative writing if they meet the criteria listed above. This blog post, for example, is not a piece of creative writing as it aims to inform, but a blog post that walks its reader through a first-person narrative of an event could be deemed creative writing.
Types of creative writing
Creative writing comes in many forms. These are the most common:
Novels originated in the eighteenth century . Today, when people think of books, most think of novels.
A novel is a fictional story that’s generally told in 60,000 to 100,000 words, though they can be as short as 40,000 words or go beyond 100,000.
Stories that are too short to be novels, but can’t accurately be called short stories, are often referred to as novellas. Generally, a story between 10,000 and 40,000 words is considered a novella. You might also run into the term “ novelette ,” which is used to refer to stories that clock in between 7,500 and 19,000 words.
Short stories are fictional stories that fall generally between 5,000 and 10,000 words. Like novels, they tell complete stories and have at least one character, some sort of conflict, and at least one theme.
When a story is less than 1,000 words, it’s categorized as a work of flash fiction.
Poetry can be hard to define because as a genre, it’s so open-ended. A poem doesn’t have to be any specific length. It doesn’t have to rhyme. There are many different kinds of poems from cultures all over the world, like sonnets, haikus, sestinas, blank verse, limericks, and free verse.
The rules of poetry are generally flexible . . . unless you’re writing a specific type of poem, like a haiku , that has specific rules around the number of lines or structure. But while a poem isn’t required to conform to a specific length or formatting, or use perfect grammar , it does need to evoke its reader’s emotions, come from a specific point of view, and express a theme.
And when you set a poem to music, you’ve got a song.
Plays, TV scripts, and screenplays
Plays are meant to be performed on stage. Screenplays are meant to be made into films, and TV scripts are meant to be made into television programs. Scripts for videos produced for other platforms fit into this category as well.
Plays, TV scripts, and screenplays have a lot in common with novels and short stories. They tell stories that evoke emotion and express themes. The difference is that they’re meant to be performed rather than read and as such, they tend to rely much more on dialogue because they don’t have the luxury of lengthy descriptive passages. But scriptwriters have more than just dialogue to work with; writing a play or script also involves writing stage or scene directions.
Each type of script has its own specific formatting requirements.
Creative nonfiction covers all the kinds of creative writing that aren’t fiction. Here are some examples:
- Personal essays: A personal essay is a true story told through a narrative framework. Often, recollections of events are interspersed with insights about those events and your personal interpretations and feelings about them in this kind of essay.
- Literary journalism: Think of literary journalism as journalism enhanced by creative writing techniques. These are the kinds of stories often published in outlets like The New Yorker and Salon. Literary journalism pieces report on factual events but do so in a way that makes them feel like personal essays and short stories.
- Memoirs: Memoirs are to personal essays what novels are to short stories. In other words, a memoir is a book-length collection of personal memories, often centering around a specific story, that often works opinions, epiphanies, and emotional insights into the narrative.
- Autobiographies: An autobiography is a book you write about yourself and your life. Often, autobiographies highlight key events and may focus on one particular aspect of the author’s life, like her role as a tech innovator or his career as a professional athlete. Autobiographies are often similar in style to memoirs, but instead of being a collection of memories anchored to specific events, they tend to tell the author’s entire life story in a linear narrative.
- Humor writing: Humor writing comes in many forms, like standup comedy routines, political cartoons, and humorous essays.
- Lyric essays: In a lyric essay, the writer breaks conventional grammar and stylistic rules when writing about a concept, event, place, or feeling. In this way, lyric essays are like essay-length poems. The reason they’re considered essays, and not long poems, is that they generally provide more direct analysis of the subject matter than a poem would.
Tips for writing creatively
Give yourself time and space for creative writing.
It’s hard to write a poem during your lunch break or work on your memoir between calls. Don’t make writing more difficult for yourself by trying to squeeze it into your day. Instead, block off time to focus solely on creative writing, ideally in a distraction-free environment like your bedroom or a coffee shop.
>>Read More: How to Create Your Very Own Writing Retreat
Get to know yourself as a writer
The more you write, the more in tune you’ll become with your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. You’ll identify the kinds of characters, scenes, language, and pieces you like writing best and determine where you struggle the most. Understanding what kind of writer you are can help you decide which kinds of projects to pursue.
Once you know which kinds of writing you struggle with, do those kinds of writing. If you only focus on what you’re good at, you’ll never grow as a writer. Challenge yourself to write in a different genre or try a completely new type of writing. For example, if you’re a short story writer, give poetry or personal essays a try.
Need help getting started? Give one (or all!) of these 20 fun writing prompts a try .
Learn from other writers
There are lots of resources out there about creative writing. Read and watch them. If there’s a particular writer whose work you enjoy, seek out interviews with them and personal essays they’ve written about their creative processes.
>>Read More: How to Be a Master Storyteller—Tips from 5 Experts
Don’t limit yourself to big-name writers, either. Get involved in online forums, social media groups, and if possible, in-person groups for creative writers. By doing this, you’re positioning yourself to learn from writers from all different walks of life . . . and help other writers, too.
I wrote something. Where do I go from here?
Give yourself a pat on the back: You did it! You finished a piece of creative writing—something many attempt, but not quite as many achieve.
What comes next is up to you. You can share it with your friends and family, but you don’t have to. You can post it online or bring it to an in-person writing group for constructive critique. You can even submit it to a literary journal or an agent to potentially have it published, but if you decide to take this route, we recommend working with an editor first to make it as polished as possible.
Some writers are initially hesitant to share their work with others because they’re afraid their work will be stolen. Although this is a possibility, keep in mind that you automatically hold the copyright for any piece you write. If you’d like, you can apply for copyright protection to give yourself additional legal protection against plagiarizers, but this is by no means a requirement.
Write with originality
Grammarly can’t help you be more creative, but we can help you hone your writing so your creativity shines as brightly as possible. Once you’ve written your piece, Grammarly can catch any mistakes you made and suggest strong word choices that accurately express your message.