What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is writing meant to bring out (evoke) emotion in a reader by communicating a theme, a sentence, a story. Not just plain (boring) facts!

Step 1:

  • Summarise your thoughts into simple (Memory triggers) dot points, then start your writing.

  • Make use of the paragraph structure to keep your thoughts and ideas together as one.

  • Use plenty of descriptives (descriptive words) to explain in detail what you are writing.

For exmple: I went down to the beach today and it was fun. (Really, but what happened, what did you do!)

How about this:

Just after 7am this morning I ran down to the beach to check out the waves and wow they were made just for me. I jumped in the cool water and surfed for over an hour or two until I ran out of energy. Then I towelled oof, walked back home and had a big brekkie, then a short nap. Then, you guessed it, before lunch I went back down to "my" beach for another surf!

Tell your story, not just a one statement fact sheet line with no detail (boring!)

Step 2:

The Creative Writing Skills:

In storytelling (including literature, movies, graphic novels, creative nonfiction, and many video games), the theme of the story 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 terrorises 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 that are found in creative writing:

  • Connecting, or at least attempting to connect, with the reader’s emotions
  • Writing from a specific point of view
  • Organising the text around a narrative structure*
    - 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
  • (Descriptive writing consists of a variety of techniques and choices you make in an effort to give your reader an accurate, three-dimensional impression of the subject you’re writing about. It’s part choice of words, part figurative language, part comparison, and part knowing what to include and what to leave out of your writing to set just the right mood).

  • *(Narrative structure (also known as story structure) is the order in which elements of a story are presented to the reader or audience. It composes of two things:
  • Plot — the chain of events that occur in the book; and
  • Story elements — the underlying factors that drive the narrative action: protagonists, conflicts, setting, etc.)

Step 3:

The Structural Mix:

By mixing together a plot and its driving forces, a storyteller can draw connections between ‘things that happen’ and ‘things that matter.’ A tale about two vastly different people falling in love can also be about the value of compromise. An account of two brothers who rob a bank can become an examination of greed, loyalty, or the failure of a dream.

A good narrative structure is about presenting the plot and story elements to allow readers to understand what is happening and what it all means. It unravels the plot in a way that doesn’t accidentally confuse the reader while also pushing along the development of the character and the main conflicts. Structure helps the storyteller deliver a satisfying narrative experience — whether it’s meant to be happy, hilarious, or tragic.

Creative writing typically uses literary devices like metaphors (example of a metaphor - He's buried in a sea of paperwork) 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. 

**Novels that you read are narratives. For example the Harry Potter series is a set of books that relate the story of Harry's education as a wizard at Hogwarts, and his fight against the evil Voldemort.

Step 4:

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. 

***A persuasive essay is one in which you attempt to get the reader to agree with your point of view.
****Academic writing is writing which communicates ideas, information and research to the wider academic community and is writing that is intended for publication in an academic journal or book.

But what about the categories can be considered creative writing if they meet the criteria listed above. This blog post, for example, may not be 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

Step 5 - The Different Categories of Creative Writing:

Creative writing comes in many forms. These are the most common:


Novels originated in the 18th 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. ( How many words in a page of a novel? – Well it depends on the font you are using, of course, but in general, 250-300 words per page).  

How to get started:

As mentioned above, use dot points, make a list of what you want to include in your project - whether it be an essay, an assignment or a story.

This helps you to organise ideas.

On the subject of organisation - move the dot points around into the sequence you want them to appear.

 Short stories

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. As to creative writing, the answer to this is the writing style used within the poem.

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 writing can be the writing style used, but not always. The difference is in the eye of the beholder. 

Creative non-fiction

Creative non-fiction covers all the kinds of creative writing that aren’t fiction. Some  examples are:

  • 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. Literary journalism pieces report on factual events but do so in a way that makes them feel almost 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. 
    - Epiphanies - are usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something
  • 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. 
  • Humour writing: Humour writing comes in many forms, like stand-up 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

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 study or a coffee shop or a quiet park. 

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.

Challenge yourself!

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 (style). For example, if you’re a short story writer, maybe give poetry or personal essays a try. 

How to get started:

That's the hard part or is it? Here are 10 handy hints - on how to create your creative work.

1/. Find a theme/topic/story to write creatively about.

2/. Do your research.

3/. Make notes - in particular dot points of the main components.

4/. Sort out the dot points into a logical/sequence order.

5/. Don't rush it! - Find the time to hit the keyboard of creativity.

6/. Don't rush it.

7/. Do your writing thing - extending yourself and your storyline as you go.

8/. Where applicable - take on the role of each character you are writing about - live the scene!

9/. Put it aside, walk the dog, go for a swim or a run, then come back and finish it.

10/. Do your edits and publish.