We’ve explored creative writing criteria, literary elements and how to replicate the text over on our The Ultimate Guide to VCE Creative Writing blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to creative writing, I highly recommend checking it out!
There are two types of people in this world… those who love creative writing, and those who don’t. But no matter which one you are, never fear, your saviour is here (in the form of this simple guide to writing creatively – whether it’s for school, for a writing competition or just for fun)!
What Are the Five Steps?
- Do a brain dump of your ideas!
- Stay true to yourself
- Start small - keep it simple
- Don't be afraid to add "spice"
- Read your writing out loud
STEP 1: Do a brain dump of your ideas!
You’ll often find that your brain is buzzing with possible storylines or scenarios; you’ll feel so overwhelmed trying to pick just one! Or maybe, you’re experiencing “writer’s block”, a mind blank. My tip for this is to set a five-minute timer, get a blank sheet of paper and scribble down everything that comes to your mind! You’ll be surprised at how imaginative your mind can be under pressure! When the timer goes off, take a break and then read through each idea individually before choosing one to develop. This way you’ll be able to clearly see all your thoughts, and maybe even be able to link multiple ideas into a more detailed story!
STEP 2: Stay true to yourself
Creative writing is so different to other text types because it gives you the freedom to choose what you're writing about, and how you're going to do it! So, take advantage of this and write from the heart – don’t try to be someone you’re not. Let your personality shine through your writing. It's usually the stories that have some kind of personal backstory, or are based on a real-life experience that are the most enjoyable to read!
STEP 3: Start small - keep it simple
No one expects you to write a New York Times best seller novel in your first attempt! Even the most talented authors began with a dot point plan or a simple paragraph based on their idea. From my experience, the absolute hardest thing to do is actually get started. Keeping it simple and focusing on getting your ideas down on the page is the easiest way to overcome this hurdle. You can worry about the language and descriptions later, once you have a basic first draft, editing and developing is so much easier!
Want to also know the 11 mistakes high school students tend to make in creative writing? Check out this
STEP 4: Don't be afraid to add "spice"
Now it's time for my favourite part; adding the flavour! This is what will make your writing stand out from the crowd! Take some risks, don’t be afraid to rewrite parts of your piece or use language techniques that are out of your comfort zone!
Here are a few of my favourite features to use when creative writing:
- Flashbacks / Foreshadowing (these are good tools to subtly suggest a character’s backstory and add some mystery – especially if you use third-person language to make it more cryptic)
E.g. As he entered the quadrangle for the first time since the accident, a wave of nostalgia hit Jack… The boy chuckled as the girl ran across the quadrangle to meet him, her cheeks rosy from the frosty air. The pale orange sky was transforming into a deep violet and the new-formed shadows cast dancing silhouettes on the young couple. The boy took the girl’s hand, making a silent promise to himself to protect her smile forever. A promise he would fail to keep…
- Personification (giving inanimate objects some life to spice up your descriptions!)
E.g. Her favourite oak tree stood proudly in the middle of the park, arms outstretched, waving to those that passed by.
- Oxymoron (contradictory words or groups of words)
E.g. Deafening silence, blinding darkness, cold fire
If you want to enhance your language or use different adjectives to what you normally use, https://www.thesaurus.com/ is your best friend! 😉
If you're stuck on how to develop your descriptions and make them more vivid, I suggest relating back to the five senses. Ask yourself, what can the character see? What can they smell? What does the setting they're in sound like?
E.g. He was paralysed in front of the caskets… the cotton wrapped, caterpillar-like bodies, the oppressive silence of the parlour made him feel sick. And the overpowering stench of disinfectant mixed with already-wilting flowers certainly didn’t help.
STEP 5: Read your writing out loud
It can be awkward at first, but have some fun with it! Put on an accent, pretend you're a narrator, and read your writing. It really helps you to gauge the flow of the piece, and also identify things you might need to change. Or even better, read your writing to a friend or family member - ask them how they feel and what their initial thoughts are after hearing your piece.
Either way, reflection is one of the best ways to improve your writing and get it to the next level.
That’s all there is to it folks! Follow this simple recipe and you’ll be cooking up a creative-writing storm! Good luck! 😊
Want more tips on how you can achieve an A+ in creative writing? Read this blog post.