Creative Writing - Basic Principles

Developing your writing style To be a good creative writer, it’s not necessary to have a vivid imagination, though that helps a lot. Many great writers of the English Language weren’t particularly creative, instead, they honed down their technique and style to garner interest in their stories. The greatest thing about creative writing is that it’s all yours (unless of course, you decide to plagiarize, which would completely defeat the purpose). But to be a good creative writer, the most important thing is practice. There are four things to keep in mind while writing a story or play. These are: 1) 2) 3) 4) Plot Characterization Dialogues Theme

These are the basic things required to write a story, but the tackling of the concept is where many would-be writers lag behind. Developing one’s writing style takes time, patience, and constant practice. Attempting too much, or writing too consciously may hamper your prose, not improve them. Here are a few ways you can improve your writing style and add color to your work. 1) Read: Reading can help improve your writing style immensely. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by a certain author’s writing technique, in fact, you can even take a certain style a few steps further. Write: Without constant writing practice you can’t expect you creative writing skills to improve. Write constantly, even if you think your work is awful. It’s not necessary to stick to one genre even; experiment and innovate. There is a great possibility you’ll latch on to your individual style soon enough. Be natural: Use the language and words that come naturally to you. Opening a thesaurus and taking our difficult words will not make your writing better; in fact it makes it pedantic and pretentious. Be concise and clear: nobody knows what you want to say better than you do, and most of the time simple, clear sentences make more of an impact than heavy longwinded phraseology. Avoid being clichéd: try to craft original new sentences. Steer clear from done-to-death wordings and metaphors. You can create interest in your writing by being spunky, creative, and bold in your word choice.



4) 5)

Creating Realistic Characters

Dialogues play a great role in bringing fiction to life. 2) 3) 4) Avoid stereotyping your characters through dialect: Not only is this offensive. in either case leaving the reader with a sense of disbelief. Good writers are often good eavesdroppers too. Observe the way people speak. Use action to highlight your dialogues: Remind the reader that the characters they are reading about are as physical (theoretically) as they are. and how you can create realistic. and interesting conversations between your characters. and if handled properly can help create a wonderful piece of art. People tend to over dramatize.” Author Bio: . For example. you can turn to dialogue. So how can you make sure your dialogue writing seems genuine and colorful? By following these tips: 1) Listen to how people talk: You’ll rarely find a priest swearing. Just like all Irish men do not have red hair.” between dialogues. and note down any interesting figure of speeches they might use. similarly not all Englishmen says “Bollocks. Writing convincing dialogue Writing good dialogue takes practice and observation. ‘He said’ ‘she said dialogues get monotonous if they aren’t broken up with movement. or an English Professor using slang. where is your character from? What does he/she do for a living? How old is your character and what family background is he/she coming from? Etc. Following is a list of questions you could ask yourself about your character.You can create complex well rounded characters easily by asking yourself questions about what type of person you wish to create. it also challenges the reader’s intelligence. 1) What does he/she look like? 2) What is your character called? 3) How does your character deal with conflict and trouble? 4) Are there other people in your characters live? How does he/she relate to them? 5) What is the purpose of your character in this story? Once you’ve got your characters figured out. but most readers don’t care to read unnecessary words like “err…” “uh…” and “oh. or understate. Let the story unfold naturally. In general. Don’t stuff in too much information: It should not be obvious that you are using dialogue to communicate information. apply the three-sentence rule: give no character more than three uninterrupted sentences at once. Cut down on extraneous words and phrases: real speech doesn’t flow as smoothly as it seems to on paper.

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Doing creative writing exercises is sort of like taking a walk in the park as opposed to setting a treadmill's timer to maximize your walk's physical impact. you should let your mind wander a bit off track. but two of the most common ideas are to focus on a detail or to focus on your imagination. on any subject that pops into your mind.200-word magazine features and instead let your writing instincts carry you as far as you care to go. sentence structure. If you allow yourself the time to do one exercise each week. You can do this in many ways.MAGAZINE WRITING Creative-Writing Exercises by Kim Kavin As you now know. and stories. regardless of whether they make sense or not. punctuation. and punctuation when you attempt a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise. just to see where you — and your writing skills — might end up. the term “creative writing” refers to a specific style of crafting words into sentences.000 or 1. . Forget everything you know about “cleaning up copy” and instead just let the words flow out of your mind. When you're working on a creative-writing exercise.creativewritingprompts. But at the heart of all of them is usually a passion for writing itself. The idea here is to do stream-of-consciousness writing — just letting the words flow out of you and onto the page. helping yourself to better gather information in the future so that you will have better material to work with when writing articles. You must put aside your notions of grammar. The Web site www. When you're doing writing exercises. you shut out everything else around you and try to find new and interesting ways to describe an object you know all too well. like water from a highpressure faucet. there are a lot of skills that go into being a great magazine writer. The idea is to set yourself free from the daily constraints of writing 1. spelling. you should be more focused on the way words interact on the page than you might otherwise be on things like word count. Focus on a Detail When you focus on a detail for a creative-writing exercise. and even grammar. There's no better way to rejuvenate and enhance that passion than by setting aside time to do some creative-writing exercises. offers more than 200 prompts that will get you started on creative-writing exercises. then you'll be able to use this free writing resource for four full years of your career. While magazine writing is a creative enterprise. You will be training your senses of observation more than anything.

particularly for leads and nut grafs. you may come up with an interesting turn of phrase that you can tuck away and use later to make one of your magazine articles really sing.000 or even 20. you in many cases will see patterns and ideas that you may have subconsciously been working on all along. and just start writing. Word Limits Some creative-writing exercises are not done in stream-of-consciousness style but instead with word limits.” Now. and nothing else. then perhaps learning how to pare back your work to essential words and phrases will be a more helpful creative-writing exercise.creativewritingprompts. anywhere from ten to thirty minutes).” Creative-writing exercises that limit you in terms of word count are an excellent tool to help you craft tighter leads and nut grafs later on in your full-length stories and query letters.Starting this kind of exercise is easy: Choose an object on which to focus. This is obviously most helpful to writers of fiction. the more simplified your lead needs to be to draw the reader in.” You can certainly imagine any kind of story you want with this exercise. These types of exercises are terrific for writers who want to improve their conciseness. or for an allotted amount of time that you give yourself (say. The task itself will be fun exercise for your brain. Many talented magazine writers focus on details when crafting leads to complex articles. but in letting your ideas flow onto the page. could be an interesting opening to an article about pesticides and golf courses. Focus on Imagination You can also use stream-of-consciousness writing exercises to jog your “In 200 words. for as long as you can.000 words about a hot is a good example of this type of exercise: “Use the first line of any nursery rhyme to tell a story. but nonfiction magazine writers who do these kinds of exercises tend to find them helpful in terms of broadening their capacity to come up with new and interesting article ideas. for instance. Again. you can find many interesting things to write about it. . If nothing else. The bigger the idea or concept that you are writing about. there are plenty of writers out there who could go on for 2. Is it harder to write long pieces or short ones? Most magazine writers say that it is far more difficult to “write short. If you're one of them. You'll soon learn that if you focus on any one thing long enough. here's an example from www.creativewritingprompts. One prompt from the site www. describe a hot day. The object can be as complex as your car or as simple as the blade of grass growing outside your garage. The point is to write about that one object. but the skills you get from doing the task will continue to benefit you throughout your magazine-writing career. Writing about a single blade of grass.

sleeping. you can practice crafting pieces that work alongside visuals by assigning yourself a topic and then not just writing about it. Each of these magazine-article elements adds to the reader's understanding of your words. not just the words themselves. Readers respond almost viscerally to images. you can use information that you had to cut out of your story to create powerful captions that readers will remember — essentially. while they have to take time to read and think about words before they can form an emotional response. and eating. Editors will love you for it! Practice Makes Perfect If you do decide that you have a knack for photography. captions. after all. images really do convey information better. you can instead show a photograph of her smiling and write about the toy or activity that makes her so happy. Whenever possible. keep practicing. your words will be cut to make room for bigger and better photographs with captions. This exercise will help you to understand that sometimes. In many cases. pull quotes. What does this mean for you as a writer? In many cases. but also photographing it. This can be as simple as creating a story titled “My New Niece.” Snap a few different digital shots of Heather playing. are not the only things in the magazine's pages. What you'll learn in the end of this exercise is that you can be an even better writer if you learn to envision the entire story package. improving as a magazine writer comes from learning additional skills. and each can add to your understanding of how to craft great stories as well. There are headlines. If you want to write the best story in a magazine. You'll soon find that instead of spending an entire paragraph describing Heather's adorable smile. photographs. then it has to be written tightly and in a way that complements the images chosen to run with it. Even if you don't intend to ever take photographs to go with your articles.Adding to Your Skills by Kim Kavin Sometimes. Heather. It will also help you see that you should save the precious word count you have for information that can't be told through accompanying pictures. and more. mini-stories pegged to specific images that go along with your text. High-resolution digital cameras are coming down in price enough that many writers are buying them and using them to . and then write a story to go with them. ask your editor to show you a laid-out version of your article. The Power of Photography Pictures are often the most dramatic element on magazine pages. Your words. complete with photographs and caption spaces.

Why do editors like writers who can also take pictures? You save them time and money. • • Creative-Writing Exercises Reviving Your Commitment to Downtime . and they know your photos will match your story. Simply trying to envision how your words will end up looking on the page will give you new and exciting ideas about how you can write them. In most cases. Taking pictures is a nice way to earn an extra few dollars while still researching a single article. You'll learn more about adding photography to your magazine-writing career in Chapter 19. They don't have to hire a separate photographer. For now. or how you can suggest to an editor that they be packaged. There will be no miscommunication between separate writers and photographers who turn in words and pictures that fail to work together on the page. writers receive additional compensation when they offer editors photographs along with stories.submit images along with their articles. think of taking pictures as being similar to the other creative-writing exercises discussed in this chapter.

The company who makes that product plans to stop its production. but make sure you stop at photo #14. PROMPT 7 Moving from one plate to another. and one house to another. PROMPT 3 Choose a poem you like. open your eyes and write about that object without looking at it." PROMPT 10 Think of a product you wouldn't be caught dead using.CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS Use the creative writing prompts and creative writing ideas to create stories. After 3 minutes or so. Take the last line and use that as the first line of your own poem. Pick out photo #14. Count however way you like. recall as much detail as you can about it. Use vivid words. If you feel frustrated. PROMPT 6 Write about a weird day in your workplace. PROMPT 2 A picture is worth more than a blank page. poems and other creative pieces from your imagination. Without opening your eyes.. PROMPT 9 "A funny thing happened on my way to.. is a big task. Don't skimp on adjectives. Take out those dusty albums. write about what your frustration smells like. PROMPT 5 Describe what you feel right now using your sense of smell. Don't censor yourself. Think of 12 things to do when there's no power. PROMPT 1 Close your eyes briefly. Write a strong letter to the company and convince them not to take that product off the market. PROMPT 11 . PROMPT 4 Electricity is a recent discovery. Just write. PROMPT 8 Invent a hot or sensational issue and write a news story about it. Then for 10 minutes. write all the feelings that photograph made you feel. The writing prompts can even help you come up with creative content for blogs and blog stories. Look at the photo for 2-3 minutes. Think of one object that's in the room and focus on it. Write about one of your most memorable house moves.

. PROMPT 18 Use this plot in a short story: holiday house they rented turns out to be run-down servants quarters. PROMPT 17 Create a news story with this headline: Army Tough Guy Trampled by Deer. . job or chore you dislike. took a deep breath and walked towards where he was sitting. PROMPT 14 I once dreamed about . PROMPT 13 Write from the point of view of a the last tree standing in a forest. PROMPT 16 List 20 rules you've broken. PROMPT 22 What happens when two friends visit an old house that one of them inherited from a distant relative? In the house. Pick one from the list and write about it. there is a 100-year old mirror that has never been broken.. Angela brushed her skirt. PROMPT 12 Think of a memorable character (from a book. PROMPT 15 Make this the first line of your story: Catching the signal from one of her friends. film or TV show).List 30 uses for a hanger. PROMPT 25 List 10 things you can do with tissue paper. PROMPT 20 Why would an antiques dealer leave town? PROMPT 21 Write about a time you pampered yourself. PROMPT 24 Write a story about an empty glass. PROMPT 19 Make a list of the 10 most unusual jobs you are interested in. PROMPT 23 Write about a task. Craft a story about that character losing the most valuable thing he or she owns. .PROMPT 26 Write about what you'd cook for an enemy...... crumpled paper. laptop.. What happens? PROMPT 28 Complete this famous tagline with your own: Please don't squeeze the _________. PROMPT 31 Why would a trader own a gun? PROMPT 32 Use the following words in a story: college student... PROMPT 29 Write from the point of view of a spoon inside the dishwasher. PROMPT 33 What images does this line in one of Gregory Corso's poems spark in you: "They want to make buttons our of my bones" ...many more @ www.creativewritingprompts.. train. PROMPT 27 Take two people who dislike each other and stick them in the backseat of a cab. PROMPT 30 Write a story on this plot: mailed Valentine card never arrives.....

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