How to Improve Creative Writing Skills: 11 Tips
Creative writing is all about letting your creative juices flowing and enticing the reader by the world created in your imagination. Even if you don’t plan to make a living out of writing novels or screenplays, the creative writing skill is great to have in your student’s toolkit. In particular, it will help you produce better essays that will get you excellent grades in college.
Moreover, having mastered creative writing, you’ll improve your writing skills in general, learn to communicate more efficiently in writing and produce a strong copy. Let alone the fact that practicing creative writing will enhance your creative thinking and imagination. Have we persuaded you that mastering creative writing is worth it? Great! Take a look at the writing tips and hints from proficient college paper writers below.
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11 tips to enhance your creative writing skills
There’s a common misconception that creative writing requires a great amount of talent. This is true to some extent – to earn a living as a creative writing and to produce the next New York Times bestseller, you’ll definitely need a knack for writing. Yet, through a little learning and persistence it’s possible to write creative essays that earn A grades. Here’s exactly which steps you’ll need to take for that:
- Read like it’s your job
Surprised? The #1 tip for aspiring creative writing isn’t about writing. However, don’t neglect this one. Reading a lot is indispensable for everyone looking to strengthen their writing skills. It stimulates your imagination, teaches great writing practices and helps build a hefty vocabulary. Avid readers admit to not having to overthink their writing – they often write quite well naturally. So, try to read a lot of many fiction and non-fiction genres, blog posts on your favorite subjects, and essays written by others. The information you absorb will help you become a better writer day after day.
- Mind the audience
Just like with any other type of writing, when composing a creative piece, you should do it with a target audience in mind. Not having done so, you are likely to end up using unclear metaphors, not very effective vocabulary or write a piece without keeping the audience’s level of understanding in mind. Obviously, if you’re writing an essay for college, your primary audience is the teacher or instructor. However, if you are expected to read the piece aloud in class, your peers are the target audience as well so you have to think of ways to keep them engaged. You will need to adjust the word choice, the structure and content so that the audience fully understands your main idea.
- Build a broad understanding of the subject
“Wait, isn’t the creative writing about imagining things?” you might ask. While this is true, your writing will only benefit if you immerse yourself in the subject you’re going to write about. For instance, if you’re composing a piece for an ancient history course, you’ll need to learn more about this historical epoch to make your writing accurate, believable and vivid. Similarly, if you intend to write a short story about a painter, spend some time researching the subject or asking someone to give the reader a broader picture of how a life of a painter looks like. Tiny details help create a big picture and keep the reader focused.
- Use the classic ‘three act’ structure
When you’re mastering something, sticking to the classic approach is the best bet, and creative writing is not an exception. The three-act structure is used in the majority of modern prose and across lots of fiction genres. Here’s how it looks like. Setup introduces the characters, their relationships, and the world they live in, laying a foundation for further actions. Confrontation shows the central problem or a conflict that the main character is trying to resolve, and the majority of actions take place during this stage. Finally, in resolution events and conflicts escalate and the problem is resolved. This structure gives your writing a logical flow and makes your story sound believable.
- Be detailed when describing location and setting
While informative and scientific essays should be concise and deliver your idea using minimum words, this isn’t the case with creative writing. Here, your goal is to get the reader interested and absorbed by what happens in your piece. And the simplest way to achieve it is to give them maximum context and details, bringing your main character and their surroundings to life. You might want to describe their clothes, the room when most actions take place, the lifestyle of characters and other elements to set the context. Adding these tiny details can set the right tone of voice and make your prose sound a way more persuasive.
- Use a good vocabulary
Rich vocabulary helps convey your ideas better and create vivid, interesting prose. Poor vocabulary, on the contrary, makes your creative essay sound blank and unengaging. Let alone the fact that your professor will appreciate the good word choice when grading your paper. So, how do you build a great vocabulary? Firstly, reading a lot helps, as we’ve mentioned above. Secondly, you might want to rely on thesaurus as you write to choose catchy and high-impact synonyms for ordinary words. And finally, use dictionaries or apps like ‘word a day’ to enrich your vocabulary. A rich vocabulary is also helpful for writing all other types of papers, as well as in business writing.
- Rely on extended metaphors
Not all essay types allow using metaphors, but in creative writing, it’s expected that you rely on analogies and metaphors to explain something new or complex to the readers. Metaphors help make your essays more original and memorable, let alone the fact that readers are more receptive to metaphors than to lengthy explanations of details and facts. Metaphors allow them to visualize what’s unfamiliar. The extended metaphor means using several sentences or the entire paragraphs to compare the unlike things rather than one phrase, and if the essay length requirements allow using them, be sure to use at least one extended metaphor as well.
- Keep a record of your ideas
Writing a creative copy depends on imagination and ideas to a greater extent than on research and facts. Hence, when you’re working on a creative piece of any kind, you don’t want to miss any idea which crosses your mind. To stimulate your creative juices and to develop a habit to remember all ideas, always have a notebook with you and write down any ideas that cross your mind when you’re out, commute or are busy with other activities. Stop for a minute and describe the idea in a notebook or a smartphone. Develop a habit to review your notes every few days to find ideas that can be used in your writing.
Curious about how to improve your performance in college? Take a look at our expert tips.
- Find a writing partner or join a writing workshop
If you are serious about developing your writing skills, you’ll need to be persistent and write something every day. This requires a great deal of discipline and isn’t easy for every student. To keep going in honing your creative writing skills even when you lack motivation, it helps to find a writing buddy or join a writing workshop. Firstly, it will keep you accountable as you’ll need to show a complete piece by a certain time and present it to a friend or a group of peers. And secondly, you’ll hear helpful feedback and will understand your mistakes to avoid them in the future.
- Master editing and proofreading
The first draft is rarely perfect, and even experienced writers face it. Chances are, you’ll have to revise and edit it a few times until you are satisfied with the final copy. So, don’t neglect an editing process. Put your fresh text aside for a few hours so that you could review it with a fresh eye. Read it aloud and sentence by sentence to fix syntax, logic, flow and make sure that you’re happy with the wording. After that, proofread to exclude typos, punctuation errors and format the essay according to the style guide as your university requires.
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- Get your teacher’s feedback
Whatever new skill you are mastering, receiving helpful feedback and acting on it helps you learn faster and more efficiently, and writing is not an exception. Every time you submit a creative essay, be receptive to what your instructor and professor has to say about it, and pay special attention to fixing errors they point out. If they ask you to revise the paper and submit again, see it not as another boring task but as a chance to strengthen your creative writing skills. By doing so, you’ll significantly grow as a writer and inevitably get higher grades for essays.
5 writing secrets from the world’s best writers
Want more inspiration for giving your writing skills a boost? Take a look at a few secrets to perfect writing from the popular and prosperous writers:
- Get real-world experience. Doing research and learning about the subject of writing is undoubtedly important. However, some of the best writers agree that no research can replace the experience you’ve gained in the real world – the places you’ve been to, people you’ve met, the events you’ve participated in. By enriching your life with adventures and emotions, you collect the necessary experiences for writing a great copy.
- Don’t wait for inspiration. Some people believe that great writing depends a lot on the muse. Yet, this is an amateurish approach. The great writers, such as Stephen King, don’t rely on inspiration to create their masterpieces. They simply start writing, and write every single day. And as they practice, their skills get better. You’ll experience this too if you are persistent enough.
- Write in a way that comes naturally. Obviously, when writing a college essay, you have the guidelines to follow and you are expected to use a certain language. However, don’t overthink the writing process and don’t try to look ‘smart’. Express your ideas in plain language, as if you were speaking to a friend. This type of writing will be more welcomed by your audience than if you were trying to use sophisticated words and sentence structures.
- Create a strong opener. Your article, essay, or book should captivate the attention of the reader right from the introduction. Remember that if you didn’t manage to inspire interest from the first lines, the reader will be reluctant to read the rest. So, think about ways to create strong opening sentences that intrigue or imply what sort of writing the reader can expect to see. Introductions are important for all types of fiction writing.
- Steal like an artist. Plagiarism is prohibited in all types of academic writing. Yet, as you read a lot of books and stories and they inspire you to create something original, digesting and collecting the information you’ve learned, this isn’t considered plagiarism. This is similar to research – you browse through lots of sources to get inspiration for creating your own. In fact, this is something that many great writers do.
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