Creative Writing: Brief Summary
Creative writing is any type of writing which extends beyond the basic purpose of conveying information and which involves an artistic process. Some of the most obvious examples include fiction novels, short stories, screen writing and poetry, although non-fiction writing can also fall under the creative writing umbrella as well.
Prevalent characteristics and literary techniques you may see within creative writing include a narrative structure, character development and dialogue in prose, and a rhythm, meter and rhyme scheme in poetry. Therefore, creative writing is sometimes viewed as a craft, which can be both taught to and learned by students.
Creative writing has also emerged as an industry, because many types of creative writing, such as novels, story books and poetry, have clear commercial appeal and are published for consumption on a mass scale.
Creative Writing: Detailed Summary
A piece of creative writing can be either published or unpublished, but must be an original composition. One way to think about what separates this type of writing from more technical and professional disciplines, like journalism and report writing, is that creative writing usually expresses and evokes thoughts and feelings.
Some of the keys to becoming successful in the field of creative writing are to create imaginative characters, plots or narratives, to develop a unique ‘voice’ or writing style and to express ideas or emotions in a creative way. For this reason, creative writing is sometimes thought of as ‘the art of making things up’.
Nevertheless, some journalistic articles, which primarily deal in facts, can still be considered examples of creative writing, especially when they focus on elements like storytelling and character development and present the information in an entertaining way, which is able to transcend simple report writing. This tends to happen when there is more of a focussed target group rather than an international audience.
Creative writing is a form of self-expression, which is usually intended to entertain readers and provoke a certain emotional response from them. The creation of characters, settings and plots can also allow creative writers to explore experiences, ideas, thoughts and feelings which differ quite drastically from their own.
In many ways, creative writing can be considered to have fewer barriers than other forms of writing. Theoretically, anyone with the ability to think and write can come up with original ideas and partake in creative writing processes. Moreover, there are virtually no rigid ‘rules’, especially when compared to professional writing disciplines.
Creative Writing in Academia
Despite the lack of barriers to creative writing, many still consider it to be a craft, which can be taught to students in an academic setting. Certainly, due to the number of established literary techniques, tropes, plot devices and genres, there is some merit to this viewpoint, although it remains a point of contention.
Within academia, references to creative writing as a subject which can be taught date back to at least the 19th century. In many cases, creative writing components are taught to children throughout primary and secondary school, and students have the opportunity to continue this study at college or university, whether it be in an undergraduate or postgraduate course.
In the English-speaking world, creative writing is typically tied into the English department and may be taught within that discipline. However, because English classes usually involve the study of English literary forms, rather than the creation of them, some people argue creative writing should be a distinct discipline.
The primary aim of teaching creative writing in an academic setting is to help facilitate self-expression, often by providing resources for students to learn literary mechanisms for use in their own work. Courses may, therefore, cover techniques like metaphors, similes, iambic pentameter, and look at established genres and plot devices.
Some of the other topics that may be covered include techniques for generating ideas, methods for getting around so-called “writer’s block” and editing techniques to improve the overall quality of writing. Moreover, most academic courses covering creative writing require students to submit their own work for evaluation.
Yet, because creative pieces are about self-expression and writers have the freedom to break away from conventions, the teaching of creative writing remains somewhat controversial. Even in spite of the huge range of programmes offered by academic institutions, many people argue that you cannot truly teach or study creativity.
Similarly, while most academic courses require students to submit their own creative work, in order for it to be assessed and graded, some people argue that all creative writing has its merits. Therefore, like other art forms, enjoyment of it is subjective, potentially making it unsuitable for this type of evaluation.
Types of Creative Writing
There are many different types of creative writing and writers use a wide range of different methods to express their ideas. Creative writers may have their work published by a traditional publishing house, self-published in physical form, published to digital platforms, or it may remain unpublished. Common types of creative writing include:
Traditional Fiction – This type of writing can be described as a story derived from the writer’s imagination and can include novels, short stories, novellas, plays and narrative poetry. Although fiction can require research and contain factual information, the primary intention is to be creative. Fiction typically includes a plot, characters, a setting, dialogue and themes, and usually requires suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader.
Poetry – A form of literature which is rhythmic in its composition and which often features techniques like rhyming, alliteration and meter in order to create meaning. There are many different types of poetry, including narrative poetry, dramatic poetry, satirical poetry, elegy, fantastic poetry, lyric poetry and epic poetry.
Journal Writing – Diaries and memoirs, whether published or not, can be classed as creative writing, as they are a form of self-expression, where the writer shares thoughts, ideas and emotions, rather than simply relaying information. Some journals are also a work of fiction, written from the point of view of an invented character. In many cases, a personal blog can also be considered to be a journal.
Plays and Scripts – Often sharing similarities with traditional fiction, plays and scripts are created with the intention of the work being performed to an audience. The art of writing scripts for television shows, films, video games and other forms of mass media is usually referred to as screenwriting, while the art of writing scripts for plays, theatre productions and other stage shows is usually called playwriting.
Ultimately, any piece of writing which has a creative process behind it may be classified as creative writing and this means that both fiction and non-fiction pieces can fall under its umbrella. The defining characteristics of creative writing are use of the imagination and the expression of thoughts, feelings and ideas, rather than pure information and facts. Types of creative writing include prose, poetry, scripts and journals.
Although the subject is taught within schools and universities all over the world, creative writing’s status as an academic subject is somewhat controversial. While there are many literary techniques, genres and tropes, which can serve as resources for self-expression, many of those who value the lack of barriers and the freedom to break away from convention argue that creative writing cannot and should not be formally taught.