What is Creative Writing? - Definition, Types & Examples

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  • 0:02 Creative Writing
  • 1:50 Examples
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Bryanna Licciardi

Bryanna has received both her BA in English and MFA in Creative Writing. She has been a writing tutor for over six years.

Expert Contributor
Amy Fredrickson

Amy has taught and tutored college-level English; she has a master's degree from Colorado State University in rhetoric and composition.

Also known as 'the art of making things up,' creative writing is a vital part of modern society. This lesson will explore what makes writing creative and use famous examples to show you what makes creative writing successful.

Defining Creative Writing

You might have heard it called different things. Traditionally referred to as literature, creative writing is an art of sorts - the art of making things up. It's writing done in a way that is not academic or technical but still attracts an audience. Though the definition is rather loose, creative writing can for the most part be considered any writing that is original and self-expressive. A news article, for example, cannot be considered creative writing because its main goal is to present facts and not to express the feelings of the writer. While a news article can be entertaining, its main purpose is to present the facts.

The purpose of creative writing is to both entertain and share human experience, like love or loss. Writers attempt to get at a truth about humanity through poetics and storytelling. If you'd like to try your hand at creative writing, just keep in mind that whether you are trying to express a feeling or a thought, the first step is to use your imagination.

Types of creative writing include:

  • Poetry
  • Plays
  • Movie and television scripts
  • Fiction (novels, novellas, and short stories)
  • Songs
  • Speeches
  • Memoirs
  • Personal essays

As you can see, some nonfiction types of writing can also be considered creative writing. Memoirs and personal essays, for example, can be written creatively to inform your readers about your life in an expressive way. Because these types are written in first person, it's easier for them to be creative.

Techniques used in creative writing include:

  • Character development
  • Plot development
  • Vivid setting
  • Underlying theme
  • Point of view
  • Dialogue
  • Anecdotes
  • Metaphors and similes
  • Figures of speech
  • Imaginative language
  • Emotional appeal
  • Heavy description

Examples of Creative Writing

Poetry and Songs

A poem or a song tends to be more elusive, or mysterious, because it has limited space. Because of its spatial limitations, however, it can make leaps in subject and time, and it doesn't have to rely on narrative structure. In poetry and songs, literary devices, like similes and metaphors, can be used to take the readers to surprising places. A good example of this is the opening of the poem 'A Life' by Sylvia Plath:

'Touch it: it won't shrink like an eyeball,

This egg-shaped bailiwick, clear as a tear.

Here's yesterday, last year ---

Palm-spear and lily distinct as flora in the vast

Windless threadwork of a tapestry.'

Note how shocking the comparison is, how it immediately captures the reader's attention. The goal of this poem's image is to build from this idea of life as an eyeball and makes the reader really try to visualize it.

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Additional Activities

Creative Writing: Writing Prompts

The below writing prompts allow students to flex their creative writing muscles by experimenting with different types of creative writing genres and reflecting on their finished product and writing process.

Prompt 1: Poetry

Write a poem about a common, everyday object like a pencil, a spoon, a t-shirt, or a water bottle. Think about how to create striking imagery and emotion in your work—you may take time to brainstorm possible words you can use to create a visually and emotionally engaging work. In addition, your poem should include at least two metaphors or similes. After writing your poem, which should be at least ten lines long, answer the questions that follow.

  1. Reflect on your writing process. How did you prepare to write your poem? Did you think about the major theme(s) you wanted your poem to address before you started writing?
  2. Explore the techniques you used in your poem: how did you create setting? How did you establish point-of-view? How did you appeal to your audience's emotions?

Prompt 2: Short Story

In at least 750 words, write a short story about an unlikely friendship. Before writing your short story, consider tracing a plot diagram that sketches out the story's exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. After writing your story, answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is the basic plot of your story? (Consider: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)
  2. How did you develop the characters in your story?
  3. How did you use dialogue in your story? (If you didn't use any dialogue, describe what effect this choice has on your audience.)
  4. What literary devices did you include in your story and what is their overall effect? (e.g. metaphor, personification, alliteration, etc.)
  5. What is the overall theme of your story? How do you communicate this theme to your audience?

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