Writers' Treasure

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Creative Writing 101

Creative writing is any form of writing which is written with the creativity of mind: fiction writing, poetry writing, creative nonfiction writing and more. The purpose is to express something, whether it be feelings, thoughts, or emotions.

Rather than only giving information or inciting the reader to make an action beneficial to the writer, creative writing is written to entertain or educate someone, to spread awareness about something or someone, or to express one’s thoughts.

There are two kinds of creative writing: good and bad, effective and ineffective. Bad, ineffective creative writing cannot make any impression on the reader. It won’t achieve its purpose.

So whether you’re a novelist, a poet, a short-story writer, an essayist, a biographer or an aspiring beginner, you want to improve your craft. The question is: how?

When you write great fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, amazing things can happen. Readers can’t put it down. The work you wrote becomes a bestseller. It becomes famous. But you have to reach to that level… first .

The best way to increase your proficiency in creative writing is to write, write compulsively, but it doesn’t mean write whatever you want. There are certain things you should know first… it helps to start with the right foot.

To do exactly that, here we have a beginners’ guide from Writers’ Treasure on the subject:

  • An Introduction to Creative Writing
  • How to Get Started in Creative Writing in Just Three Steps
  • Creative Writing vs. Technical Writing
  • Fiction Writing 101: The Elements of Stories
  • Poetry Writing: Forms and Terms Galore
  • Creative Non-Fiction: What is it?
  • Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Creative Writing
  • Common Mistakes Made by Creative Writers

For novelists: do you want to write compelling opening chapters?

Are you an aspiring novelist? Will your novel see the light of day? For that, you will need to make the first chapter of your story as compelling as possible. Otherwise, readers won’t even pick up your novel. That chapter can be the make-or-break point that decides whether your novel is published or not. It’s because good editors know how you write from the first three pages… or sometimes even from the opening lines.

To solve this problem, I created a five-part tutorial on Writing Compelling Opening Chapters . It outlines why you need to write a compelling opening chapter, my personal favourite way of beginning it, what should be told and shown in it, general dos and don’ts, and what you need to do after having written it. Check it out for more.

Need more writing tips?

Sometimes you reach that stage when you outgrow the beginner stage of writing but feel that you’re not yet an expert. If I just described you, no worries– Writers’ Treasure’s writing tips are here. Whether you want to make your writing more readable, more irresistible, more professional, we’ve got you covered. So check out our writing tips , and be on your way to fast track your success.

I offer writing, editing and proofreading , as well as website creation services. I’ve been in this field for seven years, and I know the tools of the trade. I’ve seen the directions where the writing industry is going, the changes, the new platforms. Get your work done through me, and get fast and efficient service. Get a quote .

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Last updated on Dec 23, 2022

Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started

Creative writing is a written art form that uses the imagination to tell stories and compose essays, poetry, screenplays, novels, lyrics, and more. It can be defined in opposition to the dry and factual types of writing found in academic, technical, or journalistic texts.

Characterized by its ability to evoke emotion and engage readers, creative writing can tackle themes and ideas that one might struggle to discuss in cold, factual terms.

If you’re interested in the world of creative writing, we have eight fantastic exercises and activities to get you started.

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1. Use writing prompts every week

Illustration of a writer getting ready for a creative writing contest

Coming up with ideas for short stories can be challenging, which is why we created a directory of 1700+ creative writing prompts covering a wide range of genres and topics. Writing prompts are flexible in nature, they are meant to inspire you without being too constrictive. Overall, they are a great way to keep your creative muscles limber.

Example of Reedsy's Creative Writing Prompts

If you’re struggling for motivation, how does a hard deadline and a little prize money sound? Prompts-based writing contests are a fantastic way to dive into creative writing: the combination of due dates, friendly rivalries, prize money, and the potential to have your work published is often just what’s needed to propel you over the finish line. 

We run a weekly writing contest over on Reedsy Prompts, where hundreds of writers from all around the world challenge themselves weekly to write a short story between 1,000 and 3,000 words for a chance to win the $250 prize. Furthermore, the community is very active in providing constructive feedback, support, and accountability to each other 一 something that will make your efforts even more worthwhile.

Take a peek at our directory of writing contests which features some of the most prestigious open writing competitions in the world. 

2. Start journaling your days

Illustration of a writer journaling in autumn

Another easy way to get started with creative writing is to keep a journal. We’re not talking about an hour-by-hour account of your day, but journaling as a way to express yourself without filters and find your ‘voice in writing’. If you’re unsure what to journal about, think of any daily experiences that have had an impact on you, such as… 

Special moments . Did you lock yourself out of your house? Or did you catch a beautiful sunset on your way back from groceries? Capture those moments, and how you felt about them.

People . Did you have an unusual exchange with a stranger at the bar? Or did you reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years? Share your thoughts about it.

World events . Is there something happening in the world right now that is triggering you? That’s understandable. You can reflect on it (and let some steam off) while journaling.

Memories . Did you go down memory lane after a glass of wine? Great, honor those memories by trying to recollect them in detail on paper so that they will always stay vivid in your mind.

Life decisions . Are you having an existential crisis about what to do with your life? Write down your thought process, and the pros and cons of the possible decisions in front of you. You’ll be surprised to discover that, not only is it a great creative writing exercise, but it can also actually help you sort your life out! 

If you struggle to write consistently, sign up for our How to Write a Novel course to finish a novel in just 3 months.  



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3. Create an anonymous social media account

Illustration of a writer thinking

Like anonymous blogging, an incognito Twitter account sidesteps the pressure that comes with attaching your name to your work. Anonymously putting tiny stories out into the ether gives you the freedom to create without worrying about the consequences — which is great, so long as you don’t use it as an opportunity to troll people or spread conspiracy theories. 

You could use the anonymous account in different ways. For example, you could…

  • Tweet from unique points of view (e.g. a dog observing human behavior );
  • Create a parody account of real or fictional people (e.g. an English poet from the Middle Ages );
  • Challenge yourself to write tiny flash fiction stories that fit into Twitter threads.

Just remember, you’re not doing this to fool anyone into thinking that your account is real: be a good citizen and mark yourself a fiction account in your bio. 

How to Start Creative Writing | Screenshot of a tweet by the Twitter account

But if you’re not really a social media kinda person, you may enjoy our next tip, which is a bit more on the analog side.



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4. Find an old photo and tell its story

Illustration of a photo-inspired journaling exercise

Find a random old photo — maybe on the web, maybe from a photo album in a yard sale — and see what catches your attention. Look closely at it and try to imagine the story behind it. What was happening? Who are the people in it and how are they really feeling? Do they share a relationship, and of what kind? What are their goals and dreams?

In other words, bring the photo to life with your imagination. Don't be afraid to take artistic license with your story, as the goal is to be creative and have fun while writing. 

How do you know it’s creative writing?

Creative Writing | info card listing 5 headers below

5. Create a character from a random name

Illustration of a young poet and a warrior back to back

Just as our universe started from a few simple elements, you can create a character from a few basic information, like their name, culture, and gender. Reedsy’s handy character name generator can help you with that, offering random names based on archetypes, Medieval roots, fantasy traits and more. A few examples? A Celtic heroine named Fíona O'Keefe, a hero’s sidekick named Aderine, or a Korean track star named Park Kang-Dae.

Once you've chosen their name, begin to develop their personality. Set a timer for 5–10 minutes and write anything that comes to mind about them. It could be a page from their FBI dossier, a childhood diary entry, or simply a scene about them boiling an egg.

Just ‘go with the flow’ and don’t stop writing until your time is up. Repeat the process a few times to further hone the personality. If you like what you end up with, you can always go deeper later with our character profile template . 

If a stream-of-consciousness exercise is not your thing, you can try to imagine your character in a specific situation and write down how’d they respond to it. For example, what if they were betrayed by a friend? Or if they were elected in power? To help you imagine situations to put your character in, we made a free template that you can download below. 



Reedsy’s Character Questionnaire

40 questions to help you develop memorable characters.

6. Construct a character by people-watching

A writer observing a person and taking notes

People watching is “the action of spending time idly observing people in a public place.” In a non-creepy way, ideally. Sit on a bench on a public square or on a road-side table at your favorite café, and start observing the people around you. Pay attention to any interesting quirks or behaviors, and write it down. Then put on your detective’s hat and try to figure out what that tells you about them.

For example, the man at the table next to you at the restaurant is reading the newspaper. His jacket and hat are neatly arranged next to him. The pages make a whipping sound as he briskly turns them, and he grimaces every time he reads a new article. Try to imagine what he’s reading, and why he’s reacting the way he is. Then, try to build a character with the information you have. It’s a fun creative exercise that will also, hopefully, help you better empathize with strangers. 

7. “Map” something you feel strongly about into a new context

Illustration of a young romance writer

Placing your feelings into new contexts can be a powerful creative writing exercise. The idea is to start from something you feel strongly about, and frame it into a completely different context. 

For example, suppose your heart is torn apart after you divorce your life-long partner: instead of journaling or writing a novel about it, you could tell a story about a legendary trapeze duo whose partnership has come to an end. If you’re struggling with politicking and petty power dynamics at the office: what if you “mapped” your feelings onto an ant who resents being part of a colony? Directing your frustration at a queen ant can be a fun and cathartic writing experience (that won’t get you in trouble if your co-workers end up reading your story).   

8. Capture the moment with a haiku

Illustration of a haiku poet inspired by the four seasons

Haikus are poems from the Japanese tradition that aim to capture, in a few words, daily moments of insight (usually inspired by nature). In a nutshell, it’s about becoming mindful of your surroundings, and notice if you can see something in a new or deeper way 一 then use contrasting imagery to express whatever you noticed. 

Here’s an example:

Bright orange bicycle

Speeding through the autumn leaves

A burst of color waves

It may sound a bit complicated, but it shouldn’t be 一 at least not for the purpose of this exercise. Learn the basics of haiku-writing , then challenge yourself to write one per day for a week or month. At the end, you’ll be able to look back at your collection of poems and 一 in the worst case scenario 一 revisit small but significant moments that you would have otherwise forgot about.   

Creative writing can be any writing you put your heart and soul into. It could be made for the purpose of expressing your feelings, exploring an idea, or simply entertaining your readers. As you can see there’s many paths to get involved with it, and hundreds of exercises you can use as a starting point. In the next post, we’ll look more in detail at some creative writing examples from some fellow authors. 

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How to Learn Creative Writing

Last Updated: October 21, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Melessa Sargent . Melessa Sargent is the President of Scriptwriters Network, a non-profit organization that brings in entertainment professionals to teach the art and business of script writing for TV, features and new media. The Network serves its members by providing educational programming, developing access and opportunity through alliances with industry professionals, and furthering the cause and quality of writing in the entertainment industry. Under Melessa's leadership, SWN has won numbers awards including the Los Angeles Award from 2014 through 2021, and the Innovation & Excellence award in 2020. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 50,455 times.

Creative writing is any form of writing intended for entertainment, although it may also inform or persuade. It encompasses fiction, poetry, song lyrics, scripts, biographies, and anything that combines these elements. Although creative writing is an innate skill, it can be taught, and its techniques must be learned in order to develop as a writer. There are a number of ways to learn creative writing; the steps below cover some of these ways.

Step 1 Decide what form of creative writing interests you most.

  • To determine where to start, consider what interests you most. If you enjoy a particular genre of fiction, such as science fiction, and imagine how you would write the story differently, you may want to begin by learning to write in that genre. If you find yourself paying particular attention to the choice of words in your favorite songs, you may want to learn how to write song lyrics.
  • You may also wish to tackle a smaller project within the form of writing that interests you most, such as a short story or novella instead of an epic trilogy, or a few good songs instead of a concept album, for example.

Step 2 Take creative writing classes.

  • College campuses. Many colleges and universities offer the opportunity to major or minor in creative writing as part of a fine arts degree, or as an elective class for credits to count toward a degree in something else. These classes are usually taught by tenured or adjunct professors, with classes lasting an entire semester.
  • Community colleges. Many community colleges offer a variety of non-credit, continuing education classes for those who want to learn new things. Writing classes are often among their most popular offerings. Some community college writing classes may last a full semester, while others run only a few weeks. These classes may be taught by professors at the college or by experienced writers in the community.
  • Seminars. These are short, one- or two-day classes that may be held at a community center, a civic organization, a writer's retreat, or at a convention devoted to a particular genre. These classes are usually taught by experienced writers.
  • Online. Online creative writing classes may be offered by four-year or community colleges as an outreach program or by organizations geared solely to teaching writing online. Some classes may be offered for free, while others have charges ranging from nominal to substantial.

Step 3 Read books on creative writing.

  • General how-to books teach the basics of creative writing. These books may include techniques on how to stimulate your creativity, provide suggestions on how to structure your writing time, or offer advice on dealing with agents and publishers.
  • Technique-specific how-to books teach particular writing methods that can be applied across a number of writing genres. Dwight Swain's "Techniques of the Selling Writer," for example, teaches how to structure stories to build tension.
  • Genre-specific how-to books teach how to write in a specific genre, such as mysteries, science fiction, or romance.
  • Genre-specific reference books provide information that writers need to know to create realistic settings for their stories in that genre. There are books covering life in the Middle Ages for historical fiction and fantasy writers, books on forensics for mystery writers, and books of age-appropriate words for children's book writers.

Step 4 Attend writing workshops.

  • Most writing workshops will require you to have a piece of writing to share with the other writers attending the workshop.

Step 5 Follow writing blogs and podcasts.

  • You can find writers' groups in your area by using an Internet search engine or through Meetup.com.

Step 7 Practice.

  • If you write fiction, one way to practice is to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWiMo), held informally during the month of November. The goal is to start and finish a writing a novel during those 30 days.

Expert Q&A

Melessa Sargent

  • As you learn more about how to write, you'll find yourself looking at published writing with a more critical eye to see how other writers apply a given technique to bring their stories to life. When you do this, read as widely in your chosen area as you can to expose yourself to a number of different styles to help you develop your own individual style. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • Be aware that some online writing programs are not on the up-and-up. This is usually not a problem with programs affiliated with a recognized institution of higher education but may be with a private organization. If you're not familiar with the organization behind a writing program, take the time to investigate that organization before committing your time and money. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1

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  • ↑ Melessa Sargent. Professional Writer. Expert Interview. 14 August 2019.
  • http://www.dailywritingtips.com/creative-writing-101/
  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jan/18/what-creative-writing-course-taught-me
  • http://www.writersbureau.com/
  • http://learn.utoronto.ca/courses-programs/creative-writing
  • http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees?id=770&cw_xml=details.php
  • Rodney Ruff, Omaha, NE; experienced writer and editor

About this article

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Here you can find activities to practise your writing skills. You can improve your writing by understanding model texts and how they're structured.

The self-study lessons in this section are written and organised by English level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). There are different types of model texts, with writing tips and interactive exercises that practise the writing skills you need to do well in your studies, to get ahead at work and to communicate in English in your free time.

Take our free online English test to find out which level to choose. Select your level, from A1 English level (elementary) to C1 English level (advanced), and improve your writing skills at your own speed, whenever it's convenient for you.

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9 Creative English Writing Exercises Perfect for Learners

Think about all the different things we write: Social media posts, school assignments, work reports, text messages, emails and so on.

There’s no getting away from writing! That’s why learning to write in English is just as important as learning to speak.

In the age of the internet, it may seem strange to focus on writing when everyone can write however they want online. But not all the writing you do will be online or in informal English .

That just makes it even more important to learn how to write properly. In order to break the rules, you first need to learn them!

What’s more, writing in English helps you improve many other language skills. So here are nine fun English writing exercises to help you practice!

1. Vocabulary story

2. picture story, 3. structured summary, 4. devil’s advocate, 5. idiom soup, 6. it was a dark and stormy night, 7. story of my life, 8. how to breathe, 9. the silly job interview, how writing improves your english skills, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Do you have a list of English words you’re learning? If you do, great! If you don’t, grab one from here  or here .

Now, write a story using as many of the words on the list as you can. Aim to include 10-20 words in your story, depending on how much time you have for this exercise.

Have some fun with it and try to get the finished story to make sense!

When your story is finished, you can share it with friends or on a blog. Encourage readers to point out any mistakes you made.

What you’ll learn:

This exercise will help you better understand and remember vocabulary words for a number of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Using words in a sentence helps you learn how to use them correctly.
  • Remembering words is easier in context (with some other words around them). In fact, the sillier your story, the more easily you’ll remember the words!
  • Writing things down activates a certain part of your brain that helps you remember vocabulary words better.

Grab the closest magazine to you and choose a random picture. If you don’t have a magazine, you can use this random image generator .

Describe the photo in as much detail as you can. Don’t just write what you see! Imagine that you are in the picture. Think about what you would smell, feel or even taste.

You’ll learn more about adjectives , feelings and perceptions (how we see and experience the world).

Further, we use descriptions in our daily life all the time: “I’m tired;” “Her dress is so stylish;” “This mocha tastes amazing!” Descriptions like these are used often in both written and conversational English!

Think about the last book you read or the last movie you watched. Summarize it (say what happened briefly) using this formula:

[Somebody] wanted … but … so …

Confused? Here’s what it looks like in action:

Bruce Wayne wanted to save Gotham but supervillains were trying to destroy it,  so he trained hard and became Batman.

Recognize that story? That’s a summary of the movie “Batman Begins.”

To use the formula in the same way, just fill in the blanks of the formula like this:

  • Somebody: Who is the main character of the story? This character’s name can replace “[Somebody]” in the sentence above.
  • Wanted: What is the character’s motivation? In other words, what does he or she want? This should come after the word “wanted.”
  • But: What stands in the way of the character and what he or she wants? Put whatever it is after “but.”
  • So: What does the character do to overcome this obstacle? Follow “so” with whatever they do.

You can also add another part:

  • Then: What happens after the character overcomes the obstacle? How is everything resolved?

Here’s another example:

Little Red Riding Hood wanted to visit her grandmother but when she got there she found a wolf instead,  so she yelled for help and a passerby came to her rescue.  Then everybody lived happily ever after!

You might find it difficult to explain an entire story or book in just one sentence, and this exercise will help you do that—you will learn to explain a complex idea in a simple sentence. This skill will be useful whenever you need to summarize or explain something concisely (in a simple and short way).

You can also improve your reading comprehension with this summarization method. Every time you read a book or a story in English , you should summarize it to yourself to make sure you understood it. If you can’t write a good summary, you might want to re-read the book or story more carefully.

Is there something you feel strongly about ?

For example, maybe you believe every person should learn a second language. Take this belief, and instead write about it from the opposite point of view. In this example, you would write about why everyone should not learn another language.

In English, this is called “playing devil’s advocate.” That’s when you take a side you don’t actually believe in, just to see an issue from a different point of view.

This exercise teaches the life skill of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels, even if you don’t feel the same way. This skill is important to have, and writing can help you develop it.

It’s also a great way to learn how to express opinions in English. You may also need to use words you don’t normally use to express this opinion, since you’re speaking from a different perspective. You might even learn something new about yourself and your beliefs!

An idiom is a saying that doesn’t actually mean what it says. For example, “it’s raining cats and dogs” doesn’t mean animals are really falling from the sky—it just means it’s raining very hard. English has a lot of idioms .

A cliché is an extremely overused saying or phrase that’s not original anymore. Clichés are like idioms that have been used so often they’ve stopped being special, like saying “only time will tell” or “easy as pie.”

Your goal here is to write a story that uses as many clichés and idioms as you can!

If you need some reference materials, you can find a list of clichés here , and a list of idioms here .

Sometimes, learning English feels like you “bit off more than you can chew” (took on a task that’s too big). A great way to build confidence is to know phrases and sayings that you can use in many situations.

Practicing using clichés and idioms will build your vocabulary and ensure that you’ll know exactly what they mean when you hear them spoken by a native English speaker.

When you read something, the first sentence is very important. A good first sentence sets up the story and makes you want to keep reading.

A classic opening line is from  George Orwell’s “1984” :

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

But some first lines are not as interesting as this one!

Try to compare it to the next opening sentence by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton in his novel “Paul Clifford”:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

It’s a bad line because it’s too long, and it doesn’t even give the reader much important information.

In fact, this sentence actually inspired a competition called “The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest,” which encourages people to send in their best worst first lines.

So, try to write your own worst first line! You can look through past contest winners for some inspiration. Try to use humor and maybe even some cultural references. The sentence can be long, but make sure the grammar is perfect.

How bad is your first line? It’s hard to be worse than the original first sentence that inspired the competition!

Use this exercise to practice your compound sentences. How much information can you include in just one sentence? You can also practice using comparisons and metaphors (when you compare two different things based on a shared characteristic).

Doing this will help you express yourself clearly and be understood better. You also have the chance to use English-language humor , which requires knowledge of English-speaking culture. Plus, it’s fun!

Think of something that you did in the past, like playing the piano or even going to school. Write about your experience doing this activity. Your writing should start in the past and end in the future.

For example, you can write:

I started playing the piano when I was five, but I stopped only two years later. Right now I can’t play anything, but I hope to start learning again in the future.

In this exercise, you learn how to speak about personal experience and describe something about yourself. Everyone loves to talk about themselves! That’s why a large part of our daily conversations are about us. This activity is also a good way to practice using correct verb tenses .

A “how-to” is a type of writing that describes how to do something step-by-step. Most how-to’s teach the reader something new, like how to bake a chocolate cake or how to use a certain feature on your phone.

For this exercise, write a how-to for something a bit… different.

Pick something you do every day without thinking, and write a how-to about that. Write about something like tying your shoelaces, checking your email on your phone or even breathing.

Your how-to should look something like this , use clear language and be organized by steps. In fact, the how-to in that link teaches how to write a how-to!

You may be surprised at how difficult this exercise is. Even something as simple as walking can be a disaster if you don’t organize the instructions well! (Let’s all thank our legs for knowing how to work without our brains. Otherwise, we might all be flopping around like in this “walking simulator” game .)

Writing a how-to will teach you to organize your thoughts better. It’s also a chance to practice informative writing, or writing that teaches new information. By using easy-to-understand language, you’ll also practice using many common words.

Imagine walking into a job interview with the boss of a company. You’re very nervous and polite, but the boss is just having fun. You really want this job, but all he wants to do is make you even more nervous!

It might look a little like this . (You can also read what the actors say here .)

Write a similar dialogue for a job interview that’s going terribly wrong. The job applicant is professional and serious, while the boss is using conversational English and even English slang . What might that conversation sound like?

Writing a silly scene like this might make you feel a little better the next time you do an interview. Then you can think, “Well, at least it wasn’t as difficult as in that dialogue I wrote!”

This is also a good way to practice writing dialogue  and to focus on how people speak. You get a chance to use professional English, conversational English and even English slang. Use this as a chance to experiment!

It’s simple: Writing helps you learn English. This statement is backed by research—for example, this study  showed that even short writing sessions can improve learning.

So how can writing help you? Here are just a few ways:

  • Writing helps you remember things better. If you read, listen, speak and write your lessons, you’ll remember them more. That’s why language classes often use all these skills together!
  • Writing helps you practice new skills. Every time you learn something new, you can strengthen that knowledge by practicing through speaking and writing.
  • Writing lets you take the time to express yourself. Have you ever had trouble finding the right words to use while speaking? Writing gives you a chance to slow down and take as long as you need to find the perfect words.
  • Writing allows you to try new things. There’s no pressure when you’re writing. No one ever has to see what you write if you don’t want them to. That gives you the freedom to try new things and experiment with new words and sentence structures. Don’t hold back!

See how awesome writing is? I bet you’re wondering now: “Where should I start?”

Well, you’ve probably already started. Do you write down your vocabulary words ? Do you take grammar notes ? These might not be full sentences or paragraphs, but they’re definitely a type of writing.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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Don’t forget to include English writing exercises in your studies from now on!

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials , as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


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how to learn creative writing in english

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The latest language learning tips, resources, and content from oxford university press., creative writing in english.

  • by Oxford University Press ELT
  • Posted on September 8, 2022 May 24, 2023

how to learn creative writing in english

Creative writing starts with reading – this is the source. You’ve got to read A LOT. This will show you what’s possible and how it’s done. It will also give you ideas. A great way to start reading more is by using Oxford Reading Club – here you can find hundreds of graded readers which are right for your level. The more you read, the more you’ll see different styles, mix them up, and then write in a way which is completely new and completely you .

Every creative idea has possibilities . It could become a brilliant story, poem, play, or song lyric. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is to get it down on paper or on screen. Don’t let it just stay in your head. After you’ve written down the idea, you can decide how good it is and what form it might take. Then you can start to write it!


Most creative writing is about telling a story of some kind. Every story has three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you’re having trouble getting started, try writing from the middle of the story, or even the end. You might discover it’s a better approach. Wherever you start, your first line really needs to ‘hook’ the reader’s attention and make them want to continue. Look at these three examples:

  • There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife ( The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman)
  • It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen . ( 1984 by George Orwell)
  • On the morning of its first birthday, a baby was found floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. ( Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell)

Where does your story happen? Some people think you should write about places you know really well. But you can also do research and use your imagination. Maybe the setting is one place – that dark, little wood at the end of your garden or schoolyard – or several places which are connected: Chinese megacities, for example. Or maybe it’s somewhere fantastic that no human has ever seen: inside the blood, on the surface of Saturn, or in a parallel world where teachers are students and robots are gods. What does it look like? How does it smell? What sounds are there? If you can describe it in detail, you’ll create that place for your reader.

This is where your creative writing can sometimes slow down. It’s natural – you’ve made a start, but you still haven’t reached the end. Stop … and try writing out the whole idea in just one sentence. Does it make sense? Is that the story, poem, or play which you’re actually writing? If it feels like your writing is losing speed or getting boring, introduce something quick and surprising. For example a gun, a ticking time bomb, a truck with no brakes, or a talking cat.


Creative writing is written by people (you), for people (your readers), and about people (your characters). Dealing with life’s challenges is what makes us interesting, and it’s exactly the same for the characters in a story, poem, or play. What do they want – and why can’t they get it? You also want to make your characters convincing. If you can’t invent someone completely new, try combining a few real people. Take the name of one person, the looks and voice of a second person; then add the house and car of a third person. See what kind of character appears!

By this time, you could have built up speed and be racing downhill. But don’t rush the end! Ask yourself what’s changed and – more importantly – what your characters have learnt. Before you write or type the final full stop, check the logic of the story up to this point. Does it all make sense? If so, make sure the end is definitely an end. Here are three famous examples:

  • Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air. ( Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath)
  • Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him—and it was still hot . ( Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak)
  • The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well. ( Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling)

Do you want to improve your story writing in English ? Check out our latest blog to get all the tips you need to improve your story-writing skills.  

how to learn creative writing in english

Andrew Dilger is a Managing Editor at Oxford University Press. He has been involved in English language teaching as a teacher, trainer, and editor for over a quarter of a century. He is passionate about the power of reading and claims to have read something every day of his life since he first went to school.

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 Toni Morrison in 1979.

Top 10 books about creative writing

From linguistics to essays by Zadie Smith and Toni Morrison, poet Anthony Anaxagorou recommends some ‘lateral’ ways in to a demanding craft

T he poet Rita Dove was once asked what makes poetry successful. She went on to illuminate three key areas: First, the heart of the writer; the things they wish to say – their politics and overarching sensibilities. Second, their tools: how they work language to organise and position words. And the third, the love a person must have for books: “To read, read, read.”

When I started mapping out How to Write It , I wanted to focus on the aspects of writing development that took in both theoretical and interpersonal aspects. No writer lives in a vacuum, their job is an endless task of paying attention.

How do I get myself an agent? What’s the best way to approach a publisher? Should I self-publish? There is never one way to assuage the concerns of those looking to make a career out of writing. Many labour tirelessly for decades on manuscripts that never make it to print. The UK on average publishes around 185,000 new titles per year, ranking us the third largest publishing market in the world, yet the number of aspiring writers is substantially greater.

Writers writing about writing can become a supercilious endeavour; I’m more interested in the process of making work and the writer’s perspectives that substantiate the framework.

There’s no single authority, anything is possible. All that’s required are some words and an idea – which makes the art of writing enticing but also difficult and daunting. The books listed below, diverse in their central arguments and genres, guide us towards more interesting and lateral ways to think about what we want to say, and ultimately, how we choose to say it.

1. The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner An intellectual meditation on the cultural function of poetry. Less idealistic than other poetry criticism, Lerner puts forward a richly layered case for the reasons writers and readers alike turn to poetry, probing into why it’s often misconceived as elitist or tedious, and asks that we reconsider the value we place on the art form today.

2. Find Your Voice by Angie Thomas One of the hardest things about creative writing is developing a voice and not compromising your vision for the sake of public appeal. Thomas offers sharp advice to those wrestling with novels or Young Adult fiction. She writes with appealing honesty, taking in everything from writer’s block to deciding what a final draft should look like. The book also comes interspersed with prompts and writing exercises alongside other tips and suggestions to help airlift writers out of the mud.

3. Linguistics: Why It Matters by Geoffrey K Pullum If language is in a constant state of flux, and rules governing sentence construction, meaning and logic are always at a point of contention, what then can conventional modes of language and linguistics tell us about ourselves, our cultures and our relationship to the material world? Pullum addresses a number of philosophical questions through the scientific study of human languages – their grammars, clauses and limitations. An approachable, fascinating resource for those interested in the mechanics of words.

4. Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle The collected lectures of poet and professor Mary Ruefle present us with an erudite inquiry into some of the major aspects of a writer’s mind and craft. Ruefle possesses an uncanny ability to excavate broad and complex subjects with such unforced and original lucidity that you come away feeling as if you’ve acquired an entirely new perspective from only a few pages. Themes range from sentimentality in poetry, to fear, beginnings and – a topic she returns to throughout the book – wonder. “A poem is a finished work of the mind, it is not the work of a finished mind.”

Zadie Smith.

5. Feel Free by Zadie Smith These astute and topical essays dating from 2010 to 2017 demonstrate Smith’s forensic ability to navigate and unpack everything from Brexit to Justin Bieber. Dissecting high philosophical works then bringing the focus back on to her own practice as a fiction writer, her essay The I Who Is Not Me sees Smith extrapolate on how autobiography shapes novel writing, and elucidates her approach to thinking around British society’s tenuous and often binary perspectives on race, class and ethnicity.

6. Threads by Sandeep Parmar, Nisha Ramayya and Bhanu Kapil Who occupies the “I” in poetry? When poets write, are they personally embodying their speakers or are they intended to be emblematic of something larger and more complex? Is the “I” assumed to be immutable or is it more porous? These are the questions posited in Threads, which illuminates the function of the lyric “I” in relation to whiteness, maleness and Britishness. Its short but acute essays interrogate whiteness’s hegemony in literature and language, revealing how writers from outside the dominant paradigm are often made to reckon with the positions and perspectives they write from.

7. Mouth Full of Blood by Toni Morrison An urgent set of essays and lectures from the late Nobel prize winner that collates her most discerning musings around citizenship, race and art, as well as offering invaluable insight into the craft of writing. She reflects on revisions made to her most famous novel, Beloved, while also reflecting on the ways vernaculars can shape new stories. One of my favourite aphorisms written by Morrison sits on my desk and declares: “As writers, what we do is remember. And to remember this world is to create it.”

8. On Poetry by Jonathan Davidson Poetry can be thought of as something arduous or an exercise in analysis, existing either within small artistic enclaves or secondary school classrooms. One of the many strengths of Davidson’s writing is how he makes poetry feel intimate and personal, neither dry or remote. His approach to thinking around ways that certain poems affect us is well measured without being exclusive. A timely and resourceful book for writers interested in how poems go on to live with us throughout our lives.

9. Essays by Lydia Davis From flash fiction to stories, Davis is recognised as one of the preeminent writers of short-form fiction. In these essays, spanning several decades, she tracks much of her writing process and her relationship to experimentalism, form and the ways language can work when pushed to its outer limits. How we read into lines is something Davis returns to, as is the idea of risk and brevity within micro-fiction.

10. Essayism by Brian Dillon Dillon summarises the essay as an “experiment in attention”. This dynamic and robust consideration of the form sheds light on how and why certain essays have changed the cultural and political landscape, from the end of the Middle Ages to the present time. A sharp and curious disquisition on one of the more popular yet challenging writing enterprises.

How to Write It by Anthony Anaxagorou is published by Merky Books. To order a copy, go to guardianbookshop.com .

  • Creative writing
  • Toni Morrison
  • Zadie Smith
  • Lydia Davis

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The ability to write well is a foundational skill for communication in both personal and professional settings. Writing allows you to express thoughts, opinions, ideas, and emotions. It facilitates connections between people and allows them to engage in the type of discourse that can lead to discovery and progress. 

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Writing also requires expertise. While you can be a general writer, somebody who wants to pursue a technical writing career, for example, will need background knowledge of that field in order to be able to understand what they are reporting on or writing about. A strong understanding of how to research, interview, and source can also be beneficial for aspiring professionals in this space. 

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Effective writing is clear and accurate and provides enough context to engage readers and help them understand the message you are trying to deliver. For example, journalists provide context by focusing on the “who, what, when, where, and why” of a situation. 

There are many different types of writing including, but not limited to: persuasive writing, creative writing, poetry, script writing, journalism, nonfiction, academic writing, speech writing, and song writing. 

Learners develop writing skills at their own pace. Developing mastery takes practice and time. 

Sometimes grammatical rules are not universally applicable, which can make them difficult to remember. Everyone has different learning styles and speeds. Memorization can help, but practice is key.

There are online courses that can help you learn how to organize your ideas and develop your voice for a business setting. You can practice writing effective emails, reports, and presentations. 

Aspiring creative writers can develop their skills by taking classes that not only teach them about the essential elements of storytelling, but also give them opportunities to practice writing and critiquing both their own work and the work of other writers. 

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British Council India

Creative writing for adults - module i.

Creative Writing adults

Whether you are a scribbler, a secret diarist, or a would-be journalist, come find your unique writing style with British Council’s Creative Writing course - Module I . Two batches have been scheduled. Batch 1 is starting from  Saturday, 22 July 2023 and batch 2 is starting from  Saturday, 29 July 2023.

This course will help you:

  • Develop your unique writer’s voice and perspective
  • Help your creativity find expression
  • Enhance your knowledge of literature
  • Help you structure your thoughts
  • Develop a critical appreciation of different writing styles

Required English language level:  Above upper-intermediate level (Level B2).

Course duration: 36 hours I 9 weeks I weekend online classes | all the participants will receive a digital certificate upon completion of the course.

Course fee:  INR 10,000 per participant Click here to register

Special offer to British Council library members - 10% discount on the course fee Click here to register

About the Course

Our Creative Writing- Module I course offers the opportunity to learn a variety of techniques to improve your writing process and enhance creativity.

The course content covers plot, characters, dialogue and setting when writing fiction. You will also learn how to travel write and blog, learn to differentiate between news reports and feature articles, be introduced to screenwriting and writing memoirs. You will explore the tools of a poet and learn to write poetry. In addition, you will be introduced to experimental writing and children’s fiction. The syllabus is specifically designed to guide those who wish to write creatively and explore their writing talent to realise their dreams of becoming a writer.

Our experienced teachers will help you find your unique writer’s voice through this enjoyable writing course. You will receive feedback on your writing to help you know your prospects as a future writer. Once you join our Creative Writing course, you will realize that lively and interactive sessions are exactly what you need to begin your journey as a writer.  The course is, however, not aimed at those wishing to improve their academic or technical writing skills.

Schedule for July 2023

Course delivery.

36 hours of learning will happen through online classes and 14 hours of interaction and peer-learning will be facilitated through our online interactive learning platform.

There will be assessments by the teacher during the mid and end of the course

Participants should use laptop/desktop to attend the session. 

  • Recording/taking screenshot/photos of the course is strictly prohibited.

Course Fee: INR 10,000 per participant.

Special offer: British Council library members can avail a special discount of 10% on the course fee.

How to ascertain your English language level and register?

Step 1: Ascertain your language level (required English Language level)

The course is open for all. However, English Language level suitable for the course is above upper-intermediate level (B2) and advanced level (C1 and C2).

  • You are at Elementary level(A1) if you can say simple things about your day. For example:  I wake up at 7 am every day.
  • You are at Pre-intermediate level(A2) if you can communicate in simple and routine tasks on familiar topics and activities. For example: I like exercising early in the morning if I sleep on time. 
  • You are an Intermediate level(B1) if you can share your thoughts, opinions, and views. For example:  She must be really tired. She’s worked late every night this week.
  • You are at Upper intermediate level(B2) if you can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to your field of interest. For example: Unfortunately for him, the situation turned out to be opposite to what he thought it was.
  • You are at Advanced level (C1 & C2) if you can present clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects. For example: Being born and raised in India, I believe her to be the country’s best ambassador in the world.

Step 2 : Once you have ascertained your English language level, please proceed for the course registration.

Course fee: INR 10,000 per participant. Click here   to register.

Special offer to British Council library members - 10% discount on the course fee. Click here  to register.

Terms and Conditions

  • Participants must be over 18 years of age.
  • Non-refundable fee is payable in full prior to the commencement of course.
  • If obliged to cancel the course, the British Council reserves the right to do so without further liability, subject to the return of any fee already paid. 
  • The course schedule is subject to change. Participants will be notified the changes, if any.

For any query, please email us at [email protected] .

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    Home Creative Writing Learn creative writing Creative writing combines strong communication skills with innovation, empathy, and storytelling. Learn more with online creative writing courses delivered through edX. What is creative writing? Browse online creative writing courses Careers in creative writing Search edX courses

  7. Creative Writing: 8 Fun Ways to Get Started

    1. Use writing prompts every week Coming up with ideas for short stories can be challenging, which is why we created a directory of 1700+ creative writing prompts covering a wide range of genres and topics. Writing prompts are flexible in nature, they are meant to inspire you without being too constrictive.

  8. Top Creative Writing Courses for Beginners [2024]

    Browse Learn Basic Creative Writing Skills Dive into the world of imagination with our beginner courses, designed to introduce you to creative writing. Explore the realms of fiction, poetry, scriptwriting, and non-fiction, and build your foundational skills in this captivating and ever-evolving art form. Filter by Credit Eligible ( 3) Subject

  9. How to Learn Creative Writing: 7 Steps (with Pictures)

    Take creative writing classes. Creative writing classes are available in a number of venues: College campuses. Many colleges and universities offer the opportunity to major or minor in creative writing as part of a fine arts degree, or as an elective class for credits to count toward a degree in something else.

  10. Writing

    Practise writing with your classmates in live group classes, get writing support from a personal tutor in one-to-one lessons or practise writing by yourself at your own pace with a self-study course. Explore courses Here you can find activities to practise your writing skills.

  11. 9 Creative English Writing Exercises Perfect for Learners

    9 Creative English Writing Exercises Perfect for Learners Think about all the different things we write: Social media posts, school assignments, work reports, text messages, emails and so on. There's no getting away from writing! That's why learning to write in English is just as important as learning to speak.

  12. Creative Writing

    Want to try Creative Writing? Whether your ambition is to become a novelist, or just to get started and get some short stories out there, get inspiration and...

  13. Creative writing in English

    1. READING Creative writing starts with reading - this is the source. You've got to read A LOT. This will show you what's possible and how it's done. It will also give you ideas. A great way to start reading more is by using Oxford Reading Club - here you can find hundreds of graded readers which are right for your level.

  14. Top 10 books about creative writing

    4. Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle. The collected lectures of poet and professor Mary Ruefle present us with an erudite inquiry into some of the major aspects of a writer's mind and craft.

  15. How to Boost Creativity and Improve Your Creative Writing

    Written by MasterClass Last updated: Aug 25, 2021 • 7 min read A creative writer strives to tell unique stories in a distinctive voice. Yet with all the fiction writing already out there in the world, it can be hard to feel that your work is legitimately creative compared to the competition.

  16. A Beginner's Guide to Writing: 8 Tips for Starting a Writing Career

    A Beginner's Guide to Writing: 8 Tips for Starting a Writing Career. Becoming a better writer requires constant practice and an exploration of other authors' work. Learn key tips and methods that can elevate your writing to its full potential. Becoming a better writer requires constant practice and an exploration of other authors' work.

  17. Best Online Writing Courses and Programs

    With online writing courses, any learner can master the skills needed to become a strong writer. Start with the fundamentals in an online grammar course, where you can learn about the different parts of speech, punctuation, conjugation, and sentence structure. Or more advanced writers can practice their storytelling and persuasive writing ...

  18. Write & Improve

    Write & Improve is simple to use: just choose a task, write or upload a written response and use the feedback to quickly improve. It shows you how to improve your spelling, grammar and vocabulary. Join over 2 million learners of English who have used Write & Improve to improve their writing. Start practising now

  19. Free English Writing Lessons

    Try A Class Formal and Informal English - Video Learn how to use formal and informal English in spoken or written English. You can learn the differences between formal and informal English in this lesson. See the full lesson here More English Writing Lessons How to Answer IELTS Writing Task 1 General - Video

  20. What is Creative Writing & How to Get Started

    Creative writing is any writing done for creative or artistic purposes. As a result, the rules can be flexible if not outright broken, and there are endless ...

  21. Learn English Writing Online

    Curated from top educational institutions and industry leaders, our selection of English Writing courses aims to provide quality training for everyone—from individual learners seeking personal growth to corporate teams looking to upskill.

  22. Creative Writing for Adults

    Develop your unique writer's voice and perspective Help your creativity find expression Enhance your knowledge of literature Help you structure your thoughts Develop a critical appreciation of different writing styles Required English language level: Above upper-intermediate level (Level B2).

  23. What is Creative Writing Skills : Learn Creative Writing Skill

    What is creative writing? & How to become a better creative writer?In a very general definition, creative writing is any form of writing that is written more...