Stringing together some order of words in pursuit of telling or retelling a story or information in new and creative ways, requires adherence to some ground rules. Just as important as your final copy, is the process by which that copy comes to be. There are a number of processes through which your creative thought and hence writing, will pass. Each step in the process plays a vital role in shaping the content you wish to deliver.
Possibilities of the form your writing may take are as diverse and numerous as there are writers writing. Boring writing doesn’t exist, bad writing certainly does. Ineffective writing will not make any impression on the reader and it won’t achieve its purpose.
Purpose is key when deciding on the form your writing will take. The success of writing creatively depends heavily on staying purpose-focused. Words have the power to entertain, provoke thought and enlighten the reader. Having decided which ‘power’ you want to explore, you can begin the creation of your content to fulfil its purpose.
1. A Central Idea
Creative writing begins with a clear, manageable idea, argument or thesis around which to generate your material. Your central idea should be specific, narrow and limited for meaningful discussion.
This should be the centre of your thoughts, research and writing. Tell the reader early on, what it is you will be exploring. Keep the reader in the loop by giving your central idea some context. Consider the reasons behind the value of this idea, why is it interesting and why should anyone care to read it? Think about where you can get creative content ideas from and be open to exploring.
Subordinate thoughts, ideas and arguments should then be used to support and reinforce your central idea. These are secondary ideas, arguments or theories which may or may not compliment your central idea. Don’t drift too far though, these should be of direct relevance to your central idea.
An absolutely fundamental component of successful creative writing. The process of writing creatively can offset an array of swooping ideas in your head – that’s great, but do not transmit this into your writing process.
Creative writing warrants the use of as many ideas as possible. However, the coherent arrangement of material should be as such to keep the reader oriented to the central and subordinate ideas.
Remember, good organisation is logical and sequential.
An effective way to organise your content is to state in the introduction, your central idea and your lines of reasoning. Mirror this at the end of your copy. Your closing lines should summarise, emphasise and reinforce your central idea. Leave the reader with a sense of completion and enlightenment.
Many people will turn to to-do lists for structure and organising ideas and tasks. If you’re one of them, you may find TeuxDeux a visually compelling and easy to use tool. Take the app on the road with you to update your plan and remember what you’ll be doing next.
3. Ground your Writing in Data
Creative writing can be a chance to demonstrate your creative flair. Do this with facts, statistics and research. Data puts your content into context and gives you credibility. Supporting material from official sources not only gives you credibility, but it also allows you to demonstrate your ability to turn factual information into a piece appreciated for its honest outlook on what’s really going on.
Ineffective creative writing will not contextualise the content at hand. What begins to emerge, closely resembles fiction. To avoid this, make use of the surveys and statistics published by reputable sources such as The Economist, Deloitte, National Statistics and Statista.
4. Anticipate Readers Questions
Good writing aims to tell the reader some form of information. Great writing strives to explain, make clear, and to inform the reader… even if it’s just a product description. The art of creative writing is mastered when the writer can anticipate what the reader might wonder next.
The essence of creative writing is to take your reader on a journey. You create the sentences and paragraphs through which your reader will travel. Guide them through your trails of thought and reasoning. Fulfil them with what they need by asking yourself what it is they are looking for, and then deliver it.
Write for the reader, not the writer. Consider monitoring online forums such as Quora and Reddit to gauge readers perceptions, understanding and positioning on certain topics. By engaging in such discussions, you’re strengthening your skill to anticipate what your readers will think next.
5. Exceptional Grammar and punctuation
Of all the multiple writing styles, creative writing is arguably the most susceptible to grammatical errors and poor punctuation. Within creative writing, the use of punctuation marks is necessary to make clear sense of the constructed sentences- some of which are often abstract. Besides, nobody enjoys reading a sloppy article; unless they’re in the Grammar Police Force, in which case they would take great pleasure in highlighting your gross misconduct.
With this vital component in mind, it would be wise to take full advantage of all the online grammar checking tools available to you. Don’t rely too much on these, often the most effective grammar checkers are human beings.
A remarkably obvious component of creative writing, yet one which is often neglected in pursuit of it. The notion of writing creatively is not solely the use of elaborate words and abstract sentences. Children’s books are often written creatively in the absence of any words containing more than three syllables. This doesn’t make the fact that the cow jumped over the moon and the dish ran away with the spoon any less creative.
A successful creative writer is distinguished from the unsuccessful, by one’s ability to explore a topic in a new light. Acquiring new ideas through the sharing of information makes thought-provoking and creative ideas almost unavoidable. More importantly, it situates the writer in an open environment for ideas to flow freely- just the environment a successful creative writer needs!
7. A Well-Read Writer
Behind every piece of creative writing is a reader. Granted, this component is more to do with the writer themselves rather than the writing, but without it, it is highly improbable for a successful creative writer to emerge.
So, when you’re not writing, you should be reading. Anything from novels, news and magazines, to adverts, menus and comics, can supply you with inspiration and ideas.
Most importantly, stay up to date with industry news. Creative writing depends on the writer’s ability to bring together an array of different viewpoints. Ultimately your readers will be more interested in your content, provided it is relevant, up-to-date and original.
8. Multiple Voices
Nobody likes a monotonous tone of voice, and nobody likes to read one. One of the reasons creative writing can be so successful in fulfilling its purpose is due to its flexibility in the tone of voice. The writer isn’t shackled to the formalities of academic and informative writing styles.
Jump into the shoes of your reader, your competitor, or someone with no direct relevance to the subject matter. However you choose to narrate your content, feel free to incorporate an alternative voice.
This central component of creative writing should distinguish your content from the rest. If adopted properly it can offer a sense of relatability to the reader. Engage with them as a friend, make it colloquial to enhance this connectedness. Creative content that creates this connection between writer and reader is more likely to be shared and talked about. Lovely.
9. Not a Vital Component of Successful Creative Writing – Clichés
A telltale sign of laziness or lack of imaginative thought is the totally impotent overuse of clichés. The overuse of an expression drains all meaning and novelty from the phrase. As originality is a fundamental component in any sort of writing, especially creative writing, clichés are the enemy of the writer and should be avoided.
In reverse, you could spin this into a vital component of creative writing, in that all copies of its sort, should be absolutely free of all clichés. Sure, they can be charming and charismatic- when your grandmother uses them. Save them for your next Instagram caption.
10. A Second, Third and Fourth Pair of Eyes
Perhaps the most monumental component, holding all successes of creative writing together, is the final edit. I say final because it is a step in the process which is to be carried out a number of times. With all the material, data, tones of voices, central and subordinate ideas brought together; It is vital to ensure everything is in order.
Online editing tools can be a great place to start. The Hemingway app offers an in-depth grammar checker and acts as a virtual writing coach. It will suggest structural changes, improve readability and flow, and strengthen your overall content.
But don’t stop there. Often the most effective editing tools are those planted within the human head- our eyes. Get as many pairs as possible to read your content to ensure optimum flow and readability.