how to improve creative writing skills in English | download pdf free
ﬁnished piece is tear it up and throw it away.
Writing something, anything, every day will enable you to
that you can produce a complete manuscript in whatever
genre you choose.
lished novelist, you cannot be considered a ‘real’ writer,
novice authors often ﬁnd it diﬃcult to convince either
their nearest and dearest or, indeed, themselves that their
desire to write should be taken seriously.
However, even the most famous authors had to start some-
where, so don’t be put oﬀ byoutside pressures. Be assured
that your writing is more important than:
mowing the lawn
washing the dishes
cleaning, dusting, gardening
12 / CREATIVE WRITING
to enter whilst she was working.
You may not feel you have to go quite this far but it is
important to set aside both a space in your home where
you can work and make a regular time to write.
of perfectly credible explanations:
You have a demanding full-time job.
You have a large family.
You have to get those seedlings planted.
You have too many other commitments.
You’re too tired.
Perhaps all these excuses can be rolled into one simple
You don’t think you’re good enough.
bewriter. There is no easy way round this but if you really
following steps can help:GETTING STARTED / 3
Set aside acorner in your home solely for your writing.
Keep a notebook in which to jot down ideas.
Select a suitable time to write each day and stick to it.
rible, retain it until the next day.
least it will encourage you to rewrite. At best, it will be
much better than you thought and spur you on towrite
Buy a good dictionary and thesaurus.
Manuscripts intended for publication must be typewrit-
ten so, if possible, use a personal computer (PC). The
more professional your writing looks, the more profes-
sional you will feel.
Having made the decision towrite, the next step is ﬁnding
something to write about.
Watch how people behave in everyday situations, jotting
down ideas in your notebook as they occur to you.
The next time you go to the supermarket, for example,
observe the behaviour of the other customers. Take a few
how they say them.4 / CREATIVE WRITING
fellow travellers. Try to imagine what sort of homes they
come from and how they might lead their lives. Whatever
the people around you.
are terrible eavesdroppers and will shamelessly listen in on
for all sorts of things, from brief letters to your favourite
able, to lengthy works of ﬁction.
Perhaps the richest sources of ideas are newspapers, tele-
vision and radio. Keep your eyes and ears open for the
unusual stories and quirky programmes tucked away
between the major items. All kinds of things can capture
For example, a BBC Radio 4 programme about the poten-
story for Bella magazine’s ‘Mini Mystery’ page. The pro-
Having gleaned the necessary technical legal information, I
soon had the protagonist, beneﬁciaryand terms of thewill
writingthestory,sending itoﬀtomyeditorandseeing itin
print.GETTING STARTED / 5
them. Listed below are just a few possible sources:
X buses, coaches, planes and trains
X doctors’/dentists’ surgeries
X school playgrounds
anywhere a number of people gather in one place.
Having developed your watching and listening skills, it can
nevertheless be quite diﬃcult to set them down on paper.
More often than not, a phrase that sounded wonderful in
your head looks dull and lifeless when it hits the page.
writing to life and obtaining that vital ingredient, reader
identiﬁcation. You will learn how to stimulate the reader’s
see and hear the sights and sounds you are attempting to
convey.6 / CREATIVE WRITING
to liven them up. People enjoy reading about people, so
the inclusion of a brief interview with an acknowledged
For ﬁction, too, there is no better way to convey setting,
tions of your characters.
ing of each word you use, consulting your dictionary and
thesaurus whenever you are unsure about the spelling or
context of a word or phrase.
writers wouldever gaintherequisiteknowledgetowrite an
Far more practical is the advice from bestselling author
Martina Cole to ‘Write about what you know and if you
don’t know – ﬁnd out’.
You don’t need to have lived in a previous century, be a
shouldprovideyouwiththefactualinformationyourequire.GETTING STARTED / 7
Expert knowledge is invaluable, of course. Years spent in
industry or in the legal, nursing or teaching profession;
seeing active service in the armed forces; bringing up a
onlyone aspect of writing. You also have to ﬁnd a way to
tionships, both good and bad.
forming our character has a part to play in our writing.
There is little doubt that anyonewith achequered past will
very little in our lives worth committing to paper.
On closer inspection, however, this is very rarely the case.
you feel when:
X you were told oﬀ for being naughty?
X you missed out on a treat?
X your parents argued?
X you got detention at school?
you had to have treatment in hospital?8 / CREATIVE WRITING
a family trauma made you realise that nothing at home
would be the same again?
X you left home
started your ﬁrst day at work
travelled abroad on your own
got your ﬁrst cheque book
bought your own car.
By now, you may be wondering how such very ordinary,
everyday experiences can possibly be relevant to creative
writing. Surely writing is all about escapism, original
ideas, unusual situations, not about opening a ‘Young
Saver’ bank account?
realism, you cannot have reader identiﬁcation and it is this
element that brings your work vividly to life.
Michael Green, professional journalist and authorof many
humorous non-ﬁction books, oﬀers the following excellent
advice to would-be writers:
‘Observe everyday lifewith awriter’s eye. There liesyour
material. Carry a notebook and jot down any ideas that
come or incidents you can see.’GETTING STARTED / 9
Whatever your writing interest may be, ﬁction or non-
ﬁction, literary novels or specialist articles, you should
read anything and everything in your chosen genre.
This book is designed to help you understand how to read
on reading through to the end.
Your notebook will become a valuable source of reference.
Failure to write ideas down can result in you losing them
memory and stimulate new writing projects.
write non-ﬁction articles, short stories or novels, you will
discover that the same basic principles apply.
enjoyment is spoilt by the way technical points you were
previously unaware of suddenly become glaringly obvious.
you to appreciate the skills being employed, the sheer plea-
well-constructed will return and increase.
By the time this stage is reached, your own writing will be
showing a marked improvement.Thefollowingquestionsaredesignedtoprovideaninsightintothe
5. Wasthemiddleinformative/entertaining? &&
6. Wasitsetoutinalogicalorder? &&
8. Didyoufeelcompelledtokeepreading? &&
11. Wastheendingsatisfactory? &&
13. Didtheauthordeliverwhattheypromised? &&
14. Didyouenjoyreadingit? &&
15. Wouldyoureadmorebythisauthor? &&
Fig. 1. Analysis sheet.
10GETTING STARTED / 11
1. Do you read extensively?
2. Have you set aside a time to write each day?
3. Do you keep a notebook of ideas?
5. Haveyouconsidered how theuse of computersimpacts
on your own writing ambitions?
6. Are you writing about what you know?
Take your notebook and jot down 10 ideas for articles or
should have developed at least one of those ideas into a
Aswe saw in theprevious chapter,oneofthe ﬁrst piecesof
This can be interpreted as anything from factual articles
about a hobby, profession or skill to writing your life-
story. You can be sure that everyone has experience in
Val is a forceful lady in her mid-fifties. She writes clearly and expresses
herself well on paper. She has written several articles complaining about
a variety of goods and services which, although important to her, are
neither topical nor of much interest to anyone else. She has tried to have
her articles published in a number of women’s magazines but to date,
they have all been rejected.
towrite a learned piece complaining about the state of the
nation or the rising price of a pack of frozen peas can be
12WRITING NON-FICTION / 13
It istempting to try to emulate controversial comment col-
on ‘life, the universe and everything’.
However, as the infamous ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’
discovered, there is an outlet for the man or woman in the
The letters page in any publication is an excellent way of
letting oﬀ steam in print. It can also be a way of earning
small amounts of cash or gifts for your writing.
X Write clearly and neatlyor, if possible, type your letter.
X Address it to the correct person.
X Keep it brief and to the point.
X Make it as topical as possible.
X Write about something relevant to the publication’s
readership.14 / CREATIVE WRITING
A brief word of praise for the publication always helps.
X Invite comments or advice from other readers.
the same time. These pages operate on the assumption
that all letters are from regular readers of their publica-
directories, a large proportion of which potentially oﬀer
opportunities for non-ﬁction writers.
animals and pets
X arts and entertainment
X business and ﬁnance
X general interest
trade and professional
women’s interests.WRITING NON-FICTION / 15
Even more opportunities for would-be columnists can be
found in local interest publications, parish magazines,
local newspapers, club magazines etc.
If you regularly write to the letters page of a newspaperor
in your area, you may be contacted and asked if you will
become a ‘stringer’. This involves keeping an eye out for
snippets of news and views on local issues and phoning
them in to the editor.
writing careers in this way before graduating to their own
Experts who can express themselves clearly and be relied
upon to produce manuscripts on demand are few and far
between. Specialist magazines and small local newspapers
can oﬀer a wonderful opportunity to pursue your writing
interest by sharing information with other readers.
love. If you have the ability to impart your enthusiasm and
expertise to a like-minded reader, your pleasure will be
increased immeasurably by seeing your words on the
pages of your favourite magazine.
iariseyourselfwiththelengthandstyleoftheirarticles.Your16 / CREATIVE WRITING
opening sentence should give aclear indication of what the
and don’t get sidetracked.
With the growth in popularity of real ale, brewers are
becoming highly competitive. Brewing a prize-winning
pint takes skill and dedication but by following a few
basic guidelines, you can ﬁnd yourself up therewith the
Anyone reading the article would be in no doubt as to its
taking them step by step through the promised guidelines.
to the beginning, ﬁnishing with something like:
Follow these few principles and before long, your ale will
You could add to this a list of competitions and national
events open to real ale brewers and drinkers but very little
more would be needed other than some captioned photo-
graphs to illustrate the piece.WRITING NON-FICTION / 17
main constituents are:
a good, attention-grabbing introduction
the subject and delivers the information promised in
back to the beginning.
INTRODUCTION Introduce the subject, go straight to the
(Beginning) ‘With the growth in popularity of real
CONTENT (Middle) Keep to the point of the article, dealing
with each relevant item in a logical
How to assess the quality, i.e. ‘Points
to look for...’
Tips for brewing your own prize-win-
List of quality brews.
Where to ﬁnd good ales.
Round oﬀ article by bringing it back to
the beginning, e.g. ‘Follow the basic
principles and before long, your ale will
take its place on the list of home-
produced award-winning real ales.’
Fig. 2. Framework for article.18 / CREATIVE WRITING
rest and should grab the reader’s attention by immediately
magazine, the more factual your article should be.
Illustrations in the form of colour slides, photographs or
diagrams are always useful. These should be sensibly cap-
to, something like:
From one article ideacan spring several more. Perhapsyou
could follow up the ﬁrst article with an interview with a
upon is their autobiography.
Almost everyone has a tale to tell, many of which are fas-
lived through some prettyamazing experiences understand-
ably want towrite them down, both for theirown personal
satisfaction and to provide a written record for future
Beforeyoubegintowriteyourlife-story,however,itisworthWRITING NON-FICTION / 19
1. Do I have a fascinating tale to tell?
2. Is my story unique?
4. Do I wish to leave my family a record of my life?
5. Do I want to give hope to others?
6. Do I want to have my autobiography published?
of having your book accepted by a publisher are very slim
news, be they supermodels in their early twenties, sporting
personalities, leading politicians or famous names from the
world of ﬁlm and television.
Many successful autobiographies do more than tell the
author’s life-story. They also provide a documentary