Creative Writing - Basic Principles

Developing your writing style

To be an excellent creative writer, it’s not necessary to have a vivid imagination though that helps a lot. Many great writers of the English Language weren’t particularly creative. Instead, they honed down their technique and style to garner interest in their stories. The most significant thing about creative writing is that it’s all yours (unless, of course, you decide to plagiarize, which would ultimately defeat the purpose). But to be a good creative writer, the most important thing is practice.

There are four things to keep in mind while writing a story or play. These are:

  • Plot
  • Characterization
  • Dialogues
  • Theme

These are the essential things required to write a story, but the tackling of the concept is where many would-be writers lag behind.

Developing one’s writing style takes time, patience, and constant practice. Attempting too much or writing to consciously may hamper your prose, not improve them. Here are a few ways you can improve your writing style and add color to your work.

  • Read: Reading can help improve your writing style immensely. There’s nothing wrong with being influenced by an individual author’s writing technique. You can even take a particular form a few steps further.
  • Write: Without constant writing practice, you can’t expect your creative writing skills to improve. Regularly write, even if you think your work is awful. It’s not necessary to stick to one genre even; experiment and innovate. There is an excellent possibility you’ll latch on to your style soon enough.
  • Be natural: Use the language and words that come naturally to you. Opening a thesaurus and taking our difficult words will not make your writing better; in fact, it makes it pedantic and pretentious.
  • Be concise and clear: nobody knows what you want to say better than you do, and most of the time, simple, clear sentences make more of an impact than heavy longwinded phraseology.
  • Avoid being clichéd: try to craft original new sentences. Steer clear from done-to-death wordings and metaphors. You can create interest in your writing by being spunky, creative, and bold in your word choice.

Creating Realistic Characters

You can create complex, well-rounded characters quickly by asking yourself questions about what type of person you wish to create. For example, where is your character from? What does he/she do for a living? How old is your character, and what family background is he/she coming from? Etc. Following is a list of questions you could ask yourself about your character.

  • What does he/she look like?
  • What is your character called?
  • How does your character deal with conflict and trouble?
  • Are there other people in your characters live? How does he/she relate to them?
  • What is the purpose of your character in this story?

OOnce you’ve got your characters figured out, you can turn to dialogue, and how you can create realistic and exciting conversations between your characters.

Writing convincing dialogue

Writing good dialogue takes practice and observation. People tend to over-dramatize or understate, in either case leaving the reader with a sense of disbelief. Conversations play a significant role in bringing fiction to life, and if handled correctly, can help create a beautiful piece of art.

So how can you make sure your dialogue writing seems genuine and colorful?

By following these tips:

  • Listen to how people talk: You will rarely find a priest swearing, or an English Professor using slang. Observe the way people speak and note down any new figure of speech they might use. Good writers are often good eavesdroppers too.
  • Cut down on extraneous words and phrases: real speech does not flow as smoothly as it seems to on paper, but most readers do not care to read unnecessary words like “err…” “uh…” and “oh,” between dialogues.
  • Use action to highlight your dialogues: Remind the reader that the characters they are reading about areas physical (theoretically) as they are. ‘He said’ ‘she said dialogues got monotonous if they are not broken up with movement.
  • Do not stuff with too much information: It should not be evident that you are using dialogue to communicate information. In general, apply the three-sentence rule: give no character more than three uninterrupted sentences at once. Let the story unfold naturally.

Avoid stereotyping your characters through dialect: this is not only offensive, but it also challenges the reader’s intelligence. Just like all Irish men do not have red hair, similarly, not all Englishmen say, “Bollocks.”