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Creative writing ideas to get new authors started

Creative writing is where you express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than convey information. So creative writing would be for a novel, poem or short story and, at the same time, you would also use descriptive writing to describe people, places, scenes or objects in such a way as to form a picture in the reader’s mind.

For creative writing you need to come up with ideas to write about and this is what we are going to tackle here.

Ideas are everywhere. You may be inspired by a childhood memory or something that is going on in your life at the present time. Imagination and inspiration are the key factors when you need to come up with ideas for creative writing, but there are some tricks and tools that you can use as well.

I am going to call this stage of the writing process the invention stage and it usually involves you asking yourself many questions and employing a whole lot of strategies before you can get started with the writing process.

The creative writing process strategies:

•Read as many books as you can in your chosen genre e.g. fiction or non-fiction, poetry, short story, novel, children’s books etc. For an in-depth look at the different genres have a look at Wikipedia
•Gather as many ideas, good and bad, as you can
•Keep adding to your list as ideas pop into your mind (use a notebook)
•Take in what is going on around you all the time and listen for lines of dialogue
•Just get going, write and write some more
•Don’t worry about the quality of the work you produce at first
•Write every day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes
•Use the writing prompts that you will find on our resources page
•Do various exercises such as writing a series of very short works starting with a particular phrase or using only words that don’t have the letter ‘e’ in them
•From the word go you need to ask questions
•These questions lead to more questions
•Ask questions until you can’t think of any more.

By now you should have quite a lot of ideas to work with and it would be good to think about what main elements should be included in your work.

The main elements in creative writing

These are the main practical elements that you need to take into account when you start writing:

•Planning
•Settings
•Viewpoint
•Plot
•Characterization
•Character
•Contrast
•Conflict

So if you are feeling a bit more inspired now you can get busy with some creative writing and see where that takes you.


Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.

10 Free writing resources that will improve your writing skills

These writing resources will help you become a better writer whatever you want to write. It seems that writing is really about recycling ideas and words and whether you are writing a headline, poem, book, thesis or blog there are not too many original ideas around.

So give up the ideal of coming up with an original idea for everything you write and concentrate on finding a way to write quickly and efficiently by using the ideas of others and putting your own slant on it.

It seems that there are only seven basic plots and even someone as renowned as Shakespeare stole his plots from Greek and Roman plays. So use your creativity by taking existing plots or information and find new perspectives, adding your own ideas and inspiration to produce something that is unique.

By reading and writing and using the writing resources, together with others that you will find throughout this site, you will become a better writer.

1) The Economist English Style Guide
This guide is used by the journalists at the Economist and is packed with hints on how to use the English language.
On their site you will also find a language blog, Johnson, where you will also find many old discussions on their house style.

2) The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
I this on-line copy of this classic reference book is a must-have for any conscientious writer. It gives the principal requirements of plain English style and concentrates on the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.

3) Common Errors in English Usage
Have a look at Paul Brian’s very successful site but make sure you read his introductory remarks before you go to the list of errors.

This site gives you various options in exploring the common errors in the usage of the English language:
• There is a text-only version for people who want to read it as if it were a book
• Read an entry a day on their Facebook page
• You can read the daily entry on twitter
• You can go to the blog
• Get a FREE calendar.

4) Visuwords Graphical Dictionary
This site lets you look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. You can enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. It’s a dictionary, it’s a thesaurus and it’s great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
Visuwords™ uses Princeton University’s WordNet an open source database built by University students and language researchers.

5) Wordcounter
Wordcounter ranks the most frequently used words in a body of text. You can use this to see which words you are over using or to find keywords in a document.

6) Copywriting
Copywriting is the art of using the right words to put your message across to get people to pay attention and buy your product.
This site will teach you how to increase your sales and profits. You will need this craft as soon as you have finished your master piece!

7) OneLook Dictionary Search
On this search engine you can:
• Find words and phrases that start with a word
• Find words and phrases that end with a word
• Find words that start with certain letters and end with certain letters
• Find adjectives, related words and concepts
• Find phrases that contain certain words.

8) OneLook Reverse Dictionary Search
This reverse dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word.

Just type it into the search box and hit the “Find words” button. Keep it short to get the best results. In most cases you’ll get back a list of related terms with the best matches shown first.

9) WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary
This is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopaedia. Features of the free version include:
• Definitions and synonyms
• Related words
• Audio pronunciations
• Text pronunciations.
Join the millions of people from all over the world who use this software.

10) Writing Courses
You will be surprised at what you can find at learningpath.org! Free online creative writing courses offered by top universities and educational websites. This is certainly a good way to improve your writing skills.

Well we hope that you find these 10 writing resources helpful in your quest to improve your English writing skills. There are many more free and paid resources available and you will find them on other pages of this site. In fact the array of free writing resources is mind boggling so we have resisted the temptation to put more of them on this page as it is so easy to get side tracked from your writing project.


Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.

Writing style is what makes each writer unique

Writing style is what makes each writer unique. Obviously there are not enough writing styles that every author can have an absolutely unique style, but every author will have a particular tone to their writing that will make it distinguishable from someone else’s tone.

An author will also have a different tone for different types of writing. For instance writing for the internet, children’s books, cookery books and a novel would each require a different style, but it is not inconceivable that one author would write a book in more than one category.

The writing style should fit the context, purpose, and audience of each project and by choosing certain words, sentence structures and flow of words the writer will develop a voice.

Style is not only for writers such as P.G. Wodehouse, F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce who are well known for their distinctive writing styles but also for journalists, historians and all other informational writers. Another famous writer to add to this list is e.e. cummings who never used capital letters in his writing, including when spelling his name.

Elements of writing style

There are three main elements of writing that contribute to an author’s style:

• Word choice
• Sentence fluency
• Voice

Word choice

1) Your writing should be concise so you should choose the exact word to convey meaning
2) Use adjectives sparingly and adverbs rarely. Let nouns and verbs do the work
3) Chose words that contribute to the flow of a sentence. Construct sentences that roll off the tongue and make reading easy
4) Use romantic or long words (languorous, pearlescent, meandering) to slow down the pace
5) For a feel of adventure use staccato words to give an impression of haste
6) Use short breathy words to calm down and provide a more more dreamy feeling
7) Long sentences using descriptive words will expose readers to unfolding scene
8) To instil a sense of urgency use short sentences. Words should be quick-fire with no commas

Sentence fluency

1) Sentence fluency is the flow and rhythm of phrases and sentences making them easy to read
2) Vary sentence structures to achieve different effects and avoid monotony
3) Arrange ideas within a sentence for greater effect by choosing your words carefully, delete extraneous words and making vague words more specific

Voice

1) Voice is an essential element of style as it reveals the writer’s personality
2) Voice conveys feeling and is aimed at the audience of the work
3) Some of the feelings conveyed can be authoritative, reflective, objective, passionate, serious, funny, impersonal or chatty.

There are also four different types of writing:

• Expository writing
• Descriptive writing
• Persuasive Writing
• Narrative Writing

For each of these types of writing you would use a different style of writing which would fit in with the feel of the document as follows:

Expository or Argumentative style:

1) Subject-oriented style.
2) Author does not express own opinion on the topic
3) Furnishes relevant facts and figures
4) Found in text books, instruction manuals and ‘how to’ articles on the internet

Descriptive style:

1) The author focuses on describing an event, character or a place in detail
2) Often poetic in nature and describes an event, object or person
3) Usually incorporates sensory details.

Persuasive style:

1) The writer uses persuasion to win the reader over to his point of view
2) It contains the opinions, bias and justification of the author
3) Advertising copywriting is a type of persuasive writing,

Narrative style:

1) The author narrates the story as if he were the character
2) Narratives are works that provide an account of connected events
3) It is used for novels, dramas, short stories, poetry, etc.
Developing your writing style is a unique art that requires a lot imagination, creativity and dedication. With practice you can write about any topic and present your work to readers in a way that will have them hanging on every word.


Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.

Writing process series to help new and experienced writers find their own writing process.

The writing process is different for every writer and established writers will certainly have a process that they can follow with ease. New writers, however, have to develop a writing process from scratch and this can sometimes be very difficult.

It can be a problem to get started whether you are writing a blog post for your website, a short story or a full length book. Usually an inexperienced writer will simply put the job of getting started off to the next day and, in the end, the work will never be written.

Even an experienced writer can struggle when changing formats and find that they just don’t know where to begin. For instance someone who has written many books, may have a problem writing a blog post for the website to promote his work and so the process of trial and error begins, in order to find your own writing process.

Before starting the writing process arm yourself with information:

• What style of writing is required for the task at hand
• Do I need any other knowledge such as search engine optimization for a website or resources that will assist me with my writing
• Come up with ideas for the subject or plot
Add to your idea
• Research your subject

Now start the writing process:

• Start your first draft
• Write your article, short story or book.
• Revise and polish
• Edit you first draft
• Employ an editor
• Publish

Sounds easy but we all know that it is not that simple. A lack of self-belief, failure to come up with an idea and writer’s block are just a few of the problems that can stand in your way and prevent you from writing your first work.

Unfortunately there is no ‘one fits all’ solution and you need to be patient with yourself until you come up with a winning formula. In this series of articles we will attempt to point you in the right direction so that you can find your own writing process. The ‘we’ that I am referring to are John and Trish of J&T Dorrington.

I have been writing copy for websites for years and can complete an article in under an hour. I didn’t believe that I could write a book until I did a course on writing children’s picture books. The course advised that you find your pictures first and the book would follow. I followed this advice and my children’s picture book was produced soon after that.

John has written books and is a wonderful editor, but he nearly freaked when I told him that he had to write articles for this website. He is still struggling with the concept but, with my expert guidance, he is getting there.

So join us on this journey to find your writing process and let’s see whether we can make an author out of you.


Tricia DorringtonTricia Dorrington (9)

Tricia has been writing content for websites for many years and, as the editor of this site, attends to the posting of all content, together with the online marketing of the business.

Eleven ways to beat writer’s block forever

Writer’s block is a debilitating condition that causes authors to lose their ability to produce new work – sometimes for days or weeks, sometimes for months or even years. It doesn’t matter how long you gaze at your computer screen you can’t seem to come up with original thoughts or ideas. Here are eleven useful hints for helping you overcome writer’s block.

All authors have experienced writer’s block at some time in their writing careers.  Most often this affliction is only temporary and the ability to write will return, but in a very few cases it can be permanent.

There can be several causes for writer’s block ranging from a temporary lack of inspiration to much more serious complications in your life, such as the loss of a loved one. Not surprisingly, writer’s block usually strikes at the beginning of the text that you need to write – for argument’s sake a novel or a short story.

Here are a few hints if writer’s block strikes:

  • If you can’t get started on the first page then start at the middle or the end. You can always return to the first page later when you’ve got plenty of writing behind you
  • If you can’t come up with anything then lower your standards. Later, when you’ve regained your confidence, you can revisit what you’ve written and make the necessary improvements. It doesn’t matter what you’ve written as long as you’ve written something
  • Discuss your writing issues with someone you trust such as a spouse or a friend. Often a second opinion leads to inspiration and new ideas
  • Seek out creative company. Other people will stimulate you and their ideas might rub off on you
  • Don’t procrastinate. The garden needs mowing, the pool needs cleaning, and the dogs want their walk. They can all wait. Start writing
  • Remove obstacles to your writing. Close the door. Switch off the phone. Shut out the outside world
  • Let your mind wander freely. Let it take you wherever it leads you
  • Develop a positive frame of mind. Convince yourself you’re creative
  • Develop set writing times and routines in an environment that is conducive to writing
  • Always keep a notebook handy in case you have moments of inspiration when you aren’t at your computer or laptop. Ideas often come to you at the most inconvenient times, like the middle of the night
  • If writer’s block has really taken hold of you, take a break from your computer screen. Don’t force it. Go see a movie or take the dogs for a walk. Take your mind off the problem. Writing improves with time and distance

When you return to your computer and start writing hopefully your creative juices will be flowing and your writer’s block will be a thing of the past.


John DorringtonJohn Dorrington (27)

John is a freelance copy-writer, editor and proof-reader, and has written four books. He has edited several novels and factual books, although much of his work involves editing students’ academic dissertations, including several Master’s and Doctoral theses. He is a graduate of the University of Cape Town where he studied English and History