English Literature: Creative Writing Hints and Tips
Creative writing is an important aspect of the English curriculum from SATs through to GCSEs and on to A Level English Language. Not only does it encourage students to think creatively, it can also help them to feel confident working with language in an autonomous manner. The benefits of such linguistic self-assurance are sure to stay with any young creative writer far into adulthood. At all levels, students are usually marked on their spelling, grammar and punctuation as well as their employment of linguistic and figurative features such as alliteration, simile and metaphor. The latter are especially important when writing to imagine, explore and entertain.
Spelling, Punctuation and GrammarIn terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar, the rules that apply to academic writing also apply to creative writing. As students write and as they proof read their work, they should check for any mistakes. Many may find it helpful to question themselves as they read. Do all my sentences have capital letters? Have I used the correct tense or tenses? Do my sentences make sense and are clauses broken up with commas, semicolons or connecting words?
Sentence TypesIn creative writing, different sentence types and lengths can be used to varying effect. For example, short, simple sentences can add drama, impact and suspense. Single word sentences, if used sparingly, can also liven up a piece of work. Longer sentences with two or more clauses, such as compound or complex sentences, can be hugely helpful when seeking to describe or get across a number of details or facts. Students should think carefully about both what they are trying to convey to the reader and which effects they intend to create and choose sentence types accordingly. A short story or description that includes a series of different sentence types is likely to appear textured and rich to the reader and show off the student’s writing abilities.
Adjectives and AdverbsIn writing, adjectives and adverbs bring people and places to life. An adjective is a word that describes a noun. Colours are adjectives but there are plenty of others too. Angry, happy, heavy, peculiar, friendly, short, quiet, barren, lush, sensible, bright, clear and comical are all adjectives. Adverbs are words that describe the way in which an action, termed a verb, is carried out. For example, in the clause ‘Tara ran quickly’, quickly is the adverb. Adjectives and adverbs are particularly effective in descriptive writing, as they help the reader to visualise and imagine a person, place or event.
Alliteration and AssonanceSound is particularly important when writing poetry but it is also the key to successful prose. Alliteration is the repetition of the same consonant sound, whilst assonance is the repetition of the same vowel sound. For example, ‘The bight ball bounced brightly’ is an example of alliteration. Both alliteration and assonance can help to bring a sense of vibrancy and pace to prose. When working on the sound, or aural qualities, of a piece of writing, it is always helpful to read aloud.
Metaphor and SimileBoth metaphor and similes are examples of figurative language. They create interesting images, add variety to creative writing and help the reader to visualise what is being described. A simile compares two unlike things, often using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’. For example, ‘Sam ran as fast as a cheetah and won the race’ is a simile. A metaphor also compares two unlike things, but the words ‘like’ and ‘as’ are generally not used. Metaphors link the two compared articles far more closely than a simile and assert that something is something else. For example, ‘Sam was a fast runner, he was a speedy cheetah crossing the finish line’, is a metaphor. Students who are aiming to fire up their readers’ imaginations should make sure to use similes and metaphors.
Above are just a few examples of helpful features that can boost creative writing work. Students are sure to find that committing to memory a simple checklist of ideas will provide a way into every original writing task. Creative writing is both educational and enjoyable; with these tricks up their sleeves students are sure to reap the rewards of creative writing.