“Creative writing” is a simple term which encompasses a huge amount of art. Much of the creative writing you see on a regular basis might not even seem like creative writing at first! You may have even done some creative writing yourself without realizing it.
We’re here today to talk about some different types of creative writing, show you some examples, and give you some pointers if you’re looking to start creative writing yourself.
Today’s guide to creative writing examples covers:
- What does creative writing include?
- Short Story
- Flash Fiction
- Prose Poem
- Personal Essays
- How do I start creative writing?
What does creative writing include?
Let’s take a look at some different types of creative writing, as well as some examples:
A novel is a fictional story which is about the length of a book, and it follows a narrative. Books are generally around 90,000 words, but they can be hundreds of thousands of words long depending on the author and publisher. Novels come in many different genres and subgenres, including mystery, fantasy, science fiction, contemporary, literary fiction, horror, and romance.
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
A short story is a complete fictional narrative, but it is, as the name implies, much shorter than a novel. Short stories range between 1,000 and 10,000 words, and like novels, they appear in a variety of genres.
- “Passing Ghosts” by Hannah Lee Kidder (from her collection Starlight)
- “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
- “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe
Flash fiction is a subtype of short fiction and usually refers to stories which are 1,000 words or less. The focus of flash fiction is usually much smaller than in short fiction, novellas, or novels, and the author will describe a very specific moment, character, or scene instead of following a character through a long quest or journey.
- “Dear Emma” by Hannah Lee Kidder (from her collection Little Birds)
- “Curriculum” by Sejal Shah
- “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury
Microfiction is a subtype of flash fiction. The term ‘microfiction’ is often used interchangeably with ‘flash fiction,’ and there are ongoing debates about the definitive length of microfiction. Depending on who you ask, it ranges between a handful of words up to 1,000 words.
- “Ignorance” by Hannah Lee Kidder (from her collection Little Birds)
- “Chapter V” by Ernest Hemingway
- “Give it Up!” by Franz Kafka
A novella is essentially a short novel or a very long short story. They range between 10,000 and 40,000 words, and they follow a fictional narrative much in the same way that novels or short stories do. The plot of a novella is compact and short because of its word count.
- Home by Toni Morrison
- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Prose poetry is poetry that isn’t broken up into the sort of lines you see in verse poetry, but which contains many of the same elements as poetry, like symbolism, metaphor, and imagery.
- “Spring Day” by Amy Lowell
- “Information” by David Ignatow
- “Year of the Dig” by Danielle Mitchell
A poem is a piece of writing which relies heavily on metaphor and symbolism to convey meaning. Check out this article if you want to learn how to write poetry. Poetry often takes on a songlike quality. The term ‘poetry’ encompasses an enormous variety of structures and forms. There’s no word limit for poetry—poems can be thousands of words long, or they can take up only one line or two lines.
- “The Lady of Shalott” by Alfred Tennyson
- “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe
- “Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
Sonnets are a form of Italian poetry. They’re generally fourteen lines long, with those lines being broken up into four subgroups. The first three groups of lines appear in sets of four, or “quatrains,” and the sonnet ends with a group of two lines.
- “There is another sky” by Emily Dickinson
- “Silence” by Edgar Allen Poe
- “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
A haiku is a poem with three lines. The first line contains five syllables, the second line contains seven syllables, and the final line contains five syllables. These are often used to focus on a specific image, emotion, or scene.
- “The Old Pond” by Matsuo Bashō
- “Haiku [for you]” by Sonia Sanchez
- “The Taste of Rain” by Jack Kerouac
Limericks are made up of three long and two short lines which follow the rhyming sequence AABBA. These are often rowdy or lewd, and almost always intended to be funny.
- “There’s a Ponderous Pundit MacHugh” by James Joyce
- “A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican” by Dixon Lanier Merritt
- “There Was a Young Lady of Station” by Lewis Carroll
A play is a script intended to be performed by actors on a stage in front of a live audience. Plays come in as many genres as films or novels do—comedies, romances, tragedies, and murder mysteries have all been written for the stage. Since plays are written in script form instead of in prose form, the focus is on stage direction and character dialogue—there’s not really a narrator in the way there is for a novel.
- The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
- Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
- A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Movie & T.V. Scripts
Scripts for movies and television follow a format similar to scripts for the stage, but they take the different medium into account. Scripts tend to account for about one minute of screen time per page, and they’ll often include specific directions for the crew to follow while filming.
- Shrek dir. Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson
- Pride & Prejudice dir. Joe Wright
- Steel Magnolias dir. Herbert Ross
Personal essays are autobiographical accounts of events, but they’re told casually. Instead of feeling like an autobiography or an encyclopedia entry, these feel more like the author’s sitting down with you at coffee and telling you about something which happened to them.
- “Barrel Fever” by David Sedaris
- “Julius: The Story of a Premature Birth” by Jon Michaud
- “The Sordid Necessity of Living for Others” by Justin Torres
A song is a type of verse poetry which is intended to be performed musically. There are tons of different songwriting methods and patterns and there aren’t any hard rules, but generally, they include some sort of verse, some sort of repeating chorus, and a bridge towards the end of the song, usually before the last iteration of the chorus.
- “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
- “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance
- “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
Blogs aren’t always creative writing endeavors, but they can be! These are basically online personal essays, usually updated regularly for an audience. Authors will often use creative storytelling or creative writing skills to tell engaging, interesting stories, or to convey information in an interesting manner.
- The Creative Pen by Joanna Penn
- The Artist’s Road by Patrick Ross
- terribleminds by Chuck Wendig
Diaries are a personal recording of one’s thoughts and feelings. These can be very therapeutic, as they help the writer get their private concerns and anxieties out on paper, and it can be a great way to practice writing creatively without worrying if someone else will see it. These are written without the intent to show anyone, but lots of diaries have made it to print.
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela
- A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
A memoir describes a specific period of time in one’s life. If you compare memoir vs autobiography, a memoir might twist information to make a more poignant metaphorical or symbolic point. The focus is more on artistic expression than the strict cataloguing of facts.
- The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
- Just Kids by Patti Smith
- In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Letters are a form of communication written from one person to another. While these are often simple and without embellishment, it’s very common for people to include creative elements in their letter writing. Love letters, for example, are often painstakingly written with imagery and metaphor to convey the depths of the sender’s affection.
- Letters from an American Farmer and Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America by J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur
- The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor
- Essays and Letters: Friedrich Holderlin by Friedrich Holderlin
Columns are written for newspapers. While journalism is focused on conveying factual information to the reader (and therefore would be considered non-fiction), columns often leave more room for the writer’s personal opinions, and for the use of more creative language. Think of a column like a blog, but printed instead of online.
- “A Short Story about the Vietnam War Memorial” by Molly Ivins for Dallas Times Herald
- “Gamalielese” by H.L. Mencken for Baltimore Sun
- “Pithy into the Wind” by Dave Barry for The Miami Herald
Comics are strips of illustration accompanied by dialogue and some narrative text. Usually, comics are written out like scripts before they’re put down in the comic strip format. A comic might be a graphic novel, which is the length of a book, or it might be a single strip in a newspaper.
- The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
- Hulk: the End by Peter David
- Maximum Ride: 1 by NaRae Lee
How do I start creative writing?
If you’re looking to give creative writing a try, here are a few tips to help you get started and stay motivated while you’re learning!
Step 1 – Pick a type of creative writing
Read a few of the types of creative writing on this list and find one that speaks to you or that you’d like to try. Read some more to get a feel for the form and how it works. Knowing what kind of creative writing you’d like to make will make it much easier for you to get your thoughts on paper.
And you don’t have to stick to one type forever! Practicing in different forms will actually strengthen your writing skills overall, so don’t be afraid to branch out.
Step 2 – Set a goal
As with any new skill, creating a writing goal will help you practice and improve. Your goal might be project-oriented (complete a short story) or routine-oriented (write every day for five days), but whatever it is, it should be quantifiable and actionable. “Write a story” is a little vague. “Write a short story by the end of the month” is specific.
Step 3 – Make a writing routine and stick to it
To help you achieve your goal, carve out a little space in your day for writing. This doesn’t have to be a massive time commitment, and it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. If you can, write at the same time every day and create some kind of ritual around it (making tea beforehand, changing into comfy clothes, whatever works). This will help train your brain to know when it’s time to write, and it’ll get those creative gears turning automatically.
Step 4 – Practice, practice, practice
The most important thing a new writer can do is practice. Don’t get caught up worrying about publishing or perfectionism—you just learned this skill, and now you need to hone it. Practice as often as you can, and focus more on working consistently than putting out a ton of work. The more you practice, the better you’ll get overall!