How to begin creative writing
A quick and easy guide for beginners
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever wanted to write stories beyond your leaving cert English essays, but have no idea where to start? Hopefully this guide will allow you to embrace your talent and give you the confidence to begin.
If you enter the story disorganised, it’s going to come across that way. You don’t have to go into extreme amounts of detail about what’s going to happen – you don’t even have to organise the entire story just yet if you don’t know what’s going to happen. Just make sure you’re certain of how to go about the beginning so you’ll have a clear direction of where the story will go.
Planning also applies to characters. If you want to introduce new characters further into the story, that’s fine, but make sure you have determined a few main ones and what their personalities and roles in the story will be before you begin.
Don’t hold back
It can be daunting at first, but if you have a large vocabulary or a particular way of writing, use it to your advantage. Don’t worry about an adjective sounding too fancy or peculiar, or think a sentence that’s wonderfully worded sounds overboard. This may take some getting used to, as we tend to underestimate our own abilities, but eventually you will come to appreciate your individual style.
Keep away from clichés
It might be very tempting to write about a love triangle, or to have your character lie about themselves to boost their social status only to have it crumble down so they have to rebuild it. But such storylines have been done to death, and won’t be as impactful to your readers as something original from your own mind. Don’t be afraid to come up with your own ideas.
Walk before you can run
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but starting small can help. If you’re entirely new to creative writing and decide to try and pen a fantasy novel with heaps of characters and a massive world as your first piece of work, chances are it’s not going to turn out very well. Start off simply; nobody has to read these smaller stories that you write to begin, they can just be viewed as practice.
Always look for inspiration
Inspiration for writers can be seen anywhere – passing a single person in the street might give you an idea for a new character, while walking past a specific spot might give you an idea for an entire scene in your story. Have a notebook simply for jotting down ideas, and write down all your ideas in it. You don’t have to use everything you write in it, but it’s good to have a variety of things to choose from.
Be in the right mindset
If you write a story while you’re angry or upset, it’ll probably show in your work. If that’s what you want, by all means go for it! However, if that’s not what your story is trying to get across be sure you’re calm and collected while writing.
Don’t go overboard
One of the most beautiful things about creative writing is descriptions, which give us a clear image of what the writer is trying to portray. However, too much of a good thing can ruin it. Several lines of description are fine, but if you’re spending two pages writing about the protagonist’s hair, things get stale very quickly. Keep it to just enough description to keep things interesting, but don’t go so far as to ruin what you’ve written.
On the other hand, some people find description difficult to integrate. A helpful tip with this is to include all five senses in the scene you’re writing about if it feels bland.
Expand your vocabulary
The bigger your vocabulary, the more enriched your story becomes. The best way to expand your vocabulary is by reading. Online thesauruses can also be a help.
Get your name out
Again, this can be intimidating, but once you’re confident enough in your ability please don’t keep it to yourself! Many people would be delighted to read your work. If you want to keep writing as a hobby that’s personal to yourself, that’s fine, but there are great online communities for writers to discuss and read each other’s work. Starting a blog on sites like Blogspot and Wordpress to publish pieces of your work might be a good idea.