Creative Writing For Dummies book cover

Creative Writing For Dummies

By: Maggie Hamand Published: 01-24-2012

Unlock your creativity and choose the genre of writing that suits you best

Do you have an idea that you’re burning to get down on paper? Do you want to document your travels to far-flung places, or write a few stanzas of poetry? Whether you dream of being a novelist, a travel writer, a poet, a playwright or a columnist, Creative Writing For Dummies shows you how to unlock your creativity and choose the genre of writing that suits you best. Walking you through characterisation, setting, dialogue and plot, as well as giving expert insights into both fiction and non-fiction, it’s the ideal launching pad to the world of creative writing.

Creative Writing For Dummies covers:

Part I: Getting started        

  • Chapter 1: Can Everyone Write?
  • Chapter 2:  Getting into the Write Mind
  • Chapter 3: Finding the Material to work with   

Part II: The Elements of Creative Writing     

  • Chapter 4: Creating Characters
  • Chapter 5: Discovering Dialogue
  • Chapter 6: Who is telling the story?
  • Chapter 7: Creating your own world
  • Chapter 8: Plotting your way
  • Chapter 9: Creating a Structure
  • Chapter 10: Rewriting and editing              

Part III:   Different Kinds of Fiction Writing

  • Chapter 11: Short stories
  • Chapter 12: Novels
  • Chapter 13: Writing for children
  • Chapter 14: Plays
  • Chapter 15: Screenplays
  • Chapter 16: Poetry

Part IV: Different kinds of Non-fiction writing                                             

  • Chapter 17:  Breaking into journalism - Writing articles/ magazine writing
  • Chapter 18: Writing from life and autobiography
  • Chapter 19: Embroidering the facts: Narrative non-fiction
  • Chapter 20: Exploring the world from your armchair - Travel writing
  • Chapter 21: Blogging – the new big thing

Part V: Finding an audience                                             

  • Chapter 22: Finding editors/ publishers/ agents            
  • Chapter 23: Becoming a professional

Part VI: Part of Tens                          

  • Chapter 24: Ten top tips for writers      
  • Chapter 25: Ten ways to get noticed

Articles From Creative Writing For Dummies

8 results
8 results
How to Write Authentic Dialogue for Fictional Characters

Article / Updated 05-13-2016

Effective, compelling and realistic dialogue is crucial to successful creative writing. Without authentic-sounding conversation, your characters and plot will seem undeveloped and unbelievable. At its best, dialogue should be able to build tension, reveal individual character and add sparkle to your fictional storytelling. Listen to conversations: You might be surprised at how little listening goes on. Many people are preoccupied with what they’re going to say next, or think about how to turn the conversation back to themselves. Consider emulating these social realities as you develop dialogue between your fictional characters. Think about what each character wants to gain from the conversation, and this will help determine their style, tone and attitude. Jot down phrases you overhear when listening to people’s conversations. Think about what this tells you about the person. Rhythm and voice in character development In speech, dialogue can be full of hesitations and uncertainties, which (though authentic) may not make sense when written down on a page. Speech should sound natural when you read it, and shouldn’t feel unnatural or stilted. A character’s vocabulary and rhythm of speech often reflects their personality. People also have distinguishable mannerisms and catch-phrases which can help the reader to identify a character from the dialogue. Think about the choice of words, the level of formality, use of slang. Characters speaking in varied situations Be confident in your dialogue and let it speak for itself! There’s nothing more boring than reading pages of ‘she whispered softly’ or ‘he murmured sadly’ in fiction. Try to avoid doing this too often. It’s better to make it clear through the dialogue who is speaking. When your characters are in each other’s presence, writers can rely on descriptions of body language and props to add colour to the dialogue and let the reader know what they’re feeling. When dialogue is taking place in a crowd, it can be a challenge to let readers know who’s speaking. One useful method is for the characters to mention one another’s names. Dynamic conversation between fictional characters It’s important that the reader feels as though the conversation is moving forward. Without a sense of purpose to the dialogue, the reader is likely to become bored and frustrated. Another pitfall to avoid is dialogue which goes on for too long: Keep it short and make every line count. Revealing subtext: what characters don't say Often people don’t talk about the things they’re really thinking about, and social convention dictates that lots of lies get told. Another common occurrence is for people to talk about one thing while thinking about something else. Try uncovering your character’s hidden depths and inner emotions through revealing dialogue. Accents and dialects can be a useful way of creating a distinctive and memorable voice for your characters, but it can be a challenging way of doing so. Writers such as Emily Bronte and Mark Twain have made excellent use of these tools, but it can mean that work becomes difficult to read. If you want to convey language from an earlier time period, there’s no substitute for simply reading literature written at the time you’re writing about – and designing your dialogue accordingly.

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Rewriting and Editing Your Creative Writing Project

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Rewriting and editing helps to tighten up your work. But it can be difficult – what to chop and when to stop may not be clear, and you may change your mind more than once during the process. Ask yourself whether you need to take out: Unnecessary information and explanation. Passages of dialogue that go on too long. Clunky descriptions that give too much detail. Clumsy images that don’t really work. Too many adjectives and adverbs. You may need to add or expand: Something you know but have forgotten to tell the reader; perhaps the age of the main character. More specific descriptive information that shows instead of tells; instead of describing a man as ‘old’, describe his white hair, slow gait and mottled hands. Dialogue of what the characters actually say, rather than summaries. Material to add interest or create suspense. A better opening or closing line. You may need to move: Dramatic sections to make a stronger opening. Early information to where the reader really needs to know it. Essential information nearer the beginning of the book. Descriptive passages to add tension and suspense to incidents. Words, phrases and sentences to make a better rhythm. In your final edit: Check for grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. Ensure you have no continuity errors. Pay particular attention to the first and last lines of any section or scene. Smooth out any awkward words and phrases. Clarify anything that isn’t clear.

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Before You Begin Your Creative Writing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Always be prepared! Here’s a checklist of useful writing aids to have with you as you begin to write – just don’t forget the chocolate biscuits. A good notebook A decent pen Plenty of paper A computer or laptop A desk or other writing space A dictionary A thesaurus

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How to Generate Creative Writing Ideas

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Writer’s block affects all writers from time to time. If you feel a bit stuck for inspiration, try these techniques to get your creative juices flowing. Find a postcard, photograph or painting depicting two or more people and write a story about them. Look at any object and write about it – where does it come from, who does it belong to, who might want it? Read the newspaper for unusual and interesting stories and develop them as fiction. Listen to conversations on the bus, in a café or at the supermarket. Jot them down and carry them on, seeing where they lead you. Pick up a book you really like and open it at a random page. Pick a sentence you like and write it down, and then carry on writing your own story. Pick an emotion and create a story around it. Pick another, and carry on writing. Make the characters move from the first emotion to the second.

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Writing Your First Draft

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Writing a first draft of your creative writing project – whether a novel, short story, poem or play – can be a bit daunting. Follow these handy hints to help you organise your thoughts and manage your time: Don’t worry about a great opening line yet. Simply start writing wherever you like. Keep the flow going in the early stages – keep writing without stopping, going back, re-reading or changing what you’ve written. Remember to show not tell – think about how to dramatise what you’re writing about and create visual images. Start somewhere else and get going again if you become stuck on a particular passage.

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Ways to Develop and Improve Your Creative Writing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Here are some top tips for developing your creative writing. No writing is ever a finished product – there are always ways to improve and refine your style. Go on a writing course. Join a writers’ circle. Find a good library and use it. Read and re-read good writing. Attend book festivals, readings and bookshop events.

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How to Create Compelling Characters in Fictional Writing

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Believable, authentic characters are crucial to great stories and novels. Fictional characters should have the depth and power to inspire varied emotions such as love, hate and fear in a reader. There are a number of ways you can go about creating characters. When writing fiction, you can often use a real-life person as a basis for a character, then change and adapt the person’s characteristics for the story you’re writing. Think about the people closest to you and try to summarise their personalities. To get those creative juices flowing, you could try creating personalities for strangers you see on the street. Imagine what they do, what their interests are, what their life has been like. Alternatively, you may find that a character simply comes to you seemingly from nowhere. This could happen because you’re tapping into the unknown aspects of your personality. Sometimes you may need to create a character from scratch to fill a particular function in your writing. This can be a lengthy process – you’ll have to think about every aspect of his behaviour, personality and appearance to create a believable character. How does your fictional character look physically? How your character looks can reveal a lot about their personality to the reader: people make snap judgements about people within a few seconds of seeing them. Think about what you want your character to represent through his or her appearance. You can make minor characters more memorable by giving them distinctive physical traits which readers will remember. What are your character's thoughts? It’s important for the reader to feel that they can share the character’s thoughts and feelings. Inner emotions can be brought out through expressions, intonation, body language. Try keeping a diary for your character. Think about what his writing style would be like, and whether he would reveal his innermost thoughts. What actions and deeds are typical of your character? Personality can also be brought out through actions. Think about how your character moves and behaves when alone and when in company. Is he naturally introspective or an extrovert? Write about how you character would go about an everyday activity, such as making a cup of tea: this can be much more revealing than you would first imagine. How does your character talk? Dialogue is one of the main ways you can directly reveal character, particularly if you’re writing about someone in the third person rather than from the inside. Imagine your character meets another character – write down their conversation. Consider how your character speaks, what his accent is like, how talkative he is. Does your character's name matter? Another key thing to consider is your character’s name: this will instinctively reveal something about the character and will create a first impression on the reader. As a general rule, you should avoid stereotypical characters. Often, such characters are one-dimensional and will not be particularly interesting for the reader.

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How to Write Popular, Successful Blogs

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Blogging is one of fastest growing forms of communication. It’s easy, cheap and is a great way to develop your writing skills and get your voice heard. Blogs can take a number of forms – commentaries, diaries and fiction. The first thing to think about is the title of your blog. This is crucial: Most viewers will decide to visit your blog based on its title. The blog title should be clear and inform the reader about the nature of its content. Similarly, you should make your headlines interesting and informative – aim to grab the reader’s attention as soon as possible. Titles should include plenty of keywords to aid search engine optimization, and should be no longer than 10-12 words. Theme: Be clear about the type of blog you’re writing, and what the key themes of your blog are. Most readers will be interested in a specific topic, so don’t digress into areas which aren’t relevant. Frequency: Having stale or outdated content on your website reflects badly on your blog. The most popular blogs are updated a couple of times a day. Make sure that you post regularly and cover topics which are up-to-date and relevant. Style: Take time to develop your own voice and write in a way that feels natural to you. This is your blog, and should reflect your personality, so don’t try to imitate someone else. Make your posts easy to understand. Remember that some idioms and acronyms won’t be understood outside the UK. Comment: Allow people to comment on your posts, and aim to respond to them. Blogs should be a dialogue, not a one-way conversation. Having comments will make your blog look popular, and will help to build up a community of readers. Be savvy: Avoid posting work-related items that are confidential, rude, or in any way unprofessional. It’s also risky to publicise personal information about other people - this could cause embarrassment and offence.

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