Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition) - dummies
Cheat Sheet

Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

From Creative Writing Exercises For Dummies

By Maggie Hamand

The best way to produce successful pieces of creative writing is to write, write, write. Here are loads of practical tips to get your creative juices flowing.

Setting Realistic Creative Writing Goals

Commit yourself to some specific, realistic targets before you start creative writing. Don’t make your targets too ambitious – just write little and often. Consider the following writing tips:

  • A target of three or four writing slots a week

  • A target of writing a particular number of words per week

  • A target of completing a task, such as developing a character or planning a scene

  • An overall target, such as completing your first draft by a set date

Get Writing Creatively with the Right Methods

Here are some positive ways to get into a creative mindset when preparing to write. Use some or all of these ideas to boost your creativity – and your original writing.

  • Use mind maps to visualise all the creative possibilities in your story idea.

  • Brainstorm with friends or other writers to generate ideas and explore alternatives.

  • Keep a scrapbook of ideas and materials for your writing project.

  • Use writing prompts such as postcards, photographs and interesting objects.

  • Interview people and do research for inspiration.

Building Up Characters in the Creative Stories You Write

When writing your creative story, remember that the heart of a story is always its characters. Here are some ways to develop and deepen the characters within your creative writing:

  • Find a photograph or painting of someone who looks like your character. Describe the person in detail – not just the face, but the whole body.

  • Write your character’s school report and CV.

  • Write some of your character’s most vivid childhood memories.

  • Write from the point of view of your character, and then write about that person from the point of view of other characters.

  • Make a timeline of your character’s life from birth to death.

  • Write about your character at work and at play, at home and away.

  • Write about your character’s family and friends.

  • Write a dialogue, paying attention to your character’s voice and the way she speaks.

  • Write about one secret and one lie that your character’s never revealed or admitted to.

Setting the Scene for Your Creative Story

With creative writing, describing the world of your story is essential to a good narrative. Here are some tips for setting your scene when you’re creating a written story:

  • Map out the main location in detail, drawing a plan of the area with all the main landmarks.

  • Describe the place where your character lives, including each room and object and where your character’s possessions came from, and a memory evoked by each.

  • Describe your character’s most treasured possessions.

  • Write a descriptive passage using all the senses – include colour, sound, touch, smell and taste.

  • Describe your character’s main activities – from everyday actions such as bathing or showering, washing or drying hair, to what the person does at work and play. Remember to use strong verbs to describe actions.

  • Describe the weather and the seasons in your story, using them to mark the passage of time.

  • Use the anticipation of a coming storm or calm, or of spring or summer, to create suspense in a scene.

  • Write a scene in which what the character sees and describes foreshadows what happens next.

  • Describe a dream that foretells the future or reveals a character’s hidden desires or fears.

Plotting Your Story When Writing Creatively

When writing your story, plot is essential in holding together all the other elements of your fiction. Here are some tips to help you structure your creative story:

  • Write the opening scene. Go back over it and see whether you can find a good opening line.

  • Write four different openings: a philosophical statement, a description of the scene, a line of dialogue and jumping right into the action.

  • Write the central question of your narrative in just one line.

  • Write down what your main character wants more than anything.

  • Write down all the things that will get in your protagonist’s way.

  • Make a list of twists, turns and surprises that may come into your story.

  • Write down some big decisions your character will need to make, and then explore three different choices for each one.

  • Create time pressure in your story by introducing one or more deadlines.

  • Raise the stakes for your main character by making the desired goal bigger and the consequences of failure more serious.

  • Sketch out some key scenes – literally. Divide each scene into four parts and draw simple pictures of what happens. Now write the scene.

  • Write a scene that ends with a cliffhanger.

  • Create complications by bringing in new characters to create subplots and introduce new themes.

  • Write the climactic scene of your story.

  • Write down four different endings: one happy, one sad, one open, one with a twist.

  • Write a page of possible last lines.