Creative Writing: Not That Different from Academic Writing?

creative writing tips

Think creative writing is all that different from writing a research paper in class? You might be surprised! Read on as New Milford, NJ tutor Matthew H. explains…


Creative writing tips seem to be counterintuitive; how can someone tell someone else how to be creative? The truth is that the secret to writing any good creative literature is not really that different from what you need for a really great academic paper: strong structure.

I tutor many students for the SAT and GRE. I have a few major rules when it comes to writing those kinds of essays that I am going to share with you now as creative writing tips.

Define Your Key Terms

When writing a persuasive essay, you cannot convince your reader of the perspective you are defending unless you define how you understand the topic. If you have to defend how financial stability is the root to success, then you must start by explaining what success is for your argument to be logical. The same goes for creative writing; if you are inventing your own fantasy world, the audience has to have a vivid understanding of what that new literary universe entails. You have to define in resolute terms what your world and characters are like.

Be Specific

After defining your key terms, the best way to support what you’ve created is by being specific. In essay writing, this means providing solid examples to correspond with the definitions you’ve provided. In creative writing, this translates to strong character development that follows the exposition you have established.

A big difference between academic and creative writing, however, is the degree of implicit to explicit explanations. In other words, you have to explicitly spell everything out in academic papers, which are more straightforward in nature. In creative fiction, you want to show rather than tell. So, if you want to be specific by providing an example of a character’s personality, do not merely write, “He is an impatient person who gets upset easily.” Instead, provide the same information this way: “His face looked perpetually pained anytime someone said anything he didn’t want to hear. In fact, he often turned purple when lashing out to whomever challenged him.” See the difference? You are providing specific information that supports the world and characters you’ve begun to define without being too obvious.

Vary Your Language

Lastly, any good writing needs to have varied language. Unless a five-year-old is reading “See Spot Run,” no one wants to see choppy sentences with the same words used over and over. It not only becomes hard to read, but worse, boring. Knowing your target audience’s level of understanding, choose a selection of words that effectively fit the style of the story. If you are having a hard time thinking of another word for “direct,” the thesaurus is your best friend, use it!

While there are more specific issues to discuss, these are the most basic creative writing tips that, when properly implemented, will greatly impact the quality of your writing. Regardless of your style or audience, keeping these particular suggestions in mind ultimately ensures that your product is understandable, believable and enjoyable. And that’s the most important part of creative writing; enjoying it!

MatthewHMatthew H. provides tutoring in various subjects both online and in New Milford, NJ.  He recently received his MA from NYU with a background in Sociolinguistics and related research. Learn more about Matthew here! 



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Photo by Julie Jordan Scott

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2 replies
  1. Elizabeth R. Bryant
    Elizabeth R. Bryant says:

    Thanks for sharing wisdom through words! Well, I think clarity plays a very crucial role in creating writing. Are you a dairy writer or a personal blogger? Or do you need writing skills for creative writing essays , assignments or personal statements? The point is, writing is depends on your requirements and thus we can alter the basic tips. You can afford to be less specific and clear for personal writing but for professional work, we cannot avoid these tips.


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