12 Types of Creative Writing to Explore

Published April 25, 2018
Creative writer working at home

Creative writing isn't just limited to novels, short stories, and poems; in fact, this type of writing encompasses at least a dozen different types, each suited to specific situations and kinds of personal expression. Try them all to find out which ones you enjoy the most.

1. Songs

You may think of writing a song as a purely musical form of creative expression, but if your song has lyrics, you'll also be doing some creative writing. Lyrics are similar to poetry in that they can have many forms, although some type of rhyme scheme is common. See examples of some of the most popular song lyrics at MetroLyrics.

2. Poetry

From haiku to sonnets, there are dozens of different poetic forms to try. In general, the key to writing poetry is to create evocative images and make every word count. You can write about anything, from nature to love to your family. You can even write poems for specific occasions, such as a wedding ceremony or a funeral.

3. Vignettes

Vignettes are a short form of fiction or creative non-fiction that sets up a scene for the reader. There may not be a central conflict to drive the story forward, and there may not even be characters. Length can range from a single paragraph to a few pages. Generally, the entire piece takes place in one location. Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time features several examples of vignettes.

4. Short Fiction

Short fiction offers more of a "story" than a vignette. It includes short stories and even modern fan fiction. Writing a short story is a great way to learn about how fiction is structured, including plot, characters, conflict, and setting. You can even make money writing short fiction. A great example of this genre is A&P by John Updike.

5. Novellas

Longer than a short story but not quite as long as a novel, a novella goes into great detail about all the elements of the story. It may or may not have chapters. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a good example of a novella.

6. Novels

Novels are perhaps the best known form of fiction, and you'll see them in many genres, including romance, thrillers, and science fiction. In this long form of fiction, you have time to explore the plot, characters, and other elements more fully. Writing a novel is a huge undertaking and a great way to improve your skills as a writer. If you're considering such a project, look at what works in some of the best novels of all time.

7. Scripts

Scripts, for everything from TV commercials to radio programs and even movies, are another form of creative writing. The length can vary significantly, but the key is that the words you write will be recited by actors and recorded. An audience will view or listen to the piece later. Find movie scripts to review as examples of this form of writing.

8. Plays

Like a script in that the dialogue you write will be recited by actors, plays are designed to be performed in front of an audience. They are usually divided into several acts, although short, one-act plays are also popular. Writing a play is a great way to see your story ideas come to life. Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman is a good example if you're looking for inspiration.

9. Personal Essays

Not all creative writing is made up. In fact, creative non-fiction comes in several important forms. One of these is the personal essay in which the writer explores his or her own life experiences or opinions. Writing an essay on yourself isn't always easy, but it's an important skill to have for everything from college applications to family history.

10. Journals and Diaries

More than just a therapeutic exercise or a way to record the day's events, journals can also be a type of creative writing. This is especially true if you infuse your entries with your emotions and personal experiences. Take some time to read journal writing prompts and try your hand at this creative writing form.

11. Memoirs

A longer form of the personal essay or journal, a memoir is a type of creative nonfiction that explores a person's life or experiences. You can focus on a single period or your entire life. This is different from an autobiography in that it includes feelings and thoughts - not just the facts of what happened. There are even websites with examples of memoirs and tips for writing your own.

12. Letters

Because they contain more than a basic reporting of the facts, letters can also be a type of creative writing. This is especially true if they discuss emotion or opinion. Even love letters can be creative.

Try All the Forms

There are many more forms of writing that can become creative if they expand beyond the basic facts. For instance, some blogs and literary journalism articles are very creative too. There are so many types of creative writing to explore that it makes sense to try them all. You're sure to find one (or several) that you love.

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12 Types of Creative Writing to Explore