Ten Creative Writing Dos and Don’ts for Students

Nov 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: Featured Articles, General Homeschool Posts

It can be said that a solid creative writing technique doesn’t actually appear automatically for students. They can’t merely “consult an inner muse” and voila – witty and polished prose or short stories then appear as if their genealogy chart contained the bloodlines of Bronte, Dickinson, and Poe.

Although this can be frustrating for students and parents alike, there’s a solution! Here are some basic Dos and Don’ts for establishing a solid creative writing technique that can be built upon with time and experience.

Ten Dos and Don’ts for Creative Writing

DO: Write something every single day. It doesn’t have to be a blog or a story or anything extra special necessarily, but any sort of daily writing will help build the mental muscle memory of sitting down to put your thoughts into words, and that’s not a bad thing. So write something today. Right now would be great, in fact!

DON’T: Be self critical. Most teenagers lack the experiential vocabulary and grammar for writing well. That’s because they lack a certain amount of perspective and wisdom, which is gained over time. Although you haven’t yet developed your true writing voice, be patient. Anything worth doing takes time to get good at. It’s just that simple.

DO: Read everything you can. Don’t limit yourself to your “likes” only. The stuff that bores you is actually worth reading. Why? You can learn from it. Think about it. If the book is published, the writer must have done something right. See if you can pick up any tips and apply it to your own writing.

DON’T: Try to use over-expressive words. It can be tempting to drop in big, fancy words just to show off your advanced knowledge of the English language, but you have to be careful about how you use them (not that there’s anything wrong with a wide vocabulary!) If the character is a thuggish boy, he’s likely to swear and speak in slang, and not use proper sentence structure. Let yourself get into character while you write, then go back over it carefully for discrepancies. You want to sound real and keep the dialogue flowing naturally.

DO: Show not Tell. This little phrase may sound trite – but it’s one of the essential truisms of excellent creative writing. Instead of saying something like, “She was afraid,” think about how you can describe it. “Her face was pale and drawn, her pupils dilated, and he could detect a slight quivering in all her limbs.”

DON’T: Hesitate to use writing prompts. If you get stuck – don’t give up. You don’t have to come up with brilliant ideas on your own, every time you write. Writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing!

DO: Spend a lot of time on character development. To develop a character, you must build the character from square one. Step into their shoes. You have to make the character seem real — and to do that, you have to know all the minor details about that character. In life, the choices we make are most of the time based on previous choices we’ve made. The same thing applies to a character in a story. That character does things because of past experiences. Make a cheat sheet – just for your characters – that you can refer to as you go along.

DON’T: Always limit yourself to quiet. If you are struggling, try mixing it up! Whatever genre you listen to, music is powerful. It can change the mood you’re in and it can inspire you to do things. Lots of authors listen to music when they write to help them get into the right mood. White noise, like rain or ocean sounds, can also be soothing to some writers.

DO: Write what you love. Pick a subject that makes you happy or passionate and write about it. Draft a poem, a short story, or add it to a longer story you are currently working on. It’s very difficult to bring creativity to topics that bore you. If you are given a particular topic, think of a way to twist it into something YOU would find interesting!

DON’T: Get stuck on your opening sentence. Yes, it’s got to be great, have a superb hook, catch the eye, draw the reader in, and all that. But it can also overwhelm you with feelings of inadequacy. If you need to, jump past it! When you are fully in the swing of the tale, you can revisit the opening, hone it, and make it a killer.

Writing is never a waste. It’s one of the most important business world skills you can learn. So, what are you waiting for? Take these tips and tools and get to work on something fantastic – and uniquely you!

 

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2 comments
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  1. Great tips here for young writers! I’ll be adding a link to this page to my website. Thanks for posting a link to my writing prompts, too!

  2. Heather Wright »
    You’re so welcome! Thank you so much for the feedback!

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