The 7 elements of creative writing are character, plot, setting, point of view, style, theme and literary devices. Just about everyone agrees on what the elements are though not about how much or how often they should be used. Even if you don't plan to use any or all of these elements in your writing, you will write better if you know what these tools are and how they are used.
At the least, characters carry out the work of the plot in a story. At the most, characters fuel and drive the entire story. Characters may be human or not, animate or not. Readers identify with characters, becoming involved enough with their fictional worlds to cheer on the luckless underdogs and hate the nasty villains.
A special kind of suspension of disbelief occurs in readers' minds when they are reading and enjoying stories. This suspension can only be achieved when the writing has verisimilitude, which means believably. A reader who constantly has reason to question the validity of a character as it is written, cannot enter the state of suspension of disbelief. Thus characters must be authentic to attract and bond with readers.
Our connection to characters can run deep. Think of the many memorable characters you have read that still seem more real than some people you know. Who doesn't carry a bit of Holden Caulfield's alienation and confusion with them forever after reading, The Catcher in the Rye?
Note that you may find inspiration for a character anywhere. You may make a character out of anything. An inanimate character, such as the hat from Miller's Crossing, may say a good many things while having no mouth.
No Plodding Plots, Please
Simply put, plot is what happens in the story. Generally, plots follow a simple arc. By the time most writers begin to write, they have already been exposed to many plots via popular culture. Every book, movie, and song has a plot--something happens. Even game shows have plots. Develop the habit of looking through the surface and perceiving the underlying skeleton of plot in almost everything.
It has been alleged that only 7 plots exist in English literature. Reading any good collection of Shakespeare's plays will teach you those 7 plots. As an alternative, several good books on plot are available.
Pithy Old Saw
An oversimplified but pithy old saw about plot says that there is only one plot and to write it you find a character and set him looking for something. Another old saw goes that if your plot is lagging in pace or sagging in tension, kill off someone (a character, of course) to jazz things up a bit. Old saws, as a rule, should be viewed with deep suspicion and used whenever handy.
Setting is where your story takes place. You may have one or many, depending on the needs of your story. Setting may be large, such as John Irving's use of place in Until I Find You, which is so pronounced that one or two European cities just may be actual characters. Conversely, your setting may be the living room or kitchen. Just think of the plays you have seen that unfold in only a few settings, such as in Arsenic and Old Lace.
The best advice about using this element is to ask yourself how a specific setting will underscore the themes in your work. Are you using a quest plot that would be supported best by the changing locations of the journey? If your story is about an initiation, a personal growth tale, then setting will seem less important because that type of quest unfolds primarily inside the character's mind.
I Want to Believe!
The only way to do setting wrong is to use a setting for no reason other than you like it. A superficially selected setting will ring false to readers, so don't do it. If you write in the Romance genre, wildly romantic settings are appropriate. If you write Science Fiction, make sure you write as a scientist first so that your settings are believable even though your world is obviously imaginary. For several a fine bits of believable SciFi world read anything by Robert L Heinlein.
In general, we know that the tale grows taller with the telling, so reliability, or the lack of it, in point-of-view quickly becomes an essential tool. Many liars' points-of-view have been skillfully used to tell a story, such as Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with notable effectiveness (Tom's many explanations to adults).
In determining whose point-of-view to use, determine first whose story you are telling. Is your narrator the best character to tell the story? Imagine Lolita written from any but Humbert's perspective! Do you need your narrator to lie or tell the truth?
There are several choices of types of point-of-view: first person, I and me; second person, you; more commonly third person, he, she, Jeanne, Richard; third person omniscient which includes seeing all characters' minds; and lastly third person limited which tells the whole story through one character.
Choose the point-of-view that will best present the story you want to tell in the way you want to tell it. Don't be afraid to try writing your story from a few different viewpoints until you find the right one. Just don't be afraid of trying anything in your writing because no matter how long you have been writing or how much you have written, it is intended to be a lifelong journey on which you constantly discover new things about yourself as a writer and about this big old world you write about (or from, in the case of the SciFi's).
Style is slippery to take hold of because it is made up of thin, smokey ephemeral things which are clearly extant but also difficult to grasp. It is a signature inside your writing and drawn from your vocabulary, syntax, rhythm, voice, and mood. It may be imitated but is mostly a natural byproduct of you. It defies most efforts to manipulate it. It is also as individual as DNA. Read anything by Kurt Vonnegut, and then follow that with some Ernest Hemingway and you will readily see that each writer is brilliant and crazy-gifted and just as different from the other as possible.
Changing your style, if you wish to, can be achieved with contrivances such as elevated diction and specific themes. It is even possible to mimic authors with more pronounced styles, but no one has suggested it makes you a better writer. Some freelancers claim they can control their styles, changing from one style to another as their assignments demand, but again, it is contrivance for a certain purpose, not an actual modification of personal style. Be yourself. It's easier and makes for better writing.
Theme in fiction is not limited to any specific set of ideas. Your theme(s) refers to the 'moral of the story" or the bigger ideas in your story such as murder, betrayal, honesty, and compassion. Theme is like setting in that if you deliberately use a certain theme with the intent of making a given point rather than because it naturally fits into your story, that piece of writing will probably fail.
Show Me, Don't Tell Me
The problem with premeditated pedantic use of theme is that you invariably sound preachy. Art doesn't preach because art teaches from the inside out, changing people in meaningful ways via the internal experience of learning, not shouting at them until they agree because they are tired of listening.
Readers like to decide for themselves what your story means or says about the larger world. Readers don't like to be preached at nor obviously told how to interpret events in your writing. Don't do it. Show without telling. Lead, if you must consciously lead at all, by example. Tell your story with as little of your own prejudices and interference as you can manage. Trash story lines that include heavy-handed themes. You will know when you are heavy-handed by the exaggerated need to keep on explaining why.
Ironically enough, no matter what theme you believe you have written, your readers will decide for themselves what you meant anyway. And that is the miracle and majesty of art.
No deus ex machina
The first literary device was called deus ex machina and was used in ancient Greek drama. It was, literally, a god character who was lowered down with ropes onto the stage when the hero needed rescuing or immediate godly intervention was needed to resolve the plot of the story. Even the Greeks who invented it knew it was cheesy. We use the phrase, deus ex machina, now to include all manner of cheesy, contrived plot resolutions.
Other types of literary devices include but are not limited to allusion, diction, epigraph euphemism, foreshadowing, imagery, metaphor/simile, and personification. You may not plan to use any of these, but do recall that everything written, ever, contains these devices, and they are exceedingly useful to writers. As with all tools, use the appropriate one at the appropriate time but do not use a device in place of good writing or else you too will be cheesy.
How well were you paying attention
We know our readers are always paying attention, but some of you like to be tested, so here is a quiz over this article. The answers are not hidden just below the questions, so on your honor, no cheating.
1. It's a great idea to use deus ex machina to solve plot dilemmas.
2. Imagery is only used in animated stories.
3. It's a surefire good idea to use a strong preachy theme in your stories.
4. Ancient Greek playwrights invented diction.
5. Foreshadowing is a very good brand of eye shadow.
6. Fire is one of the 7 elements of fiction.
7. You must use each of the 7 elements of fiction at least one time per story.
8. Your author had far too much fun making up this quiz.
Answers: F, F, F, F, F, F, F, T
By Jeanne D Green | Co-Author: Richard Green | Submitted On March 29, 2017 To read about these and other tribulations that keep the writing mind awake nights, come read us at http://www.greenswriting.com. We'll leave the site on for ya.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Jeanne_D_Green/2352604
Think about the last time you started a physical activity, one using muscles you had not used much before. You started out feeling fine, but the next day, you were sore. Those muscles were protesting their initial use. But you enjoyed the activity, so you continued to use those muscles. And gradually or quickly, the strain decreased, the muscles grew stronger, and you were able to do more.
Writing is like a muscle because writing involves many developing many skills -- from understanding grammar to understanding purpose and audience -- skills that need practice in order for you, the writer, to become proficient. When you start writing, your writing muscles are unaccustomed to that activity, so you ache afterwards. This ache could translate into over critical evaluations of the work produced (probably valid), unfulfilled expectations that the writing would be easier than it actually was, or frustration that the activity took so much more time than expected with much less produced than hoped for.
IN THE BEGINNING, YOUR RESULTS ARE AWFUL
Lew Hunter talks of "training-wheel screenplays": those first four or five screenplays that are truly awful but that you need to write in order to learn enough to write a fairly good script. These first scripts should never be shown to anyone because they are embarrassing.
Every writer has a time of producing training-wheel material, whether short stories or novels, articles or books, or short stories or novels; however, we are so proud of our accomplishment -- we actually finished something -- that we show it to everyone. Most readers are polite, perhaps even encouraging (mothers can be like that); some will say, "It needs work." That is all part of building the writing muscles.
Realize that practice is essential to building muscle. That practice takes time and effort, focus and concentration, and much patience on your part. You must allow yourself time to grow those skills and confidence to the next level. Proficiency only comes with much dedicated practice and focused effort.
Refrain from too much self-criticism at the beginning stages of your development. Do not become discouraged at your first feeble attempts at your craft. We all start out as poor writers; with practice, we become better writers. Eventually, we can become professional writers, if that desire is strong enough.
Do not make the mistake I did. In my early writing career, when I was trying to decide the genres to focus on, I would write something and send it out. The rejection came back with boomerang swiftness. With each rejection, I would jump to another type of writing, figuring that rejection indicated my talent for the genre. The result was that I never stayed with any one kind of writing long enough to become proficient in it.
I finally realized that all this jumping around was not the best course of action, so I chose a few types of writing that I had enjoyed (writing books, writing about travel and writing, writing screenplays) and focused on developing those muscles (skills) specific to each type of writing. Eventually I became good enough to be published or to win awards, but I worked hard, spending a lot of time and effort to reach that point of proficiency.
One benefit of all that jumping around was that I learned about many types of writing, and I learned to write better out of sheer practice of writing. Writing is always good practice for better writing, no matter the genre you write.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
The more you exercise that writing muscle, the stronger it becomes. The more writing practice you put in, the better writer you will become. The stronger the muscle becomes, the more you will be able to perform more complicated, challenging tasks. You will feel confident at tackling larger and more complicated projects. So you can move from writing short blog posts to short 10 page e-books and eventually to writing 100 to 200 page book manuscripts.
The old adage is true: "practice makes perfect." For writing, since no writing is ever perfect (a topic for another article), we will amend the adage to "practice makes improvement."
Exercising the writing muscles is hard work, at least at first, but the whole process does become easier -- with practice. The key to success is constant, daily (or as often as possible) writing. And write projects that really spark your interest, so you can sustain your writing efforts through the frustrating times.
Granted, some people do hit success with their first attempt at a genre, but most of us need that practice before we are good enough to be recognized for our accomplishments.
EVENTUALLY, YOU BECOME A PROFICIENT WRITER
As you become a better writer, you will find other writers who agree to read and critique your efforts (I am not talking about your mother or close friends or relatives, unless they are truly qualified). You may join a writing group, or you may just find friends who are also good writers.
As your writing is critiqued by these qualified readers, you will learn even more, especially about those issues particular to your writing -- your "favorite" grammar errors or lazy ways you put words and sentences together. You will learn to tighten your writing. You will learn techniques to create better ideas and better ways to express those ideas.
Regardless of the pain and frustration of building up your writing muscle, trudge on. Continue to write; play with different types of writing; play with writing for different audiences and age groups; eventually, you will stumble upon your best fit for your writing. Actually writing is the only way you will achieve that level of proficiency so that your writing is taken seriously.
To get to that level, practice writing-- stretching the writing muscle is essential. Write in a journal or write a blog about your hobby or passion. Write novels and stories and screenplays for you alone as the audience. But write. And then write some more.
By Katherine Ploeger | Submitted On May 10, 2010 Katherine Ploeger, MA, MFA, is a writer, editor, writing coach and consultant, and screenwriter. She writes and publishes practical, process-oriented information products for writers (nonfiction, children's, screenwriters, and others), sold through Quilliful Publications at [http://quillifulpublications.com]. Her latest book is titled Write That Nonfiction Book: The Whole Process. She has also recently published Common Writing Errors Workbook, a workbook to enhance a writer's editing skills. You can also find valuable and free information on her blog, Katie's Writing Notes, at [http://katieploeger.com].
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Katherine_Ploeger/233601
An article directory is a website with collections of articles written about different subjects. Sometimes article directories are referred to as content farms, which are websites created to produce mass content and establish expert status for websites or blogs.
I did not know about the existence of these directories, until I started looking for cheap ways to promote my own website. At the time, I was all about photography and found that if I wrote a decent article about photography and posted to one of these directories, I could get FREE publicity. Now the whole key to these directories is that they are FREE both to the writer and the user of those articles.
So, you ask, why would I want to write articles for free? Here in lies the beauty of the whole world of article directories. At the bottom of each article, you can put a link (sometimes two) to locations that will most benefit you. I had one article that was shared over the web 3,200 times. Every time some one read one of my articles and got to the bottom of the page they would read the "About the Author" section which had a Link to my web page.
I will show you an example of what that looked like, but remember that website no longer exists.
About the Author:
Award winning writer / photographer Tedric Garrison has 30 years experience in photography. As a Graphic Art Major, he has a unique perspective on what it takes, to make a great photo. His photo eBook “Your Creative Edge” proves creativity can be taught. Today, he shares his wealth of knowledge with the world through his website. (Visit betterphototips.com today.)
In this case, I was able to link to my site AND put in a plug for the eBook I had written. I was not on Amazon at the time, but found this type of free publicity well worth the time it took to write the articles. At one time, betterphototips.com ranked in the top ten for photo tips or photography tips. There were some other tricks I learned about web design too, but MOST of my traffic came from someone who had read one of the 92 articles I had written about photography.
If I were to apply this same technique today, I would probably link both my website and my Amazon author page. The more people see your name in print, the more likely they are to think of you as an expert in your field. So even though you are not paid directly, there are benefits to this type of work. Once you have been published on the web, (paid or not) you are PUBLISHED. Since these directories build their reputation based on the quality of the articles they except, to be excepted multiple times does say something about the quality of your work.
Besides the publicity, having access to multiple writers at your fingertips, gives your site or blog the appearance of being more well rounded. I knew nothing in the areas of; Underwater photography or Arial
photography, but my website had articles about those areas too. Obviously, not all writers LIKE to write articles, but if you do this might be your foot in the door for PAID articles later on. If you don't (or simply never seem to have the time), using an article directory might be of benefit in helping you keep your website or blog current and up to date.