Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic or technical forms of literature. Feature stories are considered creative writing, even though they fall under journalism. Both fictional and non-fictional works fall under creative writing, including novels, biographies, short stories, poems, screenwriting and play writing. Besides being a creative or even therapeutic outlet, creative writing can be a highly lucrative vocation.
Many psychologists recommend creative writing (writing a book, feature article, poetry, an entry for a writing competition) to impart knowledge, explore the opportunity to examine unresolved problems or social issues affecting humanity (unemployment, illiteracy, poverty, disease, domestic violence, gender inequality, child abuse) or choose topics to entertain readers. Scan the shelves in any bookstore and you will be overwhelmed by the diversity of topics that are explored by copywriters to attract an avid readership.
The print media alone use newspapers, books, magazines, journals and comics to distribute their information. Social interest content is also explored by the digital media on the Internet and mobile mass communication; copywriters use email messages, websites, blogs, and forums, as well as Internet-based audio and video to publicize their creative writing. An exciting development in writing is Transmedia Storytelling; stories are told across multi-platform media environments. Writing for transmedia environments utilizes a journalistic pyramid-style where details expand as a news story develops; transmedia writing requires three dimensional thinking. In the process of building multi-media layers to engage with an audience, a transmedia writer can involve photographic stills, animation, comic book graphics, or social media to tell a story with more than just words.
In creative writing, the author can use their imagination to put across any viewpoint or describe any scene, and help the reader to do the same. The intention of creative writing is to entertain the reader. Poems are great examples of creative writing. Short stories can be narrative, funny, mysterious, satirical, fantasy, or historical. Novels are always creative simply because the unfolding story depends on the authors imagination. Everyone has a story to tell, even if they don’t always realize it. While it helps to develop a framework before you start writing your manuscript – in terms of how many chapters your story will cover and the estimated word count allocated to each – it is important not to focus too much on the length. However, knowing what word count to aim for will avoid spending an enormous amount of time cutting copy later on.
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How long should a book be?
- Adult novels (commercial and literary) comprise between 80,000 and 90,000 words; this is an acceptable range for literary, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller and horror.
- Sci-Fi and Fantasy should ideally aim for 100,000 – 115,000 words. However, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it short (90 000 words).
- Adolescent/Teen novels (aimed at ages 8 to 12 years) are considered middle grade, which should comprise from 20,000 – 40.000 words, depending on the subject matter and age range. When writing a longer book that is aimed at older teens (ages 12 to 16 years) the term “upper middle grade” is applicable; aim for 35,000 – 45,000 words.
- Young adult novels comprise between 55,000 and 70,000 words. The word count for this category is flexible and can go as high as 80,000 if the work is science fiction or fantasy.
- Picture books (ages 1 to 3 years; 3 to 5 years; 5 to 7 years; 7 to 10 years) contain minimal text. The standard picture book consists of 32 pages, with a total of 25 – 1,500 words.
- Children’s books (easy to read, ages 6 to 9 years) contain 1,000 – 1,500 words.
- Westerns are generally not very long, comprising anywhere from 50,000 to 60,000 words.
- Memoirs are the same as a novel; aim for a word count between 70,000 and 80,000.
- Poetry should ideally cover 50 to 100 pages; a poem can be as long as you need it to be to get your message across.