11+ creative writing tips

June 17, 2022 Juba A

Just some useful tips and advice for writing up excellent stories

Here are 12 ways to make your story stand out:

1. Before you write, daydream

2. Choose one main plot event and bring it to life

3. Focus on a single character

4. Use dialogue - but don't write a play

5. Don't make the Intro too long

6. Show - but don't tell

7. Use a range of senses

8. Try to avoid common phrases

9. Use similes and metaphors carefully

10. Keep your reader interested

11. Use adjectives correctly

12. Adverbs? Find good verbs instead!

1. Before you write, daydream

If you can see your story in your head, you will be able to describe it strongly.

If you can’t, your descriptions risk being superficial and boring.

After a little daydream, your next step is to turn it into a simple plan. Your plan should have:

The main event in your story

Your main character

Ideas on how you will get to the main event

Write a few points about what will happen after the event

Remember this is just a plan! Keep all of the above simple for now, only a couple of lines for each

2. Choose one main plot event and bring it to life

It’s best to structure your story around one main event, which isn’t too extreme. Spend the rest of your time building up to it and showing its after-effects.

If there are too many things happening, your descriptive skills may get lost.

What’s more, once there are lots of dramatic events in a story, many students struggle to write about all of them properly.

3. Focus on a single character

Just as it’s best to focus your writing around one main event, it makes sense to have one character.

You probably won’t have time to make more than one person interesting and believable in a thirty minute writing exam.

4. Use dialogue - but don't write a play

Use a little dialogue in 11+ creative writing, but focus on your descriptions of the setting, characters and events.

When you do write conversations, don’t stop describing. Avoid repeating “I said”, “she said”, “Mum answered”, and so on.

Instead, add little details which help the reader to imagine the scene as the characters talk.

5. Don't make the Intro too long

The reader doesn’t have to know everything about the main character, and especially not at the start.

Anything that really matters about your characters can be mentioned along the way.

6. Show - but don't tell

In real life, we can’t see what is in other people’s minds.

We have to work it out from what they do – and sometimes from what they say.

For this reason, other people’s creative writing is often most interesting when we have to work out what characters are thinking and feeling.

This makes the characters seem like real people whose thoughts we can’t immediately know.

It also helps to get us – the readers – involved in the story by making us do some thinking for ourselves!

7. Use a range of senses

1) Always think about the five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell).

2) Sometimes avoid the most obvious sense when describing a thing

These tips are easy to apply in your creative writing for 11+, but they make a huge difference.

What’s more, unlike a clumsy simile, a sensory description rarely ends up harming your writing. It can be effective or ineffective, but that’s another matter!

Take the example belowe:

“The trees were green and swaying” could become: “The trunks were groaning, and overhead I heard the dull rustle of a thousand fresh leaves slapping against one another.”

There’s nothing original here, but because it is a slightly less obvious way of describing trees, it creates a much more powerful atmosphere.

8. Try to avoid common phrases

How can you come up with surprising, powerful descriptions ?

Imagine that you are just about to write the following sentence:

It was a cold morning.

But you stop yourself, think for a second, and write this:

I could hear the crackle of thawing ice on car windscreens.

This is much more interesting. Rather than using the sense of touch (a “cold” feeling), you are using a sound: “the crackle of thawing ice”.

There’s a good chance that the reader will think: “Yes! I never considered it before, but you really do hear a sound when ice thaws quickly.”

9. Use similes and metaphors carefully

Similes and metaphors are usefu, but they have to make things clearer for the reader, not create confusion.

“She won the sprint like a racing car” asks more questions than it answers.

Was she noisy? Was she travelling at 150 miles per hour?

On the other hand, “She ducked her head and slipped across the line as cleanly as a racing car” helps me to picture the event exactly as intended.

10. Keep your reader interested

If you write in a way that builds suspense by making me interested in the characters and events in the story – while keeping some important information hidden from me, just out of sight – this will speak for itself.

11. Use adjectives correctly

Every time you use our pen to write an adjective in your story- ask yourself whether it really needs to be there.

12. Adverbs? Find good verbs instead!

Instead of improving a boring verb with an adverb, ask yourself whather a better verb would do the job instead.

He walked away slowly

He lumbered away, he tattered away-  this tells the reader much more.


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