Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature, typically identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or with various traditions of poetry and poetics.
A. The mere fact that people frequently communicate with each other in writing is not the only reason why we include writing as a part of the language program.
Writing helps our students learn. How?
First, writing reinforces the grammatical structures, idioms and vocabulary that we teach our students.
Second, when our students write they also have a chance to be adventurous with the language, they go beyond what they have just learned to say, to take the risks.
Third, when they write they necessarily become very involved with the language, the effort to express ideas and the constant use of eye, hand, and brain is a unique way to reinforce learning.
B. A great deal of writing goes on in language lessons especially in elementary level class. In sentence writing, students repeat or complete given sentences to reinforce structures, grammar and vocabulary that they have learned. They work with pattern sentences, performing substitutions or transformations.
C. But the main goal is to get the students go beyond those sentence exercise, so that they write:
- to communicate with a reader;
- to express ideas without the pressure of face-to-face communication;
- to explore a subject;
- to record experience;
- to become familiar with the conventions of written English discourse (a text).
We focus therefore on the importance of viewing writing as an activity that is natural for children to engage in. The concept of writing as an activity rather than a product is essential if we are to help them engage in writing that is meaningful and enjoyable.
Approaches to Teaching Creative Writing
There is no one answer to the question of how to teach creative writing. There are so many answers as there are teachers and teaching styles, or learning and learning styles.
This diagram shows what writers have to deal with when writing creatively:
PRODUCING A PIECE OF WRITING
Clear, fluent and effective communication of ideas
SYNTAX Sentence structure, sentence boundaries, stylistic choices, etc.
CONTENTrelevance, clarity, originality, logic, etc.
GRAMMAR rules for verbs, agreement, articles, Pronouns, etc.
AUDIENCE the readers
MECHANICS handwriting, spelling, punctuation, etc.
PURPOSE the reason for writing
ORGANIZATION paragraphs, topic and support, cohesion and unity
WORD CHOICE Vocabulary, idiom, tone
THE WRITER’S PROCESS getting ideas, getting started writing drafts, revising
As teachers have stressed different features of the diagram, combining them with how they think writing is learned, they have developed a variety of approaches to the teaching of creative writing.
General Approaches in Creative Writing
1. The Controlled – to – Free Approach
In the early 1950’s and 1960’s the audio-ligual approach dominated the second-language learning. Speech was primary and writing served to reinforce speech in that it stressed mastery of grammatical and syntactic forms. The controlled-to-free approach in writing is sequential:
- students are first given sentence exercise
- then paragraphs to copy or manipulate grammatically by for instance, changing questions to statements, present to past to past or plural to singular. They might also change words or clauses or combine sentences.
With controlled compositions, it is relatively easy for the students to write a great deal yet avoid errors. Only after reaching a high intermediate or advance level of proficiency are students allowed to try some free compositions, in which they express their own ideas. This approach stresses the three features of the diagram: grammar, syntax, and mechanics. It emphasizes accuracy rather than fluency or originality.
2. The Free-Writing Approach
Some teachers have stressed quantity of writing than quality. The y approached the teaching of writing by assigning vast amounts of free writing on given topics. The emphasis is that intermediate level students should put content and fluency first and not worry about forms. Once ideas are down on the paper or page, grammatical, accuracy, organization and the rest will gradually follow.
To emphasize fluency, some teachers begin their classes by asking students to write freely on any topic without worrying about grammar and spelling for five to ten minutes. At first, students find this very difficult. They have to resort to writing sentences like, “I can’t think of anything to write”. But as they do this kind of writing more and more often, some find that they write more fluently and that putting words down on paper is not so frightening after all.
The teachers do not correct these short pieces of free writing; they simply read them and perhaps comment on the ideas the writer expressed. Some students volunteer to read their own aloud in class. Concern of “audience” and “content” are seen as writings often revolve around subjects that the students are interested in and these subject then become the basis for other more focused writing task.
3. The Grammar-Syntax-Organization Approach
Some teachers stressed the need to work simultaneously on more than one of the features in the diagram. Writing, they claim, cannot be seen as composed of separate skills which are leaned one by one. So they devise writing tasks that lead students to pay attention to organization while they also work on the necessary grammar and syntax. For example to write a clear set of instructions on how to operate a calculator, the writer need more than the appropriate organizational plan based on chronology; sequence and words like first, then finally and perhaps even sentences structures like “When…, then…”
During discussion and preparation of the task, all these are reviewed or taught for the first time. Students see the connection between what they are trying to write and what they need to write. This approach then links the purpose of a piece of writing to the forms that are needed to convey the message.
4. The Communicative Approach
This approach stresses the purpose of a piece of writing and the audience for it. Student writers are encouraged to behave like writers in real life and to ask themselves the crucial questions about purpose and audience.
- Why am I writing this?
- Who will read it:
Traditionally, the teachers alone has been the audience for student writing. But some feel that writers do their best when writing is trully a communicative act, with a writer writing for a real reader.
So teachers using communicative approach have extended the readership. They extend it to other students in the class who not only read the piece but actually do something with it, such as respond, rewrite it another form, summarize or make comments but not correct.
5. The Process Approach
Student writer asks questions about purpose and audience, and crucial questions like:
- How do I write this?
- How do I get started?
In particular, they need to realize that what they put down on paper is not necessarily their finished product but just a beginning, a setting out of the first ideas, a draft. A student is given the time for the process to work along with appropriate feedback from readers such as the teachers or other students who will discover new ideas, new sentences, and new words as he writes a first draft and revises what he has written for a second draft.
Teachers give their students opportunity to explore a topic fully in such pre writing activities as discussion, reading, debate, brainstorming and list making.
In the process approach, the students do not write on a given topic in a restricted time and hand in the composition for the teacher to “correct” which is usually means to find the errors, rather they explore a topic through writing and showing the teacher and other each other their drafts and using what they write to read over, think about, and move them on to new ideas.
Teachers who use the process approach give their students two crucial supports: time for the students to try out ideas and feedback on the content of what they write in their draft. They find that the writing process becomes a process of discovery for the students: discovery of a new ideas, and new language forms to express those ideas.
On Approaches and Techniques
All the five approaches overlap. You will hardly find a teacher so devoted to one approach. A teacher using communicative or process approach will still use techniques drawn from the other approach as students need them,
There is no one way to teach writing, but so many ways.
The Six Steps to Good Creative Writing
Underlying almost all successful writing is a six step procedure which with practice, can make one write creatively.
Step 1 – To get enough details to work with, as well as to satisfy your curiosity about a subject, read-ask-observe! Gather all information you can find from (1) books and magazines (2) interviews (3) observation and experience.
Step 2 – Organize your details. As early as possible you should organize your list of ideas and thus limit your subject. You limit your subject in order to make your treatment of it more thorough, more convincing and more satisfying.
Step 3 – Outline your theme.
Step 3a: Outline briefly. Having gathered enough information on your subject and decided on the “one thing-only” to write about, you should make a preliminary outline. From your notes and scrap-paper details, pick out the particulars which are related to your narrowed topic.
- Weigh their merits
- Which are significant?
- Which are subordinate?
Move more details around on your paper until you have fitted them into what seems to be their logical order.
Step 3b: Gather more information. Get ready to read more, to consult authorities, and if possible to get first hand experience about your “one-thing-only”.
Step 3c: Make a working outline. You are now ready to outline your themes. You must have before you the following: (1) a list of your preliminary ideas, just as they occurred to you; the notes on what you have learned about your subject from books, and magazines, from interviews, and from observation and experience.
- Label your cards as to the category of information on each.
- Set your cards into sets of related cards.
- Summarize on scrap paper the gist of each set of cards. Some resorting and rejecting maybe necessary.
- Check each set of cards to be sure that every card is related to the topic or sub-topics.
- Write in sentence from an over-all statement for each sub-division.
- Write an over-all statement in sentence from covering your sub-division. This is your topic sentence.
- Study carefully this topic sentence and its sub-division statements. Revise when necessary and write a summarizing statement, which the present, becomes your conclusion.
Step 4 – Write your Theme.
From your outline, write the first draft of your theme. Develop each sub-division one at a time, as through it were a single paragraph to the over proceeding.
Step 5 – Write your Introduction and Conclusion.
The introduction and conclusion are the parts of a long theme that you write last. In one-paragraph theme your topic sentence in your introduction. This gives a wide view of the ground to be covered and explains the stand that you take as you set out to write. The conclusion is a summation of topic and details you wrote about. This summary can be a single word, a phrase, a sentence.
Step 6 – Cap your theme with a title.
Give your theme a title that fits what you have just written.
Types of Writing
Autobiography / Biography