3 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing


*Just a heads up that you might run across a few links in this post (mostly for books) from which I may get a small commission should you click and buy. But don’t feel bad. If you do that, you’ll be supporting a small-time indie writer rather than Amazon. 🙂

My creative writing has taken off lately. Like, swoosh, jet-streamed it to the moon!

Perhaps I’ve finally matured as a writer. Maybe it’s the 15+ years I’ve been hounding this craft. Or possibly–just possibly–it’s the driven, hardcore intention I’ve invested into growing my voice lately.

Whatever the reason, below are three actual ways I’ve improved my creative writing over the years. Perhaps they’ll help you improve, too:

1) Write like a journalist. Hook your audience with a solid ‘lede.’

Yes, I’m a former journalist. Like, a real one, who wrote for a daily newspaper as a staff reporter and freelanced for magazines. In journalism, we have something called the “lede” (pronounced like “lead”).

A lede is the first sentence AND first paragraph of your article. It’s usually 25 words or less, and it hooks your readers into the crux of the story without giving too much away. It’s a tease.

The case for writing a good lede goes like this: if a person reads your first sentence and is intrigued, then they’ll read the second sentence. Then the third, fourth, etc. As soon as you lose their interest, however, you’re caput.

Write like a journalist.

Make your opening line short, intriguing, and teasing. Then, write every sentence thereafter as if you’ll be fired if the audience loses interest and stops reading.

2) Draw out your readers’ emotions. Read The Emotional Craft of Fiction to learn how.

This book has been lifechanging for me. LIFECHANGING.

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface was written by literary agent Donald Maas, founder of the Donald Maas Literary Agency in New York.

I tend to write with a lot of emotion–sometimes too much. But Maas talks about the power of suggestion, making the case that simply writing the character’s emotions isn’t enough. You have to draw out the reader’s emotions by giving them their own journey.

Let’s just say this: The Emotional Craft of Fiction became the jet fuel that launched my writing from good, to fantastic. I employed some of Maas’ techniques and received an enormous response from readers. I cannot recommend this book enough.

3) Use all your senses.

I’ve been told I’m pretty dang good at writing descriptions. I believe this is because I use all my senses.

My first instinct is to write using sight: what the character sees, what the setting looks like. However, I then take it a step further. What does the character feel? How about smell, or sound? And don’t forget about taste.

Writing a feeling of disgust? “Tammy tasted the acidic bile in the back of her throat.”

Is someone hot? “The air was thick with heat and crushed Josh’s lungs until he couldn’t breathe.”

You don’t have to make the added description long, maybe an additional sentence. But challenge yourself to use all your senses, and you’ll make the scene come alive for your reader.

Well, there you go! I hope these three tips will help improve your creative writing. Anything else you would add to this list? Leave a comment below.


If you found this information helpful, then please consider making a small tip/donation of $2, $5, or $10. I’m a small-time indie writer who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., and your donations help me afford to continue writing great content that helps other writers improve their craft, grow their audiences, and make a living. Thank you!

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