• Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar


Established Since 1997

Freelance Writing Jobs

Writing contests, make money writing, hottest topics, top 5 tips to write an interesting narrative for any story.

' src=

You can find many ways of creating an interesting narrative. Some narrative techniques are so subtle that an accomplished author has difficulty describing them; they are simply evidence of the “natural-born storyteller.”

Tip 1: Pausing, Stopping and Starting Action

You can learn some new techniques. One is the method handling a descriptive and writing style. One writer halts the action of his story when he has something to explain; another writer works through explanation without slowing the action. The second technique is more effective, but how do you do it? It is a question of writing each sentence that contributes to the action and making each sentence a part of the narrative.

As soon as you use sentences to explain, the action pauses. How do you inject explanation if you do not devote any sentences to it? The technique is simple but not so obvious. While the principal verbs of the sentences are stirring up action, using subordinate clauses, phrases, adjectives, and adverbs will carry in the explanation. As the action in your story holds your readers’ attention, you can subtly introduce elements of the background without the reader knowing it. You do this by knowing your story thoroughly and telling it straightforwardly, injecting incidentally whatever explanations that your story needs to make each bit of action clear.

Tip 2: Use Point of View to Stir Up Interest

Another way to create interest in a narrative is to tell it from a definite point of view. Unconsciously readers want to feel that they are watching the action. Since the reader cannot put himself in a number of places at once, he finds it difficult to imagine himself in several places as he reads. He is more interested if you allow him to see where he is. You can do this by using a definite point of view.

Perhaps you decide to place the point of view on a witness or character in the story. You should determine in advance what you want the point of view to be—through whose eyes the story is seen—and keep that point of view throughout the story.

Tip 3: Create Life-Like Characters

To make the characters living and real is another technique. Readers are only mildly interested in an average person, but if you create an individual whom readers can see, they will be interested in watching him. This does not mean that you must stop and describe each character with a biographical sketch. There is an easier way. Acquaint yourself with your characters before you begin to write. You must know your characters thoroughly, including their words and actions, so that readers feel that your characters are real and alive in the story. A proven method to flesh out your characters is to write biographical sketches and descriptions of your characters before you begin to write. This type of preparation will give you a clear picture of your characters.

how to write a creative narrative

Tip 4: Write Engaging Dialogue

Actual conversation is necessary in story-telling. You need to create dialogue that is both concrete and sounds interesting. A character who speaks just three words will often reveal more of the story than a page of laborious explanation. Dialogue must be true to life. The characters must not only converse to progress the story, but they must talk in their own characteristic ways. If an educated lawyer talks in street slang or a child quotes Latin, the unreality of the dialogue makes the reader laugh and forget the story.

Tip 5: Know What to Tell

The primary principle of story-telling is to know just how much to tell and how much to omit. Unless you leave something to the reader’s imagination, he is not interested. One way to judge this is by “trying out” the narrative on someone who will point out the unnecessary and unclear parts. Or you may feel that you have told too much and decide to condense the story anyway. If your completed story runs 4,000 words long, it is safe to say that you can improve it by condensing it to 2,000. This process will not only eliminate repetitions, but it will also remove dull sentences that contain no action.

Related Articles

How to Generate Interest in Your Non-fiction Story

How to Generate Interest in Your Non-fiction Story

Non-fiction writers cannot construct action and episodes to bring out a moral, like a fiction writer can. Learn how to generate interest with these tips.



The quality of your characters will form the foundation you desire for a strong story. In this four-part series, we're looking at ways to develop...

Five Ways to Find A Journalism Story

Five Ways to Find A Journalism Story

In the journalism you write, you are your own best editor. See something, hear something, is that a story? If YOU'RE interested it means someone else...

A Powerful Journaling Tool - The Unsent Letter

Putting our thoughts on paper can be a powerful experience - especially so with a journaling tool called Unsent Letters. Read more inside.

Submit New Contest

You can pick more than one

How can people enter your contest? Choose the best option.

Thanks for your submission!

FreelanceWriting.com hosts some of the most talented freelance writers on the web, so you’ve come to the right place to find contestants. We are proud to post your contest here, free of charge. Please come back and submit a new contest anytime!

Submit New Job

Choose the best option.

We only accept jobs that pay. When posting a job ad, you MUST include a salary, payment terms, or rate, otherwise we will reject your ad.

If you want make a change or wish to remove your job ad in the future, please email [email protected]

We strive to be the best source of freelance writing jobs on the web, and we maintain our quality thanks to employers like you. Please continue to submit jobs early and often!

Literacy Ideas

Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students

Complete guide to Narrative Writing


Narratives build on and encourage the development of the fundamentals of writing. They also require developing an additional skill set: the ability to tell a good yarn, and storytelling is as old as humanity.

We see and hear stories everywhere and daily, from having good gossip on the doorstep with a neighbor in the morning to the dramas that fill our screens in the evening.

Good narrative writing skills are hard-won by students even though it is an area of writing that most enjoy due to the creativity and freedom it offers.

Here we will explore some of the main elements of a good story: plot, setting, characters, conflict, climax, and resolution . And we will look too at how best we can help our students understand these elements, both in isolation and how they mesh together as a whole.

Visual Writing Prompts


What is a narrative?

A narrative is a story that shares a sequence of events , characters, and themes. It expresses experiences, ideas, and perspectives that should aspire to engage and inspire an audience.

A narrative can spark emotion, encourage reflection, and convey meaning when done well.

Narratives are a popular genre for students and teachers as they allow the writer to share their imagination, creativity, skill, and understanding of nearly all elements of writing.  We occasionally refer to a narrative as ‘creative writing’ or story writing.

The purpose of a narrative is simple, to tell the audience a story.  It can be written to motivate, educate, or entertain and can be fact or fiction.


narrative writing | narrative writing unit 1 2 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to become skilled story writers with this HUGE   NARRATIVE & CREATIVE STORY WRITING UNIT . Offering a  COMPLETE SOLUTION  to teaching students how to craft  CREATIVE CHARACTERS, SUPERB SETTINGS, and PERFECT PLOTS .

Over 192 PAGES of materials, including:


There are many narrative writing genres and sub-genres such as these.

We have a complete guide to writing a personal narrative that differs from the traditional story-based narrative covered in this guide. It includes personal narrative writing prompts, resources, and examples and can be found here.

narrative writing | how to write quest narratives | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

As we can see, narratives are an open-ended form of writing that allows you to showcase creativity in many directions. However, all narratives share a common set of features and structure known as “Story Elements”, which are briefly covered in this guide.

Don’t overlook the importance of understanding story elements and the value this adds to you as a writer who can dissect and create grand narratives. We also have an in-depth guide to understanding story elements here .


Narrative structure.

ORIENTATION (BEGINNING) Set the scene by introducing your characters, setting and time of the story. Establish your who, when and where in this part of your narrative

COMPLICATION AND EVENTS (MIDDLE) In this section activities and events involving your main characters are expanded upon. These events are written in a cohesive and fluent sequence.

RESOLUTION (ENDING) Your complication is resolved in this section. It does not have to be a happy outcome, however.

EXTRAS: Whilst orientation, complication and resolution are the agreed norms for a narrative, there are numerous examples of popular texts that did not explicitly follow this path exactly.


LANGUAGE: Use descriptive and figurative language to paint images inside your audience’s minds as they read.

PERSPECTIVE Narratives can be written from any perspective but are most commonly written in first or third person.

DIALOGUE Narratives frequently switch from narrator to first-person dialogue. Always use speech marks when writing dialogue.

TENSE If you change tense, make it perfectly clear to your audience what is happening. Flashbacks might work well in your mind but make sure they translate to your audience.


narrative writing | structuring a narrative | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

This graphic is known as a plot map, and nearly all narratives fit this structure in one way or another, whether romance novels, science fiction or otherwise.

It is a simple tool that helps you understand and organise a story’s events. Think of it as a roadmap that outlines the journey of your characters and the events that unfold. It outlines the different stops along the way, such as the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution, that help you to see how the story builds and develops.

Using a plot map, you can see how each event fits into the larger picture and how the different parts of the story work together to create meaning. It’s a great way to visualize and analyze a story.

Be sure to refer to a plot map when planning a story, as it has all the essential elements of a great story.


This video we created provides an excellent overview of these elements and demonstrates them in action in stories we all know and love.

Story Elements for kids


How to write a Narrative

Now that we understand the story elements and how they come together to form stories, it’s time to start planning and writing your narrative.

In many cases, the template and guide below will provide enough details on how to craft a great story. However, if you still need assistance with the fundamentals of writing, such as sentence structure, paragraphs and using correct grammar, we have some excellent guides on those here.

USE YOUR WRITING TIME EFFECTIVELY: Maximize your narrative writing sessions by spending approximately 20 per cent of your time planning and preparing.  This ensures greater productivity during your writing time and keeps you focused and on task.

Use tools such as graphic organizers to logically sequence your narrative if you are not a confident story writer.  If you are working with reluctant writers, try using narrative writing prompts to get their creative juices flowing.

Spend most of your writing hour on the task at hand, don’t get too side-tracked editing during this time and leave some time for editing. When editing a  narrative, examine it for these three elements.

  • Spelling and grammar ( Is it readable?)
  • Story structure and continuity ( Does it make sense, and does it flow? )
  • Character and plot analysis. (Are your characters engaging? Does your problem/resolution work? )


narrative writing | aa156ee009d91a57894348652da98b58 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

The story’s setting often answers two of the central questions in the story, namely, the where and the when. The answers to these two crucial questions will often be informed by the type of story the student is writing.

The story’s setting can be chosen to quickly orient the reader to the type of story they are reading. For example, a fictional narrative writing piece such as a horror story will often begin with a description of a haunted house on a hill or an abandoned asylum in the middle of the woods. If we start our story on a rocket ship hurtling through the cosmos on its space voyage to the Alpha Centauri star system, we can be reasonably sure that the story we are embarking on is a work of science fiction.

Such conventions are well-worn clichés true, but they can be helpful starting points for our novice novelists to make a start.

Having students choose an appropriate setting for the type of story they wish to write is an excellent exercise for our younger students. It leads naturally onto the next stage of story writing, which is creating suitable characters to populate this fictional world they have created. However, older or more advanced students may wish to play with the expectations of appropriate settings for their story. They may wish to do this for comic effect or in the interest of creating a more original story. For example, opening a story with a children’s birthday party does not usually set up the expectation of a horror story. Indeed, it may even lure the reader into a happy reverie as they remember their own happy birthday parties. This leaves them more vulnerable to the surprise element of the shocking action that lies ahead.

Once the students have chosen a setting for their story, they need to start writing. Little can be more terrifying to English students than the blank page and its bare whiteness stretching before them on the table like a merciless desert they must cross. Give them the kick-start they need by offering support through word banks or writing prompts. If the class is all writing a story based on the same theme, you may wish to compile a common word bank on the whiteboard as a prewriting activity. Write the central theme or genre in the middle of the board. Have students suggest words or phrases related to the theme and list them on the board.

You may wish to provide students with a copy of various writing prompts to get them started. While this may mean that many students’ stories will have the same beginning, they will most likely arrive at dramatically different endings via dramatically different routes.

narrative writing | story elements | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

A bargain is at the centre of the relationship between the writer and the reader. That bargain is that the reader promises to suspend their disbelief as long as the writer creates a consistent and convincing fictional reality. Creating a believable world for the fictional characters to inhabit requires the student to draw on convincing details. The best way of doing this is through writing that appeals to the senses. Have your student reflect deeply on the world that they are creating. What does it look like? Sound like? What does the food taste like there? How does it feel like to walk those imaginary streets, and what aromas beguile the nose as the main character winds their way through that conjured market?

Also, Consider the when; or the time period. Is it a future world where things are cleaner and more antiseptic? Or is it an overcrowded 16th-century London with human waste stinking up the streets? If students can create a multi-sensory installation in the reader’s mind, then they have done this part of their job well.

Popular Settings from Children’s Literature and Storytelling

  • Fairytale Kingdom
  • Magical Forest
  • Village/town
  • Underwater world
  • Space/Alien planet


Now that your student has created a believable world, it is time to populate it with believable characters.

In short stories, these worlds mustn’t be overpopulated beyond what the student’s skill level can manage. Short stories usually only require one main character and a few secondary ones. Think of the short story more as a small-scale dramatic production in an intimate local theater than a Hollywood blockbuster on a grand scale. Too many characters will only confuse and become unwieldy with a canvas this size. Keep it simple!

Creating believable characters is often one of the most challenging aspects of narrative writing for students. Fortunately, we can do a few things to help students here. Sometimes it is helpful for students to model their characters on actual people they know. This can make things a little less daunting and taxing on the imagination. However, whether or not this is the case, writing brief background bios or descriptions of characters’ physical personality characteristics can be a beneficial prewriting activity. Students should give some in-depth consideration to the details of who their character is: How do they walk? What do they look like? Do they have any distinguishing features? A crooked nose? A limp? Bad breath? Small details such as these bring life and, therefore, believability to characters. Students can even cut pictures from magazines to put a face to their character and allow their imaginations to fill in the rest of the details.

Younger students will often dictate to the reader the nature of their characters. To improve their writing craft, students must know when to switch from story-telling mode to story-showing mode. This is particularly true when it comes to character. Encourage students to reveal their character’s personality through what they do rather than merely by lecturing the reader on the faults and virtues of the character’s personality. It might be a small relayed detail in the way they walk that reveals a core characteristic. For example, a character who walks with their head hanging low and shoulders hunched while avoiding eye contact has been revealed to be timid without the word once being mentioned. This is a much more artistic and well-crafted way of doing things and is less irritating for the reader. A character who sits down at the family dinner table immediately snatches up his fork and starts stuffing roast potatoes into his mouth before anyone else has even managed to sit down has revealed a tendency towards greed or gluttony.

Understanding Character Traits

Again, there is room here for some fun and profitable prewriting activities. Give students a list of character traits and have them describe a character doing something that reveals that trait without ever employing the word itself.

It is also essential to avoid adjective stuffing here. When looking at students’ early drafts, adjective stuffing is often apparent. To train the student out of this habit, choose an adjective and have the student rewrite the sentence to express this adjective through action rather than telling.

When writing a story, it is vital to consider the character’s traits and how they will impact the story’s events. For example, a character with a strong trait of determination may be more likely to overcome obstacles and persevere. In contrast, a character with a tendency towards laziness may struggle to achieve their goals. In short, character traits add realism, depth, and meaning to a story, making it more engaging and memorable for the reader.

Popular Character Traits in Children’s Stories

  • Determination
  • Imagination
  • Perseverance
  • Responsibility

We have an in-depth guide to creating great characters here , but most students should be fine to move on to planning their conflict and resolution.


narrative writing | 2 RoadBlock | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

This is often the area apprentice writers have the most difficulty with. Students must understand that without a problem or conflict, there is no story. The problem is the driving force of the action. Usually, in a short story, the problem will center around what the primary character wants to happen or, indeed, wants not to happen. It is the hurdle that must be overcome. It is in the struggle to overcome this hurdle that events happen.

Often when a student understands the need for a problem in a story, their completed work will still not be successful. This is because, often in life, problems remain unsolved. Hurdles are not always successfully overcome. Students pick up on this.

We often discuss problems with friends that will never be satisfactorily resolved one way or the other, and we accept this as a part of life. This is not usually the case with writing a story. Whether a character successfully overcomes his or her problem or is decidedly crushed in the process of trying is not as important as the fact that it will finally be resolved one way or the other.

A good practical exercise for students to get to grips with this is to provide copies of stories and have them identify the central problem or conflict in each through discussion. Familiar fables or fairy tales such as Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Cinderella, etc., are great for this.

While it is true that stories often have more than one problem or that the hero or heroine is unsuccessful in their first attempt to solve a central problem, for beginning students and intermediate students, it is best to focus on a single problem, especially given the scope of story writing at this level. Over time students will develop their abilities to handle more complex plots and write accordingly.

Popular Conflicts found in Children’s Storytelling.

  • Good vs evil
  • Individual vs society
  • Nature vs nurture
  • Self vs others
  • Man vs self
  • Man vs nature
  • Man vs technology
  • Individual vs fate
  • Self vs destiny

Conflict is the heart and soul of any good story. It’s what makes a story compelling and drives the plot forward. Without conflict, there is no story. Every great story has a struggle or a problem that needs to be solved, and that’s where conflict comes in. Conflict is what makes a story exciting and keeps the reader engaged. It creates tension and suspense and makes the reader care about the outcome.

Like in real life, conflict in a story is an opportunity for a character’s growth and transformation. It’s a chance for them to learn and evolve, making a story great. So next time stories are written in the classroom, remember that conflict is an essential ingredient, and without it, your story will lack the energy, excitement, and meaning that makes it truly memorable.


narrative writing | tension 1068x660 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

The climax of the story is the dramatic high point of the action. It is also when the struggles kicked off by the problem come to a head. The climax will ultimately decide whether the story will have a happy or tragic ending. In the climax, two opposing forces duke things out until the bitter (or sweet!) end. One force ultimately emerges triumphant. As the action builds throughout the story, suspense increases as the reader wonders which of these forces will win out. The climax is the release of this suspense.

Much of the success of the climax depends on how well the other elements of the story have been achieved. If the student has created a well-drawn and believable character that the reader can identify with and feel for, then the climax will be more powerful.

The nature of the problem is also essential as it determines what’s at stake in the climax. The problem must matter dearly to the main character if it matters at all to the reader.

Have students engage in discussions about their favorite movies and books. Have them think about the storyline and decide the most exciting parts. What was at stake at these moments? What happened in your body as you read or watched? Did you breathe faster? Or grip the cushion hard? Did your heart rate increase, or did you start to sweat? This is what a good climax does and what our students should strive to do in their stories.

The climax puts it all on the line and rolls the dice. Let the chips fall where the writer may…

Popular Climax themes in Children’s Stories

  • A battle between good and evil
  • The character’s bravery saves the day
  • Character faces their fears and overcomes them
  • The character solves a mystery or puzzle.
  • The character stands up for what is right.
  • Character reaches their goal or dream.
  • The character learns a valuable lesson.
  • The character makes a selfless sacrifice.
  • The character makes a difficult decision.
  • The character reunites with loved ones or finds true friendship.


After the climactic action, a few questions will often remain unresolved for the reader, even if all the conflict has been resolved. The resolution is where those lingering questions will be answered. The resolution in a short story may only be a brief paragraph or two. But, in most cases, it will still be necessary to include an ending immediately after the climax can feel too abrupt and leave the reader feeling unfulfilled.

An easy way to explain resolution to students struggling to grasp the concept is to point to the traditional resolution of fairy tales, the “And they all lived happily ever after” ending. This weather forecast for the future allows the reader to take their leave. Have the student consider the emotions they want to leave the reader with when crafting their resolution.

While the action is usually complete by the end of the climax, it is in the resolution that if there is a twist to be found, it will appear – think of movies such as The Usual Suspects. Pulling this off convincingly usually requires considerable skill from a student writer. Still, it may well form a challenging extension exercise for those more gifted storytellers among your students.

Popular Resolutions in Children’s Stories

  • Our hero achieves their goal
  • The character learns a valuable lesson
  • A character finds happiness or inner peace.
  • The character reunites with loved ones.
  • Character restores balance to the world.
  • The character discovers their true identity.
  • Character changes for the better.
  • The character gains wisdom or understanding.
  • Character makes amends with others.
  • The character learns to appreciate what they have.

Once students have completed their story, they can edit for grammar, vocabulary choice, spelling, etc., but not before!

As mentioned, there is a craft to storytelling, as well as an art. When accurate grammar, perfect spelling, and immaculate sentence structures are pushed at the outset, they can cause storytelling paralysis. For this reason, it is essential that when we encourage the students to write a story, we give them license to make mechanical mistakes in their use of language that they can work on and fix later.

Good narrative writing is a very complex skill to develop and will take the student years to become competent. It challenges not only the student’s technical abilities with language but also her creative faculties. Writing frames, word banks, mind maps, and visual prompts can all give valuable support as students develop the wide-ranging and challenging skills required to produce a successful narrative writing piece. But, at the end of it all, as with any craft, practice and more practice is at the heart of the matter.


  • Start your story with a clear purpose: If you can determine the theme or message you want to convey in your narrative before starting it will make the writing process so much simpler.
  • Choose a compelling storyline and sell it through great characters, setting and plot: Consider a unique or interesting story that captures the reader’s attention, then build the world and characters around it.
  • Develop vivid characters that are not all the same: Make your characters relatable and memorable by giving them distinct personalities and traits you can draw upon in the plot.
  • Use descriptive language to hook your audience into your story: Use sensory language to paint vivid images and sequences in the reader’s mind.
  • Show, don’t tell your audience: Use actions, thoughts, and dialogue to reveal character motivations and emotions through storytelling.
  • Create a vivid setting that is clear to your audience before getting too far into the plot: Describe the time and place of your story to immerse the reader fully.
  • Build tension: Refer to the story map earlier in this article and use conflict, obstacles, and suspense to keep the audience engaged and invested in your narrative.
  • Use figurative language such as metaphors, similes, and other literary devices to add depth and meaning to your narrative.
  • Edit, revise, and refine: Take the time to refine and polish your writing for clarity and impact.
  • Stay true to your voice: Maintain your unique perspective and style in your writing to make it your own.


Below are a collection of student writing samples of narratives.  Click on the image to enlarge and explore them in greater detail.  Please take a moment to read these creative stories in detail and the teacher and student guides which highlight some of the critical elements of narratives to consider before writing.

Please understand these student writing samples are not intended to be perfect examples for each age or grade level but a piece of writing for students and teachers to explore together to critically analyze to improve student writing skills and deepen their understanding of story writing.

We recommend reading the example either a year above or below, as well as the grade you are currently working with, to gain a broader appreciation of this text type.

narrative writing | Narrative writing example year 3 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com


When students have a great journal prompt, it can help them focus on the task at hand, so be sure to view our vast collection of visual writing prompts for various text types here or use some of these.

  • On a recent European trip, you find your travel group booked into the stunning and mysterious Castle Frankenfurter for a single night…  As night falls, the massive castle of over one hundred rooms seems to creak and groan as a series of unexplained events begin to make you wonder who or what else is spending the evening with you. Write a narrative that tells the story of your evening.
  • You are a famous adventurer who has discovered new lands; keep a travel log over a period of time in which you encounter new and exciting adventures and challenges to overcome.  Ensure your travel journal tells a story and has a definite introduction, conflict and resolution.
  • You create an incredible piece of technology that has the capacity to change the world.  As you sit back and marvel at your innovation and the endless possibilities ahead of you, it becomes apparent there are a few problems you didn’t really consider. You might not even be able to control them.  Write a narrative in which you ride the highs and lows of your world-changing creation with a clear introduction, conflict and resolution.
  • As the final door shuts on the Megamall, you realise you have done it…  You and your best friend have managed to sneak into the largest shopping centre in town and have the entire place to yourselves until 7 am tomorrow.  There is literally everything and anything a child would dream of entertaining themselves for the next 12 hours.  What amazing adventures await you?  What might go wrong?  And how will you get out of there scot-free?
  • A stranger walks into town…  Whilst appearing similar to almost all those around you, you get a sense that this person is from another time, space or dimension… Are they friends or foes?  What makes you sense something very strange is going on?   Suddenly they stand up and walk toward you with purpose extending their hand… It’s almost as if they were reading your mind.


narrative writing | Copy of Copy of Copy of HOW TO WRITE POEMS | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

When teaching narrative writing, it is essential that you have a range of tools, strategies and resources at your disposal to ensure you get the most out of your writing time.  You can find some examples below, which are free and paid premium resources you can use instantly without any preparation.

FREE Narrative Graphic Organizer

narrative writing | NarrativeGraphicOrganizer | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com


narrative writing | story tellers bundle 1 | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com

A MASSIVE COLLECTION of resources for narratives and story writing in the classroom covering all elements of crafting amazing stories. MONTHS WORTH OF WRITING LESSONS AND RESOURCES, including:


narrative writing | WRITING CHECKLISTS | Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students | literacyideas.com


narrative writing | Narrative2BWriting2BStrategies2Bfor2Bjuniors2B28129 | Narrative Writing for Kids: Essential Skills and Strategies | literacyideas.com

Narrative Writing for Kids: Essential Skills and Strategies

narrative writing | narrative writing lessons | 7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love | literacyideas.com

7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love

narrative writing | Top narrative writing skills for students | Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students | literacyideas.com

Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students

narrative writing | how to write a scary horror story | How to Write a Scary Story | literacyideas.com

How to Write a Scary Story

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

how to write a creative narrative

Explore our Premium Teaching Unit on STORY WRITING

  • How to write a story
  • How to write a novel
  • How to write poetry
  • How to write a script
  • How to write a memoir
  • How to write a mystery
  • Creative journaling
  • Publishing advice
  • Story starters
  • Poetry prompts
  • For teachers

How to Write a Story

On this page, you'll find lots of information about how to write a story. But maybe you don't want to read lots of information...

Maybe you just want to get started writing fiction right away!

That's fine! In a minute, I'll give you a shortcut you can use to write your story right now.

If you'd rather read more about how to write a story first, you can skip to another topic.

A shortcut to writing a story

Develop a character, develop your plot, develop your setting, write scenes, use "showing" and "telling", choose your point of view.

  • Use dialogue

Use descriptive details

Revise your story, publish your story.

shortcut to writing a story

Here's a simpl e approach for how to write a story.

1) Come up with a situation where your character is dealing with a problem.

- They suspect their spouse is cheating on them.

- They are trying to escape from a kidnapper.

- The new home they just bought appears to be haunted.

If you're stuck for ideas, feel free to use one of the examples above.

2) Before you start writing, you can spend a few minutes to explore the idea in your imagination.

Imagine you're the character in the situation you've chosen. What would you do? What might happen next?

Daydream the scene from your character's perspective. Let it play in your head like a movie.

Try to make your daydream as vivid as possible, paying attention to sights, smells, sounds, and sensations.

3) Now, take detailed notes on your daydream.

Don't worry about style or how your writing sounds. You'll go back and edit later. First, just focus on capturing the details and feeling of the scene, as if you were writing in a diary about an experience in order to preserve the memory.

4) Ready to go back and edit?

Part of crafting a story is choosing which details to keep, and which ones to leave out. Think about what it felt like when you were daydreaming the scene. Which details are important to that feeling? Which ones can you leave out and still recreate the overall experience? Use your daydream of the scene as a point of reference when you are editing.

We offer a short course on how to write a story's beginning, middle and ending . You can take it for free here.

Hooray! You've written a story!

develop a character

How to get character ideas

There are endless ways to get character ideas. Your characters might be inspired by people you know or by strangers you see on the street. You can use photos or paintings as a starting point. Or, you can just write down a random name and see what image it brings to your mind.

Here are some prompts to inspire you...

- Imagine a character who acts rude, but is actually just shy. - Imagine a character who desperately wants to impress their older brother. - Write about a character who is secretly planning to leave their marriage.

Now, YOU complete the sentences to get even more character ideas:

- Imagine a character who acts ________, but is actually ________. - Imagine a character who desperately wants ________. - Imagine a character who is secretly ________.

Click here for a free e-book with 160 photos to give you character ideas.

Character profiles

Character profiles are a tool for getting to know your characters better so you can bring them to life on the page. Make notes for yourself on the character's appearance, personality, history, current situation, close relationships, hopes and fears. You can use these character profiling questionnaires  to develop your character.

Click here to get our e-book of character profiling questions for free.

Note: Most of the information in the profile might NOT actually end up in your story. The character profile is just a behind-the-scenes tool to help you imagine the character more fully.

Showing your characters

One mistake that beginning writers often make is to introduce each character to readers with a little biography. There are other ways to help readers get to know your characters.

Think of the way you get to know real people. Normally, they don't introduce themselves to you saying, "I'm so-and-so. I'm a divorced 34-year-old doctor with two small children. I love to paint, and I'm afraid of intimacy."

Instead, you form an impression gradually. You notice:

  • Their physical appearance.
  • The way they dress.
  • The way they talk and what they talk about.
  • Their gestures and habits.
  • The way other people react to them.
  • Their actions.

You can use the same types of clues, sprinkled throughout your story, to let your readers gradually get to know your characters.

TIP: To show what your characters are REALLY like, put them in stressful and difficult situations that bring out extreme aspects of their personalities.

develop your plot

How to write a story that goes somewhere

For there to be a story at all, something has to happen or change. The story has to go from Point A to Point B.

What happens could be:

  • A physical event (Point A = Amy's ex-husband is trying to kidnap her son. Point B = Amy's ex-husband is arrested.).
  •  A decision (Point A = Ellen wants to marry Steve. Point B = Ellen decides to marry David instead.).
  • A change in a relationship (Point A = They hate each other. Point B = They love each other.).
  • A change in a person (Point A = Martin is a jerk. Point B = Martin learns to be less of a jerk.). 
  • A change in the reader's understanding of a situation  (Point A = We believe Ellen has been framed for murder. Point B = We discover that she's actually guilty.).

What happens could even be the realization that nothing will ever happen. (Point A = your character dreams of escaping prison. Point B = his dream of escape is shown to be hopeless.)

The sequence of events between a story's Point A and Point B is called the story's plot .

Plot structure

So, how do you get a story from Point A to Point B? You introduce a conflict , or problem.

If everything's just fine at Point A, then there's no reason for anything to change. If characters are satisfied with their lives, they are not motivated to take drastic action. They can just stay put, enjoying their happy marriages and lovely homes, strolling the landscaped streets of their adorable town, crime rate zero. These characters have everything they need and want, so there is no reason to keep turning pages. This is the end of the story. Unless... we add a destabilizing element (Political corruption? Infidelity? Werewolf epidemic?)

A classic plot structure looks like this:

  • (Point A) You introduce the character and the character's problem.
  • The character struggles against this problem. The struggle increases in intensity until it reaches a peak. This is called the climax of the story. It is the the decisive moment which determines the results of the character's struggle.
  • (Point B) You show the results.

TIP: If you're ever feeling stuck a story that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, check to make sure it has a clear conflict. If the conflict is weak or nonexistent, the story will seem flat. It may read more like a description or anecdote than a story. A strong conflict will give the story a focus and move things alone.

story setting

How to write a story setting

Your setting is the time and place of your story.

Does your story happen in present-day Philadelphia? Does it happen on a French battlefield during World War II? Does it happen in the year 3010 on a planet you've invented?

Your choice of setting has an impact on nearly every aspect of your story, from the way characters talk and what they talk about, to the objects in their homes and the scenery around them.

Researching your setting

Just as it's helpful to get to know characters before writing about them, you want to have a detailed knowledge of your setting so that you make it real for your readers.

You have a head start if you choose your hometown or another place you know well to be your story's setting. You already have a detailed map in your imagination -- you can close your eyes and picture it in detail; when your characters move around in your setting, you know what they see.

On the other hand, you might want to set your story in a place you've never been. The trick then is to get the place in your imagination so that you can visualize it as clearly as your hometown.

If you're writing about a real place, you can travel there or look at pictures, read about it in books and on the Internet. If you're writing about an imaginary place, you might want to start a notebook where you invent details about it,. You might even want to draw maps and collect or draw pictures to help you imagine different aspects of your setting.

Our Setting Questionnaire will help you develop your story's setting. Click here here to get it for free.

story scenes

How to write a story in scenes

Beginning writers have a tendency to summarize their stories instead of writing scenes.

Here's an example of summary:

I came home after midnight. My mother was furious, and threw me out of the house. 

Here's the beginning of a scene:

I unlocked the door as quietly as I could and slipped into the dark kitchen. Then I saw my mother standing there in her long nightgown, silhouetted by the light from the hall. I expected her to shout at me, and when she spoke quietly, almost whispering, the effect was chilling. "If you can't follow the rules of this family," she said, "then you can't live here anymore. Go pack your things and get out."  Do you see the difference? A scene SHOWS the story's events instead of just TELLING about them. Scenes use dialogue, action, and descriptive details to help readers feel like they're watching things happen in "real time".

If you write a whole story as summary, the result can be boring, like a Wikipedia article.

On the other hand, summary is sometimes useful if you want to quickly fill in background information or to create transitions between scenes.

child gesticulating as she speaks

How to write a story that "shows" instead of only "telling"

Let's say you are writing about a boy named Nathan, who is a bully. You could simply TELL readers, "Nathan is a bully."

On the other hand, if you SHOW Nathan tormenting a child on the playground, readers will decide on their own that Nathan is a bully. And this "first-hand" observation will have a lot more impact than any information you "tell." Readers won't love or hate a character just because you tell them to. But, after watching Nathan grind mud into a little girl's face, readers are likely to hate him.

Here are some examples of "telling" and "showing" .

TELLING: Andrea is upset, but trying to hide it.

SHOWING: Andrea forces a smile, but her hands are shaking.

TELLING: The hotel room was creepy.

SHOWING: Ivan sat on the bed, staring at stains the colored of dried blood in the carpet. The lights kept flickering, then suddenly went out, plunging him into darkness.

Now, you try it. How can you SHOW the following information?

TELLING: Mark's office is compulsively neat. (Ask yourself: What is the neatness LIKE?)

TELLING: Chrissie was annoyed with Lisa. (How do you know when someone's annoyed in real life? What signs tell you? How about this character, Chrissie -- how does SHE react to feeling annoyed?)

In general, showing is more vivid and interesting than telling. It has a greater visceral impact. On the other hand, sometimes it makes sense to TELL instead of showing. If Ivan is a doctor, I don't have to make a special point of showing him in his white coat and stethoscope. I can just say, "He's a doctor." That quickly gives readers the information they need to know. As a general rule, you'll want to show instead of telling when your goal is to make readers FEEL something.

TIP: Do you find yourself doing too much TELLING in your fiction? Here are some things you can do to help yourself switch to SHOWING.

1) Add dialogue. Let readers "hear" the exact words a character says.

2) If your character is alone, put another character in the room with them, and make them interact. It's hard to use "showing" in a scene where a character is sitting alone, thinking things over.

Choose your point of view.

How to write a story from your character's perspective

Here's an example of the same scene told from three different points of view :

  • Waiting in front of the restaurant was a short blond man with a smug smile, who Laura knew had to be Ron. His t-shirt, she noticed with disbelief, had the words "Boy Toy" printed across the chest in hot pink letters. "Where does my sister find these creeps?" she asked herself. (This version of the scene is written from Laura's point of view. It is written in the third person -- in other words, Laura is called "she" instead of "I.")
  • Ron saw a plump red-haired woman approaching him. Not his type at all. "You must be Laura," he said, forcing a smile to mask his disappointment. (This is written from Ron's point of view. Again, it's in the third person -- Ron is "he," instead of "I.")
  • From the balcony, I watched a couple talking in the doorway of the restaurant across the street. The man was blond and wore a black t-shirt with some kind of pink writing on it that I couldn't read without my glasses. The woman was heavy-set with dyed-orange hair. (This is written in the first person -- the narrator uses the word "I" instead of "he" or "she.")
  • Imagine that the reader is actually present at this scene, watching it unfold. Where is the reader sitting? Are they standing behind Ron, watching over his shoulder? Are they inside Ron's head? Can they see his thoughts ? Are they sitting on a balcony, looking down at it all from above? The answer will change her perspective on everything that happens.

For example:

  • If the reader is inside Laura's brain, they can't see Ron's thoughts. They can only guess at his thoughts based on external clues such as his behavior, speech, gestures, etc.
  • If the reader is inside Ron's brain, they can't see what his face looks like (unless he is looking at his reflection).
  • If the reader is watching the scene from a fourth floor balcony, they probably can't hear what the characters are saying or see small details like Laura's chipped tooth or Ron's diamond earring.

How to write a story from the best point of view

If we are going to write a story about Ron's blind date with Laura, we should choose the narrative viewpoint that works best with our goals for the story. What parts do we want the reader to see first-hand? what information do we want the reader to be able to access? Whose thoughts do we want the reader to see? These are all factors to consider.

If we decide to switch between one viewpoint and another, we have to be careful not to confuse or disorient the reader. On the other hand, if we limit the viewpoint to just one character, the reader will tend to feel a stronger intimacy with that particular character. It's as if the reader becomes that character for a while.

TIP: If you're struggling with a fiction piece that seems a bit flat or dull, you might try rewriting from a different character's point of view to see if that makes the story more interesting.

Write dialogue

two women talking

How to write a story with great dialogue

There are two kinds of dialogue :

1) Direct dialogue , where the reader "hears" what the character says: ("Do you have a magic pill?" Tony asked the pharmacist.)

2) Indirect dialogue , where the reader gets a summary of what the character says: (Tony asked the pharmacist if she had a magic pill.)

Your character's voice

Imagine standing on a street corner, asking everyone who passed by for directions to a post office. If you asked ten people, chances are, you'd get ten different answers. Even if they suggested the same route, they would use different words to explain it. Even the "I don't know" answers would likely come out differently:

"I'm sorry, I really couldn't say."

"No friggin idea."

"Get a map, man."

Each person has a unique voice and a unique style of talking. So should each of your characters.

Some factors that will affect how your characters talk include:

- Background and culture

- Educational level

- Personality. (Is the character shy? Diplomatic? Aggressive? Insecure? Snobby? Bossy? Flirtatious?)

- The character's emotions at that moment. (Is the character nervous about what he or she is saying? Proud of it? Trying to cover up something?)

- The character's relationship with whoever else is part of the conversation. (We don't speak to our kids the same way we speak to our boss.)

Writing direct dialogue

Your challenge as a writer is to capture your character's voice without boring the reader with all of the fluff, filler, and incoherence of real speech.

In real life, we hem and haw, cut off our own sentences, change the subject half-way through, repeat ourselves over and over. If you write dialogue the way people really talk, you will quickly lose your reader's attention.

The trick is to include just enough of the character's natural speech mannerisms so that the reader gets the flavor.

  • Do you know someone with a background and personality similar to your character's? Listen carefully to that person's speech patterns. When you write dialogue for your character, imagine the words spoken in that person's voice.
  • It is also a good idea to speak dialogue out loud as you are writing. You can improvise it out loud, then write down what you've said. Or you can write the dialogue first, then read it out loud as a test to see if it sounds like natural speech. If not, rewrite until it does.

When to use indirect dialogue

There are times when indirect dialogue (where the reader gets a summary) works better than direct dialogue (where the reader "hears" what is said).

Two examples:

  • "She repeated to her husband everything that had just happened. He listened to her for hours, until the sun started to come up.
  • "We almost died of boredom as Aunt Bertha went on and on about her poodle's weight loss program."

Dialogue tags

Dialogue tags are the "he said," "she said," labels that tell the reader which character said what. Sometimes you don't really need these because it is clear who is speaking. Where they're not necessary, you can leave them off. In general, writers also start a new paragraph each time the speaker changes.

There are also more colorful dialogue tags such as "he shouted," "she muttered." Be careful not to overuse these, or it can get distracting for the reader. If the dialogue is written well, the reader should be able "hear" the difference between scolding and cajoling, so neutral dialogue tags ("say," "tell," and "ask") are generally enough.

Dialogue format

Dialogue format is different in different countries. To find out how dialogue is normally written in your own country, just look at some novels that have been published in your country and use them as examples.

Here is an example of how dialogue is normally written in the U.S.:

"I know you took one," Anna said.

"It wasn't me," said Bobby.

"Yeah, right." Pointing to the cookie jar, Anna said, "Your fingerprints were all over it."

Examples of common mistakes:

  • "I know you took one." Anna said. (This should be written as one sentence).
  • ...Anna said, "your fingerprints were all over it." (Since the quotation is a complete sentence, it should start with a capital letter.)
  • " I know you took one," Anna said. "It wasn't me," said Bobby. (Normally, there should be a paragraph break between these two sentences because the speaker changes.)

butterfly illustrating descriptive detail

How to write a story that comes to life in the reader's mind

You can use description to guide the reader's imagination so that they imagine the story the way you do.

The first thing to remember about description is that it's part of your story, not decoration on top. You don't have to interrupt the action to present a block of description. You can use descriptive language and details within your scenes to bring them to life to the reader.

Use specific details

We're going to try an experiment. No reading ahead.

Imagine a room. Before you read on, take a moment to really form a mental picture of this room.

What if I tell you that the room is a restaurant kitchen -- does that change your mental picture?

What if I tell you that the restaurant's closed for the night, and the kitchen is dark except for the streetlamp shining in the back window. Did your mental picture just change again?

The more specific information you give the reader, the closer the reader's mental picture will be to the one you intended.

The same principle applies for describing characters. If you tell your reader that Chris is blond, the reader's idea of Chris might be very different from your own. If you say that Chris is a three-year-old girl with blond curly hair and glasses, you are focusing the reader's mental image.

But use the right details

Your reader will not have infinite patience to read long descriptions. And if you pile on the details, at some point it becomes too much. The reader cannot visualize so many details at once.

The key is choosing the right details.

  • Look for details that suggest a larger picture. (If I tell you that my living room has a sofa and an armchair, that doesn't distinguish it from anyone else's living room. If I tell you that the sofa measures exactly five feet and four inches, that doesn't help you imagine it. If I tell you that the sofa has a hole in it that has filled with sandwich crumbs and loose change, then you start to form certain ideas about the type of place where I'm living... and it's not Buckingham Palace).
  • If you're writing from the point of view of a specific character, ask yourself this: which details would THAT character be noticing at THAT moment? The details you choose to describe can express a lot about that character and the character's emotional state.

Use powerful nouns and verbs

Before piling on the adjectives and adverbs, take another look at your nouns and verbs.

Choosing the right nouns and verbs allows you to express more in fewer words, intensifying the impact of your writing.

For example, take this sentence: "She took the food out of his hand quickly, greedily, and forcefully." We can express the same information by saying, "She grabbed the food out of his hand."

The word "food" is also quite vague. It does not help the reader form a specific mental picture. What kind of food did she grab? It would be better to say, "She grabbed the sandwich out of his hand," or "She grabbed the doughnut out of his hand."

Our three-day online course on description writing is currently available for free. You can get access here.

woman writing

At some point, the story or novel you're working on will be just about right . That's the time for polishing -- tweaking a word or a sentence here or there.

But before you reach that point, it's often worth trying to rewrite the piece from beginning to end. I mean actually starting over. On the one hand, this is a lot of work. On the other hand, this approach to revision can make first drafts a lot easier and more enjoyable, and it can lead to better results.

Your imagination can flow freely without your "inner editor" interrupting it. You can pour all your ideas onto the page, knowing you'll sort them out later. The first draft is risk-free, so it's less scary. You can experiment and try different approaches.

Your fiction is also likely to be stronger as a result of this approach. The first draft is often a kind of exploration to see where the story is going. In the process, you discover new things about your characters. The ending of the story is often not what you expected. The second draft is an opportunity to start again with the benefit of all of this information . Now you can write Page 1 with the exact knowledge of where you are headed.

TIP: Do you ever find yourself struggling for hours with a certain sentence or passage in your fiction? You revise and revise it, but can't seem to get it right. Try this. Put it down. Take a little break. Maybe go for a walk, or put in a load of laundry. Then come back, and -- without looking at the old version -- try to write a new version from scratch.

Click here to get a detailed revision checklist.

publishing fiction

We've put together an e-book with detailed advice on how to publish a story, as well as a list of places where you can publish it. You can get the e-book for free here.

The Poets & Writers website has extensive databases of literary journals and writing contests .

How to Write a Story - More Resources

  • How to get started writing a story
  • What is fiction?
  • Types of fiction
  • Questionnaires for writing character profiles
  • How to show your character's thoughts
  • How to make your characters more interesting
  • How to write a story villain
  • Top 8 tips on how to write dialogue
  • How to use descriptive beats
  • How to write a story with the right amount of detail
  • Creating suspense with setoffs and payoffs
  • How long should your story be?
  • How to write a story with plot twists
  • Mental strategies for fiction writers
  • Online course: Story Structure
  • Online course: Bringing Characters to Life
  • Online course: Mastering Dialogue
  • Writing websites

How to Write a Story - Frequent Questions

"How do I start writing a story?"

Create a character, and imagine a problem facing that character. Daydream a scene in which the character is struggling with the problem. Then write the scene quickly, trying to capture your daydream on the page. Once you have it all down, you can go back and edit (it's normally better not to edit while you're writing your first draft). Normally, your story beginning should set up the character's struggle, and the ending should show or hint at the result of the struggle.

"How do I begin a story?"

Your story beginning should capture the reader's interest and pull them into the story. It sets the story's tone and introduces the character's dilemma. It's often easier to come up with the right beginning after you've finished a rough draft of the story. So if you're having trouble coming up with a great first line, don't let that stop you! Just jump right into the story. You can go back and improve the beginning later. And sometimes starting partway through a scene actually makes for a dynamic story beginning.  

Lesson 1 of our course Beginnings, Middles, and Endings goes step-by-step through how to write a story beginning.  You can get the course for free here.

"How do I write a good story?"

It's usually helpful to separate writing from editing. If you try to edit as you write, that can interfere with your creative flow. During your first draft, don't worry about how good your story is. Just try to imagine it as vividly as possible and capture everything on the page. Once you finish a draft, then it's time to revise and make your story great. You can use this revision checklist.

<<BACK from How to Write a Story to Creative Writing Courses

"I am so enjoying the course. I have always wanted to write and have found, over the years, every excuse under the sun to not write. After reading through your material and the wonderful tips and suggestions I began on my three characters. I actually had to drag myself off to bed, reluctantly. I just couldn't stop." - Laura McCarthy

"There is so much to learn, and had I not done this course my writing would still be at the starting gate." - Josephine Webster

"Both courses I have taken have with Creative Writing Now have been amazing. Each time I have learned something new. The one thing I love, you take everything apart and give examples." - Katlen Skye

"I feel a weight has been lifted off my creative muscles." - Christine Laputka

"As usual - I already love the course on Irresistible Fiction, rewriting a lot and improving greatly even after the first lesson. Thanks so much for the great courses." - Kitty Safken

"This course helped me to come out of my writer’s block." - Rachel Giordano

"I really have learned many things that have changed the way I think about writing. I've taken many college, even Masters level writing courses, and must tell you that I have learned much more from your courses than I have from any of those classroom courses." - Prue Prentice

“Essentials of Fiction proved that I could indeed write and I wrote every day, much to my boyfriend's dismay (waa sniff).” - Jill Gardner

"This course is amazing – definitely the most beneficial class that I have taken." - Kimberly Daroogar

"I'm enjoying the weekly email course, Essentials of Poetry Writing. Thank you for offering a basic, no nonsense basic poetry course at a reasonable price." - Michele

"This course has given me the courage and the confidence to finally start the book I have wanted to write for years!" - Patricia Birchfield

"Thank you for all the material in this course. I have learnt so much." - Jacqueline Tasik

"I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the lessons and feel they were very helpful in introducing new ideas and perspectives to my writing. I am sure I will go back frequently to review them for reference during many of my future writing projects. Thanks again!" - Jenny Jacks

"Thanks very much for this course. It's been really helpful and well-explained. I look forward to any more courses you run." - Robin Gott

"I'm learning so much. This course is amazing." - Karl Tobar

"Thank you so much!! You're always there... The course is great. You are always looking forward to the next lesson like a good novel!!!" - Nuria Alberti

"Thank you for a course that builds writing skills with direction to excellence. Everything was included, possibly more than college courses can offer." - Janett Lee Wawrzyniak

"This course has provided me with structure, creative thinking, and confidence. My writing has really blossomed and found its footing. " - Heatherly Kates

"It was a nice journey for me to be able to write in answer to your e-mail lessons. Being able to post the answers on WordPress is exciting. I had not done that before taking your writing class. I plan to take another of your e-mail class, either the 8-week descriptive or the new poetry class." - James Sciullo

"I thought my starting to write was just a hobby; it has definitely become more. Thank you Nancy for giving us all that great opportunity." - Caroline DiMatteo

"I am loving the course and the peer interaction on the blog is fantastic!!!" - Bill Lane

"Writing every day and the tips this course gave improved my writing 100%." - Gila Segelov

"The Irresistible Fiction course is going well. I see why it's a bestseller. I can't wait for the next email." - Kayode

"Thank you so much for putting together this writing course. It was of good value to me as it got me started thinking more deeply about my characters. I don't have a lot of time to write, working two jobs, but I am doing the ten-minute exercise with each lesson, and each evening, trying to get in the habit of sitting myself down to write... I would recommend the course to anyone." - Barrie Creamer

"I did enjoy every aspect of the course and did learned quite a lot. Thank you!… It has motivated me to further work on a novel that I left in the revision stage three years ago." - Nair del Vecchio

"This was an amazing experience. If you are having roadblocks with your dream of being a writer, take this class." - Michelle Denier

"Must say I'm SOO glad I opted into this class, it's been eye-opening on many levels." - Courtenay Schurman

"I will add the comment that I love this course, I have taken it several times. The first time I took it was after a time I had stopped writing for several years, and the course really re-ignited my writing spirit!" - Mary Ellen Hancock

"This course has jump started my daily writing and made me excited to write every day. I wake up happy and brimming with ideas to start my writing for the day." - Katherine Brand

"This was the best course I’ve taken. It allowed me to enjoy the experience of writing." - Jeff Killian

"I want to thank you for all of your support and the wonderful writing lessons that you provide. I have learned so much about the craft of writing and I am finally doing what my heart desires." - Dorothy Anderson

© 2009-2023 William Victor, S.L., All Rights Reserved.

Terms - Privacy - Returns & Cancellations - Affiliate Disclosure

Looking for a summer in Oxford? Join our Oxford Summer School 2024

OxBright logo

Showcasing Personal Voice and Style

When writing your creative essay, try to showcase your unique voice by being authentic and as original as you can. It can also be fun to experiment with style. 

Change up your sentence structures! 

Use new and bold words, and create exciting rhythms! 

If you have a distinct personal voice, your work will be sure to stand out.

“Incorporating some dialogue can also be a good way to draw readers in.” 

“You should try to use varying sentence lengths as well.” 


Overall, the most important thing to showcase when writing a creative essay is allowing your individuality to shine through. Write in a way that is bold and different, and show the reader what makes you stand out as a writer.

Editing and Revising

Once you’ve finished writing your creative essay, your work isn’t finished! Editing and revising are both really important elements of the creative process. Try reading your piece aloud to gain a new perspective on the flow of your sentences, and seek feedback from others. Don’t forget to also check for any grammar and spelling errors that you may have missed during the writing process.

Multiple rounds of revision can help to refine the essay and enhance its overall impact. This means that you don’t have to be nitpicky or pedantic when you write your first draft; you’re free to express your ideas creatively and messily. Then you can put on your editing hat. Reread, rewrite and correct as much as you can until you are left with your masterpiece! 

Writing creative essays should be fun and enjoyable. It’s a great way to embrace your creativity and experiment with different writing techniques. If you want to practise your essay-writing skills, you can take part in the OxBright essay competition to showcase your skills!


Looking to improve your creative writing?

Recommended articles

Unlocking the Purpose Generation: How Gen Z Can Choose Careers that Matter

Unlocking the Purpose Generation: How Gen Z Can Choose Careers that Matter

In today's ever-shifting world, the way secondary school students perceive themselves and envision their futures is attracting more and more attention – and rightly so. More than any other generation in the last 100 years, today's teenagers are grappling with seismic...

High Impact and High Salary Career Options for High School Students

High Impact and High Salary Career Options for High School Students

Students care about having a career that makes a difference, and earns them a high salary. This is one of the key findings to come out of our OxBright Careers Report, and we’re working to offer young people the resources they need to find and succeed in careers that...

9 Social Science Degrees to Consider

9 Social Science Degrees to Consider

What Are the Social Sciences? The social sciences investigate societies, human behaviour and global challenges. They focus on understanding the inner workings of society and its influences on different aspects of our world. Social science students study the Earth in...

  • PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • Browse Articles
  • Learn Something New
  • Quizzes Hot
  • This Or That Game New
  • Train Your Brain
  • Explore More
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Education and Communications
  • Writing Techniques

How to Plan a Creative Writing Piece

Last Updated: April 30, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Lucy V. Hay . Lucy V. Hay is a Professional Writer based in London, England. With over 20 years of industry experience, Lucy is an author, script editor, and award-winning blogger who helps other writers through writing workshops, courses, and her blog Bang2Write. Lucy is the producer of two British thrillers, and Bang2Write has appeared in the Top 100 round-ups for Writer’s Digest & The Write Life and is a UK Blog Awards Finalist and Feedspot’s #1 Screenwriting blog in the UK. She received a B.A. in Scriptwriting for Film & Television from Bournemouth University. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 132,532 times.

Whether you are writing for fun or to satisfy a school assignment, planning a creative writing piece can be a challenge. If you don't already have an idea in mind, you will need to do a little brainstorming to come up with something that interests you. Once you have a general idea of what you want to write about, the best way to get started is to break your project into smaller, more manageable parts. When you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your piece, the writing itself will come more easily.

Getting Started

Step 1 Develop an outline.

  • You can find character sheet templates online, such as here: https://www.freelancewriting.com/copywriting/using-character-sheets-in-fiction-writing/ .

Step 3 Dive right in.

Writing Your Piece

Step 1 Grab the reader's attention.

  • Kurt Vonnegut grabs the reader's attention at the start of Slaughterhouse-Five quite simply, by saying, “All this happened, more or less.”
  • Tolstoy summed up the main theme of his novel Anna Karenina in its very first sentence: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Step 2 Present memorable characters.

  • If you are writing a work of fiction, each of your main characters has something they want, which motivates them to make the choices that drive the plot forward.
  • If you are writing a non-fiction work about an actual person or event, include specific details about the key players to make them more interesting to your reader.

Step 3 Select a time and setting that appeal to you.

  • Think of a familiar place you encounter every day, but set the story 100 years in the future – or 1,000.
  • Set your story in the modern day world, but change one very key element – imagine that dinosaurs never went extinct, electricity was never invented, or aliens have taken over the planet.
  • Whatever time period you choose, make sure the reader has a firm understanding of it early in your story so that they can properly follow the story. The reader needs to know the time period in order to imagine that characters and scenes.

Step 4 Know your audience.

  • If you are writing something for the young adult market, focus on the things that matter most to teens and don't worry about whether older adults will like it.
  • If you want to write a particular type of fiction, like westerns or sci-fi, read the most popular works in that genre to understand what its readers expect.
  • Not everyone will appreciate your sense of humor, and that's okay – be yourself, and let your work speak to those who do.

Staying Motivated

Step 1 Set reasonable goals.

Developing Your Concept

Step 1 Select a format.

  • Novels. The novel is one of the most popular forms of creative writing, and also one of the most challenging. A novel is a large project, with most novels containing at least 50,000 words. Any topic can be the subject of a novel. Certain types of novels are so popular that they belong to their own category, or genre. Examples of genre fiction are romance, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy.
  • Short stories. A work of fiction under 7,500 words is usually considered a short story. A short story usually has all of the elements of a novel, including a structured plot. However, experimental forms of short stories like flash fiction do away with ordinary narrative conventions and can take almost any form the author chooses.
  • Personal essay or memoir. A personal essay or memoir is a work of non-fiction based on your life. Drawing on your own life experiences can provide you with a wide array of story topics. Not only that, it can be an interesting way to better understand yourself and share your experiences with the world.
  • Blogs. The word blog is a shortened form of the term web log, which can refer to any type of writing that is published regularly on the internet. Blogs can be stories, factual pieces, or diaries.
  • Poetry. Poetry can take any number of forms, from traditional rhyming couplets to modern free-form verse. Poets typically develop their own unique writing style and write about any topic imaginable, from situations and emotions to current events or social commentary.
  • Screenplays or stage plays. These are detailed scripts written for a film or a play. This form of writing has very specific rules about structure and formatting, but the subject matter can be anything you like. [10] X Research source

Step 2 Think of a topic.

  • Keep your eyes open for compelling stories in the news that could provide a starting point.
  • Observe what is happening around you and turn it into a story.
  • Adapt your thoughts into a story.
  • Draw on an interesting or unusual event that happened in your own life.
  • Search the web for “writing prompts” and you'll find lots of ideas to get you going, suggested by other writers. You could even use a random prompt generator website to get a unique suggestion just for you!

Step 3 Consider adaptation.

  • The popular 1990s teen movie Clueless is a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel Emma .
  • The classic Greek myth The Odyssey has been re-imagined in countless ways, including James Joyce's Ulysses and the Coen Brothers' O Brother Where Art Thou? Many authors have adapted its basic story structure of a hero's quest.
  • Stories about vampires are all loosely adapted from Bram Stoker's Dracula, but many different writers have put their own unique spin on the concept.

Step 4 Identify your main themes.

  • Salinger's Catcher in the Rye contains themes of alienation and coming of age.
  • Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series addresses themes of courage, and the triumph of good over evil.
  • Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy plays with themes about the absurdity of life, the interconnectedness of all things, and how seemingly minor incidents can have huge consequences.

Expert Q&A

Lucy V. Hay

  • Try to provide something of value to the reader, who is investing their time in reading your work. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • The best writing is always simple, clear, and concise. Overly complicated sentences can be difficult to follow, and you may lose your reader's interest. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write a creative narrative

You Might Also Like

Write a Descriptive Paragraph

  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/developing_an_outline/how_to_outline.html
  • ↑ https://www.scad.edu/sites/default/files/PDF/Animation-design-challenge-character-sheets.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/5-ways-to-start-writing-your-novel-today
  • ↑ https://www.georgebrown.ca/sites/default/files/uploadedfiles/tlc/_documents/hooks_and_attention_grabbers.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/creative_writing/characters_and_fiction_writing/writing_compelling_characters.html
  • ↑ https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/writing-center/writing-resources/getting-started-writing/writing-for-an-audience
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/goalsetting/how
  • ↑ https://researchwriting.unl.edu/developing-effective-writing-habits
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/teacher_and_tutor_resources/writing_instructors/grades_7_12_instructors_and_students/what_to_do_when_you_are_stuck.html
  • ↑ http://www.acs.edu.au/info/writing/creative-writing/creative-writers.aspx
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/brainstorming/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html

About This Article

Lucy V. Hay

  • Send fan mail to authors

Reader Success Stories

Jessica Rodgers

Jessica Rodgers

May 23, 2017

Did this article help you?

Jessica Rodgers

Naosheyrvaan Nasir

Jun 1, 2017

Jeffry Conry

Jeffry Conry

May 25, 2017

Ane Polutele

Ane Polutele

Sep 8, 2016

Ryan C.

Jun 20, 2017

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath Quiz

Featured Articles

Clean a Toilet Bowl with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Trending Articles

What Is Dopamine? Dopamine's Effects & Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels

Watch Articles

Carve Turkey Breast

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Info
  • Not Selling Info

Don’t miss out! Sign up for

wikiHow’s newsletter


  1. Complete Guide To Teaching Creative Narrative Writing

    how to write a creative narrative

  2. Narrative Writing Ideas

    how to write a creative narrative

  3. How to Teach Narrative Writing

    how to write a creative narrative

  4. Narrative Writing Project-Students will love working through the writing process to write a

    how to write a creative narrative

  5. Pin on Narrative writing

    how to write a creative narrative

  6. Complete Guide to Teaching Creative Narrative Writing Grades 4-5

    how to write a creative narrative


  1. 4 Tips for Excellent Narrative Writing

  2. Narrative Writing

  3. Write Away Professional Development (Grade 2)

  4. How to write dialogue that actually works (Writing Advice)

  5. Narrative Writing Module Overview

  6. Narrative Essay Writing


  1. What Is the Best Way to Write a Narrative Statement?

    Narrative statements, also called personal statements, vary in content but should be consistent, have a main focus, include engaging and creative content, avoid generalizations, convey knowledge of a certain academic subject area or job ski...

  2. Unleash Your Creativity: How to Write Your Own Story

    Have you ever dreamed of writing your own story? Whether it’s a captivating novel, a heartfelt memoir, or an inspiring self-help book, the power to create and share your own narrative is within your reach.

  3. How Do You Write an Interview in Narrative Form?

    Writing an interview in narrative form presents the information in a story-telling style rather than as a transcript of the questions and answers. When writing a narrative-style interview, follow these steps:

  4. Top 5 Tips to Write An Interesting Narrative for Any Story

    Tip 1: Pausing, Stopping and Starting Action · Tip 2: Use Point of View to Stir Up Interest · Tip 3: Create Life-Like Characters · Tip 4: Write Engaging Dialogue.

  5. 8 Tips for Getting Started With Creative Writing

    8 Tips for Creative Writers · 1. Always be writing. Don't ignore the random ideas that pop into your head. · 2. Embrace rewriting. A writer

  6. Narrative Writing: A Complete Guide for Teachers and Students

    ... creativity, skill, and understanding of nearly all elements of writing. We occasionally refer to a narrative as 'creative writing' or story writing. The

  7. Creative Writing: Narrative Writing

    Creative Writing: Narrative Writing S.E.A Time with the Ministry of Education Air Date: Thursday 2nd April 2020 - 1:15PM.

  8. Creative Writing

    Creative writing can include facts about the world but must use them in a made-up fashion to create a unique message. The primary four forms of creative writing

  9. How To Write a Narrative Essay in 5 Steps (With Definition)

    1. Choose a topic · 2. Create an outline · 3. Write in first-person · 4. Use creative language · 5. Proofread your writing.

  10. How to write a story: 9 steps (plus a shortcut!)

    "Both courses I have taken have with Creative Writing Now have been amazing. Each time I have learned something new. The one thing I love, you take everything

  11. How to Write a Creative Essay

    Creative essays can include personal narratives, descriptive essays and fictional stories. These pieces of writing require imagination, and

  12. How to Plan a Creative Writing Piece (with Pictures)

    Writing Your Piece · Step 1 Grab the reader's attention. · Step 2 Present memorable characters. · Step 3 Select a time and setting that appeal to you. · Step 4

  13. Creative Writing 101: Everything You Need to Get Started

    What is creative writing? · Connecting, or at least attempting to connect, with the reader's emotions · Writing from a specific point of view

  14. How to Write a Great Story in 5 Steps

    1 Find inspiration · 2 Brainstorm · 3 Outline · 4 Write the first draft · 5 Revise and edit your story.