Using Literary Features


In some ways creative writing is just the other side of essay writing. In an essay your job is to work out what effect the writer has tried to create on the reader and then identify and analyse how the literary features they have chosen create that effect. In creative writing it’s just the opposite. You need to work out what effect you are trying to create and you should then use the whole range of literary features available to you in order to help achieve this effect on your reader!


When writing your essay you should attempt to use:

·         Ambitious vocabulary: avoid obvious words like good, bad, happy, sad. Use creative and imaginative words and, in particular, you should try to use powerful verbs e.g. ‘Exploding into the room …’ rather than ‘Walking into the room.’


·         Figurative language, e.g. similes, metaphors and images, to really bring to life the scene you are trying to describe.


·         Specific nouns: instead of talking simply about the flowers near by you should give them the specific name of a real flower and describe their look, feel and smell in detail.


·         Varied sentence lengths: a series of long sentences followed by a short sentence can be really powerful as it makes whatever is in the short sentence stand out dramatically. Short sentences can also suggest entrapment, desperation or anger.


·         Varied sentence beginnings: most English sentences start with a noun e.g. ‘Eve (which is the noun) crept slowly down the corridor.’ You should try starting some of your sentences with a verb or adverb to alter the order of words, for instance ‘Creeping slowly down the hall Eve …’ which starts with a verb or ‘Wildly tumbling out of control Adam ...’ which starts with an adverb.


·         Varied structure: most stories have a chronological structure where the events of the story unfold in order. You might like to interrupt this by introducing flashbacks or flash forwards. Alternatively you might like to end your story in the same way that it started so that there is a cyclical structure which might imply (among other things) that there is no escape.


·         Responses from a variety of senses: in particular you can use Synasethesia, which is where you mix up your senses or use a particular sense to describe something that it would not normally describe, e.g. ‘the smell of fear’ or ‘the taste of sunlight’


You might also like to consider using

·         Triads

·         Repetitions

·         Rhetorical questions and exclamation marks

·         Sound effects: sibilance, harsh consonants, plosives, etc