By definition, creative writing entails being ‘creative’: making up stories and using your imagination freely. Essays should be factually accurate and objective, clearly communicate ideas and arguments and work to increase reader knowledge rather than their imagination. However, even though the literary conventions and vivid stories we associate with creative writing are inappropriate in an essay, these two different types of writing share some commonalities. Above all, they both need to keep the reader’s attention because they are both intended to be read by other people. Are there any writing strategies from creative writing that you may use to assist make your essays more engaging and unique? There are, and we’ll show you how to use them in this post.
1. Empathise With Your Reader
Try to write an opening that engages readers and piques their interest in your subject if you want to keep them reading. One technique to get people interested is to introduce yourself with a secret or by bringing up a fact that not many people are aware of.
For instance, if you’re writing an essay on the political effects of a trade agreement between several European nations, you can mention a little-known fact or event that, according to some historians, indirectly necessitated the agreement or helped the leaders of two diametrically opposed countries forge amicable relations. This information can draw the reader in and compel them to study more about the argument you’re trying to make.
2. A Three-act Format
The three-act form is a literary device frequently employed in contemporary writing, notably for dramas in film and television. These “acts” aren’t as clearly separated from one another as they would be in a play since they flow into one another without the audience being aware. The plotline described in the framework goes something like this:
- Establishes the characters, their relationships, and the setting in which they live. A dramatic event known as an “inciting incident” involving the main character occurs in this first “act” (usually around 19 minutes into a film). They try to cope with it, leading to another dramatic event known as a “turning moment.” The rest of the story’s setting is established by this.
- Confrontation, the pivotal event from the previous “act,” now serves as the primary issue that the main character strives to solve — frequently while facing many obstacles that thwart their efforts. For instance, in a murder mystery, this act might involve the detective attempting to solve the crime. Through a journey and with the assistance of other people, the main character gains the necessary knowledge, abilities, or surface to solve the issue.
- Resolution: the story’s climax, where the tension reaches its height, the issue is solved, and unfinished business is wrapped up.
This format seems perfect for fictional stories, but what does it have to do with essay writing? The main parallels in this case are:
- The equivalent of the main character in your essay is the thesis statement.
- The introduction and conclusion are the essay’s equivalent of the setup and resolve.
- An essay’s inciting circumstance motivates you to make your point as soon as possible.
- Developing your argument is the same as character development in the second act.
- The proof you cite in your essay is the equivalence of the supporting figures.
The result of using the three-act format for an essay is as follows:
- The introduction is the setup, creating the context for your discussion. The provision of data that disputes a widely held hypothesis or highlights a fundamental discrepancy in how something is understood may serve as the “inciting occurrence.”
- Confrontation: You talk about the various issues related to the subject you’re writing about. As you go toward an overarching conclusion, you create the case using pieces of evidence.
- The conclusion is the resolution. After weighing the evidence you’ve discussed, you summarise and decide the issue with your view, siding with one side. You could wrap up any loose ends by providing a different explanation for information that conflicts with your theory.
Because everything you write is directed at bringing your argument to a conclusion, using this format prevents you from straying from the main idea and protects you from rambling. You are encouraged to get to the point quickly in your essay to keep the reader interested by using the inciting incident in the first “act.” This essential component of the three-act structure parallels how essays function by offering evidence to support arguments. The principles of successful plot writing are centred around the link between different occurrences that indicate cause and effect.
These are only some of the tricks and techniques taught at Pftuition English, sign up with us now to churn out the best essays you’ve ever written.
3. A Captivating Beginning
Using an attention-grabbing introduction is a classic piece of creative writing advice. One technique to achieve this is to begin the story with a “flashback,” which could throw off the timeline by bringing the reader back into the thick of the action at the beginning. In a murder mystery, for instance, the author can omit a long build-up and instead utilize the murder to begin the plot, with the detective’s investigations to find the killer and perhaps a sequence of flashbacks detailing the events leading up to the murder. Even while it’s more straightforward to utilise in some areas than others, the same idea can be used in essays.
Let’s use the First World War as an example. You were writing about how it began. An attention-grabbing opening could (briefly) describe the drama of the Battle of the Somme, perhaps citing some statistics about the number of men involved and killed and quoting some war poetry about the horrors faced by the soldiers on the Front Line rather than slowly building up with the various factors. Then, use a sentence like “It seems hard to conceive that all this began with…” to state the essay’s goal and begin your argument regarding what sparked the war. But how did these thousands of troops wind up in the filth and agony of trench warfare? This is another rhetorical question. The narrative starts many years earlier, with…” Although it may not be the conventional essay writing method, you will undoubtedly get credit for uniqueness and may even ruffle a few feathers.
4. Long-form Metaphors
Extended metaphors are frequently used in creative writing. For instance, Shakespeare used an elaborate metaphor when he wrote the line, “It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!” in Romeo and Juliet. With this in mind, it’s time to revisit an argument we made in a previous article about writing more original essays. In that article, we argued that, rather than slogging through trying to explain a complex concept straightforwardly, it might be easier to use an analogy to convey the meaning by making comparisons, which people find easier to understand. Since a metaphor is an analogy, there are many parallels to creative writing in this situation. We used the example of radioactive decay in our last article. The force with which water escapes from a hole in a bucket serves as an analogue for this. Similar to how radioactive materials degrade exponentially, it does so too. There is an exponential rate of decay because, in both cases, the rate of a consumptive process depends on how much of whatever is being depleted is still there. By giving your reader a familiar image to visualise to convey a concept they are unfamiliar with, the analogy of water pouring from a hole in a bucket makes this concept much simpler to explain.
5. Interesting Setting & Location-related details
Bring your essay to life with specifics about the environment and locale, much like creative writers do, to keep the reader interested. Articles can get very dry if you only concentrate on academic issues, but you can spice them up with specifics to make them more engaging. This may not be as effective for a scientific essay, but it is pertinent for several humanities topics, mainly English literature, history, and archaeology. For instance, an article about the Roman emperor Augustus can remark that he was known for leading a modest life and include information from Roman literature and archaeological proof to back this up:
These seemingly insignificant facts can be more essential than you initially think, and you can use them to support your thesis. For instance, Augustus’ modest lifestyle is highly relevant when considering Rome’s turbulent history with monarchs.
The few facts we know about his way of life are significant because when he progressively grew in authority and became Rome’s first emperor, he had to avoid appearing too ‘regal’. So, in addition to bringing your essay to life, you’ve also brought up a worthwhile issue.
Only some authors succeed the first time. Once you’ve finished the first draft, please review it and consider whether your arguments are in the best sequence and whether your writing makes sense. In the age of computers, chopping and changing are simple; you can copy and paste a section of your essay into another area where it could fit better and then make small phrasing changes to help the essay flow better. Have a final read-through after editing to ensure that the wording is satisfactory. Remember to proofread to ensure your grammar and spelling are perfect!
7. Take Down Your Ideas
The best creative writers always carry a notebook to scribble down any ideas that come to them at the spur of the moment. Since you never know when inspiration will strike, you can apply the same strategy when writing essays. Think about your essay topic while you’re out and about; you might be surprised by what comes to mind when you’re not in your usual study environment.
As you can see, there are more parallels than you might have thought between two seemingly unconnected genres of literature. When writing an essay, it is possible to overdo the creative writing aspect because literary tactics are only sometimes acceptable. Your article needs to be objective and follow the more formal rules of academic writing. To make your reports stand out from the crowd and give your teacher or lecturer a welcome break from the routine of essay marking, you may definitely take some tactics from creative writing.
Pftuition English provides simple and effective writing tactics for students based on their learning style to engage them in the best way possible so that they can achieve the best outcome of their respective essay.