Updated on Tuesday 5 March 2013
In the world of entertainment, just about every product starts out as something that someone has to sit down and write. From video games to movies to collections of poetry, creative writing spans a huge range of rewarding writing styles and mediums. Let's take a look at what exactly creative writing covers.
Many international students are interested in expressing themselves through writing and might even be looking into some sort of writing as a career. After researching what's available at schools in the United States, they find that one recurring option is a creative writing degree. But just what is creative writing? Creative writing is, of course, writing meant to express ideas creatively! It differs from other writing forms like copywriting and technical writing in that creative writing is ultimately about generating material that has artistic and/or entertainment value rather than writing that merely communicates information efficiently and objectively (technical writing), writing that directly promotes a product or service (copywriting), and so on. While many fields of creative writing are indeed ruled by business (just think Hollywood!), at the end of the day creative writing is meant to entertain, enlighten, and inspire significantly more than other writing types.
When international students ask the question “What is creative writing?” often the first thing they'll find in the field is screenwriting. Screenwriting refers to any writing that is — surprise, surprise — meant to show up onscreen! This includes more established mediums such as television and film as well as the new, rapidly expanding market of online and mobile entertainment like webseries and mobisodes. It's plain to see that even this one variety of creative writing covers a lot of different writing types, so many international students will find themselves focusing most of their time in their creative writing degree on just screenwriting. Some schools, such as Full Sail University, even specialize in it.
Just outside what is thought of as traditional screenwriting lies creative writing for video games. Like screenwriting for online and mobile mediums, video game writing is just now defining itself thanks to the newfound popularity and artistic legitimacy of video games. The video game industry – including the writing of the games — has long been dominated by those with expertise on the technical side, with backgrounds in coding, web design, or other similar areas. Because of this, the place for those with a creative writing degree in the industry is still largely undefined. What is certain is that as the scale of video games continues to expand, more and more writing is needed to meet all the games' requirements; one game may have hundreds of thousands of words of optional dialogue, many branching story paths that could occur based on player choice, and more. This growing and creativity-rich industry is a great choice for international students who like writing and video games.
But when many international students think of creative writing, they imagine writing for printed materials (books, for the most part) rather than these newer technologies involving screens or game systems. And this form of creative writing is still alive and well. Fiction writing is a huge part of creative writing, covering mediums popular among writing students like novels and short stories. These are written predominantly using prose, which, put in the simplest terms, means normal, non-rhythmic language. Just like the wide world of screenwriting, many students getting a creative writing degree will spend nearly the whole time just focusing on their prose writing.
But prose writing isn't just used in fiction. It may be surprising to people interested in creative writing, but creative writing even covers some non-fiction writing! It all boils down to what the end goal is: many autobiographies, informative books, and other nonfiction works are meant to have artistic and entertainment value beyond just blandly conveying information, placing them firmly in the realm of creative writing.
Moving beyond prose, another popular form of creative writing is poetry. Unlike prose, poetry is defined by a certain adherence to rhythm, usually producing language that sounds unlike what would normally be spoken. While poetry is often passed off as limited to times long ago or for suitors wooing women, plenty of students study poetry and turn it into a fruitful creative career.
So what is creative writing? Well, as we can see, it covers a huge amount of things, spanning mediums from movies to books and language styles including prose and poetry. Students interested in any of these writing forms should look into a creative writing degree to get their creative education started!