Writing a Creative Essay

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A creative essay may be one of the more open-ended, least restrictive assignments you will receive as a student. Because these essays allow for self-expression, they are technically narrative essays. If you enjoy creative writing, these are pretty enjoyable assignments. Even if you don’t you can still benefit from writing these from time to time. They encourage you to build and exercise your imagination, and to write in a way that is evocative. In the paragraphs below, we’re going to explore the definition of creative essays, topic selection, choosing a great title, starting with an outline, and other writing tips. As always, we’ll let you know where to get any extra help that you  might need.

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.

- Orson Scott

What is a Creative Essay?

In a creative essay, you eschew the normal rules and guidelines of other essays and research papers. Instead, you are creating what is essentially a short story or other narrative. Yes, you may have to work within certain parameters, but you are encouraged to be creative. After all, that is the point of this.

Your job is to create an interesting story while adhering to the guidelines of the assignment.

For example, in a history class your instructor may ask you to imagine that you are alive during a specific historical era, and to write a creative essay on what you think your experiences might be. In another class, your assignment could be wide open with no topic restrictions whatsoever.

What if you aren’t a natural writer, or you  just don’t feel all that creative? Can you produce a great, creative essay? You certainly can. Just keep reading.

Creative essay writing lifehacks infographic

Sample Creative Essay

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Topic Ideas For Your Creative Writing Essays

You’ll have a better time writing your essay if you have a great topic. Choose a topic that is interesting to you, and you’ll have fun writing your essay. Your readers will likely enjoy it as well. We’ve hit up our best, creative writers and asked them for a few creative writing topics for college students to help you get inspired.

  • Remember a vacation you’ve taken, and use your imagination to turn it into a fictional adventure.

  • Speculate what it would be like to spend the day living the life of a famous person.

  • What if words were never invented?

  • How would you build the perfect city?

  • Take your favorite characters from different books, and have them take an adventure together.

  • Fictionalize your best date.

  • What would it be like to live with a super power?

  • What if you woke up as someone else?

  • What if you had to spend a large amount of money in a short amount of time?

  • Imagine that the world was ending in 48 hours.

  • How would you act if you were the most popular or least popular person in your school?

  • Plan the ideal road trip if money wasn’t an issue.

  • Imagine that a loved one isn’t who they seem to be.

Look around for inspiration. If you need more ideas for a creative essay, take stories from your own life, if you don’t mind sharing. Most of us know at least one person who has an exceptional life story, or seems to stumble from one adventure into another? Consider creating a fictionalized account of that. 

Creative Essay Outline

You’ve chosen your topic, and we hope you’re excited to get started. At this point, consider writing an outline to organize your thoughts. After all, it’s not only about being creative. You need to tell a clear and compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end. An outline will help you to determine how to start a creative essay, and more.

The only difference is that you aren’t writing the standard, intro and thesis, body paragraphs, and conclusions. You aren’t presenting data to prove your assertions.

What you want to do is keep your readers engaged, share about interesting characters and events, and avoid any plot holes.

Since this isn’t a traditional, academic paper, you can be a bit casual with your outline. If it helps, you can use mind mapping, storyboarding, or other techniques. You can even write a brief character background for the people in your essay. Do whatever it takes to get a clear idea of your story.

Best creative paper topics

  1. How would you build the perfect city?
  2. What if you woke up as someone else?
  3. What if you had to spend a large amount of money in a short amount of time?
  4. Imagine that a loved one isn’t who they seem to be.
  5. What if words were never invented?
Send topics by mail?

Creative Essay Research

Yes, you should definitely research your essay. Even if it’s entirely non fiction, a bit of research can help you write something that’s interesting and believable. For example, if you plan to incorporate flying a plane into your story, do some research so that you use the right terminology. If your paper is historical fiction about The Civil War, find some autobiographies or soldier’s diaries from the time to truly understand your subject matter. Accuracy still matters.

A bit of research can help you write something that’s interesting and believable.

How to Write a Good Creative Writing Essay

It’s time to really start writing. Get your research notes, and your outline together. Your rough draft is just around the corner. Don’t worry about perfection at this point. The most important thing is to get your story out on paper. You can perfect things later in the editing process. Just remember to include the following:

  • Introducing your main and secondary characters.

  • Introducing the conflict.

  • A build up.

  • A climax.

  • A satisfying conclusion.

  • Answers to the questions who, what, where, when, how, and why.

  • Evocative descriptions with great adjectives and sensory words.

Now, it’s time to really polish the rough edges and create a final product that is sure to impress. Start by taking a second look at your assignment. Don’t get so caught up in writing a great story that you forget about your instructions. You may have a word count or other requirements to meet. As with any other assignment, you’ll want to double check your spelling and grammar.

Of course, the most important thing to consider at this point is readability. Read your creative essay out loud. Have a friend or two do the same. How does it sound?  Is it a story that keeps people interested until the end? Is it at all confusing? It’s better to have a friend tell you something’s wrong than your professor!

Additional Writing Tips

To close out, we’ve got some additional writing tips for you to keep in mind. We think these will help you write an even better piece of creative work.

  • Don’t introduce too many characters. This is an essay, not a short story or novella.

  • Practice writing dialogue between your characters. It’s often better to move your story forward with dialogue than other methods.

  • Inspiration can come at any time. If you’re struggling with your paper or creative writing essays topics, take a notebook with you everywhere you go. Anytime an idea comes to you, jot it down.

  • Create three dimensional characters. These will be the backbone of your interesting paper. Give each character motivation and a back story. Even if that doesn’t make it into your paper, it will help you to create an interesting story.

  • Don’t be self-indulgent. Write for your audience, not for yourself.

  • Find inspiration through others. Look for a great creative essay example.


Getting Additional Help

We are happy to provide this guide to you. Be sure to check out our other guides as well. Each of these is written to help you write the best possible paper, no matter what your assignment. If you still need help we are happy to be of assistance. Contact us 24/7 online. We have writers and customer support agents who can help you with any assignment.

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