Forms of Creative Wrting
The essay is a form or genre, a type, model, template, method, idea-organizer, or word-bucket. There are lots of different kinds. The world may yet invent a few more, such as the blog, cell phone texting, or e-mail; but for the past 600 years or so, people writing in English have gravitated toward and organized their thoughts and ideas into perhaps 10 to 20 basic modalities. Some are more creative, fertile, or imaginative, and some obviously less so. In this article, let us explore how some of these can play out in your creative life.
But you, as a creative writer, are free of all that. Instead, those forms, which are very similar to the more creative forms, are replaced by "word-buckets," or written modalities that put your heart elsewhere. What are the creative written forms? You already know the answer: poetry; commentary; stories; drama, such as stage or film; books and novels; song lyrics; creative research to a degree; and a few others.
They all use grammar, language, and the alphabet. They all follow some type of structure. Within those types of boxes, however, entirely half of humankind's long history of creative sharing has been contained and preserved, including the Bible, the Magna Carta, and all the ancient works of Egypt's Library at Alexandria.
Creative flow for a writer is much different from creativity in other kinds of art. To be truthful, it is perhaps a very stodgy, bookish, secretarial kind of thing. Words, words, words. The joy of it all is to seek and find what you personally have to offer the Big Wide World, your mother, your enemies, or future generations and turn those mixed-up things called thoughts into a functional communication of more than mere facts. The flow of it could be described as a kind of dance of ideas, a brickwork of truth, a multicolored fascination, muse, or riddle that people truly enjoy constructing. Each form or modality of writing has its virtues relative to this experience.
The poet may be thought of as the most sincere or pure writer. The poet's carefully chosen words and phrases dig deeper, cut the rope of the hangman's noose more quickly, and portray mystical truths such as soul, love, and hope or hate, anger, and fear. Or a creek beside the road. The poet's tools are allegory and metaphor. The poet uses simple things as symbols of greater things and reduces the human journey to a few lines that are sweet as honey or hot as hell. Therefore, poetry is sacred, profane, and not much read by the general public, for whatever reason. Creatively, though, poetry is a choice indicator to the reader that the contents are somehow above it all, which is where we often want to be in our reading, anyway. Some poets write furiously and with wild abandon, others like careful, cautious craftsmen.
Stories: What are they really? Fiction is not real, but how we enjoy following along with a clever writer who can weave a tale! It is odd that the writer may be in a wheelchair, writing about a heroic athlete, or in prison, writing children's books. He may be a male writing from the female point of view, even in great detail. With any of these scenarios, he or she may create the story well or not so well; but the individual's creative process is almost as absorbing as the actual work. When you read a fictional story, the writer is drawing you into her or his inventive ideas about life and the way things are or should be or could be. And yet, usually, no such real events or things even exist. So it is a chuckle for a writer when you, the reader, are also there in that space that does not exist, as if for a moment or two, like-minded and well-meaning people truly can create reality from nothing and even go there or spend time there together.
Drama and Film
Drama and film are similar, but now the writer or author moves far beyond words on a page into the portrayal of fiction through the joyous and completely freewill manipulation of flesh-and-blood actors and objects like cars, horses, military forces, or anything within the restrictions of the form. Godlike, you say? Well, no, not at all. That would be a sad day, indeed, for the writers of timeless works such as the comedy film Gidget Goes Hawaiian or television show Laugh-in to control much more than meaningless and temporary pretend amusements. Again, though, in the realms of fiction, writers are rewarded as audiences are rewarded: in that shared, childlike time-space, of an unreal and, one hopes, harmless insight called "story," with the very human goal and hope of elevating us all.
Essay and Commentary
Then back to the essay or commentary. Just how creative are we here? For example, this essay you are reading is not a story like narrative fiction at all. It is just ideas. It is knowledge, information, and that human quality of opinion, passion, or purpose, all organized as thoughtfully as possible to impress, persuade, teach, and so on. Facts and reality can be included, and the best persuasive writing uses reality to form meaning that is more abstract. What about humor? Writers such as Art Buchwald, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, James Thurber, and E.B. White excelled at this form, which is really little more than sharing as you would with a friend about anything at all. These writers were dreamers with personality who made us laugh, and at one time in America this form was very popular. Creatively, writers such as these often suffer from erudition, intellectual suffocation, self-importance, and things like alcoholism or adulterous lifestyles. Perhaps that is why they enjoyed laughing so much.
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