Creative Writing

The Language of Imagination #

People who use language to express feelings, and evoke emotions will use a subjective approach.

Text types or Genres that:

Narrate, Dramatise or Poeticise

Writers who feel the need to air and express their emotions will attempt to engage their audiences to share their experiences. They either write novels, plays or poems.

Characteristics of Imaginative language:

Emotive words: charged with associations, colouring, evaluation, bias

Emotion and purpose

The trouble with computers, apparently, is that they just don’t understand emotion and purpose - and that can hinder things when it comes to assessing writing. The Chartered Institute of Educational Assessment has been putting an American computer marking program to the test by feeding it some well-known classics. These include Winston Churchill’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ speech (too repetitive), an extract from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (inaccurate and erratic sentence structure) and Ernest Hemingway’s The End of Something (lack of care and detail). Other programs have condemned Lincoln’s Gettysburg address for its style.

Graham Herbert, deputy head of the CIEA, explained: ‘The computer was limited in its scope. It couldn’t cope with metaphor and didn’t understand the purpose of the speech.’

He said that the program is already in use in America, where some students have now ‘cracked the code’ and learned to write in a style that the computer recognises: this is known as ‘schmoozing the computer’, he said. ‘At the moment we do not have a reliable and valid way of assessing English language using a software package, although this is something for which there is demand.’

Ambiguity: A definite no-no in informative writing - where clarity and precision are mandatory - in creative writing ambiguity adds a richness and dimension of infinite possibility to meaning. Ambiguity can be constructed by the contradictory meanings in oxymorons, paradoxes, complex sentences, contrary phrases. Creative construction of Grammar and words with multiple meanings help to create multi-faceted messages.

Figurative language: language which is not literal rather full of comparisons or contrast. ie.; “She had an acid tongue”, is figurative. Similes. Metaphors, Personifications, Allusions, analogies, repetitions, juxtapositions, oxymorons, paradoxes, jargon, idioms.

Personal Subjectivity: The writing is permeated with the personality of the author. The writing can be re-creative, intimate and inclusive with the reader identifying with the characters and feeling empathy and acceptance.

Action verbs. Participants revealed by thoughts, interactions and description.

When writing action prose it is important to pare your language to subjects, verbs and objects – little else.

Graham Greene writes;

Excitement is simple: excitement is a situation, a single event. It mustn’t be wrapped up in thoughts, similes, metaphors. A simile is a form of reflection, but excitement is of the moment when there is no time to reflect……Even an adjective slows the pace or tranquillises the nerve.”

Emphasis on subtlety (implicit) of expression rather than explicitness. Varied sentences structures. Subject - verb - object, order of sentence construction can be inverted.

Sound patterns are used extensively: Rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, word harmony or dissonance.

Appeals to the Five senses; Visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, auditory

Link words relate to time, cause and effect; because, due to, us a result or Time link words; when, initially next, then, following….

Repetition used for emphasis or reinforcement.

Structures of Narratives: (Scaffolding)

Orientation - exposition, foreshadowing

Complication, tension, conflict, rising action to a climax

Evaluation — themes, concerns

Resolution— denouement, - perhaps a coda or an epilogue