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Most professional writing falls into two categories: creative writing and content writing. Writers have careers in both, but the work can be very different.

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If you want to enjoy a career as a professional writer, you should ideally be able to write in two different formats. The first is creative writing, which includes novels, novellas, short stories, poems, biographies, screenplays, and plays that audiences consume for entertainment and personal enrichment. The second format is known as content writing, which tends to involve writing prompts that focus on technical and business-related goals, such as providing instructions or garnering page views on the Internet.

7 Elements of Creative Writing

Here are some of the elements of creative writing that transcend various media:

  1. Creative writing allows for artistic freedom. Creative writing can be fiction, nonfiction, or lyrical.
  2. Creative writing has the capacity to entertain. Often, creative writing serves entertainment purposes, such as in fiction or creative nonfiction texts.
  3. Creative writing has the potential to inform. Creative writing can informative, like biographies and memoirs.
  4. Creative writing can build on the creative work that came before it. With creative writing, you might adapt or repurpose previous works of creative writing—most obvious in movie sequels or serialized comics.
  5. Creative writing can incorporate varied points of view. Creative writing employs a variety of narrative voices, from first-person to second-person to third-person omniscient.
  6. Creative writing is an art form. Often, creative writing is evaluated on some combination of an author’s mastery of language, storytelling, character development, and use of literary devices (such as metaphor, figure of speech, and foreshadowing), and worldbuilding.
  7. Creative writing can explore deep themes. Creative writing often presents a strong underlying theme—either explicitly stated (in nonfiction) or via the trials of a main character (in fiction).
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13 Examples of Creative Writing Forms

Creative writers use a wide array of media to get their work out. Here are some of the most common within the English language:

  1. Novels
  2. Novellas and short stories
  3. Screenplays, teleplays, and theatre scripts
  4. Newspaper columns, letters to the editor, and other persuasive essay writing
  5. Biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs
  6. Travel guides and travelogues
  7. Self-help and instruction books—like cookbooks and how-to books, but not instruction manuals
  8. Nonfiction accounts of both hard sciences like biology and social sciences like political science and economics
  9. Humor books and comedic essays
  10. Personal essays
  11. Journalism, including news and feature stories
  12. Radio and podcast scripts
  13. Lyrical content including poetry anthologies, verse-based theater, and song lyrics

7 Elements of Content Writing

Compared to creative writing, content writing is far more transactional. It tends to fall into two categories: Marketing and branding-based writing, particularly for the Internet; and technical writing that explains how to do something. Content writing is not an expression of the author’s personal voice; it is about conveying information for a specific purpose. Some fiction writers also double as successful content writers, but ultimately it requires a somewhat different skill set. To succeed as a high-quality content writer, consider the following elements of content writing:

  1. Content writing is often a marketing tool. You’ll need to be able to write for a business’s target audience.
  2. Content writing may require a high output. It’s important to have an efficient writing process.
  3. Content writing may require a quick turnaround. Be prepared to meet tight deadlines.
  4. Content writing should be engaging. Have a knack for readability and holding a reader’s attention
  5. Content writing will likely involve a degree of research. Be fluent in rapid online research, including targeted searches and keyword research.
  6. Content writing typically aligns with a brand. Learn to assimilate to a brand’s content strategy and marketing strategy into your writing.
  7. Content writing relies on creativity. Be able to work creatively within the narrow boundaries of an assignment (this skill is sometimes called creative content writing).