Creative Writing

Study creative writing with ACS Distance Education - write more interesting fiction, more convincing advertising, more inspired poetry. Develop your creativity to write better more engaging work of all types.

Course Code: BWR103
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn Creative Writing - write for profit or pleasure

This stimulating course will develop your ability to write a good story and to think more critically about your writing.

  • You will learn the basics of different kinds of writing - magazine and newspaper columns, short stories, books - while improving your basic writing skill.
  • Your development will be guided by qualified and experienced tutors.

No matter what your current writing ability, if you put in the effort, you will become a better and more confident writer. Some students have been published even before finishing the course!

  • Develop passion, creativity and writing technique

  • Discover what publishers and readers want

  • Become a successful, creative writer.

  • Self Paced, 100 hour, creative writing course

  • If you love writing and want to improve your skills, network with other writers, and get personal guidance from a team of professional writers, this course is for you. 

Tutors and Course Developers include:

  • Published Poets and Fiction Writers

  • Published Biographical Writers

  • Published Magazine and Newspaper Writers (Our principal and staff have authored over 2000 magazine articles and 150 books)

  • Travel writers, course writers, business writers, web bloggers, marketing copywriters and others

Tutors are exceptionally well qualified, with university degrees in writing or journalism and most have more than 10 years experience in writing and publishing. Our faculty are diverse in their background, come from across the world, and are at your disposal, to help you too get started as a professional creative writer -before, during, and after your studies.


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • What is creative writing
    • What’s different about creative writing
    • Information and creativity
    • Creative genres
    • Forms of Writing
    • Form
    • Structure
    • Purpose
    • Creative Writing resources
    • What is needed for success
    • The business of writing
    • Getting published
    • Self publishing
    • Vanity publishing
    • Terminology.
  2. Basic Creative Writing Skills
    • Words and their proper use
    • Types of language
    • Informative language
    • Persuasive language
    • Imaginative language
    • Literal language
    • Figurative language
    • Formal language
    • Colloquial language
    • Parts of language (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, plurals, possessive nouns & pronouns, gender, adjectives, articles)
    • Common grammatical errors (fragmented sentences, run on sentences, comma splices, dangling modifiers).
    • Run on sentences
    • Irregular verbs
    • Whom or who
    • Pronouns and Antecedents
    • Punctuation
    • Creating and critiquing
    • Generating ideas
    • Developing ideas
    • Narrative theory
    • Storyline
    • Narrative structure
    • Settings or scenes
    • Mood or atmosphere
    • Time
    • Voice
    • Point of view
    • Creative reading.
  3. Using Concise Clear Language
    • Slice of life fiction
    • Conciseness and Succinctness
    • Understanding ambiguity
    • Causes of ambiguity
    • Doubt and ambiguity
    • Hinge points and ambiguity
    • Defamiliarisation.
  4. Planning What You Write
    • Writing routine
    • Establishing a theme
    • Organising ideas
    • Paragraphing
    • Writing a synopsis
    • Titles
    • Developing objectives.
  5. Writing Fiction
    • Elements
    • Clues
    • Signs
    • Common errors
    • Scope or Range
    • Theme problems
    • Authenticity problems
    • Tone problems.
  6. Writing Non-fiction
    • Creative non fiction
    • Scope
    • Developing ideas
    • Narration
    • Story line
    • Deduction
    • Induction
    • Classical Development
    • Chronological development
    • Analogy
    • Cause and effect
    • Classification
    • Comparison and contrast
    • Definition
    • Analysis
    • Developing a profile
    • Interviews.
  7. Newspaper Writing
    • What to write
    • Scope
    • News values
    • Writing guidelines
    • Regular columns
    • Fillers.
  8. Writing for Magazines
    • Scope of magazine writing
    • What publishers want
    • Magazine articles
    • Travel writing
    • Writing for public relations
    • Selling your work.
  9. Writing Books
    • Themes
    • Consistency
    • Believability
    • Variety
    • Getting started
    • Getting a contract
    • Book publishing
    • Non fiction books
    • Fact finding.
  10. Special Project
    • Organising a portfolio to sell yourself.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe elements and forms of creative writing.
  • Develop skills that will help you generate, evaluate and communicate ideas. Discuss the functions of clear writing, and the art of revealing and concealing in writing.
  • Establish theme and structure as planning tools.
  • Identify and discuss various forms of fiction writing and publishing opportunities.
  • Analyse different non-fiction genres to determine key elements and strategies.
  • Analyse different forms of creative writing commonly found in newspapers.
  • Analyse magazine articles to determine what makes a good feature article.
  • Discuss the main elements of book writing, including theme, organisation, and weaving different narrative threads into a unified whole.
  • Prepare a portfolio of creative writing ready for submission and of future ideas.

What You Will Do

  • Analyse three texts to identify their genres, describe their layout, and any key elements.
  • Locate a vanity publisher and a well-known publisher and obtain information on their submitting requirements.
  • Write part of a newspaper feature article in three different ways, using three different types of language to create different impressions.
  • Critique a piece of your own writing (250 words or more), noting its good points, its weaknesses.
  • Develop one short scene for three different storylines, letting the setting, characters, dialogue and action show what is happening, what might have gone before, and what might follow.
  • Make notes on two authors' uses of concealing and revealing (transparency and ambiguity), and analyse their effectiveness in each case.
  • Describe a place or person in your life from two completely different perspectives.
  • Rewrite an assignment in a different voice.
  • Use defamiliarisation to make a common object appear mysterious, or dangerous, or alien.
  • Discuss the organisation of texts, considering why the authors might have organised their texts this way, and discuss how the structures contribute to the overall effectiveness of the text.
  • Write a first draft in 3 hours, without editing.
  • Edit the draft for structure, clarity, flow of ideas, content, mood, voice etc.
  • Edit 3 items of your writing (include one short story) for clarity and succinctness; explain your changes.
  • Research likely publishers for one of your stories and submit it.
  • Construct outlines of fiction stories using the first and last sentences of published works.
  • Conceive different non-fiction writing projects for specific publishers, and explain your choices.
  • Write three outlines for non-fiction pieces, modelled on the outlines of your three creative writing readings.
  • Interview someone in preparation for writing a profile on that person. Explain why you think that person might be of interest to others.

The Scope of Creative Writing

Creative writing is often defined as the writing of fiction, where the author creates events, scenes and characters, sometimes even a world. In reality, aside from instinctive utterances like the yelp of an injured child or a delighted ‘Oh!’ all expressions are creative.

For the purposes of this course, ‘creative writing’ is any writing that expresses events and emotions in an imaginative manner and whose primary intent is to arouse emotions. Creative writing can therefore be fiction, using imaginative narration, or non fiction, based on facts and events. The common ground of fiction and non-fiction writing is the creativity the writer uses to express his or her thoughts and emotions.

Creative Writing can be applied in many different situations, including:

  • poetry of all kinds

  • short stories

  • novels, including westerns, romances, science fiction, detective stories, mysteries, fantasy, etc.

  • advertising and marketing

  • film and television screenplays, stage plays and scripts

  • lyrics  

Other genres that we may not think of as creative writing are:

  • magazine articles, e zines, blogs

  • newspaper feature stories

  • essays

  • biographies

  • advertisements

  • card greetings

  • books or articles on science, history etc.


Writing Tips - How to Establish a Theme

Every piece of writing, no matter whether it is a novel or a business letter, should have a dominant theme or underlying idea. In a business letter and in technical writing, the theme should be immediately obvious and clear and should be stated. In a piece of creating writing it might be gradually revealed through the development of the work and may only be fully apprehended by the reader at the very end. Nevertheless, the theme should be present from the beginning, and should exist as a unifying thread through every chapter or paragraph. Every piece of the writing should, in some way, relate to that theme. It is what unifies a piece of writing and lets it stand alone as a meaningful expression.

The theme of a creative piece may never be directly stated. For instance, the underlying theme of Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago is personal integrity, being true to one’s self in thought and action. This is never stated, but is exhibited in the behaviour of the main characters, each of whom draws upon hard-won inner truth for the strength and courage to maintain integrity in a vicious, chaotic, and seemingly unprincipled world.

In a novel, we often find that a theme branches out into several sub-themes. Because of its length, the novel allows for this kind of interweaving of themes and ideas. So, in Dr. Zhivago, there is plenty of room for developing a critique of the rise of Communism, of war and aggression in general, of different kinds of power, and of love. But these must and do return in some way to the dominant theme, to enrich our understanding and experience of that dominant idea.

In comparison, the short story or poem might focus entirely on one theme, though even then, there are usually subtle or even overt references to other ideas and themes, for no one idea or experience is self-sufficient, but inevitably relates to and rests on other ideas and experiences.

We can develop themes any means, and often from or through a variety of means, such as:

  • images of places, events or characters

  • thoughts and speech of characters

  • actions of characters

  • contrasting societies or generations within a society

  • identifying shared values and experiences between groups or generations

  • ways to dealing with and coping with the environment

  • symbolic use of landscape and nature

  • repetition of ideas in different forms

  • repeated symbols or cultural items

  • contrast of values

One way to plan your writing is to establish a central theme, then consider how to develop it, and how to display its complexity and facets through different sub-themes. Ask yourself, “What do I want to say?”, then ask yourself over and over, “What else do I have to say about that?” This constant meditation on a theme can yield a rich trove of ideas.

To understand how themes are developed, read several short stories and novels that you really like. Notice how the theme is introduced, and how it is developed. Also, do some exercises with free association. This process requires you to simply observe what thoughts, images, memories, people, events etc. come into your mind when you focus on an idea. For instance, let us say that you are thinking to write on the theme of personal responsibility. Rather than trying to consciously develop that theme at first, just jot down every image or word than comes into your head. Everybody will come up with a completely different and personal collection of items, for no two of us have lived the same life or experience it in the same way. The results of a free-association exercise like this can give you the seeds with which to ‘grow’ and express your theme.

Creative Writing Resources

Writers can draw on two levels of support for their writing and writing careers:

  • inner resources, such as creativity, persistence, self-discipline, good skills, experience, knowledge, empathy, and a real interest in the world around them;
  • outer resources, which are the people and environments that constitute the writer’s support system.

What is Needed for Success?

Success as a writer means different things to different people. For some, success is to simply have people read and appreciate what they write; and the readers might be no more than friends and/or family.

For others, the goal may be far more ambitious: to have books or articles published and sold, and read by tens of thousands of people.

Writing is a Business

Writing is only part of the business of being a writer. If your aim is to be published, and be read by the “masses”; you need to understand and recognise what is involved in the publishing business as a whole.

You should also recognise from the beginning that success does not always come to those who deserve it; and a certain amount of luck is probably going to be involved no matter how skilled or well educated you are.

Successful writers are not just those who write well; but more often than not,
they are also people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.

If you hope to make a complete or partial living from creative writing, or to make it your career, you can improve your prospects by developing good sources of information and support.

These will help you achieve two main goals:

  1. To become a better, more effective writer, and
  2. To sell and/or publish what you write.

An important aspect of being a writer is the development of a network of relationships, contacts and resources to support your writing and career. Support from family and friends is invaluable, for they can offer nurturing, help create a suitable writing environment, and help you identify your writing strengths and weaknesses by giving honest opinions of your work.

Other resources include:

Writers’ guides, books and articles on writing and publishing. These can be found in most public libraries, in university libraries (where you may read them even if you are not a student there), in writing magazines, in local writing clubs, in the Arts sections of some newspapers, and in the occasional newspaper or magazine article.  

Publishing Houses and Publishers
Writers should conduct their own research to identify publishers who might be interested in their kind of writing. Different publishers will have their own areas of special interest, and their own requirements. Many list their requirements on guide sheets for authors, or even on their web pages. Authors, especially those starting out, should investigate these requirements to find publishers most likely to welcome and publish their kind of writing. Also, publishers can teach authors a lot about writing, what it takes to get works published, and what publishers look for. Many authors owe their careers to the vision and perception of dedicated publishers. This is one reason that writers should work hard to establish relationships with publishers by submitting works, responding positively and productively to their advice, criticism or suggestions, and persisting in the face of many rejections.
Writing clubs, societies, professional or amateur associations
Local writing groups can provide good opportunities to discuss, share and develop your own writing. Check the phone book for writing associations and groups in your area, and use them to expand your network of contacts and resources.
Book shows and exhibitions
There are several very important annual book markets and shows held in various countries. Publishers, book sellers and book buyers come from all over the globe to these events, which play a pivotal role in defining the current book market and trends. However, smaller shows and exhibitions are held in many countries, and will give you an idea of what is selling and what is in demand. These are also good places to meet people in the publishing industry.
Trade shows and exhibitions
To research what kinds of specialist publications are produced, and by whom, and also to get ideas for writing projects in fields that interest you, attend trade shows and exhibitions. These can take place in large venues such as exhibition centres and show grounds, or in smaller venues such as shopping centres.
Commercial organisations and businesses
If your skills lie in advertising or persuasive writing, or you have knowledge and skills to share, consider researching businesses and organisations to discover opportunities to write and/or publish and promote your writing.
Government departments
Government departments are useful sources of information, and can be very useful to writers who are researching topics for articles or fiction writing. Also, governments often offer grants or other support for the arts, and a writer would be wise to keep track of them.
Personal contacts

Networking is a most effective way of letting others know what you can do, and that you are looking for writing or publishing opportunities. People with writing or publishing experience are important contacts, well worth nurturing, and will frequently help new writers. To avoid irritating or offending them, observe some basic rules of networking etiquette, such as:

  • Establish a variety of contacts so that you are not over-dependent on one or two.
  • Be sincere, honourable, and truthful in all your dealings.
  • Respect others’ privacy and time in your words and actions.
  • Look for ways to return favours and be of service – offer to do research or typing.
  • Take a real interest in them and their work, not just in what they can do for you.
  • Be humble and learn from others, even if you think you know it all.
  • Contact busy people by letter or email first to avoid disruption to their schedules.
  • Read an author’s work or a publisher’s products before you contact them.
  • Acknowledge and say thank you for all assistance.


How To Get Your Career on the Right Path

You don't become a competent writer by undertaking a quick short course.

It does take time to learn anything properly and embed knowledge into your mind; and it takes a properly constructed learning experience supported by capable and knowledgeable educators. 

Even the best course can only take you so far though -if you have the proper foundation to build upon (through your studies); you will continue learning afterwards, through experience; and your learning is probably going to be faster, easier and more appropriate.

Over more than 30 years, our staff have written thousands of articles for magazines and newspapers; written over 150 books published by international publishers; and since 2011 we have been operating our own publishing business. We know writing -all genres; we know the industry and we can help you!

Who Can Benefit From This Course?

Amateur and aspiring writers seeking to build confidence in their abilities, or improve their fundamentals. This course is also well-suited to writers wanting a deeper understanding of genre, modes, and writing types, or an introduction to the theoretical underpinnings of creative writing.

At the end of this course you will:

  • Know the difference between several genres and types of writing

  • Understand the common errors and pitfalls in writing, and how to avoid them

  • Understand how to revise and improve your work

  • Understand how to apply good writing practice and theory to create well-written, engaging stories and other creative works

  • Draft a creative piece and develop a plan to move forward with it


Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

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We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

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We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

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We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Rachel Syers

Rachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affairs, and agriculture.
Her current role is Fashion Editor, features writer and features sub-editor with The Gold Coast Bulletin. She has co-authored a successful biography "Roma: From Prison to Paradise" about former prisoner-of-war turned yoga guru, Roma Blair, as well as freelanced as a writer, reviewer and researcher for Australian music and celebrity magazines such as WHO Weekly, Rave, Australasian Post and New Idea.
Rachel has a B.Journalism.

Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience.
Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

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