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 CodeBWR103
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement 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


Enrol Today and Start Learning More

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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. J
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 affa
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 (Lear
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