The word creative is defined in various ways. The following are just some of the definitions:

“The ability or power to create”

  • “Imaginative”
  • “Productive and imaginative”
  • “Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative”

Creative writing is therefore generally defined as writing that is imaginative, created, productive and original. This generally covers all areas of fiction, such as novels, short stories, poetry etc. but can also include non-fiction, such as feature articles for magazines.

The key element of creative writing is, obviously, creativity. A writer is given free scope to create characters, places and scenarios to their liking. And not everything has to be created – you can place fictitious characters in an existing city or town, or, base characters on existing people and place them in unrealistic surroundings or scenarios. The beauty of creative writing is that you really are only limited by your imagination.

Have you considered studying creative writing? ACS Distance Education offers a range of writing courses, including Creative Writing.


Creative Writing Genres

A genre refers to the type or category of story you are writing. There are many different genres – action, fantasy, science fiction, drama, romance, to name but a few. Some genres have become more complex in response to readers becoming more discerning about the types of books they like and want to read. Some authors focus specifically on a particular genre and may achieve notoriety within that genre, whereas others are less concerned with appealing to a specific genre and write books which fit into different categories. 

Children’s Writing

Children's writing is commonly classified either by age, or by genre.

If children’s writing is targeted at different age groups, the author must continually review their work to check that is age appropriate. The style of writing, the pictures in the books, the font used and so on, will vary according to the age of the child you are writing for.  Generally, books aimed at the youngest audience have more illustrations, larger font, and used very simplistic language. 

The concepts in the story should also be age appropriate.  A story which appeals to a higher level of moral development may be suitable for an older child as might a story in which the protagonist empathises with his enemy, whereas most younger children would struggle to grasp these concepts. Therefore, familiarity with developmental levels is a useful aid in writing for children.  

Aside from concepts, the actual content of children's books has to be suitable for the age group targeted. Some subjects are strictly off-limits regardless of the age of the child and so should be avoided. 

Children, like adults, enjoy reading books in different genres from realistic through to fantastical stories. However, there is not as wide a range of genres as found in adult literature. That is not to say that there is not a wide range of styles available for children - there are, we just don't tend to categorise them as rigorously. Although some of the subject matter may have similarities to adult literature it is not presented with the same degree of profundity.  

Fantasy Writing 

Fantasy writing is a sub-genre of speculative fiction which includes writing categories like science fiction, supernatural fiction, horror, apocalyptic fiction, and so forth. Unlike science fiction, fantasy avoids scientific themes. Instead the focus is primarily on magical and fantastical themes.

Fantasy can cover things like fairytales, folklore, mythology, witchcraft, mediaeval themes, and new worlds (such as The Hobbit).  As a genre it has gained more popularity again over recent years with books such as the Harry Potter series and the 'Lord of the Rings' film trilogy. Fantasy writing often involves the writer creating a new world, or they may present a new take on the existing world where the fantasy can exist, and where the reader or audience can escape to.  

The fantasy genre has also been popularised by video games and television series such as 'The Dresden Files' and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. In 'The Dresden Files' a wizard exists in modern day America. In 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer', vampires exist in the real world.  Most people conduct their everyday lives oblivious to the fact that vampires and wizards exist, but they do exist to the enlightened few and the audience in the world that the writers created.  The world is still that which we are familiar with, but supernatural creatures co-exist.  Similarly, J.K. Rowling created a secret world in the Harry Potter series, where wizards and witches exist under the nose of the unsuspecting general public.

Crime Fiction 

Crime fiction is also a popular genre which really became recognised as such around the beginning of the twentieth century, although Edgar Allan Poe wrote several crime themed novels in the mid 1800s. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' books are widely regard as being the publications which propelled this genre into public interest.

Crime fiction is often categorised into subgenres, for instance:

  • Detective fiction - including the 'whodunnit', an investigator uncovers crimes
  • Courtroom drama - the main characters are lawyers, judges, co-workers, etc.
  • Legal fiction - involves investigating crimes and litigation as themes; might be a police drama, detective drama
  • Hardboiled fiction - usually includes a detective who also has to deal with the rougher side of life, corruption, etc. Typically set during prohibition or some other subversive time. 


Poetry is more a major form of literature along with novels, novellas, plays (drama), and short stories rather than a genre per se. However, within poetry are many genres and subgenres. Types of poetry range from ballads to haiku, free verse to poetic stories for children, slam poetry and so on.  

The main genres within poetry are as follows:

  • Prose poetry - a mixture of prose and poetry
  • Dramatic poetry - a drama written in verse
  • Speculative poetry - fantasy poetry
  • Epic poetry - lengthy poems with a continuous narrative (e.g. Homer's 'Iliad')
  • Narrative poetry - tells a story; like epic but shorter
  • Satirical poetry - based on satire; often political
  • Elegy - a mournful poem
  • Lyric poetry - personal poetry; generally contemplative
  • Verse fable - ancient verse with a moral message

Science Fiction 

Science fiction is related to fantasy writing in that it is a subgenre of speculative writing, and a science fiction story may create a new world – a new planet or a future version of planet Earth. The main difference is that as the name suggests it utilises scientific principles and laws to create credible worlds. The focus is also very much on the future - how things might be should certain scientific innovations come to pass. 

Romance and Relationship Writing 

Romance writing is one of the oldest genres although what many now regard as romance is not what it used to be. Traditional romance is also sometimes called heroic literature as if often depicts a hero who embarks on an epic journey. These were often knights and some of the stories were told in verse.

Many later romance novels of the 1800s centred on the couple who become united and their enduring love which survives in the face of adversity. These earlier forms of romance are quite far removed from the modern romance novel, which really represents a subgenre of romance. These are generally love stories which must always end with a satisfactory and happy conclusion.


All of the genres discussed above are used within the main divisions of literature e.g. writing novels, poems, stage plays and shows, but there are other genres that are used in the commercial world.

Creative Marketing 

Creative marketing can include advertising slogans, advertising jingles, press releases, articles about products, or articles about celebrities and famous people.  

The aim of creative marketing is to sell a product, so it needs to be persuasive and attract the attention of customers. For instance, if a company wishes to promote a new perfume we may:

  • See a television advertisement for the new perfume\
  • Read a story about a celebrity who endorses the new perfume
  • Read blogs online recommending the perfume.  

Many people around the world will be familiar with marketing campaigns for a men’s fragrance called 'Lynx'.  Spraying it on makes men (apparently) irresistible to women.  There have been many different advertising campaigns, depicting distinctly unattractive men who upon wearing the fragrance become mobbed by attractive female admirers. The advertisements are clearly intended to be humorous but they do deliver the message – using lynx will mean women will desire you!  

 A range of books covering all styles of writing can be found at the bookshop.