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A Guide to English: Creative Writing

A guide to English created by Visiting Librarian Abe Nemon in 2022/2023.

Creative Writing


photo courtesy of Nic McPhee.

With your poetic license in your back pocket you can bypass research, right? Not really. Sometimes you need to check your facts for your fiction to work. Encountering something that is factually wrong can break the spell you've cast on your reader and throw them right out of the story. Besides, research can enrich your world-building and inspire you as you put your imagination to work.

Whether you are writing a literary novel, a poem, an essay, a book for young readers, or a multi-volume epic fantasy, your imaginary world sometimes needs an infusion of reality. What does this lonely stretch of highway in Arizona actually look like? Where could I find inspiration to jump-start this poem? What kind of treatment would my protagonist with PTSD get at a VA hospital? What kind of underwear did people wear back in the 1920s, because it needs to come off in this erotic scene.

Try browsing photos using Google Images or Flickr, delving into historical publications using Google Books, or viewing locations with Google Earth. People can be a great resource, too. Be prepared to make some phone calls, set up visits, or conduct interviews. Check with a librarian if you have factual or context questions you are having trouble answering. 

These resources will help you think about ways your writing can find support - both as you create something new and as you navigate the writing business.

Getting Published

Librarian's Note: These resources can help you find appropriate venues to submit your creative writing for publication. While it is true that there are more outlets than ever to get one's work published, and self-publishing (sometimes denigrated as the "vanity press") has yielded occasional success stories, it is wise to research publications and publishers before submitting, and observe Yog's law whenever possible.

Online Resources

Print Resources

Honing Your Craft

Online Resources

Print Resources

Fiction Writing

Writers on Writing

Writing Genre Fiction

Nonfiction Writing

Writing Poetry

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