The 1st of November was National Authors Day, and we can’t thank them enough! We want to celebrate all the fantastic authors who have provided stories for us to read, share and enjoy year-after-year.

At the CAE we also champion aspiring writers by providing short-courses in writing and editing that cover fiction, non-fiction, screenwriting and much more.

To celebrate this month, we have put together some tips for creative writing plus included some of our favourite works of literary fiction.

Creative Forms

There are many ways to tell a story – that’s why it’s important to experiment with different forms to unlock creative potential and improve as a writer.

Short Fiction 

Short stories are self-contained works of prose fiction that have a beginning, middle and end. Successful short fiction should have a small cast of characters and can be anywhere between 1,500 to 7,500 words in length. Short fiction is challenging but perfect for beginners or for someone looking to improve their writing skills.

Writers need to develop all the elements of fiction writing like character, plot, tone, style, theme and structure in a short amount of time. It’s a great way to hone your writing skills and learn how to refine the elements of fiction storytelling.


Not for the faint hearted! Novels are large bodies of narrative prose that deal with a variety of subject matter and can be fictional or semi-fictional. They are characterized by length, with the average length for adult fiction being between 70, 000 – 120, 000 words. Novels tell specific stories of human experience and develop a complex portrait of events and characters.

Novels usually include a central protagonist and give an up-close and personal look into their life. Anyone who is interested in writing a novel should research on best practice and be organized, dedicated and disciplined.


Poetry is a versatile form of expression that can be written spoken or performed. Poetry relies on the lyrical arrangement of words to convey a thought, scene, feelings or stories. Poems are usually structured by stanzas, line spacing and rhyme, but can be free form and have no formal structure.

Poems have a long and distinguished history in literature and people still struggle to define the art form or agree on a singular definition. Poetry comprises many different forms, literary devices and jargon.

“Poetry is prose bewitched, a music made of visual thoughts, the sound of an idea.” – Mina Loy

Creative non-fiction

Creative non-fiction uses literary techniques to tell a true story, it begins with facts and uses narration, imagery, point of view, exposition, research and reporting. Most people would be aware of popular types of creative nonfiction like the memoir, personal essay, literary journalism or cultural critique—just to name a few.

Creative non-fiction is a great option for beginners because of how versatile the genre is, it also relies on facts, self-expression and introduces basic narrative techniques. The genre has cemented its position in literary culture with a huge market. This makes it a great opportunity for someone who wants to be published.

5 Tips for Creative Writing

  1. Read a wide variety of materials

Reading other peoples work will sharpen your own skills as a writer. It’s important to become familiar with different styles of writing and pay attention to how they use literary devices like voice, POV, structure, dialogue and so on. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to improve your own practice and breadth of knowledge.

  1. Routine: Write every day

Set aside time daily or weekly to write something down and don’t be discouraged if your work isn’t a masterpiece. It’s about practice and establishing routine, the more often you write the better it will get.

  1. Write what you know

Set yourself a realistic goal, especially if you’re just starting out. Authors who write historical fiction have to undergo hundreds of hours of research and intense scrutiny from publishers. It’s better to start simple and work your way up to larger projects. It can be about a conversation with a neighbour, an anecdote, current news story or an experience from your life reimagined into fiction.

  1. Show don’t tell

This is a writing technique that shows your readers expository details through actions, dialogue, and sensory details and characters emotions rather than explains every detail to them. Readers need to fill in the gaps themselves and be transported into the story by the characters feelings and actions. Basically it means you need to use imagery and action instead of narration to show readers what’s happening.

  1. Draft, draft and redraft!

It’s time to kill your darlings! That’s ‘write’ be brutal with your work and cut back any unnecessary words, scenes, dialogue and characters. Read it aloud and put yourself in the reader’s shoes, consider the structure, language, pace and how it would sound to a stranger.

Books that Inspire

The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald [B0308]

This is a richly textured, nuanced exploration of the darker side of the glamour of the Jazz Age. Seen through the eyes of outsider Nick, Jay Gatsby’s dream of the beautiful Daisy comes to symbolise the classic American dream.

Wild Swans by Jung Chung [B1397]

Three generations, three women’s stories in a period when the world’s most populous nation endured almost unimaginable change. One way to begin to comprehend the recent history of China is through individuals who find the courage to experience and to voice the enormities which are the stuff of their everyday lives. Long, but compulsively readable.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart [B2211}

When Theo is thirteen, a traumatic experience inextricably entwines his fate with a 17th-century Dutch painting. An engaging cast of characters moves between high society, the world of antiques, and a murky criminal underground in this beautifully readable exploration of love, loss and the messy business of being alive.

Normal People by Sally Ronny [B2293]

Connell and Marianne are from the same town, but their lives shouldn’t be this intertwined. Yet a relationship forms between them as they grow up and attend Trinity College in Dublin. An intelligent and thoughtful insight into the complexities of intimate relationships and an unflinching exploration about femininity and masculinity in a modern-day setting. The novel is sharp, the characters three-dimensional, the writing is intelligent and sure to provoke a great discussion on intimacy, relationships and so-called normality. Contains sexual content.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel [B1788]

A cargo ship carrying zoo animals flounders at sea, and Pi, a 16-year-old Indian boy, is stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra and a Bengal tiger. He must use all his daring and wit to survive. An engaging, dazzling novel.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood [B1556]

A large, complex fiction combining murder mystery with social comment on class and sexual relationships, and based on historical fact: a notorious murder case in Canada. Atwood explores the ambiguities of 16-year-old Grace Marks, and also brings her usual wit and insight to psychology, morality and the management of Victorian homes and prison

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert [B0107]

One of the great classics of world literature, this novel is about a young woman stultified by marriage and motherhood in a confined society. Its portrait of Madame Bovary and the bourgeois life of country town France in the 19th century is vivid and compelling reading.