For some, artistry may consist of vivid colors, elaborate designs or compelling melodies. Others create art with words.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines creative writing as any form of writing outside of journalism, professional writing, academic writing or technical writing. Students demonstrate the complexities of storytelling through fiction, sharing their processes and what creative writing means to them.
“For me, it’s about writing something that’s believable but can be taken as a metaphor,” said Paducah junior Gabe Thomas. Thomas is an English secondary teaching major and a creative writing minor, as well as the social media manager of the Creative Writing Club.
Thomas said his writing journey began his sophomore year of high school with a story about time-traveling, identity-stealing robots. After discovering how easily he was able to pick up the craft of writing, he said he began to explore poetry as well, despite potentially facing judgment from his peers.
“I grew up playing soccer, and if the guys on the team knew I wrote poetry, they would’ve butchered me, but it was freeing to know that I could express my emotions in some way,” he said.
Thomas said his writing process starts with a simple idea and utilizing his imagination.
“A lot of writers feel they have this spontaneous feeling of, ‘Oh, I have to write this down,’ and it all comes to them in the moment, when really, that’s not the case for all writers,” Thomas said.
He said the most important part of world-building is originality, which he achieves by drawing inspiration from genre classics while adding his creative twist. He said he appreciates genres such as sci-fi and horror or authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King for their ability to create stories that are familiar but have unique elements.
“I think you can really tell when something’s special when it’s something you’ve never seen before,” he said.
Jeremiah Harris, a senior from Boston, Kentucky, shares an appreciation for Tolkien. As a computer science major, Harris’ love of world-building stems from creating games.
“I see it as a nice way to expand my views of the games I make and the stories that I’m trying to tell,” Harris said.
Harris said his writing process starts with a small idea, whether it be a part of a plot or a character. That idea evolves from questions such as, “What if?” or “How do I make this make sense?” He said this helps him create a believable story, which he views as the most important part of world-building.
“I’d say believability is the most important part of world-building. Not in the sense that everything has to be factually correct, it just has to make sense to the story,” he said.
While important, achieving believability is challenging, Harris said. He believes that when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi, to keep the story engaging, there should be boundaries within the world while still holding onto the traditional elements. For example, he said if someone creates an all-powerful being, there’s limited ways for characters to interact.
What helps him overcome that challenge is putting himself in the shoes of his characters, Harris said.
“I just sit down and think, ‘What would someone with this background do?’ or ‘If they wanted this thing, what would they do with this thing?’” he said.
Harris advises aspiring writers to step out of their comfort zones and explore other genres.
“I know a lot of people that get locked up and afraid to try different things when it comes to writing, and I just say go for it,” he said.
Nashville senior Hannah Levering describes her writing process as chaotic. Working toward a degree in creative writing, she starts by constructing a productive environment for herself, she said.
“I get a coffee; I listen to the ‘Animal Crossing’ music or some classical music, and I’m always sitting on the floor. That’s my best writing space,” she said.
Levering said the inspiration for most of her ideas comes from her favorite shows, movies and books such as the “Lunar Chronicles”series by Marissa Meyer and “American Horror Story.”
Levering said her main source of inspiration is her mom, who helped kick-start her writing journey.
“I’ve really been writing since I was 3. I would come up with little stories in my head, and my mom would write them down for me,” she said.
Levering said her biggest obstacle is writer’s block, which she overcomes by taking time to breathe and do things she enjoys such as playing video games and reading.
Levering said the most important part of storytelling is creating relatable characters, despite most of her characters being witches and vampires, as well as making them fun and interesting.
“I like to create a habitat for my characters to live and thrive in and even die in,” she said. “It’s like a little home for them to exist in and for the reader to go in as well.”
Pittsburg, California, senior Noah Gordon has experience with a broad spectrum of writing ranging from poetry and fiction to writing scripts for his YouTube channel, Infinite Dreams.
“I can really write anything, to be honest,” he said.
Gordon said he told stories from an early age with toys but dove into writing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Gordon has had his work published in Zephyrus, a fine arts magazine published annually by the English department.
He said much of his inspiration comes from movies and shows, especially anime. His first story was inspired by a game similar to Dungeons & Dragons and based on the show “HunterxHunter.”
Gordon said his fiction-writing process may seem complicated but is quite simple. He starts by creating an outline so that he knows the ending, before creating the world and its characters.
When world-building, Gordon lets the worlds come to life through his characters.
“I let the characters’ conversations build the world for me,” he said. “It just allows mystery and suspense for the readers.”
Gordon said the most important part of this process is consistency. For him, this includes creating a realistic timeline and having a knowledge of the world’s history.
“It can be whatever you want it to be, but it just has to make sense,” Gordon said.