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Steps to Success » Creativity

The Craft of Storytelling

What is the difference between writing and creative writing?

Today, I woke up at 7 pm. I brushed my teeth in the bathroom. I ate breakfast in the dining room. Then I left home and went to school. I went to school by bus. I went to class. Classes started at 9:00am. At noon, I ate lunch. I ate spinach and pork with rice. It was delicious…

When reading this short paragraph, you can tell it’s not creative writing. It is just writing – merely a list of things and events chained together. There’s no story, and it’s so dull that it would send you to sleep if I wrote any more of it!

So how do we write a story?

Although story writing can be fun and easy, writing a good story takes a lot of hard work.

Every story revolves around a major problem/dilemma that the main character faces. As the story progresses, readers are able to dive into the story itself and work through the problem with the main character. In order to make that an enjoyable and worthwhile pursuit for a reader, it’s our job as writers to plan, draft and edit our writing carefully.

Here are the four main elements you need to think about when planning and writing your story:

Character (Protagonist)

The main character (the protagonist) is the focus of the story, and your readers will need to connect strongly with him/her. Therefore, as writers, we need a detailed description for the protagonist. What does he/she look like? Do they have any distinctive features? What is his/her personality? What are his/her strengths and weaknesses?


Romance is different from horror, and horror is different from fantasy. It’s possible to blend genres together, but this needs to be done carefully. Readers of each genre have expectations of what will happen in a story. For example, if you’re writing a vampire horror story, the reader expects dark castles, spooky shadows and lots of blood! It will be very confusing for them if a vampire suddenly jumps into the sea and turns into a mermaid princess.


Setting refers to the place and time in which a story takes place. It’s the spooky castle and shadowy night time of a vampire horror story, or the sparky, sun-warmed ocean of a mermaid princess one. It serves as the backbone of the whole story as it is where the story is situated. It can create strong feelings in the reader, so you need to describe it clearly.


The problem in a story is the thing that the protagonist is fighting against. It could be an arch-enemy or even nature itself. In Harry Potter, we see Harry fighting against Voldemort. In Moana, we see Moana fighting against Te Kā, the burning one. Remember, the problem must be equally powerful or even more powerful than the protagonist. Usually, the problem is able to play against the protagonist’s weaknesses. Defeating the problem also helps the protagonist overcome their own weakness.

Work on these four elements and you’ll be able to write a really good story. Once you’ve mastered these, there are even more skills to master in order to write a great story. Being a writer means a lifetime of improvement. I hope you find that as encouraging as I do – there’s always a way to improve!


If you like story writing or want to improve your skills, join our popular Love to Write classes. Students from K3 to S3 develop a full range of writing skills and improve through regular, detailed feedback and encouragement.