I am fascinated by creative writing.

And by that, I don’t just mean that I am fascinated by creative stories, stories with fresh plots, quirky characters, and imaginative settings. I mean that I am fascinated with creative ways of writing those stories.

Here are 5 of the most creative ways to tell a story that I have come across:

Footnotes

These polite, numerical notes lend structure to even the most tangential thoughts. They develop your narrator’s personality and outlook, your characters, and your setting without distracting readers from the plot.

Use footnotes to:

  • set up a “stream-of-consciouness” undercurrent to your story
  • reveal your narrator’s perspective on their world (especially effective if the narrator is a savant or a master of wit or someone else with a unique perspective on life)
  • clarify elements of your story
  • engage your reader in a literal back-and-forth

Examples: Bartimaeus Trilogy, Jonathan Stroud; An Abundance of Katherines, John Greene

Choose-your-own adventure

What better way to engage your reader than to make them responsible for the way your story progresses? The choose-your-own adventure is an instant page turner, as readers make decision after decision, hoping to lead characters where they want them to go.

Use choose-your-own adventure to:

  • keep a younger audience entertained with interactive elements
  • instantly make your characters more sympathetic, as your readers are placed in their shoes when it comes time to respond to conflict
  • make a satirical statement, contrasting what could-have-been with what is

Examples: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris; RA Montgomery; Edward Packard

Faux abridgment

While I’ve only come across this nuanced take on the frame story twice, the genius of a faux abridgment was immediately evident. Posing your story as the abridged version of a non-existent work of classical literature allows you to pack your story with action and gloss over plot holes. Just say that part of the manuscript was lost or blurred by tear drops! What would be a gross oversight in another narrative form is like a jovial elbow-in-the ribs when you write a faux abridgment.

Use faux abridgment to:

  • comment on antiquated literary trends or social conventions by “cutting them out” of your abridged version
  • jumpstart your plot by skipping over snares
  • elevate your story on a “classical literature” platform

Examples: Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes; The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, William Goldman

Epic poem

Epic poems are a throwback to the dawn of literature and will always be in high company; The Odyssey, The Iliad, and Beowulf are all epic poems! Epic poems need not rhyme, but they do place emphasis on meter and are broken into verses.

Use epic poems to:

  • evoke a literary feel
  • transition from poetry to longform stories

Examples: The Fall of Arthur, JRR Tolkein; Fredy Neptune, Less Murray

The “Dear Reader” Approach

When you address the reader, your voice steps into your story as a character in and of itself. You become the reader’s personal guide around your world. You can influence readers to sympathize with some characters, laugh at others, and even glean the message behind your story.

Use the “dear reader” approach to:

  • sharpen your reader’s focus on important parts of your story
  • draw readers into analysing your characters, setting, and plot
  • make me read your book (I am a sucker for being called “dear reader!”)

Examples: The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein; The Tale of Desperaux, Kate D. Camillo; Peter Pan, JM Barrie

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