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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Creative writing: Report or Story?

creative writingBy Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

Literary magazine Writer’s Digest raises this pertinent question this week: What distinguishes a report from a story in creative writing? In various venues, especially in academia, many seem to think of a story as a narrative that contains “those commonly accepted criteria—contains no crisis, no struggle, no discovery, no transformation in the life of the main character.” However Steven James tells us “it’s a report…., not a story.” Steven James is a contributor to WD.   

Steven has gone as far as quoting Aristotle of several centuries past when in his book Poetics he referred to a story as a long prose that does not only have “a beginning, a middle and an ending.” According to Aristotle, a story is an engaging narrative in which “the beginning is not [just] the first event in a series of three, but rather the emotionally engaging originating event. The middle is the natural and causally related consequence, and the end is the inevitable conclusive event.

In creative writing, it is not just telling a story, it is rather how you tell it. Thus comes the old saying: Show, don’t tell. In other words, the story must be told in a compelling and intriguing way. Whether it is romance, thriller, socially-driven, or political, the craftsmanship is the key. So, how do you craft your story?

Note: Dr. Ardain Isma is a novelist and teaching Cross-Cultural Studies at the University of North Florida. He is Editor-in-Chief of CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at publisher@csmsmagazine.org.  

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