How Writing Creative Essays Can Improve Your Fiction (with guest writer Piers Golden)

Are you ready to improve your fiction writing? Why not try your hand at a few creative essays?! In this article, guest writer Piers Golden explains how creative essays can help you improve your fiction writing game.

Hello, writers! Kristen here. Today, I'm thrilled to welcome fellow writer Piers Golden to the blog.

Piers Golden

Piers is currently a master's student in journalism at NYU and a blogger at, and today he's here to share the many ways in which writing creative non-fiction essays can prove to be a fresh way to exercise your fiction writing skills.

If you enjoy his article, make sure to connect with Piers and check out some of his other articles over on Facebook

Now, without any further ado, I'll let Piers take over his discussion on today's topic!


How Writing Creative Essays Can Improve Your Fiction...

Arguments have arisen over whether a writer can be both an exceptional novelist and an exceptional short story writer. It’s often believed that we’re either one or the other. Certainly that’s been the case in the past, but the truth is that the two skills are complementary. 

Of course, this article is going to focus on using creative essays to improve your novel. The difference between a creative essay and a short story is that creative essays are non-fiction. How does writing a creative non-fiction essay improve your fiction novel?

That’s what we’re going to look at today!


1. Improve Your Overall Writing Skills

Writing a novel is like running a marathon. Just as athletes need to stretch before a long run, creative essays are a great way to stretch your writing muscles before diving into the long, grueling novel. 

Creative essays also allow you to gain valuable practice in economic writing. You’ll learn to cut unnecessary elements, including excess exposition, wordy descriptions, and bloated backstory. You’ll get better at describing these things naturally rather than taking a reader through an entire chapter of backstory.

Use these exercises to get started today:

  • Write about a non-fiction niche that relates to something in your novel. For example, if you are writing a fantasy novel then you can write a creative essay focusing on a real castle.

  • Write about an historical event that relates to something in your novel. Using the same fantasy genre from above, you could write about a non-fiction religion that relates to one practiced in your novel.

These exercises will teach you to focus only on important information, making you a much better novelist. 


2. Get Better at Writing Scenes

One habit I’ve noticed when writing my own novel is that I tend to get caught up in the destination. I am so worried about ensuring each scene gets me from Point A to Point B that I forget about the scene itself. Fortunately, this is a habit that writing creative essays can fix. 

Creative essays focus on describing real events or ideas. You will learn to focus more on a scene itself rather than the destination. You will still have to get from Point A to Point B, but you’ll be doing so in a much more focused format. 

Try out these exercises for a bit of practice:

  • Choose a scene. Pick an object from that scene and write about it.

  • Choose a historical event that is similar to an event in your novel. It doesn’t have to directly relate. It just needs to be close. Write a creative essay about that event.

Getting caught up in the destination is a bad habit for novelists, but writing creative essays can help you stay grounded.


3. Become an Essay Writer For Your Characters

Another way to power-up your novel is to write a creative essay about an individual character in your novel. Pretend that they’re a real person and write an essay about them. Dig into the character’s backstory or explore side stories that might happen during your novel, but are never actually described. 

Creative essays are supposed to be non-fiction in nature. For this to work, you have to bring the character to life. That’s why it’s such a powerful method:

  • Choose a secondary character from your novel. Imagine them as a real historical figure and write an essay about their life.

Even though these essays are not going to be in your novel, they’ll help strengthen the book by giving you valuable insight into these characters. 


4. Creative Essays Help you Focus on Description

Creative essays are more focused; that’s one of the biggest reasons they make us better novelists. What separates bestselling novels from mediocre reads is their accuracy. Fiction must be believable. Scenes must be realistic and descriptions must be completely accurate

Try out these prompts to work on improving the descriptive writing in your fiction:  

  • Choose a location from your novel. Find a real life location that resembles it and write a creative essay about that location.

  • Write a creative essay about a skill that one of your characters might possess in your novel.

By trying out these prompts, you’ll learn to improve word selection and utilize your storytelling skills to write powerful descriptions, rather than spending pages boring readers with excessive exposition. 


5. Creative Essays Give You Self-Editing Practice

Rule one of writing a novel is to hire an editor! This is non-negotiable. With that said, you still need to develop your self-editing skills since it’s since you always want to send your editor your very best work. 

Creative essays provide you with a wonderful template for honing your self-editing skills. For example:

  • When editing your creative essay, track all changes and leave comments. Study it later to see exactly what types of edits you had to make. This will help you understand areas where your writing needs improvement.

It’s much easier to spot gaping holes and unnecessary descriptions in an essay than it is in a full-length novel, so make sure to give this prompt a try for a bit of self-editing practice.

The Bottom Line...

Creative essays are not simply a training ground for writing novels. Novelists can learn a lot of valuable skills by trying their hand at pretty much any type of non-fiction writing. Essays force us to use the most valuable writing skills. In addition, they make us exercise our minds.

By captivating readers with creative essays, you’ll be able to do even more with a full-length novel! 


Let's Chat!

Writers, I hope you enjoyed this guest article from Piers Golden today. A special thanks to Piers for stopping by and sharing these tips and fun writing exercises with us. I can't wait to try out some of these ideas this coming weekend.

If you have any questions about today's topic, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments below, and Piers or I will get back to you ASAP. Happy writing, friends!