Secrets of Creative Writing

In modern writing paragraph plays the prominent role whether it is a memorandum, a letter, an essay, a criticism, a short story, a novel or any other category of writing. We have already discussed the basics of paragraph writing. In this lesson, we are going to discuss the methods used by best writers in their work. If you follow these lessons well and read the great writers, you will be able to go deeper into this wonderful language and feel the beauty and the warmth of English.

Paragraph Coherence

We give coherence to a piece of writing when we make the relationship among the ideas in it perfectly clear to the reader. The relationship among the sentences should be grammatically and logically clear. Four main devices are used by writers to give coherence to their ideas in one paragraph. They are the use of pronouns, connectives, synonyms, and repetition in the paragraph.

Using Pronouns

The use of pronouns is the main way of giving coherence to connected discourse. A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun previously mentioned. Hence, it automatically refers to the reader’s mind to  a noun already stated in a sentence in the paragraph.
A certain king had a beautiful garden, and in it stood a tree. It bore golden apples. They were always counted, and about the time when they began to grow ripe, he found that every night one of them was gone. He became very angry at this and ordered the gardener to keep watch all night under the tree.

In this short paragraph the pronouns always refers to a noun previously mentioned.
The first ‘it’ refers to a garden
The second ‘It’ refers to a tree
refers to apples
refers to A king
At the end of the paragraph ‘the tree’ is repeated to emphasize.

Each pronoun must have a distinct and unmistakable antecedent, one not remote from the pronoun itself.

(a). If you throw it, I will catch the ball.
In this sentence the pronoun ‘it’ doesn’t give any meaning because there is no antecedent to it. The sentence should be reconstructed as:
If you throw the ball, I will catch it. Or I will catch the ball if you throw it.

(b) I saw a snake, cycling down the road.
This sentence gives the idea as if the snake was cycling down the road. We can reconstruct this sentence as:
(i) Cycling down the road I saw a snake.
(ii) I saw a snake while I was cycling down the road.

(c) Once an old man and his son lived in a little house in the country. One day, he left the house early in the morning to visit his brother living in the city.

The Pronoun ‘he’ in the second sentence is ambiguous. We can’t guess whether the old man left the house or his son left the house. Our doubt can be cleared by repeating the noun in the first sentence.
(i) One day the old man left the house … or
(ii) One day the old man’s son left the house …

Using Connectives

We use connectives as a more subtle cohesive device than pronouns. Such adverbs as consequently, hence, however, meanwhile, moreover, nevertheless, therefore, thus are called transitional adverbs. These are used absolutely- that is, they have no grammatical function in the sentences in which they appear but still have a logical relationship with the ideas presented in the paragraph.

Study how transitional adverbs are used in the following sentences.

(i) She is a bright student, consequently she should get along very well.
(Here the two independent clauses are joined to make a compound sentence by the transitional adverb ‘consequently’. Though it has no logical relationship to the sentence, it provides internal coherence.)

(ii) The main opposition party is badly divided and hence it is very weak now.

(iii) The weather was bad. However they managed to finish the work before sunset.

(iv) The fight between the army and the terrorists went on. Meanwhile the government was seeking ways for a negotiated settlement.

(v) He noticed a stranger was following him closely. Moreover he saw the man  was armed with a pistol.

(vi) I know that he is an honest trader. Nevertheless, I can’t believe what he says about the product  for he isn’t the producer.

(vii) It’s a sunny day today. It is therefore a good day for going swimming.

(viii) We have already studied all aspects of the situation. Thus we should be able to come to a final decision about it.

Now read this paragraph and see how connectives are used to give coherence to writing.

English is only one of some three thousand languages which are spoken today. They differ greatly from one another, and these very differences – so great as to make them mutually unintelligible- allow us to call them separate languages. Yet these differences, great as they are, are merely differences in detail – in the kind of sounds used and the ways of putting the sounds together. For in their broad outlines and basic principles they have a great deal in common. Therefore it is possible to make observations about languages in general which will give us a better understanding of our own tongue. In short, to study languages is to learn English.

The connectives used here are: Yet, For, Therefore, In short.

Using Synonyms

Synonyms are merely substitute words for words already used which have similar meanings. When the writer wants to avoid using the same word in several places in the paragraph, he employs synonyms
(i)         An explosion rocked the buildings in the city center this morning. The blast could be heard six mils away.
explosion = blast

(ii)        The vessels were anchored in the fishing harbor. Most of the boats were destroyed in the Tsunami disaster.
vessels = boats

(iii)       Although the motion picture of today has advanced technologically, the old silent films needed more thinking in the making of them. The movie industry has lost its place with the introduction of Television.
motion pictures = films = movie

Using Repetition

We use repetition to give coherence in writing. Not only coherence but also emphasis can be gain by repeating the same word in the same paragraph several times.
(i)         Style is a way of writing. Style is a good way of writing. Style is the writer, the man himself.

(ii)        I can’t marry you unless my father gives me permission. And permission is something which he does not give willingly because he doesn’t believe in love marriage.

(iii)       Turning the soil over  is very important. This is the first work in the paddy cultivation. This is the most difficult work of the farmer indeed.

Seated in this verandah we watched the last rays of the sun as it set. I had always thought that the seaside was the place from which to see the sunset.  I thought differently that evening at Etampitiya rest house.  It was in fact the most glorious sunset I ever beheld , and this opinion was fully endorsed by the other visitors.  This scene was sufficient to impress one with awe and wonder at the magnificent sight that burst upon our view.  Colour? of almost wonderful brightness, mingled with exquisite taste, formed a picture to describe which would be too much for a better pen than mine. Five minutes pass, and the scene increases in brightness, as the sun sinks in all its splendour into obscurity.  One minute more, nay hardly one, and all is done.  If it is true that the darkest how precedes the dawn, it is also true that the brightest hour precedes the dark hour of the night.  For no sooner did the last traces of the sun vanish from our sight, than it seemed as if the curtain had fallen on a scene of surpassing glory and we were left to feel more than ever our solitude and utter insignificance.
– L.E. Blaze’s “Good English”

Paragraph Emphasis

When the writer wants to make important points clearly appear to be important and relatively unimportant points clearly appear to be subordinate he uses emphasis. The reader must be able to understand quickly and clearly what the writer regards as highly important from what he thinks less important. If a writer can’t do this, the reader might think that all the statements in the paragraph are equally important. So the writer doesn’t fulfill the most important requirement of the paragraph; that is presenting a central thought.

Important ways of giving emphasis to your paragraph are:

1. Giving more space to the central idea.

2. Repeating ideas you want to emphasize.

3. Using parallelism (Making one sentence emphasizing two or more ideas giving equal importance by placing them side by side.)

4. Placing the most important idea or ideas in emphatic position within the paragraph.

5. Using contrast ( Employing negative side of an issue to emphasize the positive side.)

Now read the following examples to these five devices.

1. Giving more space

Social standards
And we can extend the principle of standards to the mind as well as the body. The most obvious and necessary is a standard of education.  We can set two sorts of -standards here.   First,  a minimum standard below which no one is allowed to fall, in the shape of so many years of elementary education in such and such subjects.  And -secondly,  and  in  a  way  even  more important, a standard of equal opportunity for all, to ensure that no boy or girl is deprived of the chance of climbing to the top of the educational ladder through poverty or the accidents of birth.
– by Julian Huxley

You can clearly see in this paragraph that more space has been given to the central idea of standard of education.

2. Repeating ideas

Social standards
There are also standards of economic security.  During the recent past, the sense of .insecurity has been the greatest single cause, both of individual anxiety and frustration, and of social instability and unrest.  A social service State must see to it that it gives to all its citizens minimum standards of security against ill-health, against unemployment, against widowhood, against old age. A man cannot be a good citizen nor do himself justice as an individual if he lives in a nightmare of frustration and anxiety about losing his job, if he has only a bleak and unprovided old age to look forward to, if he is afraid to be treated for ill-health for fear of the economic effects on his family.’ But do not let us forget that the final step must be to provide security against unemployment by getting rid of unemployment itself, to provide security against ill-health by making positive good health the rule. And of course there are also standards of civil liberty.  In Britain those have been fairly well established—we have quite high standards for freedom of the press, for freedom of belief, for freedom of assembly and of individual opinion, for freedom of the person against arbitrary arrest or secret police action, for freedom from torture or other cruel methods.  But it is still necessary to guard these jealously against any encroachment.
– by Julian Huxley

The central idea of this paragraph is the minimum standards of security of a citizen in a country and the subordinate idea is the freedom which reinforces the central idea. The words security and freedom are repeated several times by the writer to emphasize the two main ideas in the paragraph.

Type is to the printer what soil is to the farmer – the foundation from which every process starts. Type has an elemental quality. It is primal and fundamental. Printing is the bringing together of type, ink, and paper, in order to transmit thought at a distance in time and space. The ink and the paper are mere tools; type is the essence of printing itself.

The word ‘Type’ is repeated throughout the paragraph.

3. Using parallelism

Another method of attaining emphasis is parallelism. It is more mechanical in nature than the device of repetition because it depend upon the construction of the sentences in the paragraph.

Parallelism (or the parallel construction) is a grammatical device that insures the fact that the coordination of ideas is made obvious to the reader. It may involve single words, phrases, clauses, and whole sentences.

Now examine the following sentences in which parallelism is used to attain emphasis.

(a) Words
God made the country; man made the town.
You are like a tiger; he is like a lamb.
Man proposes; God disposes.
Not that I loved Caesar less; but that I loved Rome more.
Prosperity doth best discover vice; but adversity doth best discover virtue.

(b) Phrases
To gain here you must lose there.

(c) Sentences
Because it was raining, we decided to stay indoors.

The following paragraph shows how parallelism is used to maintain a relationship between the two ideas

In the works of the two authors we may read their manners and natural inclinations, which are wholly different. Virgil was of a quiet, sedate temper; Homer was violent, impetuous, and full of fire. The chief talent of Virgil was propriety of thoughts and ornament of words: Homer was rapid in his thoughts, and took all the liberties both of numbers and of expressions which his language and the age in which he lived allowed him. Homer’s invention was more copious, Virgil’s more confined:  so that if Homer had not led the way, it was not in Virgil to have begun heroic poetry: For nothing can be more evident than that the Roman poem is but the second part of the lllad, a continuation of the same story, and the persons already formed: the manners of Aeneas are those of Hector superadded to those which Homer gave him.
– by John Dryden

Passages for Comprehension

You can improve your language skills only by reading the classical literature. The following extracts taken from the works of creative writers will help you to admire the beauty of English. Read these passages and translate them into your mother tongue.

A poor relation

A poor relation—is the most irrelevant thing in nature, — a piece of impertinent correspondency, —an odious approximation, —a haunting conscience, —a preposterous shadow, lengthening in the noontide of our prosperity, —an unwelcome remembrance, perpetually recurring mortification, —a drain on your purse, —a more intolerable dune upon your pride, — a drawback upon success, — a rebuke to your rising, — a stain in your blood, —a blot on your  ‘escutcheon, —a rent in your garment, —a death’s head at your banquet, —Agathocles’ pot, —a Mordecai in your gate, —a Lazarus at your door, —a lion in your path, -a frog in your chamber, —a fly in your ointment, —a mote in your eye, —a triumph in your enemy, —an apology to your friends, —the one thing not needful, — the hail in harvest, — the ounce of sour in a pound of sweet.

– by Charles Lamb

The Scholar Gipsy

There was very lately a lad in the University of Oxford, who was by his poverty forced to leave his studies there; and at last to join himself to a company of vagabond gipsies. Among these extravagant people, he quickly got so much of their love and esteem as that they discovered to him their mystery. After he had been a pretty while well exercised in the trade, there chanced to ride by a couple of scholars, who had formerly been of his acquaintance. They quickly spied out their old friend among the gipsies; and he gave them an account of the necessity which drove him to that kind of life, and told them that the people he went with were not such impostors as they were taken for, but that they had a traditional kind of learning among them, and could do wonders by the power of imagination, their fancy binding that of others: that himself had learned much of their art, and when he had compassed the whole secret, he intended, he said, to leave their company, and give the world an account of what he had learned.

of Dogmatizing, 1661.

On Speaking French

I doubt if I shall ever be able to speak French. The longer I stay in the country the more difficult I find it to make myself understood. The other day I was bitten by a mosquito-in fact, by several mosquitoes. I went into a chemist’s for a cure and startled him by telling him that I had been stabbed by a musketeer. The only kind of conversation I can carry on in French for any considerable time is the kind I have with the old woman of eighty who looks after the chalet. She says: “Good day, sir.” I reply, “Good day; madam: ‘She says: “It is .beautiful weather.” I reply: “Yes, very beautiful: ‘She says: “It is sweet “I reply. “ Yes, yes, very sweet: ‘She waves her arm ecstatically towards the sky and says: “The sun” and something else I cannot understand I smile back and say: “Yes, yes, it is warm.” She replies: “Very warm.” I say: “This is a beautiful place.” She replies: “Yes, sir, very beautiful. The sea is beautiful.” I say: “Yes, yes, very beautiful. The butterflies are jolly.” She agrees: “Yes, sir, very jolly.”

You would hardily realize from this rough translation how extremely enthusiastic, fluent, and satisfying a conversation of this kind can be. By the end of it I feel in a curiously exalted mood as though I had been collaborating in a beautiful poem.

Anybody, indeed, has only to say to me (in French) “The Sea is beautiful,” in order to send a wave of happiness through me as though I were listening to Sarah Bernhardt speaking verse. The French, indeed, have very beautiful voices or it may be very beautiful intonations. The only fault I find with them as conversationalists is that they cannot understand my French. The barber who cut my hair certainly cannot have understood it. Before going into his shop I was careful to look up the word “trim “ in my dictionary, and read the following :

Trim, v.a., ajuster; (to decorate) parer de; (to lop) emon der; (to clip) tailler; (nav.) (the hold) arrimer; (the sails) orienter; (a lamp) preparer; (a garment) garnir. v.n. hesiter; balancer entre deux partis.

Without much hesitation I decided on the word “tailler.” I tried the barber both with that and with “pas trop court,” and he assented volubly.

I do not know whether there may have been something wrong with my pronunciation, but in two minutes the barber had shorn one side of my head bald and was running up the back of my head with one of those terrible hand mowing machines that leave the victim only his eyes to weep with. He then showed me the back of my head reflected in a hand mirror, and, as he looked so pleased and I was not sufficient master of French to tell him what I thought of him, I said gloomily: “C’est beau.” Never had I seen so cropped and criminal a type as’ now confronted me in the looking-glass. I could only stare at it with horror, and, by the time the barber wanted to shampoo me, I could not even summon up the French for “No:’

I was sorry for this a few moments afterwards. Because the barber, having soaped my head, began to fill an immense tin ewer with boiling water, and I realized that I was going to be the sufferer. In England the barber has a hose, with which he is able to modulate the temperature of the water, but in France, apparently, the only alternatives are a kettleful of boiling water or no hot water at all.

I still think that I deserve the Victoria Cross because I did not scream. I have never felt anything to compare with that scalding Niagara. I dared not even cry “Mercy,” for fear of being misunderstood. I had only enough vitality left to shout “None” when the barber offered to singe me. Even my shouts of “Non” did not stop him when he offered me what he called a                    “Lubrication” and began to rub it into chevelure. But by that time I hadn’t any “chevelure” left.

How glad I was to get back to the old woman who told me that the sea was beautiful. “Yes, yes,” I said, “very beautiful.” “The air,” she said,” is very sweet.” “Yes,” I agreed, “very, vety sweet.” “And the sun,” she said, making a gesture towards the sky. “Yes, yes,” I answered,” the sun is very warm, the weather is very beautiful, and the barbers are very jolly.”



Crime begins in poverty; poverty in insufficiency of food; insufficiency of food in neglect of agriculture. Without agriculture, man has no tie to bind him to the soil. Without such tie, he readily leaves his birth-place and his home.  He is like unto the birds of the air or the beasts of the field.  Neither battlemented cities, nor deep moats, nor harsh laws, nor cruel punishments, can subdue this roving spirit that is strong within him.

He who is cold examines not the quality of cloth: he who is hungry tarries not for choice meats. When cold and hunger come upon men, honesty and shame depart. As man is constituted, he must eat twice daily, or hunger; he must wear clothes, or be cold.  And if the stomach cannot get food and the body clothes, the love of the fondest mother cannot keep her children at her side.  How then should a sovereign keep his subjects gathered round him? The wise ruler knows this.  Therefore he concentrates the energies of his people upon agriculture.  He levies light taxes.  He extends the system of grain storage, to provide for his subjects at times when their resources fail. Man makes for grain, just as water flows of necessity in the direction of a lower level.

Gold,  silver,  and  jewels, are powerless to allay the pangs of hunger or to ward off the bitterness of cold; yet the  masses esteem these things because of  the  demand  for  them  among  their  betters.

The child is a poet, in fact, when he first plays at hide-and-seek, or repeats the story of Jack the Giant-killer;  the shepherd-boy is a poet when he first crowns his mistress with a garland of flowers ; the countryman when he stops to look at the rainbow; the city apprentice when he gazes after the Lord Mayor’s Show; the miser when he hugs his gold; the courtier who builds his hopes upon a smile ; the savage who paints his idol with blood; the slave who worships a tyrant or the tyrant who fancies himself a god—the vain, the ambitious, the proud, the choleric man, the hero and the coward, the beggar and the king, all live in a world of their own making; and the poet does no more than describe what all the others think and act.



When you come to a good book, you must ask yourself, “Am I inclined to work as an Australian miner would? Are my pickaxes and shovels in good order, and am I in .good trim, myself, my sleeves well up to the elbow, and my breath good, and my temper? “And, keeping the figure a little longer, even at cost of tiresomeness, for it is a thoroughly useful one, the metal you are in search of being the author’s mind or meaning, his words are as the rock which you have to crush and smelt in order to get at it.  And your pickaxe are your own care, wit, and learning ; your smelting furnace is your on thoughtful soul Do not hope to get at any author’s meaning without those tools and that fire ; often you will reed sharpest, finest chiseling, and patientest fusing, before you can gather one grain of the metal.