A writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas. Writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, and essays as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers' texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well, often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.
The term "writer" is also used elsewhere in the arts – such as songwriter – but as a standalone "writer" normally refers to the creation of written language. Some writers work from an oral tradition.
Writers can produce material across a number of genres, fictional or non-fictional. Other writers use multiple media – for example, graphics or illustration – to enhance the communication of their ideas. Another recent demand has been created by civil and government readers for the work of non-fictional technical writers, whose skills create understandable, interpretive documents of a practical or scientific nature. Some writers may use images (drawing, painting, graphics) or multimedia to augment their writing. In rare instances, creative writers are able to communicate their ideas via music as well as words.
As well as producing their own written works, writers often write on how they write (that is, the process they use); why they write (that is, their motivation); and also comment on the work of other writers (criticism). Writers work professionally or non-professionally, that is, for payment or without payment and may be paid either in advance (or on acceptance), or only after their work is published. Payment is only one of the motivations of writers and many are never paid for their work.
The term writer is often used as a synonym of author, although the latter term has a somewhat broader meaning and is used to convey legal responsibility for a piece of writing, even if its composition is anonymous, unknown or collaborative.
Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, a Spanish writer depicted with the tools of the trade.
|Competencies||Language proficiency, grammar, literacy|
|Journalist, novelist, poet|
Writers choose from a range of literary genres to express their ideas. Most writing can be adapted for use in another medium. For example, a writer's work may be read privately or recited or performed in a play or film. Satire for example, may be written as a poem, an essay, a film, a comic play, or a piece of journalism. The writer of a letter may include elements of criticism, biography, or journalism.
Many writers work across genres. The genre sets the parameters but all kinds of creative adaptation have been attempted: novel to film; poem to play; history to musical. Writers may begin their career in one genre and change to another. For example, historian William Dalrymple began in the genre of travel literature and also writes as a journalist. Many writers have produced both fiction and non-fiction works and others write in a genre that crosses the two. For example, writers of historical romances, such as Georgette Heyer, invent characters and stories set in historical periods. In this genre, the accuracy of the history and the level of factual detail in the work both tend to be debated. Some writers write both creative fiction and serious analysis, sometimes using different names to separate their work. Dorothy Sayers, for example, wrote crime fiction but was also a playwright, essayist, translator, and critic.
Poets make maximum use of the language to achieve an emotional and sensory effect as well as a cognitive one. To create these effects, they use rhyme and rhythm and they also exploit the properties of words with a range of other techniques such as alliteration and assonance. A common theme is love and its vicissitudes. Shakespeare's famous love story Romeo and Juliet, for example, written in a variety of poetic forms, has been performed in innumerable theatres and made into at least eight cinematic versions. John Donne is another poet renowned for his love poetry.
Novelists write novels – stories that explore universal themes through fiction. They situate invented characters and plots in a narrative designed to be both credible and entertaining.
Every novel worthy of the name is like another planet, whether large or small, which has its own laws just as it has its own flora and fauna. Thus, Faulkner's technique is certainly the best one with which to paint Faulkner's world, and Kafka's nightmare has produced its own myths that make it communicable. Benjamin Constant, Stendhal, Eugène Fromentin, Jacques Rivière, Radiguet, all used different techniques, took different liberties, and set themselves different tasks.
François Mauriac, novelist
A satirist uses wit to ridicule the shortcomings of society or individuals, with the intent of exposing stupidity. Usually, the subject of the satire is a contemporary issue such as ineffective political decisions or politicians, although human vices such as greed are also a common and universal subject. Philosopher Voltaire wrote a satire about optimism called Candide, which was subsequently turned into an opera, and many well known lyricists wrote for it. There are elements of Absurdism in Candide, just as there are in the work of contemporary satirist Barry Humphries, who writes comic satire for his character Dame Edna Everage to perform on stage.
Satirists use various techniques such as irony, sarcasm, and hyperbole to make their point and they choose from the full range of genres – the satire may be in the form of prose or poetry or dialogue in a film, for example. One of the most famous satirists is Jonathan Swift who wrote the four-volume work Gulliver's Travels and many other satires, including A Modest Proposal and The Battle of the Books.
A short story writer is a writer of short stories, works of fiction that can be read in a single sitting.
Libretti (the plural of libretto) are the texts for musical works such as operas. The Venetian poet and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, for example, wrote the libretto for some of Mozart's greatest operas. Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa were Italian librettists who wrote for Giacomo Puccini. Most opera composers collaborate with a librettist but unusually, Richard Wagner wrote both the music and the libretti for his works himself.
Chi son? Sono poeta. Che cosa faccio? Scrivo. E come vivo? Vivo.
Usually writing in verses and choruses, a lyricist specializes in writing lyrics, the words that accompany or underscore a song or opera. Lyricists also write the words for songs. In the case of Tom Lehrer, these were satirical. Lyricist Noël Coward, who wrote musicals and songs such as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and the recited song "I Went to a Marvellous Party", also wrote plays and films and performed on stage and screen as well. Writers of lyrics, such as these two, adapt other writers' work as well as create entirely original pieces.
Making lyrics feel natural, sit on music in such a way that you don't feel the effort of the author, so that they shine and bubble and rise and fall, is very, very hard to do.
Stephen Sondheim, lyricist
A playwright writes plays which may or may not be performed on a stage by actors. A play's narrative is driven by dialogue. Like novelists, playwrights usually explore a theme by showing how people respond to a set of circumstances. As writers, playwrights must make the language and the dialogue succeed in terms of the characters who speak the lines as well as in the play as a whole. Since most plays are performed, rather than read privately, the playwright has to produce a text that works in spoken form and can also hold an audience's attention over the period of the performance. Plays tell "a story the audience should care about", so writers have to cut anything that worked against that. Plays may be written in prose or verse. Shakespeare wrote plays in iambic pentameter as does Mike Bartlett in his play King Charles III (2014).
Playwrights also adapt or re-write other works, such as plays written earlier or literary works originally in another genre. Famous playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen or Anton Chekhov have had their works adapted many times. The plays of early Greek playwrights Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus are still performed. Adaptations of a playwright's work may be faithful to the original or creatively interpreted. If the writers' purpose in re-writing the play is to produce a film, they will have to prepare a screenplay. Shakespeare's plays, for example, while still regularly performed in the original form, are often adapted and abridged, especially for the cinema. An example of a creative modern adaptation of a play that nonetheless used the original writer's words, is Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet. The amendment of the name to Romeo + Juliet indicates to the audience that the version will be different from the original. Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a play inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet that takes two of Shakespeare's most minor characters and creates a new play in which they are the protagonists.
Player: It's what the actors do best. They have to exploit whatever talent is given to them, and their talent is dying. They can die heroically, comically, ironically, slowly, suddenly, disgustingly, charmingly or from a great height.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Act Two)
Screenwriters write a screenplay – or script – that provides the words for media productions such as films, television programs and video games. Screenwriters may start their careers by writing the screenplay speculatively; that is, they write a script with no advance payment, solicitation or contract. On the other hand, they may be employed or commissioned to adapt the work of a playwright or novelist or other writer. Self-employed writers who are paid by contract to write are known as freelancers and screenwriters often work under this type of arrangement.
Screenwriters, playwrights and other writers are inspired by the great themes and often use similar and familiar plot devices to explore them. For example, in Shakespeare's Hamlet is a "play within a play", which the hero uses to demonstrate the king's guilt. Hamlet gains the co-operation of the actors to set up the play as a thing "wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king". teleplay writer Joe Menosky deploys the same "play within a play" device in an episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager. The bronze-age playwright/hero enlists the support of a Star Trek crew member to create a play that will convince the ruler (or "patron" as he is called), of the futility of war.
A speechwriter prepares the text for a speech to be given before a group or crowd on a specific occasion and for a specific purpose. They are often intended to be persuasive or inspiring, such as the speeches given by skilled orators like Cicero; charismatic or influential political leaders like Nelson Mandela; or for use in a court of law or parliament. The writer of the speech may be the person intended to deliver it, or it might be prepared by a person hired for the task on behalf of someone else. Such is the case when speechwriters are employed by many senior-level elected officials and executives in both government and private sectors.
Biographers write an account of another person's life. Richard Ellmann (1918–1987), for example, was an eminent and award-winning biographer whose work focused on the Irish writers James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, and Oscar Wilde. For the Wilde biography, he won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
Critics consider and assess the extent to which a work succeeds in its purpose. The work under consideration may be literary, theatrical, musical, artistic, or architectural. In assessing the success of a work, the critic takes account of why it was done – for example, why a text was written, for whom, in what style, and under what circumstances. After making such an assessment, critics write and publish their evaluation, adding the value of their scholarship and thinking to substantiate any opinion. The theory of criticism is an area of study in itself: a good critic understands and is able to incorporate the theory behind the work they are evaluating into their assessment. Some critics are already writers in another genre. For example, they might be novelists or essayists. Influential and respected writer/critics include the art critic Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) and the literary critic James Wood (born 1965), both of whom have books published containing collections of their criticism. Some critics are poor writers and produce only superficial or unsubstantiated work. Hence, while anyone can be an uninformed critic, the notable characteristics of a good critic are understanding, insight, and an ability to write well.
We can claim with at least as much accuracy as a well-known writer claims of his little books, that no newspaper would dare print what we have to say. Are we going to be very cruel and abusive, then? By no means: on the contrary, we are going to be impartial. We have no friends – that is a great thing – and no enemies.
Charles Baudelaire, introducing his Review of the Paris Salon of 1845
An editor prepares literary material for publication. The material may be the editor's own original work but more commonly, an editor works with the material of one or more other people. There are different types of editor. Copy editors format text to a particular style and/or correct errors in grammar and spelling without changing the text substantively. On the other hand, an editor may suggest or undertake significant changes to a text to improve its readability, sense or structure. This latter type of editor can go so far as to excise some parts of the text, add new parts, or restructure the whole. The work of editors of ancient texts or manuscripts or collections of works results in differing editions. For example, there are many editions of Shakespeare's plays by notable editors who also contribute original introductions to the resulting publication. Editors who work on journals and newspapers have varying levels of responsibility for the text – they may write original material, in particular, editorials; select what is to be included from a range of items on offer; format the material; or check its accuracy.
Encyclopaedists create organised bodies of knowledge. Denis Diderot (1713–1784) is renowned for his contributions to the Encyclopédie. The encyclopaedist Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590) was a Franciscan whose Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España is a vast encyclopedia of Mesoamerican civilisation, commonly referred to as the Florentine Codex, after the Italian manuscript library which holds the best preserved copy.
Essayists write essays, which are original pieces of writing of moderate length in which the author makes a case in support of an opinion. They are usually in prose, but some writers have used poetry to present their argument.
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. The purpose of a historian is to employ historical analysis to create coherent narratives that explain "what happened" and "why or how it happened". Professional historians typically work in colleges and universities, archival centers, government agencies, museums, and as freelance writers and consultants. Edward Gibbon's six volume History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire influenced the development of historiography.
Writers who create dictionaries are called lexicographers. One of the most famous is Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), whose Dictionary of the English Language was regarded not only as a great personal scholarly achievement but was also dictionary of such pre-eminence, that would have been referred to by such writers as Jane Austen.
Researchers and scholars who write about their discoveries and ideas sometimes have profound effects on society. Scientists and philosophers are good examples because their new ideas can revolutionise the way people think and how they behave. Three of the best known examples of such a revolutionary effect are Nicolaus Copernicus, who wrote De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543); Charles Darwin, who wrote On the Origin of Species (1859); and Sigmund Freud, who wrote The Interpretation of Dreams (1899).
These three highly influential, and initially very controversial, works changed the way people understood their place in the world. Copernicus's heliocentric view of the cosmos displaced humans from their previously accepted place at the centre of the universe; Darwin's evolutionary theory placed humans firmly within, as opposed to above, the order of nature; and Freud's ideas about the power of the unconscious mind overcame the belief that humans were consciously in control of all their own actions.
Translators have the task of finding some equivalence in another language to a writer's meaning, intention and style. Translators whose work has had very significant cultural effect include Al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf ibn Maṭar, who translated Elements from Greek into Arabic and Jean-François Champollion, who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs with the result that he could publish the first translation of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822. Difficulties with translation are exacerbated when words or phrases incorporate rhymes, rhythms, or puns; or when they have connotations in one language that are non-existent in another. For example, the title of Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier is supposedly untranslatable because "no English adjective will convey all the shades of meaning that can be read into the simple [French] word 'grand' which takes on overtones as the story progresses." Translators have also become a part of events where political figures who speak different languages meet to look into the relations between countries or solve political conflicts. It is highly critical for the translator to deliver the right information as a drastic impact could be caused if any error occurred.
Even if translation is impossible – we have no choice but to do it: to take the next step and start translating. ... The translator's task is to make us either forget or else enjoy the difference.
Robert Dessaix, translator, author
Writers of blogs, which have appeared on the World Wide Web since the 1990s, need no authorisation to be published. The contents of these short opinion pieces or "posts" form a commentary on issues of specific interest to readers who can use the same technology to interact with the author, with an immediacy hitherto impossible. The ability to link to other sites means that some blog writers – and their writing – may become suddenly and unpredictably popular. Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani education activist, rose to prominence because of her blog for BBC.
A blog writer is using the technology to create a message that is in some ways like a newsletter and in other ways, like a personal letter. "The greatest difference between a blog and a photocopied school newsletter, or an annual family letter photocopied and mailed to a hundred friends, is the potential audience and the increased potential for direct communication between audience members". Thus, as with other forms of letter, the writer knows some of the readers, but one of the main differences is that "some of the audience will be random" and "that presumably changes the way we [writers] write." It has been argued that blogs owe a debt to Renaissance essayist Michel de Montaigne, whose Essais ("attempts"), were published in 1580, because Montaigne "wrote as if he were chatting to his readers: just two friends, whiling away an afternoon in conversation".
Columnists write regular pieces for newspapers and other periodicals, usually containing a lively and entertaining expression of opinion. Some columnists have had collections of their best work published as a collection in a book, so that readers can re-read what would otherwise be no longer available. Columns are quite short pieces of writing so columnists often write in other genres as well. An example is the columnist Elizabeth Farrelly, who besides being a columnist, is also an architecture critic and author of books.
Writers who record their experiences, thoughts or feelings in a sequential form over a period of time in a diary are known as diarists. Their writings can provide valuable insights into historical periods, specific events or individual personalities. Examples include Samuel Pepys (1633–1703), an English administrator and Member of Parliament, whose detailed private diary provides eyewitness accounts of events during the 17th century, most notably of the Great Fire of London. Anne Frank (1929–1945) was a 13-year-old girl whose diary from 1942 to 1944 records both her experiences as a persecuted Jew in World War II and an adolescent dealing with intra-family relationships.
Journalists write reports about current events after investigating them and gathering information. Some journalists write reports about predictable or scheduled events such as social or political meetings. Others are investigative journalists who need to undertake considerable research and analysis in order to write an explanation or account of something complex that was hitherto unknown or not understood. Often investigative journalists are reporting criminal or corrupt activity which puts them at risk personally and means that what it is likely that attempts may be made to attack or suppress what they write. An example is Bob Woodward, a journalist who investigated and wrote about criminal activities by the US President.
Journalism ... is a public trust, a responsibility, to report the facts with context and completeness, to speak truth to power, to hold the feet of politicians and officials to the fire of exposure, to discomfort the comfortable, to comfort those who suffer.
Geoffrey Barker, journalist.
Writers of memoirs produce accounts from the memories of their own lives, which are deemed unusual, important, or scandalous enough to be of interest to general readers. Although intended to be factual, readers are alerted to the likelihood of some inaccuracies or bias towards an idiosyncratic perception by the choice of genre. A memoir, for example, is allowed to have a much more selective set of experiences than an autobiography which is expected to be more complete and make a greater attempt at balance. Famous memoirists include Frances Vane, Viscountess Vane, and Giacomo Casanova.
Ghostwriters write for, or in the style of, someone else so the credit goes to the person on whose behalf the writing is done.
Writers of letters use a reliable form of transmission of messages between individuals, and surviving sets of letters provide insight into the motivations, cultural contexts, and events in the lives of their writers. Peter Abelard (1079–1142), philosopher, logician, and theologian is known not only for the heresy contained in some of his work, and the punishment of having to burn his own book, but also for the letters he wrote to Héloïse d'Argenteuil (1090?–1164).
The letters (or epistles) of Paul the Apostle were so influential that over the 2000 years of Christian history, Paul became "second only to Jesus in influence and the amount of discussion and interpretation generated".
Report writers are people who gather information, organise and document it so that it can be presented to some person or authority in a position to use it as the basis of a decision. Well-written reports influence policies as well as decisions. For example, Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) wrote reports that were intended to effect administrative reform in matters concerning health in the army. She documented her experience in the Crimean War and showed her determination to see improvements: "...after six months of incredible industry she had put together and written with her own hand her Notes affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army. This extraordinary composition, filling more than eight hundred closely printed pages, laying down vast principles of far-reaching reform, discussing the minutest detail of a multitude of controversial subjects, containing an enormous mass of information of the most varied kinds – military, statistical, sanitary, architectural" became for a long time, the "leading authority on the medical administration of armies".
A scribe writes ideas and information on behalf of another, sometimes copying from another document, sometimes from oral instruction on behalf of an illiterate person, sometimes transcribing from another medium such as a tape recording, shorthand, or personal notes.
Being able to write was a rare achievement for over 500 years in Western Europe so monks who copied texts were scribes responsible for saving many texts from classical times. The monasteries, where monks who knew how to read and write lived, provided an environment stable enough for writing. Irish monks, for example, came to Europe in about 600 and "found manuscripts in places like Tours and Toulouse" which they copied. The monastic writers also illustrated their books with highly skilled art work using gold and rare colours.
A technical writer prepares instructions or manuals, such as user guides or owner's manuals for users of equipment to follow. Technical writers also write various procedures for business, professional or domestic use. Since the purpose of technical writing is practical rather than creative, its most important quality is clarity. The technical writer, unlike the creative writer, is required to adhere to the relevant style guide.
There is a range of approaches that writers take to the task of writing. Each writer needs to find their own process and most describe it as more or less a struggle. Sometimes writers have had the bad fortune to lose their work and have had to start again. Before the invention of photocopiers and electronic text storage, a writer's work had to be stored on paper, which meant it was very susceptible to fire in particular. (In very early times, writers used vellum and clay which were more robust materials.) Writers whose work was destroyed before completion include L. L. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, whose years of work were thrown into the fire by his father because he was afraid that "his son would be thought a spy working code". Essayist and historian Thomas Carlyle, lost the only copy of a manuscript for The French Revolution: A History when it was mistakenly thrown into the fire by a maid. He wrote it again from the beginning. Writers usually develop a personal schedule. Angus Wilson, for example, wrote for a number of hours every morning.
Writer's block is a relatively common experience among writers, especially professional writers, when for a period of time the writer feels unable to write for reasons other than lack of skill or commitment.
Most writers write alone – typically they are engaged in a solitary activity that requires them to struggle with both the concepts they are trying to express and the best way to express it. This may mean choosing the best genre or genres as well as choosing the best words. Writers often develop idiosyncratic solutions to the problem of finding the right words to put on a blank page or screen. "Didn't Somerset Maugham also write facing a blank wall? ... Goethe couldn't write a line if there was another person anywhere in the same house, or so he said at some point."
Collaborative writing means that multiple authors write and contribute to a piece of writing. In this approach, it is highly likely the writers will collaborate on editing the piece too. The more usual process is that the editing is done by an independent editor after the writer submits a draft version.
In some cases, such as that between a librettist and composer, a writer will collaborate with another artist on a creative work. One of the best known of these types of collaborations is that between Gilbert and Sullivan. Librettist W. S. Gilbert wrote the words for the comic operas created by the partnership.
Occasionally, a writing task is given to a committee of writers. The most famous example is the task of translating the Bible into English, sponsored by King James VI of England in 1604 and accomplished by six committees, some in Cambridge and some in Oxford, who were allocated different sections of the text. The resulting Authorized King James Version, published in 1611, has been described as an "everlasting miracle" because its writers (that is, its Translators) sought to "hold themselves consciously poised between the claims of accessibility and beauty, plainness and richness, simplicity and majesty, the people and the king", with the result that the language communicates itself "in a way which is quite unaffected, neither literary nor academic, not historical, nor reconstructionist, but transmitting a nearly incredible immediacy from one end of human civilisation to another."
Some writers support the verbal part of their work with images or graphics that are an integral part of the way their ideas are communicated. William Blake is one of rare poets who created his own paintings and drawings as integral parts of works such as his Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Cartoonists are writers whose work depends heavily on hand drawn imagery. Other writers, especially writers for children, incorporate painting or drawing in more or less sophisticated ways. Shaun Tan, for example, is a writer who uses imagery extensively, sometimes combining fact, fiction and illustration, sometimes for a didactic purpose, sometimes on commission. Children's writers Beatrix Potter, May Gibbs, and Theodor Seuss Geisel are as well known for their illustrations as for their texts.
Some writers contribute very small sections to a piece of writing that cumulates as a result. This method is particularly suited to very large works, such as dictionaries and encyclopaedias. The best known example of the former is the Oxford English Dictionary, under the editorship of lexicographer James Murray, who was provided with the prolific and helpful contributions of W.C. Minor, at the time an inmate of a hospital for the criminally insane.
The best known example of the latter – an encyclopaedia that is crowdsourced – is Wikipedia which relies on the contributions of thousands of volunteer writers and editors worldwide, such as Simon Pulsifer.
Writers have many different reasons for writing, among which is usually some combination of self-expression and recording facts, history or research results. The many physician writers, for example, have combined their observation and knowledge of the human condition with their desire to write and contributed many poems, plays, translations, essays and other texts. Some writers write extensively on their motivation and on the likely motivations of other writers. For example, George Orwell's essay "Why I Write" (1946) takes this as its subject. As to "what constitutes success or failure to a writer", it has been described as "a complicated business, where the material rubs up against the spiritual, and psychology plays a big part".
The moral I draw is that the writer should seek his reward in the pleasure of his work and in release from the burden of this thoughts; and, indifferent to aught else, care nothing for praise or censure, failure or success.
W. Somerset Maugham in The Moon and Sixpence (1919)
Some writers are the authors of specific military orders whose clarity will determine the outcome of a battle. Among the most controversial and unsuccessful was Lord Raglan's order at the Charge of the Light Brigade, which being vague and misinterpreted, led to defeat with many casualties.
Some writers use the writing task to develop their own skill (in writing itself or in another area of knowledge) or explore an idea while they are producing a piece of writing. Philologist J. R. R. Tolkien, for example, created a new language for his fantasy books.
For me the private act of poetry writing is songwriting, confessional, diary-keeping, speculation, problem-solving, storytelling, therapy, anger management, craftsmanship, relaxation, concentration and spiritual adventure all in one inexpensive package.
Stephen Fry, author, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist
Some genres are a particularly appropriate choice for writers whose chief purpose is to entertain. Among them are limericks, many comics and thrillers. Writers of children's literature seek to entertain children but are also usually mindful of the educative function of their work as well.
Anger has motivated many writers, including Martin Luther, angry at religious corruption, who wrote the Ninety-five Theses in 1517, to reform the church, and Émile Zola (1840–1902) who wrote the public letter, J'Accuse in 1898 to bring public attention to government injustice, as a consequence of which he had to flee to England from his native France. Such writers have affected ideas, opinion or policy significantly.
Writers may write a particular piece for payment (even if at other times, they write for another reason), such as when they are commissioned to create a new work, transcribe an old one, translate another writer's work, or write for someone who is illiterate or inarticulate. In some cases, writing has been the only way an individual could earn an income. Frances Trollope is an example of women who wrote to save herself and her family from penury, at a time when there were very few socially acceptable employment opportunities for them. Her book about her experiences in America, called Domestic Manners of the Americans became a great success, "even though she was over fifty and had never written before in her life" after which "she continued to write hard, carrying this on almost entirely before breakfast". According to her writer son Anthony Trollope "her books saved the family from ruin".
Aristotle, who was tutor to Alexander the Great, wrote to support his teaching. He wrote two treatises for the young prince: "On Monarchy", and "On Colonies" and his dialogues also appear to have been written either "as lecture notes or discussion papers for use in his philosophy school at the Athens Lyceum between 334 and 323 BC." They encompass both his 'scientific' writings (metaphysics, physics, biology, meteorology, and astronomy, as well as logic and argument) the 'non-scientific' works (poetry, oratory, ethics, and politics), and "major elements in traditional Greek and Roman education".
Writers of textbooks also use writing to teach and there are numerous instructional guides to writing itself. For example, many people will find it necessary to make a speech "in the service of your company, church, civic club, political party, or other organization" and so, instructional writers have produced texts and guides for speechmaking.
Many writers use their skill to tell the story of their people, community or cultural tradition, especially one with a personal significance. Examples include Shmuel Yosef Agnon; Miguel Ángel Asturias; Doris Lessing; Toni Morrison; Isaac Bashevis Singer; and Patrick White. Writers such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Herta Müller, and Erich Maria Remarque write about the effect of conflict, dispossession and war.
Writers use prose, poetry, and letters as part of courtship rituals. Edmond Rostand's play Cyrano de Bergerac, written in verse, is about both the power of love and the power of the self-doubting writer/hero's writing talent.
Writers sometimes use a pseudonym, otherwise known as a pen name or "nom de plume". The reasons they do this include to separate their writing from other work (or other types of writing) for which they are known; to enhance the possibility of publication by reducing prejudice (such as against women writers or writers of a particular ethnicity); to reduce personal risk (such as political risks from individuals, groups or states that disagree with them); or to make their name better suit another language.
Examples of well-known writers who used a pen name include: George Eliot (1819–1880), whose real name was Mary Anne (or Marian) Evans; George Orwell (1903–1950), whose real name was Eric Blair; George Sand (1804–1876), whose real name was Lucile Aurore Dupin; Dr. Seuss (1904–1991), whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel; Stendhal (1783–1842), whose real name was Marie-Henri Beyle and Mark Twain (1835–1910), whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens.
Apart from the large numbers of works attributable only to "Anonymous", there are a large number of writers who were once known and are now unknown. Efforts are made to find and re-publish these writers' works. One example is the publication of books like Japan As Seen and Described by Famous Writers (a 2010 reproduction of a pre-1923 publication) by "Anonymous". Another example is the founding of a Library and Study Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing in Chawton, England.
Some fictional writers are very well known because of the strength of their characterization by the real writer or the significance of their role as writer in the plot of a work. Examples of this type of fictional writer include Edward Casaubon, a fictional scholar in George Eliot's Middlemarch, and Edwin Reardon, a fictional writer in George Gissing's New Grub Street. Casaubon's efforts to complete an authoritative study affect the decisions taken by the protagonists in Eliot's novel and drive significant parts of the plot. In Gissing's work, Reardon's efforts to produce high quality writing put him in conflict with another character, who takes a more commercial approach. Robinson Crusoe is a fictional writer who was originally credited by the real writer (Daniel Defoe) as being the author of the confessional letters in the work of the same name. Bridget Jones is a comparable fictional diarist created by writer Helen Fielding. Both works became famous and popular; their protagonists and story were developed further through many adaptations, including film versions. Cyrano de Bergerac was a real writer who created a fictional character with his own name. The Sibylline Books, a collection of prophecies were supposed to have been purchased from the Cumaean Sibyl by the last king of Rome. Since they were consulted during periods of crisis, it could be said that they are a case of real works created by a fictional writer.
Religious texts or scriptures are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition. Some religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts are divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, while others have individual authors.
Skilled writers influence ideas and society, so there are many instances where a writer's work or opinion has been unwelcome and controversial. In some cases, they have been persecuted or punished. Aware that their writing will cause controversy or put themselves and others into danger, some writers self-censor; or withhold their work from publication; or hide their manuscripts; or use some other technique to preserve and protect their work. Two of the most famous examples are Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Darwin. Leonardo "had the habit of conversing with himself in his writings and of putting his thoughts into the clearest and most simple form". He used "left-handed or mirror writing" (a technique described as "so characteristic of him") to protect his scientific research from other readers. The fear of persecution, social disgrace, and being proved incorrect are regarded as contributing factors to Darwin's delaying the publication of his radical and influential work On the Origin of Species.
One of the results of controversies caused by a writer's work is scandal, which is a negative public reaction that causes damage to reputation and depends on public outrage. It has been said that it is possible to scandalise the public because the public "wants to be shocked in order to confirm its own sense of virtue". The scandal may be caused by what the writer wrote or by the style in which it was written. In either case, the content or the style is likely to have broken with tradition or expectation. Making such a departure may in fact, be part of the writer's intention or at least, part of the result of introducing innovations into the genre in which they are working. For example, novelist D H Lawrence challenged ideas of what was acceptable as well as what was expected in form. These may be regarded as literary scandals, just as, in a different way, are the scandals involving writers who mislead the public about their identity, such as Norma Khouri or Helen Darville who, in deceiving the public, are considered to have committed fraud.
Writers may also cause the more usual type of scandal – whereby the public is outraged by the opinions, behaviour or life of the individual (an experience not limited to writers). Poet Paul Verlaine outraged society with his behaviour and treatment of his wife and child as well as his lover. Among the many writers whose writing or life was affected by scandals are Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and H. G. Wells. One of the most famously scandalous writers was the Marquis de Sade who offended the public both by his writings and by his behaviour.
The consequence of scandal for a writer may be censorship or discrediting of the work, or social ostracism of its creator. In some instances, punishment, persecution, or prison follow. The list of journalists killed in Europe, list of journalists killed in the United States and the list of journalists killed in Russia are examples. Others include:
The organisation Reporters Without Borders (also known by its French name: Reporters Sans Frontières) was set up to help protect writers and advocate on their behalf.
The professional and industrial interests of writers are represented by various national or regional guilds or unions. Examples include writers guilds in Australia and Great Britain and unions in Arabia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Moldova, Philippines, Poland, Québéc, Romania, Russia, Sudan, and the Ukraine. In the United States, there is both a writers guild and a National Writers Union.
There are many awards for writers whose writing has been adjudged excellent. Among them are the many literary awards given by individual countries, such as the Prix Goncourt and the Pulitzer Prize, as well as international awards such as the Nobel Prize in Literature. Russian writer Boris Pasternak (1890–1960), under pressure from his government, reluctantly declined the Nobel Prize that he won in 1958.
Alan Moore (born 18 November 1953) is an English writer known primarily for his work in comic books including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Ballad of Halo Jones, and From Hell. Regarded by some as the best graphic novel writer in history, he is widely recognised among his peers and critics. He has occasionally used such pseudonyms as Curt Vile, Jill de Ray, and Translucia Baboon; also, reprints of some of his work have been credited to The Original Writer when Moore requested that his name be removed.Moore started writing for British underground and alternative fanzines in the late 1970s before achieving success publishing comic strips in such magazines as 2000 AD and Warrior. He was subsequently picked up by the American DC Comics, and as "the first comics writer living in Britain to do prominent work in America", he worked on major characters such as Batman (Batman: The Killing Joke) and Superman (Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?), substantially developed the character Swamp Thing, and penned original titles such as Watchmen. During that decade, Moore helped to bring about greater social respectability for comics in the United States and United Kingdom. He prefers the term "comic" to "graphic novel". In the late 1980s and early 1990s he left the comic industry mainstream and went independent for a while, working on experimental work such as the epic From Hell and the prose novel Voice of the Fire. He subsequently returned to the mainstream later in the 1990s, working for Image Comics, before developing America's Best Comics, an imprint through which he published works such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the occult-based Promethea.
Moore is an occultist, ceremonial magician, and anarchist, and has featured such themes in works including Promethea, From Hell, and V for Vendetta, as well as performing avant-garde spoken word occult "workings" with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.
Despite his own personal objections, his works have provided the basis for a number of Hollywood films, including From Hell (2001), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), V for Vendetta (2005), and Watchmen (2009). Moore has also been referenced in popular culture, and has been recognised as an influence on a variety of literary and television figures including Neil Gaiman, Joss Whedon, and Damon Lindelof. He has lived a significant portion of his life in Northampton, England, and he has said in various interviews that his stories draw heavily from his experiences living there.Blake Edwards
William Blake Crump (July 26, 1922 – December 15, 2010), better known by his stage name Blake Edwards, was an American filmmaker.
Edwards began his career in the 1940s as an actor, but he soon began writing screenplays and radio scripts before turning to producing and directing in television and films. His best-known films include Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, 10, Victor/Victoria, and the hugely successful Pink Panther film series with British actor Peter Sellers. Often thought of as primarily a director of comedies, he also directed several drama, musical, and detective films. Late in his career, he transitioned to writing, producing, and directing for theater.
In 2004, he received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of his writing, directing, and producing an extraordinary body of work for the screen.Bob Odenkirk
Robert John Odenkirk (born October 22, 1962) is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, and producer. He is best known for his role as smooth-talking lawyer Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill on the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul, and for the HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David, which he co-created and starred in with fellow comic and friend David Cross.From the late 1980s to 1990s, Odenkirk worked as a writer for television shows Saturday Night Live and The Ben Stiller Show, winning two Emmys for his work. He also wrote for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Get a Life, and acted in a recurring role as Agent Stevie Grant in The Larry Sanders Show. In the early 2000s, Odenkirk discovered the comedy duo Tim & Eric and produced their television series Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! He directed three films, Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003), Let's Go to Prison (2006), and The Brothers Solomon (2007). He was also an executive producer of the sketch comedy show The Birthday Boys, developing the show with the comedy group after seeing their work at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles. In 2015, he and David Cross reunited, along with the rest of the Mr. Show cast, for W/ Bob & David on Netflix. Odenkirk co-wrote, produced and starred in the Netflix original film Girlfriend's Day which was released in 2017.
The success of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul led to acting work in high-profile projects, such as Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne, Fargo, written by Noah Hawley, The Post, directed by Steven Spielberg, and Disney/Pixar's Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird.Comedy
In a modern sense, comedy (from the Greek: κωμῳδία, kōmōidía) refers to any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film, stand-up comedy, or any other medium of entertainment. The origins of the term are found in Ancient Greece. In the Athenian democracy, the public opinion of voters was influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theaters. The theatrical genre of Greek comedy can be described as a dramatic performance which pits two groups or societies against each other in an amusing agon or conflict. Northrop Frye depicted these two opposing sides as a "Society of Youth" and a "Society of the Old." A revised view characterizes the essential agon of comedy as a struggle between a relatively powerless youth and the societal conventions that pose obstacles to his hopes. In this struggle, the youth is understood to be constrained by his lack of social authority, and is left with little choice but to take recourse in ruses which engender very dramatic irony which provokes laughter.Satire and political satire use comedy to portray persons or social institutions as ridiculous or corrupt, thus alienating their audience from the object of their humor. Parody subverts popular genres and forms, critiquing those forms without necessarily condemning them.
Other forms of comedy include screwball comedy, which derives its humor largely from bizarre, surprising (and improbable) situations or characters, and black comedy, which is characterized by a form of humor that includes darker aspects of human behavior or human nature. Similarly scatological humor, sexual humor, and race humor create comedy by violating social conventions or taboos in comic ways. A comedy of manners typically takes as its subject a particular part of society (usually upper-class society) and uses humor to parody or satirize the behavior and mannerisms of its members. Romantic comedy is a popular genre that depicts burgeoning romance in humorous terms and focuses on the foibles of those who are falling in love.Comic book
A comic book or comicbook, also called comic magazine or simply comic, is a publication that consists of comic art in the form of sequential juxtaposed panels that represent individual scenes. Panels are often accompanied by brief descriptive prose and written narrative, usually, dialog contained in word balloons emblematic of the comics art form. Although comics has some origins in 18th century Japan, comic books were first popularized in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 1930s. The first modern comic book, Famous Funnies, was released in the U.S. in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper humor comic strips, which had established many of the story-telling devices used in comics. The term comic book derives from American comic books once being a compilation of comic strips of a humorous tone; however, this practice was replaced by featuring stories of all genres, usually not humorous in tone.
The largest comic book market is Japan. By 1995, the manga market in Japan was valued at ¥586.4 billion ($6–7 billion), with annual sales of 1.9 billion manga books/magazines in Japan (equivalent to 15 issues per person). The comic book market in the United States and Canada was valued at $1.09 billion in 2016. As of 2017, the largest comic book publisher in the United States is manga distributor Viz Media, followed by DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Another major comic book market is France, where Franco-Belgian comics and Japanese manga each represent 40% of the market, followed by American comics at 10% market share.Dan Schneider (TV producer)
Dan Schneider (born 1965/1966) is an American actor, television writer, and producer. After appearing in mostly supporting roles in a number of 1980s and 1990s films and TV shows, Schneider devoted himself to behind-the-scenes work in production. He is the co-president of television production company Schneider's Bakery and made What I Like About You for The WB and All That, The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly, Victorious, Sam & Cat, Henry Danger, Game Shakers, and The Adventures of Kid Danger for Nickelodeon.Fiction
Fiction broadly refers to any narrative that is derived from the imagination—in other words, not based strictly on history or fact. It can also refer, more narrowly, to narratives written only in prose (the novel and short story), and is often used as a synonym for the novel.Freelancer
A freelancer or freelance worker, is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Freelance workers are sometimes represented by a company or a temporary agency that resells freelance labor to clients; others work independently or use professional associations or websites to get work.
While the term independent contractor would be used in a higher register of English to designate the tax and employment classes of this type of worker, the term freelancing is most common in culture and creative industries and this term specifically motions to participation therein.Fields, professions, and industries where freelancing is predominant include: music, writing, acting, computer programming, web design, graphic design, translating and illustrating, film and video production and other forms of piece work which some cultural theorists consider as central to the cognitive-cultural economy.George R. R. Martin
George Raymond Richard Martin (born George Raymond Martin; September 20, 1948), also known as GRRM, is an American novelist and short story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, screenwriter, and television producer. He is best known for his series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the HBO series Game of Thrones (2011–2019).
In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin "the American Tolkien", and in 2011, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.Ghostwriter
A ghostwriter is hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author. Celebrities, executives, participants in timely news stories, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, memoirs, magazine articles, or other written material. In music, ghostwriters are often used to write songs, lyrics, and instrumental pieces. Screenplay authors can also use ghostwriters to either edit or rewrite their scripts to improve them.
Usually, there is a confidentiality clause in the contract between the ghostwriter and the credited author that obligates the former to remain anonymous. Sometimes the ghostwriter is acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, euphemistically called a "researcher" or "research assistant", but often the ghostwriter is not credited.
Ghostwriting (or simply "ghosting") also occurs in other creative fields. Composers have long hired ghostwriters to help them to write musical pieces and songs; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an example of a well-known composer who was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthy patrons. Ghosting also occurs in popular music. A pop music ghostwriter writes lyrics and a melody in the style of the credited musician. In hip hop music, the increasing use of ghostwriters by high-profile hip-hop stars has led to controversy. In the visual arts, it is not uncommon in either fine art or commercial art such as comics for a number of assistants to do work on a piece that is credited to a single artist. However, when credit is established for the writer, the acknowledgement of their contribution is public domain and the writer in question would not be considered a ghostwriter.Greg Daniels
Gregory Martin Daniels (born June 13, 1963) is an American television comedy writer, producer, and director. He is known for his work on several television series, including Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation, King of the Hill and The Office. All five shows were named among Time's James Poniewozik's All Time 100 TV Shows. Daniels attended Harvard University and he became friends with Conan O'Brien. Their first writing credit was for Not Necessarily the News, before they were laid off due to budget cuts. He eventually became a writer for two long-running series: Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons.
He joined the writing staff of The Simpsons during the fifth season, and he wrote several classic episodes including "Lisa's Wedding," "Bart Sells His Soul" and "22 Short Films About Springfield." He left the series in order to co-create another long-running animated series, King of the Hill, with Mike Judge. The series ran for thirteen years before it was cancelled in 2009. During the series run, he worked on several other series, including the American version of The Office and Parks and Recreation. As of 2016, he is an executive producer on the TBS series People of Earth.List of women writers
This is a list of notable women writers.
See also individual lists of women writers by nationalityMindy Kaling
Vera Mindy Chokalingam (born June 24, 1979), known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American actress, comedian, and writer. From 2005 to 2013, she played Kelly Kapoor in the NBC sitcom The Office. In addition to acting in it, she was a writer, executive producer, and occasional director. Recognition for her work on The Office include a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series in 2010.
Kaling gained wider attention for creating, writing, producing and starring in the Fox/Hulu comedy series The Mindy Project (2012–2017). She was the co-creator, writer, and producer of the NBC sitcom Champions (2018), in which she also had a recurring role. Kaling's film career includes voice work in the films Despicable Me (2010), Wreck It Ralph (2012), and Inside Out (2015); and starring roles in the comedy The Night Before (2015), the fantasy adventure A Wrinkle in Time, the heist-comedy Ocean's 8 (both 2018), and the comedy Late Night (2019).
In addition to her work in film and television, Kaling has written two New York Times best-selling memoirs, titled Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (2011) and Why Not Me? (2015).OpenOffice.org
OpenOffice.org (OOo), commonly known as OpenOffice, is a discontinued open-source office suite. It was an open-sourced version of the earlier StarOffice, which Sun Microsystems acquired in 1999 for internal use.
OpenOffice included a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet (Calc), a presentation application (Impress), a drawing application (Draw), a formula editor (Math), and a database management application (Base). Its default file format was the OpenDocument Format (ODF), an ISO/IEC standard, which originated with OpenOffice.org. It could also read a wide variety of other file formats, with particular attention to those from Microsoft Office.
Sun open-sourced the OpenOffice suite in July 2000 as a competitor to Microsoft Office, releasing version 1.0 on 1 May 2002.In 2011 Oracle Corporation, the then-owner of Sun, announced that it would no longer offer a commercial version of the suite and donated the project to the Apache Foundation.Apache renamed the software Apache OpenOffice. Other active successor projects include LibreOffice (the most actively developed) and NeoOffice (commercial, only for macOS).
OpenOffice.org was primarily developed for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Solaris, and later for OS X, with ports to other operating systems. It was distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3 (LGPL); early versions were also available under the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL).Playwright
A playwright or dramatist (rarely dramaturge) is a person who writes plays.Screenwriter
A screenplay writer (also called screenwriter for short), scriptwriter or scenarist, is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.Short story
A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood, however there are many exceptions to this.
A dictionary definition is "an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot."The short story is a crafted form in its own right. Short stories make use of plot, resonance, and other dynamic components as in a novel, but typically to a lesser degree. While the short story is largely distinct from the novel or novella (a shorter novel), authors generally draw from a common pool of literary techniques.
Short story writers may define their works as part of the artistic and personal expression of the form. They may also attempt to resist categorization by genre and fixed formation.
Short stories have deep roots and the power of short fiction has been recognised in modern society for hundreds of years. The short form is, conceivably, more natural to us than longer forms. We are drawn to short stories as the well-told story, and as William Boyd, the award-winning British author and short story writer has said:"[short stories] seem to answer something very deep in our nature as if, for the duration of its telling, something special has been created, some essence of our experience extrapolated, some temporary sense has been made of our common, turbulent journey towards the grave and oblivion".In terms of length, word count is typically anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 for short stories, however some have 20,000 words and are still classed as short stories. Stories of fewer than 1,000 words are sometimes referred to as "short short stories", or "flash fiction".Singer-songwriter
Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.
The genre began with the folk-acoustic tradition. Singer-songwriters often provide the sole accompaniment to an entire composition or song, typically using a guitar or piano.Songwriter
A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated with writing and composing the orignal musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by university degrees and college diplomas and "rock schools". Knowledge of modern music technology (sequencers, synthesizers, computer sound editing), songwriting elements and business skills are now often necessary requirements for a songwriter. Several music colleges offer songwriting diplomas and degrees with music business modules. Since songwriting and publishing royalties can be substantial sources of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record; legally, in the US, songs written after 1934 may be copied only by the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or transferred. This is governed by international copyright law.Songwriters can be employed to write either the lyrics or the music directly for or alongside a performing artist, or they present songs to A&R, publishers, agents and managers for consideration. Song pitching can be done on a songwriter's behalf by their publisher or independently using tip sheets like RowFax, the MusicRow publication and SongQuarters. Skills associated with song-writing include entrepreneurism and creativity.
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