Talk:Novelist

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Things that I need to add[edit]

So this is a really early version of the article, definitely going to be more sections, here is a running list of what I plan to add:

  • Genres- novelists getting slated by genre and sometimes ghettoized, including children's novelists, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction,
  • History of the profession

In the identity section:

More ideas would be awesome, Sadads (talk) 21:27, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Extraneous examples in the lead[edit]

Re the recent revert: I was attempting to make the lead more interesting by providing brief examples. Too many generalisations make for tediousness. The preamble needed perking-up. I did consider the alternative, which was to make the preamble as brief as possible. In the circumstance I'll just go back and just deal with the wordiness. Rwood128 (talk) 16:05, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

On related matters:

  • (1) What does this mean? "influence not only the reception but also the production of their work". My deleted examples were an attempt to clarify the vague wording.
  • (2) Isn't there a need for citations in this lead? Rwood128 (talk) 16:32, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Its more about policy WP:Lead requires that you should only summarize the key concepts, not provide extra examples that aren't critical to the piece. For the relevant part of the policy see Wikipedia:Lead#Provide_an_accessible_overview. Also, there is not requirement for citations in the lead, unless their is information not covered elsewhere in the article. Remember, leads are for summary of the content within the article, not for putting forward new information. If you want to include the examples in the article, integrate them into the conversation in the actual content sections.
I left some of the clarifications in the lead, because I think they do help; however, some of the removals seemed more on removing key concepts from the discussion, not actually simplifying. That is why I initially undid. Second time was a bit better, but I readded the concepts that focus the meaning. Thanks for the input/engagement, hope you keep up the good work on Novel and return here, Sadads (talk) 20:03, 12 March 2014 (UTC)


Thanks for clarifying policy, I'm afraid I'm too much of an anarchist regarding rules -- and I'm still dissatisfied with this lead. But I need to read the policy and think further.

Re journalism, there may be a misunderstanding. The lead indicates that novelists write in other genres of fiction and non-fiction. I added journalism as an example of the kind of non-fiction that novelists frequently write in order to support themselves, as the lead also deals with this financial dilemma. But maybe this can be dealt with later? Novelists also, of course, take academic positions, especially in the field of creative writing for the same reason.

But what about query (1) above?-- I still find this sentence unclear.

I'll try and help further. Rwood128 (talk) 21:56, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

I'm also having great difficulty with the following sentence. Has something been left out? or is it simply garbled.

This association of the novelists' identity with their work comes from public reception of the work, the literary criticism that comments on their work, or authors incorporating elements of their own experiences into their works and characters.

Rwood128 (talk) 00:25, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

@Rwood128:: I made some clarifications in the last set of edits, hopefully those address your concerns. Remember, leads operate as summary, so those are discussed further in the main body (though I would appreciate some help expanding those sections/adding useful citations to strengthen the conversation. Part of the problem, I am finding, is that there aren't a whole lot of more generalized definitions of novelist in the scholarship, thus we seem to be taking on a new approach to assessing the place of "novelist". Sadads (talk) 21:43, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Re your recent edit I still have quibbles. For example, I dislike jargon phrases like "identity constructs".

Yes, it had crossed my mind that the problem with the lead was related to the fact that the body of the article was still being developed.

I must admit that initially I had doubts about the need for the article, but that has changed. I'd like to help more, but I never intended to get involved and have other writing that needs completing. However, my interest has been whetted. Rwood128 (talk) 22:27, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Some ideas inspired by the lead[edit]

Sadads, Pondering further on what you said, it struck me that both Charles Dickens and Graham Greene might be useful sources for developing some of the ideas raised in the lead.

With regard to Greene:

  • (1) There's role of journalism as providing financial support early in his career as a novelist in the 1930s.
  • (2) This included movie reviews, and I believe movies have been seen as influencing his narrative style.
  • (3) Greene's narrative style led to the adaptation of novels into film, and added to his income and prestige.
  • (4) There is a relationship between the settings and contents of his novels and Greene's need to live dangerously.
  • (5) He converted to Catholicism and has frequently been identified as a Catholic novelist, though he disliked this label.
  • (5) His novels were also shaped by his left-wing political views.
With regard to Dickens, he is obviously historically of major importance for an article like this. Are you aware of Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst? It received much praise, and focusses, as the title suggests, on the beginning of Dickens' career. J. K. Rowling looks like an interesting contemporary figure that might be considered. Then, re identity and genre, there's the interesting example of Scotsman Iain Banks, who is also Iain M. Banks!
Also what about the relationship between the novelist and the law (along with moral attitudes and prejudice)? Greene for example was banned by the Catholic church. Such topics as libel, obscenity, homosexuality, censorship, including political censorship (especially in the USA, USSR, Nazi Germany, China, etc.), might be considered.
Then there is the fact that in recent years novelists have had to become travelling sales persons. Margaret Attwood might be a useful example here, especially given her use of technology to sign books from a distance.
Just a few ideas I thought might stimulate thought. Rwood128 (talk) 15:39, 14 March 2014 (UTC)


Thanks for the great input, and I think you are pointing to a number of topics that we should probably include at some point, The problem is that by using biographies as examples, we boarder on doing WP:Original research, by identifying trends or larger assertions without having reliable secondary opinions that back our claims. Most of the scholarship I have seen focuses on "novelist" to define an individual's experience as a novelist, not the generalized experience of "novelists" (which is the scholarship I am trying to emphasize here). We need more sources that talk about these concerns in general terms before we choose case studies to represent them, like Rowling, Dickens, Atwood or Greene. You will notice that most of the discussion that I have added so far uses the synthesis made by the scholars or journalists that cover the topic, rather than my own (though admittedly not all of the sections hold true to this: the "Age and experience" section synthesizes the scholarship as I know it, and the articles that I refer to in the "main" tag). If you can find studies or piece of reporting that talks about journalism as a career or the other topics as concerns for multiple or many novelists, I would appreciate that. We can't lean entirely on case studies; we need to look for scholarship that make claims about larger trends amongst "novelists" to do Verifiability correctly.
As regards the religion concern, I have identified an essay by Flannery O'Conner in the work cited that directly talks towards the experience of religion for "novelists". If we can find a couple more voices, I would like to do sections in the identity part of the article on religion as well as Race/Ethnicity, expat experience, and the LGBT communinity (via Queer studies more likely than not).
As for censorship or legal position of novelists, I am imagining that the idea of scrutiny of the novelist is a rather large discussion, especially the importance of discussions like ban books week. Feel free to write a section, but be careful about the above mentioned synthesis concern.
Thank you for thinking this through and working with me on this, I really appreciate the feedback/second set of eyes. The first push I made in writing the article wore out my initial enthusiasm for the topic, because its rather a large set scholarship to understand, and their is a paucity of good discussions of what effects "novelists" versus the discussion of individuals, Sadads (talk) 15:54, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Thanks. I agree that there's a need for a sound theoretical framework and that has to come before any discussion of individual novelists. I'll try and do some bibliographical searches. There must be things out there.

Another possible topic might be the work habits of novelists, but I don't know how far this can be developed. A major thread at the centre of a topic like this is, of course, the tension between the idea of a novelist as artist or crafts person and his or her role in mass production society. Rwood128 (talk) 22:39, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Why novelists write?[edit]

This is an important question. I seem to remember a quote about novelists being voyeurs, or was it readers? There'a an essay: "Why I write" by George Orwell that's more than biography (available online). The Guardian site has useful comments by numerous contemporary writers, to this question: <http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/whyiwrite>. There a short book: Why Do I Write?: An Exchange of Views Between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene & V. S. Pritchett (With a Pref. by V. S. Pritchett) by Elizabeth Bowen. And there's this useful Graham Greene quotation: “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” There also seems to be useful material on the writing habits of novelists. Rwood128 (talk) 23:36, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

I've added several links that I thought might provide useful ideas. Rwood128 (talk) 17:29, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

Performance of "maleness"[edit]

Sorry Sadads but I'm back on the jargon rant, re the following:

Similarly, because of the conversations brought by feminism, examinations of masculine subjects and an author's performance of "maleness" are prominent in criticism of novels. For example, academics studying Victorian fiction spend considerable time examining how masculinity shapes and effects the works, because of its prominence within fiction from the Victorian period.

What exactly is "performance of maleness" in a literary context? Also the final clause refers to "[masculinity's]] prominence within fiction from the Victorian period". What is this exactly in ordinary language? I think that the problem lies in trying compressing the discussion rather than fully explaining things in simpler, less jargon loaded language (e.g. because of the prominence of male authors and male subject matter in Victorian fiction). It is unclear what the word "masculinity" means in a literary context (bias towards the male experience of life?}. Rwood128 (talk) 11:39, 6 August 2014 (UTC)