Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Novels/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

The beginnings (2002)

Isn't this project just a wee bit ambitious? Nothing wrong with that, but please do not place WikiProject tags in articles. Talk pages are the place for those. There must be hundreds of thousands of novels; I wish you luck. :) --mav

I know what you mean. I don't think Wikipedia needs these standards for most novel articles, yet. --Ellmist Friday, October 11th, 2002

Maybe a little ambitious, yes, but it looks good to me. Maybe you can make this more general for all books, not just novels? Also, why not combine the external links and the review links (they're also external). BTW, it's a bit "dangerous" to include links to reviews, since your choice of reviews may be non-neutral - maybe you can solve that by linking to a few common sources, f.e. Jeronimo
It's no more ambitious than the WikiProject_Albums, really. And I think there's reason enough to have a project for Novels rather than books, since novels are a kind of book that's quite distinct from other book types such as, say, reference books. --Dalziel 86 12:08, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

please not another set of tables! not all knowledge should be summarized into tables! And an article about a novel should not just be the plot & the characters. It should be about the greater context: the cultural impact, the literary style, the artistic impact, the artistic influences & so on. I don't think a rigid scheme of headings is conducive to so wide a grouping. For chemical elements, great. But please, don't let's reduce the great body of human literature to slot-in headings and tables. -- Tarquin

I definitely agree that novel articles need to include that and similar information. How do you think we should modify the WikiProject to advocate this? --Ellmist Friday, October 11th, 2002

I tend to agree with Tarquin that it would be better to follow the article outline given now as a guideline for writing the article, rather than using a rigid sectioning scheme and a table, especially with the many novels around. Jeronimo

Of course! I thought I made that clear on the subject page. --Ellmist Friday, October 11th, 2002

As a fan of tables, I see nothing wrong with giving some key information in a side table, provided that you can find the same information in the text as well. What we (IMHO) don't need is an image of the book cover. Takes up too much space and needs scanning and uploading for little results. If you need an image of the cover, just follow the ISBN link to amazon. --Magnus Manske 22:31 Oct 11, 2002 (UTC)

PLEASE no table. Tables are great for displaying technical info about an article for a limited set of themed subjects (like the chemical elements or countries). We should not have tables for something as numerous as novels; there simply is no way we could ever be able to convert a significant number of novels into the table format. There are only 109 elements and less than 200 countries so it is reasonable to expect that we will be able to convert those articles over. But doing this for a subject that has hundreds of thousands of possible entries is HTML madness in the extreme. Please don't have a table. --mav

Speaking of HTML madness and tables, whatever happened to a wiki table syntax? --Ellmist Friday, October 11th, 2002

I think that is a long-term goal. What would make me feel a lot better about tables in general is if their HTML/Wiki code where hidden away in a table:namespace (to access the table code maybe the outside border of the table would be clickable to the table page which would only have the table in it). Even a Wiki table would get in the way of the body text of an article and may drive away the mark-up-phobic. --mav

That idea sounds neat. I vote for it. --Ellmist Friday, October 11th, 2002

I am fascinated how Mav and I can agree on something, yet for completely different reasons. Maybe there really is something to this Myers-Briggs stuff after all! (me the idealist, mav the practical, according to our types) Even if there were only 200 novels worth covering in Wikipedia, I'd still be against it, because it's an over-simplification. We are writing an encyclopedia, not a database. (and there's another item for "What wikipedia is not" ;) ) -- Tarquin 23:57 Oct 11, 2002 (UTC)

Yep. This is another valid reason why the table is a bad idea. --mav

With Regards to Tables: I just jumped into this WikiProject and read the above. I understand that putting every book into this form is a very difficult task. But is there some objection to using the format in some of the books? The way I see it, this is information that is common to most every book and found on the first page of every book. Not everyone even looks at that information because it is mostly for reference. I think it looks nice and leaves the rest of the article for the important things like summaries, cultural significance, etc. The following would summarize the same information except in a prose format. Is it easier and better to read?

"The book was published by John Doe publishing (New York, New York) in 1973. The author is Jane Doe who also wrote "How to fish when colorblind." She was born in 1937 and died in 1984. Fred Doe and Yassir Arafat were the editors and George Bush did illustration. The library of congress number is A.53.4455, the Dewey Decimal System number is 35.2343A and the ISBN is 5-58-55221-1. This is the 3rd edition. Previous editions were published in 1969 and 1971." -- Ram-Man

But none of that tells me anything about the book. A table of statistics such as those should be at the foot of an article. No more ugly side-tables please. -- Tarquin
Of course it doesn't tell you about the book. It is only part of a book, but it is a part of *every* book, and when someone needs to cite a book, that is where they go, or to figure out if it is old enough to be in the public domain, or whatever. I wouldn't expect a summary of the book to explain the cultural significance just as I would not expect the table to explain the summary. In fact because it has so little to do with the actual content of the book makes it perfect to be isolated into a table instead of with the rest of the article. Whether or not it is a right aligned table is merely cosmetic. -- Ram-Man

How about a table at the foot to cover the publishing statistics. Things such as the author, illustrator, etc should be covered in the body of the text. -- Tarquin


Something like this at the foot of the article:

library of congress
Dewey Decimal System number
Edition history

I don't think a novel should have subpages. LittleDan 16:51 16 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Article Template

Replace text within ~ squiggles like these ~ with the specific information about the novel.

~Short summary of novel~

Larger ~Novel title~ cover imageAlternate images

~Novel title~: ~Subtitle~

~Novel title~ cover thumbnail

Genre ~Genre~

~Author 1~

~Author 2~

~Illustrator 1~
~Illustrator 2~

Series ~Containing series~

~Publisher 1~
~Publisher 2~

Publication date ~Publication date~
LCC ~Library of Congress Classification~
DDS ~Dewey Decimal System classification~

ISBN ~Novel 1st ISBN~
ISBN ~Novel 2nd ISBN~

Setting of A Season in Purgatory

Main article: Setting of A Season in Purgatory~

~Describe setting of novel. Give approximate date if applicable. Name and describe the various places that events happened.~

Characters in ~Novel title~

Main article: Characters in ~Novel title~
~Describe and link to characters of novel.~

Chapters of ~Novel title~

Reviews of ~Novel title~

~Link to, but don't include, reviews of the novel.~

External links

~Links to websites about novel~

See also: ~1st related Wikipedia article~ ~2nd related Wikipedia article~

Comments on boilerplate proposal

The proposed layout contains far too much unnecessarily duplicated information, mostly in the form of dates. The correct place for birth/death dates for people is on their page to which you should be linking. The information should be more normalised, cutting out duplication of effort and possible contradiction. I'll be back with a smaller, less-denormalised version ASAP Phil 14:01, Oct 27, 2003 (UTC)

Herewith my offering. Link boldy, prune hard. Oh, and encode the table using more, shorter lines to make it easier to discern the real fruit in amongst all those little HTML-Table twiglets. OK, I haven't touched the parts pertaining to images, but I probably wouldn't be using that much anyway so I'll leave that to those with more interest Phil 14:27, Oct 27, 2003 (UTC)


This page has been a most illuminating piece of participative writing. I learned about the perils of the Infobox for one thing. Still, there might just be a way to do a document infobox right, one day. In the meantime I need a very simple but expandable bibliographic description standard. The International Standard Bibliographic Description or ISBD won't do cause it is too complicated for non-librarians, who have better things to do in their spare time. The Chicago style for references won't do either cause it isn't open source (the ISBD is, and it has examples in nearly all Web based library Catalogues) and it is not that useful for other purposes, such giving indications on how to buy a boook or how to tell an edition of a rare book from another. But what about an adaptation of the ISBD or an adaptation of an open source altenative to the Chicago manual? I am not sure if I did the right thing in starting the Wikipedia:WikiProject Books page to discuss this. AlainV 04:52, 2004 Apr 28 (UTC)

Infoboxes considered harmful

Tables are great for conveying tabular data. But they are a waste of space when it comes to listing the title, author and date of a novel. This information can be (and usually is) conveyed much more concisely and readably in the first sentence of the article. This leaves plenty of room on the screen for the rest of the article. Trivial details about the book like the ISBN for some important recent edition of the book (if there is such an important edition) can be left for the References section or somewhere similar at the end of the article.


Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, first published in 1740.


Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded

Genre Epistolary novel

Samuel Richardson



Series none


Publication date 1740
DDS 813


It should be clear that the first form conveys just as much information as the second, is easier to read, and leaves more room on the screen for the article. Gdr 12:59, 2004 Aug 25 (UTC)

I find your comments below totally convincing, and your comments above quite convincing save for your declaration that "the first form conveys just as much information as the second". This first form drops an essential bibliographic item: The publisher. It also neglects two other essential bibliographic items, the place of publication, and the edition but then the Infobox format also neglected these two. You can have several editions in a single year, and when books are issued on a global market (something that existed more than a century ago as Kipling could witness) they have several publishers in the same year. This is why it is crucial to state the publisher, and the place of publication (and a mention of a 2nd or 3rd edition, etc. when need be) to know which edition or version of the book you are talking about in an article. For instance, Kipling saw pirated versions of his works appear in the United States (which had no copyright laws protecting foreign authors back then) and he saw more or less well copied versions reproduce themselves endlessly. An article has to state exactly which text was used because there is no international body deciding which is the "real" one. AlainV 03:23, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I exaggerated, sorry. (But I don't think it affects my argument. This extra information can better be given in the article.) However, I am not sure that it is crucial to identify editions. An encyclopedia article rarely goes in for the kind of close reading that requires a particular edition to be identified. When there is something interesting to say about different editions, then these editions should be mentioned, but when there isn't much to say, is it really necessary? The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English doesn't say anything about publishers or edition except in a few cases where it's really important, such as Shakespeare's plays. Can you say more about this? Gdr 11:31, 2004 Aug 26 (UTC)

The Cambridge guide and other such books are put together by professional scholars who are expected to know intimately all the editions of the works upon which they coment, even if they do not mention this in the body of the article. Wikipedia is put together by just anybody and giving a minimum of bibliographic information on the actual book (or books) that was consulted to write the article helps establish authority as well as trust. It also makes it a lot more easier to look up things later in a bookstore or library, than if only the title and author and year of publication is given. We also have to consider that Wikipedia is a super-pedia going into much more details according to the whim of each editor-author. Take for instance The Hobbit and English-language editions of The Hobbit. They offer an extreme level of bibliographical detail. Then take a look at David Starr, Space Ranger which is at an intermediate stage. Now suppose somebody writes an article on "Pamela, or virtue rewarded". If just the year of the edition actually consulted is mentioned (in addition to the year of the first edition) then we have a better idea of the foundation of the article. If just the name of the publisher and place of publlication is also added then we are certain of the basis, of the actual text used to start the article. And the text varies so between an 18th century edition and a 20th century one! No more is needed for a minimalist approach. AlainV 04:01, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Sample Minimum
Author Joesephine Smith
Publisher Harper January
Publication date
1 January 2055
Sample Maximum
Author Joesephine Smith
Cover artist Joe Smith
Publisher Harper January
Publication date
1 January 2055
Media type hardback
Pages 203
Preceded by Prior Novel
Followed by Subsequent Novel

Sample Extended
Author Joesephine Smith
Cover artist Joe Smith &
Jack Smith
Publisher Harper January
Publication date
1 January 2055
Media type Hardback &
Pages 203 (hardback edition)
190 (paperback edition)
Preceded by 'Prior Novel
Followed by 'Subsequent Novel

What Gdr doesn't know or at least explain in his critic of "infobox" and "tables" is that when an infobox is properly constructed and use is made of mandatory rows / fields and optional the duplication can be reduced to almost NONE. Also one of the many purposes of any such project is one of consistancy, will be enhanced. Have a look at the Infobox Book for some idea of what can be done (only Name, Author, Publisher and Release_date being mandatory). Perhaps we should just stick with that one. see minimum options and maximum options below :: Kevinalewis : please contact me on my Talk Page : 13:50, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

As you can probably see it bring consistency with flexability and fails in few of our critics objections. :: Kevinalewis : please contact me on my Talk Page : 13:50, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

I tend to agree with Kevin here. A lot of info that fits in a userbox (like various ISBNs, or info on the novel's original title, language, and country of publication) would be awkward in the article's body, but more importantly, it will be omitted without the infobox template. The information included in Wikipedia articles on novels varies widely from book to book. Infoboxes provide some measure of standardization. | Klaw ¡digame! 15:08, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

I definitely link that this sample infobox should be put on the main page of not only novels but page but also for the books wikiproject. Many of the arguments laid out against infoboxes are no longer applicable. You may want to follow the style laid out at either albums or films which includes the infobox on the side. Another point, if a book is part of series, it sometimes much more useful to see them presented side by side as they are done in album infobox chronology section. Thanks for generating the new formats and I look forward to seeing them applied around wikipedia. --Reflex Reaction (talk)• 19:54, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

Article template considered harmful

The article template is poor. Few articles about novels will be long enough to need subheadings. The subheadings just get in the way of the text and constrain the article.


Erewhon is a satirical novel by Samuel Butler, published in 1872. Erewhon (an anagram of "nowhere") is discovered by Higgs, the narrator, on the far side of a chain of unexplored mountains in a remote colony. His description embodies Butler's attack on the mental and moral stagnation and hypocrisy he found in England, and on his society's attitudes to crime, religion and the rearing of children. Higgs escapes from Erewhon in a balloon he constructed himself, accompanied by a girl with whom he has fallen in love.


Erewhon is a satirical novel by Samuel Butler, published in 1872.

1 Setting of Erewhon

Main article: Setting of Erewhon
Erewhon, on the far side of a chain of unexplored mountains in a remote colony.

2 Characters in Erewhon

Main article: Characters in Erewhon
Higgs, the narrator
Arowhena, a girl

3 Chapters of Erewhon

Chapter 1 of Erewhon, "Waste Lands"
Chapter 29 of Erewhon, "Conclusion"

4 Reviews of Erewhon


All I can say is, thank goodness so few articles use this template. But a few do, so it's worth stopping this nonsense before it causes any more harm.

For an example of how this issue affects real article, compare The Man Who Was Thursday with headings [2] and without [3]. Without headings the whole article fits on the first screen, with headings almost none of it does. Gdr 16:40, 2004 Aug 25 (UTC)

Not to mention that a listing of chapters is hardly necessary, let alone creating articles for each chapter. --Dalziel 86 11:54, 2 November 2005 (UTC)


why is there no Interpretations section? certainly it would be acceptable if a Reviews section is deemed appropriate? mnemonic 06:59, 2004 Jul 6 (UTC)

I agree, regarding that interpretations should be put in as "what the book was believed to mean", major themes, or impacts on society. Reviews by specific critics or newspapers are trivial and unimportant. Uber nemo 03:23, July 23, 2005 (UTC)

There are many novels which will need an interpretations section, at the very least to fulfill the notability criteria. I'm not sure 'interpretations' is the best term though. We do need a section to describe themes, etc. Also, my vote would be to put reviews as a subsection in the External Links section. Wikipedia's not going to be hosting any reviews, so that seems to be the obvious place for them. --Dalziel 86 12:02, 2 November 2005 (UTC)