For other uses, see Writer (disambiguation).
"Wordsmith" redirects here. For other uses, see Wordsmith (disambiguation).
This article is about writers who use words. For writers of music, see Composer.
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.
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.
Literary and creative
Main article: Poetry
Poetry 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.
Main article: Novelist
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
Main article: Satire
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.
It is amazing to me that ... our age is almost wholly illiterate and has hardly produced one writer upon any subject.
Jonathan Swift, satirist (1704)
Short story writer
Main article: Short story
A short story writer is a writer of short stories, works of fiction that can be read in a single sitting.
Main article: Libretto
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.
("Who am I? I'm a poet. What do I do? I write. And how do I live? I live.")
Rodolpho, in Puccini's La bohème
Main article: Lyricist
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
Main article: Playwright
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 StoppardRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Act Two)
Main article: Screenwriter
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 seriesStar 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.
Main article: Speechwriter
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.
Interpretive and academic
Main article: List of biographers
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.
Main article: Critic
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
Main articles: Editing and Copywriting
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.
Main article: Encyclopedia
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.
Main article: List of essayists
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.
See also: List of historians
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.
Main article: Lexicography
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.
Main articles: Research and Scholarly method
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.
Main article: Translation
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
Main article: Blog
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".
Main article: Columnist
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.
Main article: List of diarists
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.
Main article: Journalism
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.
Main article: Memoir
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.
Main article: Ghostwriter
Ghostwriters write for, or in the style of, someone else so the credit goes to the person on whose behalf the writing is done.
Main article: Letter (message)
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".
Main article: Report
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".
The logs and reports of Master marinerWilliam Bligh contributed to his being honourably acquitted at the court-martial inquiring into the loss of HMS Bounty.
Main article: Scribe
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.
Main article: Technical writer
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.
Process and methods
Main article: Writing process
There is a range of approaches that writers take to the task of writing. Each writer needs to find his or her 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.
Happy are they who don't doubt themselves and whose pens fly across the pageGustave Flaubert writing to Louise Colet
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.
Main article: Crowdsourcing
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.
Develop skill/explore ideas
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. PhilologistJ. 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.
I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree;
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.
Ogden Nash, humorous poet, reworking a poem by Joyce Kilmer for comic effect.
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.
I Will Write
He had done for her all that a man could,
And some might say, more than a man should,
Then was ever a flame so recklessly blown out
Or a last goodbye so negligent as this?
‘I will write to you,' she muttered briefly,
Tilting her cheek for a polite kiss;
Then walked away, nor ever turned about. ...
Long letters written and mailed in her own head –
There are no mails in a city of the dead.
Even though he is in love with the same woman, Cyrano helps his inarticulate friend, Rageneau, to woo her by writing on his behalf ...
CYRANO: What hour is it now, Ragueneau?
RAGUENEAU (stopping short in the act of thrusting to look at the clock): Five minutes after six!...'I touch!' (He straightens himself): ...Oh! to write a ballade!
RAGUENEAU: Ten minutes after six.
CYRANO: (nervously seating himself at Ragueneau's table, and drawing some paper toward him): A pen!. . .
RAGUENEAU (giving him the one from behind his ear): Here – a swan's quill.
The prolific writer and poet Alvaro Mutis, who has died at the age of 90, enjoyed wide popularity outside Colombia and was considered by critics, including his good friend Gabriel García Marquez, as one of the most outstanding poets and storytellers of his generation. Despite the difficulties he faced, including time in a Mexican prison, Mutis produced an extensive collection of novels and poetry that earned major international honours such as the Xavier Villaurrutia, Prince of Asturias and Cervantes prizes.
He was born in 1923 in Bogota, Mutis was the son of the diplomat, Santiago Mutis, and Carolina Jaramillo. He spent part of his early years in Brussels, where his father was Colombia's ambassador. His literary career began in 1948 with the publication of his first volume of poetry, The Balance, followed in 1953 by Elements of the Disaster.
Before winning fame as a writer, Mutis traveled to Mexico in 1956 with letters of recommendation from the Spanish film-maker Luis Bunuel and the Mexican television producer Luis de Llano Palmer, and never left. Three years after his arrival, he spent 15 months in Lecumberri prison in Mexico City, accused of embezzlement by the US multinational Standard Oil, where he worked as head of public relations.
He wrote Diary of Lecumberri (1959), about his experience in the infamous jail, which he called "a lesson I will never forget in the most intense and deep layers of pain and failure."
Mutis' work is distinguished by a rich and interesting mix of the lyrical and narrative. He began to gain popularity in 1986 with the publication of his first instalment of his most famous work, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll, a collection of seven novellas about a wayward and quixotic sailor, considered by many critics to be one of the most memorable characters in fiction of recent decades. A solitary traveller who brings a stranger's detachment to his encounters and his lovers, he searches for meaning in a time of violence and inhumanity. In this sense some critics have compared Maqroll to Oedipus
Many say Maqroll mirrored the writer, who travelled extensively in many jobs that included broadcaster, film executive – he worked for the Latin American television divisions of Twentieth Century Fox and Columbia – radio actor and newspaper columnist.
After retiring in 1988, he devoted himself to reading and writing. His novels include The Manor of Araucaima and The True Story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. He was a witty man with a great sense of humour, the Mexican poet Hugo Gutierrez Vega said in a recent interview with the cultural commission commemorating Mutis's 90th birthday.
He describes a lost world, the old Colombia of rural ownership, like the family Mutis," Gutierrez said, noting that he spent part of his childhood the family coffee and sugar cane farm in Coello. From that experience, his developed a fascination with the sea, the tropics and the smell of coffee that marked his literary works.
Alvaro Mutis Jaramillo, writer: born Bogota 25 August 1923; died Mexico City 22 September 2013.Reuse content