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Writing Resources Quick Links Contests. 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: 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. 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?
Long letters written and mailed in her own head — There are no mails in a city of the dead. 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. 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.
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. 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. It is amazing to me that Jonathan Swift , satirist .
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. Most opera composers collaborate with a librettist but unusually, Richard Wagner wrote both the music and the libretti for his works himself.
What do I do? And how do I live? 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. Writers of lyrics, such as these two, adapt other writers' work as well as create entirely original pieces. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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". 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 — , 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 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: For example, they might be novelists or essayists. 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? We have no friends — that is a great thing — and no enemies. 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. 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. Encyclopaedists create organised bodies of knowledge. 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.
Professional historians typically work in colleges and universities, archival centers, government agencies, museums, and as freelance writers and consultants. Writers who create dictionaries are called lexicographers. One of the most famous is Samuel Johnson — , 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 ; Charles Darwin , who wrote On the Origin of Species ; and Sigmund Freud , who wrote The Interpretation of Dreams 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.
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.
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: 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 s, 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. 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 — , 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 — was a year-old girl whose diary from to 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. 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. 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. The letters or epistles of Paul the Apostle were so influential that over the 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 — 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: 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 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 and "found manuscripts in places like Tours and Toulouse " which they copied. 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 his or her own process and most describe it as more or less a struggle.
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. 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". A History when it was mistakenly thrown into the fire by a maid. He wrote it again from the beginning. 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 page Gustave 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. 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. 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 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 , 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.
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