Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
Writers express themselves in words. There are many different kinds of writers—for instance, journalists who report for newspapers, and technical writers who explain how machines work. However, many of the best-known authors write fiction and are valued for the way they tell stories and how they use language.
A good writer has a style of writing that grips your attention, whether in a long novel or a short poem. Style includes creation of characters, use of dialogue (conversation), descriptive language, and how a piece of work is structured. Some writers experiment with language, such as Irish author James Joyce, who invented a highly individual form of English in his novel Finnegans Wake (1939).
Different writers are appreciated at different times. In the 18th century, writers copied the style of the Greeks and Romans. The early-19th-century Romantic writers, such as the English poet John Keats (1795–1821), valued nature and personal experience. They later gave way to the Realists, such as the French writer Victor Hugo (1802–1885), who wrote about politics and the daily struggles of ordinary people.
Children’s writers feature children as main characters, and write from the point of view of a child. Children’s stories often appeal to the imagination and have a lot of humor. Children’s authors choose subjects that are part of a child’s world, such as school, as in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (1965–); or the family, as in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888). However, many themes of children’s writing appeal to all ages, such as love, friendship, and adventure.
In fiction, the narrator is the person who tells the story. This can be the author or one of the characters. First-person narration is when the narrator speaks from the “I” point of view about events in which he or she has been personally involved.
Some writers are famous because they sell lots of books. Some cause controversy (public debate). Others win prizes, such as the Nobel Prize for Literature, or have a successful movie made of their book. Writers are also promoted in schools and colleges.