Technicalities of Writing

Writer vs Novelist

A Writer is someone who writes.

A Novelist is someone who writes novels.

Why is the difference so important, when technically a writer can be a novelist and a novelist can be a writer? Because if you choose to call yourself a novelist, you are limiting yourself to novels. Certainly you can be more than one thing, such as a novelist and a scriptwriter, but even calling yourself both these still limits yourself to these two alone. On the other hand, if you called yourself a writer, you can theoretically be anything, a screenwriter, a poet, a copywriter, a game writer or in fact a novelist.

If you choose to call yourself a novelist, you are limiting yourself.

The key here is to open your stories for more publishing potential. Fine, your novel has been rejected traditional publishing, perhaps you even self-published your book, but it is not getting off the ground, so repackage it as a game or movie. The rejection by one type of publisher does not mean the rejection of the story itself.

Don’t by all means take one rejection and give up publishing your story as a novel, but feel free to consider repackaging your story as something else. You may be surprised how well your story works as something else, perhaps may even work better.

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Platform Agnosticism

I have actually inadvertently learnt this through working a personal story of mine. At first I wrote it as a short story for an English assignment. I was not entirely happy with the outcome (perhaps my inability to fully grasp the short story format played a part). Then for a Drama assignment I rewrote the story as a short play. I received glowing reviews from my teacher and an A+. More importantly, I felt the story was well represented and I felt entirely happy with the piece. This story failed in one format, but then was revitalised and successful in another.

This concept is one of the many proposed to me at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival event Story +. This sort of attitude can keep you from struggling and lead to successful publishing. There are many mediums that can be used to tell a story, just don’t forget to use them.

Have you locked yourself into a format?

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6 thoughts on “Writer vs Novelist

  1. You can undoubtedly see your enthusiasm inside the work you write. The earth hopes for a lot more passionate writers like you who arent worried to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

  2. Interesting concept. However, I would have to disagree. The way that I see it is, being a writer is the start of ones journey, and picking a profession is another. Novelist can also adapt to other “formats” such as: short stories, comics, scripts, a great example is Stephen King who has done all those extra three forms of writing on top of his original “format”. I believe that labeling someone with a format, and stating that they are ‘limited’ in what they can do is disparaging to the person. It is still good to see that you are thinking, however I think that you are either reading into it too much, or you are only generally thinking about the issue in lieu critically thinking.

    1. This concept is not mine, I heard it from some prominent writers at Brisbane Writer’s Festival at the Story + event. I was not trying to disparage anyone. I apologise if that was the impression I gave.

      The point was that using the term novelist, when marketing yourself, could leave an impression that novels are the only format you work in. Simply being aware of this, is worth keeping in mind when marketing yourself. You would not want to be disregarded simply because of a misunderstanding.

      1. I understand, yet I still think that labeling yourself as a ‘scriptwriter’ or a ‘novelist’ is not a bad idea. If you start a business e.g. Reider Films; because of the skills that took for said person to become a film producer, they would also have learnt how to edit, do sound and lighting tasks. This is why I gave the Stephen King example (another being Joe Hill) where being a novelist is just the name, the skills which you improved to get to said point shows that you are still a writer who can change formats at any given time. I classify myself as a Novelist and Scriptwriter, I still write short stories for anthologies, comic/manga authoring (similar to scripting, rather different on directions), and I blog whenever I get the time from professional freelancing for websites. Everyone is still regarded as a writer, what you label yourself as just shows that you have reached a point in your writing where you have experienced a lot of forms of writing, and want to focus on a few things than 20 of them. That is where I think the idea of Writer vs. Novelist is flawed, that is my own opinion anyways, and I value yours as well.

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