Top 275 Novelist Quotes

Words matter. These are the best Novelist Quotes from famous people such as Sam Shepard, Stephen Graham Jones, Karl Ove Knausgard, E. L. Doctorow, Alice McDermott, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.

To sing a song is quite different than to write a poem.

To sing a song is quite different than to write a poem. I’m not and never will be a novelist, but to write a novel is not the same thing as writing a play. There is a difference in form, but essentially what you’re after is the same thing.
Sam Shepard
The short story, it’s not a step on the way to becoming a novelist.
Stephen Graham Jones
Form is, in a way, death. A novelist’s obligation is to break free from the form, even though he knows that this will also be seen as artificial and distanced from life.
Karl Ove Knausgard
The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.
E. L. Doctorow
I’m a novelist. I’m not a crusader, and I’m not an editorial writer. And I’m not writing fiction to convince anybody of anything.
Alice McDermott
I think a novelist must be more tender with living or ‘real’ people. The moral imperative of having been entrusted with their story looms before you every day, in every sentence.
Rick Bass
You have to go out of your way as a suspense novelist to find situations where the protagonists are somewhat helpless and in real danger.
Nelson DeMille
A good novelist pays attention to his characters. A good biographer pays attention to the documents before her. A good critic pays close attention to the thing she’s brought to evaluate.
Michelle Dean
A writer loses possession of her work as soon as it’s reaches its audience. Each reader brings his own experience and prejudice and imagination to the work. Television adaptation just goes one step further, and the novelist has to learn to let go.
Ann Cleeves
I am worrying about my country. I feel I have a responsibility as a novelist to do something.
Haruki Murakami
I get work because I’m primarily a novelist but I’ve become script doctor. I can work back and forth between French and English.
Norman Spinrad
I think, as journalists, we sometimes are afraid to enter into the emotional lives and the complications of the lives of the people we write about – we don’t really have the space and the room to deal with those things. But as a novelist, that’s precisely what you’re writing about.
Hector Tobar
I hated being a novelist when I was 20 – I had nothing to write about.
A. S. Byatt
I would love to see young writers come out of college and know there is a possibility to be a novelist.
Pat Conroy
I was directed because I knew I wanted to be a novelist, but I didn’t have a very good job or a way of getting published. I found those years to be among the most difficult of my life.
Jeffrey Eugenides
An urban novelist never minds a little decay.
Jane Smiley
I didn’t intend to be a novelist. I didn’t intend to be anything. I thought I’d be a journalist.
Alex Garland
I assume that – because you can get degrees in journalism from very reputable universities – I assume that people can be trained to be journalists. I’ve never been entirely certain that anyone can be trained to be a novelist in the same way.
William Gibson
My first attraction to writing novels was the plot, that almost extinct animal. Those novels I read which made me want to be a novelist were long, always plotted, novels – not just Victorian novels, but also those of my New England ancestors: Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
John Irving
Jane Austen was an extraordinary woman; to actually be able to survive as a novelist in those days – unmarried – was just unheard of.
Julie Walters
So, how to stay inside the world of entertainment without actually getting another job? I felt the only logical answer was to become a novelist. So I wrote the first book – driven by some very real feelings of desperation – and it worked.
Lee Child
I’ve been a software engineer, a novelist, a journalist, and a manager – and managing developers is easily the trickiest thing I’ve ever done.
Jon Evans
Literature has always been a part of my life. I studied history and literature in college. My mother is a novelist; I grew up around books.
Elliot Ackerman
My affinity, as a novelist, with Dickens has been overstated. I relish the way everything in his prose pulsates with life force, and I’m in debt to him every time I invest inanimate objects with uncanny animism. But his female characters annoy me.
Michel Faber
I actually did work and produced two short dissertations, one on Faulkner and one on the film criticism of the stream-of-consciousness novelist Dorothy Richardson.
Claire Messud
Nobody in France would ever say ‘He’s a Jewish novelist’ or ‘She’s a black novelist,’ even though people do write about those subjects. It would look absurd to a French person to go into a bookstore and see a ‘Gay Studies’ section.
Edmund White
I try to approach the film medium as a novelist and the novel medium as a filmmaker on some level. It’s that question: Do we think in pictures, or do we think in language? And the novelist believes one thing, and the filmmaker believes another thing – and I’m fascinated by that balance.
Noah Hawley
I guess, when I left university, I liked the idea of being a writer, and I thought then that being a writer really meant that you were a novelist. But if one of the impulses for being a novelist is wanting to be a storyteller, I never had any urge to tell stories.
Geoff Dyer
Dostoevsky is such a bad writer it is hard to take him seriously as a novelist, though he is a wonderful philosopher.
John Banville
Let’s put it this way: if you are a novelist, I think you start out with a 20 word idea, and you work at it and you wind up with a 200,000 word novel. We, picture-book people, or at least I, start out with 200,000 words and I reduce it to 20.
Eric Carle
A novelist has a specific poetic license which also applies to his own life.
Jerzy Kosinski
I started my career as a novelist. 'Veronica Mars' was

I started my career as a novelist. ‘Veronica Mars’ was first imagined as a novel.
Rob Thomas
A novelist who writes nothing for 10 years finds his reputation rising. Because I keep on producing books they say there must be something wrong with this fellow.
J. B. Priestley
To become a novelist, the most crucial thing one must do is read, read and read again – gradually you begin to think like a writer. Ideas are not found – they are shaped.
The function of the novelist… is to comment upon life as he sees it.
Frank Norris
I wouldn’t dream of commenting on Hilary Mantel as a novelist, frankly I’d be grateful if she stayed off my patch as a historian. She is intelligent, she is bright, she is an admirable writer. I happen to find her Tudor novels unreadable, but that’s because I am a Tudor historian.
David Starkey
In mid-20th-century America, it could be argued that the novelist still had the most claim of anyone to omniscience. Whatever he/she couldn’t prove, he/she could gesture at.
Joshua Cohen
I don’t really consider myself a novelist, it just came out purely by accident.
Wole Soyinka
The novelist’s obsession, moment by moment, is with language: finding the right next word.
Philip Roth
There are autobiographical elements to the albums, and when I write, I always reference my own life as well as other things, so I’m just like any novelist or any fiction writer who tells stories.
John Legend
For years, I felt I was a novelist, but now I know I can write short fiction.
Jill McCorkle
Novel-writing is, for the novelist, a game of let’s pretend.
Philip Roth
I know that books I have written will still resonate in 50 years – particularly ‘My Sister’s Keeper.’ It has sold three million copies in the States alone. I strongly feel that, as a novelist, you have a platform and the ability to change people’s minds.
Jodi Picoult
I’m a competent novelist. I’m getting better. But I’m a really good short story writer.
Tim Pratt
Dostoevski does not tell you what to think about his legend, but he requires that you think about it. The novelist was a deeply religious man and he always thought many readers missed that point about him.
Suzanne Fields
I don’t mind when people are telling me about their 1971 Firebird, but it’s the same thing as people telling me about their car or something. It’s fine if you have an interest. By talking with me, though, you could be interviewing a novelist about guitars. It’s the same thing, except I don’t write that well either.
Jonny Greenwood
When I started out as a novelist, I thought I was going to be a private-eye writer. That was my intent, and that’s what I studied, I mean, scholarly.
Greg Rucka
My father was a screenwriter, but he was also a novelist.
Sadie Jones
As an historical novelist – there are few jobs more retrospective. I dumped science at an early age.
Sara Sheridan
When I was 30 or so – by that time I had become an assistant D.A. – I decided I would try to write a novel. To be clear: I did not decide to become a novelist. Honestly, it never crossed my mind that I could actually earn a living as a professional novelist.
William Landay
I know that it’s axiomatic in the film industry that you’re not supposed to let the novelist develop their own story. Well, first of all, that’s kind of up to the novelist – because they don’t have to sell it. But also, I don’t believe it. It’s about trust.
Lenny Abrahamson
I think you can learn a lot from primary sources. ‘The Penguin Book of Witches,’ which is edited by novelist Katherine Howe, is a wonderful compilation of primary sources about witchcraft.
Deborah Harkness
I was one of those kids who never wanted to be anything but a novelist. And I don’t know a lot of people who truly live the life that they dreamed of.
Scott Turow
My own interest in Kafka’s letter came about when I was writing an article on Peter Ginz, the boy novelist held in Terezin, not far from Prague, and exterminated in Auschwitz by the Nazis. The Ginz family were from more or less the same milieu as the Kafkas.
Justin Cartwright
I’m not an especially male novelist, but I think men are better at writing about men, and the same is true for women. Reading Saul Bellow is a revelation, but he can’t write women. There are exceptions, like Marilynne Robinson’s ‘Gilead,’ but generally, I think it’s true.
Justin Cartwright