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Manual of Style/Layout

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The following are the standard components of Unbeliever Wiki's novel articles. An infobox can be placed at the head of a novel article.

Lead sectionEdit

The lead should summarize the article as a whole, thus the structure and content of your article should be reflected in the lead of the article. Leads tend to average between 2–4 paragraphs, depending on the size of the article.


Plot summaries should be concise and an integral part of the article. Three or four paragraphs are usually sufficient for a full-length work, although very complex and lengthy novels may need a bit more. Shorter novels and short stories should have shorter summaries.

A plot summary should avoid reproducing the work being discussed. Instead, it should summarise the work, touching on plot, important events, character developments, etc. In a longer work, every conversation and event does not need to be mentioned. Size of the plot summary should be roughly proportional to the size of the plot. This is not always equivalent to the length of the work, since some plots are complex and dense while others are simple and straightforward.

Spoilers should not under any circumstances be deleted or omitted, as doing so directly contradicts the wiki-wide content disclaimer. In short, Unbeliever Wiki contains spoilers; please respect this policy.


If appropriate, a character section would consist of brief character outlines, as opposed to a simple list. Length of each entry should vary relative to the character's importance to the story. Most articles do not need this section. Instead, a finely crafted plot summary is used to introduce the characters to the reader.

Major themesEdit

In many ways this is the most important section of the page because it details the "meat" of the novel. The plot of a novel carries the themes and it is the themes that are often the most interesting. A small example will illustrate this. A plot summary of the story of the Fall might run like this: "Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and therefore God banished them from Paradise and cursed them with mortality." One of the themes of this little tale is "sin leads to death." It is more important that readers are made aware of the theme of "sin" than all of the details about the bits of fruit. This example also illustrates why an overly detailed plot summary will only confuse readers. Details about who ate the fruit first and who tempted whom are irrelevant to the larger issues—sin and death. At least in a Protestant reading.

And that brings us to a very important point. In order to write a comprehensive "Themes" section, you must do research. You cannot present your own opinion of what the novel's themes are. You must present the consensus of literary scholars and historians. For so-called "classic" texts, this is easy, but time-consuming (it may involve months of research). You can use the Google Scholar to find citations for these publications online. Sometimes you won't be able to find a full-text version of a source through Google Scholar, but you may be able to find a citation that you can dig deeper into.


Like the "Themes" section, this section should be based on as much research as you can do and should rely on the same sorts of sources – literary critics and historians, if possible, and book reviews and other writers' comments if not.

This section should lay out the writing styles employed by the author. For example, if the novel is an epistolary novel, there should be an explanation of that style and how it works specifically in the novel being discussed on the page. Also, any notable features of the writer's style should be spelled out. The following is a list of examples of the kind of stylistic elements that have been extensively discussed by scholars and necessitate an inclusion on any page about these author's novels: Virginia Woolf's unique narrative voice, Thomas Pynchon's postmodernist tendencies, and Jane Austen's use of free indirect discourse.


Include here a history of the novel's writing and development. For example, did the author use a 'real life' story to shape the plot? Did the author model a character on a 'real life' person? Did the author use another novel as a model? Is this novel in some sense a sequel to a previous work? None of these can be speculative. The 'background' section must report the writings of significant and reliable sources.

Publication historyEdit

Relying on research (see below), you should briefly outline the publication history of the novel ONLY if there is interesting information to relate. For example, some novels, such as William Godwin's Caleb Williams, were published with two different endings. Some novels were first published serially and then later published as bound books; this is the case with many of Charles Dickens' novels, for example. Maria Edgeworth altered significant elements of one of the marriage plots of her novel Belinda in response to criticism after the first edition was published. Other novels have been censored or altered by later editors. If there are no particularly interesting details to relate, try to work the basic facts of the novel's first publication into the article at some point. If both sections are short, it may be appropriate to merge Background and Publication history.


Understanding the novel's position in its own society and in later literary and cultural traditions is crucial; this material should be presented in a "Reception" section (clearly, a modern novel can't have much of a legacy yet). You should analyze how the novel was received by critics, meaning professional or well-known reviewers at the time that the novel was published, and not comments from members of the public. (Quotes from users on and blogs do not count, as these are self-published.) Comments from influential opinion-makers are acceptable, however; for example, it may well be interesting what Queen Victoria said about a particular Victorian novel. Your research will tell you what is important and what is not.

Relying on your research, you should also indicate what the public reaction to the novel was. Sales figures can help indicate this, but do not rely exclusively on reviews and sales figures for this section. Since reading habits were different in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is helpful to include descriptions of readers' responses to the novel as well as descriptions of how the novel was read. For a good example of this, see the "Style" section of Uncle Tom's Cabin, which explains the "sentimental" style of the novel and how readers responded at the time. Such descriptions help the reader understand the novel within its historical and social context. If the novel is a cult novel, an explanation of how the "cult" label developed would also be appropriate (again, all of this information would come from your research).


The adaptation section should detail any notable information about the novel's adaption into dramatic media, including films, TV miniseries, Broadway shows, etc. If this information is extensive, consider creating an entirely separate article for this information, such as "[Novel] in popular culture."


Any verifiable fact regarding the article in question can be added under this section.

Footnotes and referencesEdit

This section is still a work in progress.

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