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Old 03-12-2009, 11:08 AM
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Default Writer's Beat Glossary


This is a glossary of common, writing-related words. Words are organized topically and alphabetized within the topics. Links and cross-referencing bring you to more information. Some parts are still in progress and may overlap, so bear with us as we work on improving it!

Many thanks are due to Q Wands and Devon, whose idea it was and who helped create it! The Glossary is maintained by the staff, so if you have any questions, corrections, or suggested definitions, please contact one of us.

Table of Contents (by post)
BOOKS
COMPONENTS & DEVICES
CRITICISM
GENRES
GRAMMAR
PUBLISHING
POETRY
WRITING PROCESS


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Old 03-12-2009, 11:19 AM
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Default Books

BOOKS -- There are different types of books.

Anthology: a collection of short works, either by one author or several different ones

Autobiography: a biography of oneself; the author's life story

Biography: a life story, usually of a famous person. Can be "authorised" (written with the subject's permission and help) or "unauthorised."

Novel: a long work of fiction, 50,000 words or more

Novella: a shorter work of fiction, 17,500 - 50,000 words

Novelette: an extended short story, 7,000 - 17,500 words

Series: when the same set of characters or the same premise is used to write many books

Trilogy: a set of three books used to tell a (usually epic) story

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Old 03-12-2009, 11:22 AM
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Default Components & Devices

COMPONENTS & DEVICES -- Some elements of writing

Antagonist: someone opposed to the hero or protagonist, not necessarily a villian.

Antihero: a protagonist whose thoughts, actions, and general behaviour seem to mock all that is heroic.

Body: body of text, the main part of the narrative.

Climax: the culmination or high point of a story where the protagonist’s destiny becomes apparent; the point of highest emotional impact. Also called the turning point or crisis.

Complication: 1. the first point at which opposition to the protagonist becomes apparent in the plot; 2. the involvement of characters in a complex web of conflict(s) resolved in the dénouement.

Conclusion: the end of the story revealing what happens to the major characters after the dénouement.

Dénouement: 1. the point at which the various elements of the plot are revealed and explained; 2. the resolution of plot conflicts.

Dialogue: generally, the spoken conversation between characters, although some novels use a character’s thoughts as a sort of internal dialogue.

Dialogue tag: a device used to show who is speaking a piece of dialogue. There are two types: attributive ("This is a dialogue tag," he said.) and action (Janice turned to Peter. "This is an action tag.")

Epilogue: a closing section appended to a story, or a short speech delivered to the audience by a performer at the end of a play.

Exposition: device whereby dramatic events not directly depicted are portrayed through dialogue, flashbacks, description, or narrative.

Falling action: the action after the climax leading to the conclusion.

Flashback: a narrative break used to introduce events that occurred in the past and which have some bearing on the present action.

Foreshadowing: 1. device used to prepare the reader for what is to come; 2. sections of text whose significance only become apparent later on; 3. images or symbols that encapsulate a central theme or future event

Hero/Heroine: the principal character in a literary work, who may or may not display qualities of courage and strength. (See "Protagonist" and "Antihero")

Hook: a narrative device in the lead paragraph used to catch the reader’s interest immediately.

Mood: the prevailing emotional feel of a story, often displayed through the author’s attitude towards his or her subject

Motif: a recurrent element used to illuminate the central theme of a work.

Lead: the first paragraph, which may include a "hook"; it leads readers into the composition.

Narrative: 1. the relation of a story or event; 2. the act or process of narrating a series of events in an organised manner. (This is what is referred to as telling, not showing.)

Narrator: the person relating a story, who can be a character within the story or someone outside of the action. (The narrator should not be confused with the author.)

Plot: the conflict or struggle in a work of fiction; 2. A series of events, each preceding from each other, that lead to the climax, having a recognisable beginning, middle and end.

Point of View (POV): the angle or viewpoint from which a story is told (i.e. first person, third person, objective, omniscient/limited omniscient); POV is used to set the tone and feel of the work.

Prologue: a preface or introductory chapter to a piece of fiction, written in the narrator’s voice, which either sets the scene or foreshadows what is to come.

Protagonist: the principal character in a literary work. (See "Hero/Heroine")

Rising action: the events leading to the climax of a story, sometimes restricted to action after the complication.

Setting: 1. the complete environment during which the action of a story occurs; 2. the time and place at which the events of a story take place.

Style: 1. the personal literary fingerprint of an author; 2. the manner of expression unique to an author

Symbol: an object, event, or image used to represent something beyond its literal meaning.

Theme: the general purpose, meaning, idea or insight of a literary work conveyed, directly or indirectly, by the author

Tone: the attitude the author takes towards their material (similar to Mood); this can be serious, humorous, ironic, sarcastic, playful, and so on.

Verisimilitude: the appearance of truth or reality achieved in a work of fiction by the inclusion of details that are appropriate to the story.

Villain: an evil character who is generally at odds with the protagonist or hero of a story.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:33 AM
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Default Criticism

CRITICISM -- Talking about writing can require special words.

Authorial intrusion: an author's own interjections into a storyline, sometimes tangental, sometimes related to the story

Analogy: the comparison of two different things that are alike in some way

Antagonist: the character readers are expected to dislike. Not always a bad guy! (see "Protagonist" and "Anti-hero")

Antihero: a flawed, disagreeable, or otherwise unusual protagonist (see "protagonist")

Catharsis: the effect of "purification" achieved by tragic drama; the feeling of emotional release through art.

Character driven: a story in which readers read on to learn more about the characters (see "Plot driven")

Cliche: anything which was once apt but is now overused, tired, and predictable. Can apply to phrases, plots, etc.

Colloquial: relaxed in tone; using a conversational style

Conventions: the norms of a particular genre or style; the standard way of doing something (grammar, formatting, whatever)

Description: when writing is used to paint a picture for readers through precise observations and attention to the senses

Deus ex machina: a person, magic power, or other plot device that appears suddenly to neatly solve all problems and get a character out of a tough spot.

Double entendre: a phrase which has two meanings or interpretations. The surface meaning is innocent and the other salacious, sinister, or something else. The phase was borrowed from French, but in modern French the phrase is "double entente." Either spelling is acceptable.

Denouement: the end result of all the complications in a work; the final outcome of actions in the plot; the way it ends

Euphemism: a roundabout, nice way of saying something unpleasant, such as "passing" for "death" or "he took her" for "he raped her."

Exposition: when writing is used to tell readers background information, facts, or the reason/purpose of something

Foreshadowing: when events earlier in the story mirror something that happens later

Foil: a character who mirrors another character in some way. Perhaps his circumstances or relationships are similar to those of the main character and allow readers to see things from another point of view. Example: Old Norway and Fortinbras are foils for Claudius and Hamlet.

Irony: when words are used to suggest the opposite of what they literally mean; when the results of an action are surprisingly different from expected, yet illuminate deeper meaning

Imagery: when visual description is used to conjure images which complement the story. For instance, an image of a lone figure on a battlefield could be used to convey the character's isolation.

Moral: the meaning or lesson which readers may take from a story. Can be explicit or implicit.

Motif: an image, element, or pattern repeated throughout a work

Plot driven: a story in which readers read on to find out what happens next. (see "Character driven")

Plot device: an event or element which the author uses for a specific purpose. If the character needs to be alone in the second half of a book, killing his wife in an earthquake is a plot device.

Plot hole: something which doesn't make sense in a story

Protagonist: the character readers are expected to sympathise with. Not always a good guy! (see "Antagonist" and "Anti-hero")

SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook): a readability formula, designed by G. Harry McLaughlin in 1969, that estimates the years of education needed to completely understand a piece of writing; a tongue-in-cheek way of rating how understandable a work is.

SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation, And Grammar): a catch-all phrase for the mechanics of writing. Critics may say you need help with SPAG; friendly members may give you SPAG checks.

Tension: a sense of problems pending, issues unresolved, or decisions yet unmade; anything which pulls characters in different directions and creates drama for readers

Tone: The writer or narrator's attitude toward the story. Can be characterized as "ironic", "sarcastic", "positive", etc.

Voice: The writer or narrator's distinctive manner of expression. Though Joyce and Hemmingway both wrote in English, they have different voices which let you know which one you're reading.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:35 AM
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Default Genres

GENRES -- These are types of writing often identified by their content and style. (Work in progress, definitions to come)

Adventure:
Creative nonfiction:
Children's: (see "Young adult")
Crime:
Dystopian:
Epistolary: a composition in the form of a letter or a series of letters.
Fan fiction: stories written by fans of a particular movie, television series, or book. These stories include the characters and plot lines of the "canon" with varying levels of accuracy.
Fantasy:
Formula fiction:
Graphic:
Gothic:
Historical:
Horror:
Hyperfiction:
Interactive:
Mystery:
Romance:
Satire:
Science Fiction:
Technical writing:
Utopian:
Western:
Young adult: (see "Children's")
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:38 AM
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Default Grammar

GRAMMAR -- The building blocks of language.

Antonyms: words with opposite meanings, such as "light"/"dark" or ""happy"/"sad". (See "Synonyms")

Consonant: 1) a sound which is made by blocking or ubstructing the air in the mouth. 2) any letter which represents a consonant sound; often defined as "not a vowel". (see "Vowel")

Clause: a unit including a subject (doer of action) and a predicate (the action and any other description)
  • Dependent clauses cannot stand alone. They may begin with words like "if" or "when", and they must always be linked to an independent clause.
  • Independent clauses can stand alone. A complete sentence must have at least one.
Homonym: words which have the same spelling but different meanings, such as "lead" the metal and "lead" the verb

Homophones: words which have the same sound but different spelling and meanings, such as "allowed" and "aloud"

Oxymoron: a combination of words that seem to contradict each other and yet make sense, such as "dry ice", "government intelligence", or "gentle murderers".

Parallel structure: items in a list should be composed of the same parts of speech. Example: "I like chocolate[NOUN], dogs[NOUN], and go[VERB] for walks" is wrong. "I like chocolate[NOUN], dogs[NOUN], and walks[NOUN]" is right. Lists with verbs should all have the same tense.

Paragraph: a unit of one or several sentences that center around a common idea. Paragraphs are set off from each other by indentation (the first line goes in a little) or blocking (there's a blank line above and below it).

Parts of speech:
  • Adjective: a descriptive word that modifies a noun. "pretty" and "hateful"
  • Adverb: a descriptive word that modifies a verb or adjective. "quickly" and "beautifully"
  • Conjunctions: words which connect ("conjoin") words or clauses.
    • Co-ordinating conjuntions can connect two independent clauses. They are: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So. ("FANBOYS")
    • Subordinating conjunctions can be used to make an independent clause into a dependent one: While, When, If, Meanwhile, etc.
  • Noun: names a person, place, or thing. Can be singular or plural.
    • Abstract nouns cannot be touched. "love" and "patriotism"
    • Concrete nouns can be touched. "cats" and "bridge"
    • Proper nouns are the actual names of a noun, capitalized. "London Bridge" and "Betty"
    • Pronouns stand in for nouns. "he"/"him", "she"/"her", "I"/"me"
  • Prepositions: words that show the relationship between two things. "On", "under", "for", "by", etc. Verb: an action word. Verbs show what's happening. Can be inflected for tense.
Palindrome: a word or phrase which is spelled the same backwards as forwards. "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama".

Sentence: a unit of meaning begun with a capital letter and ended with a period/full stop; a unit of meaning built around a clause (see "Clause")
  • Complex sentence: an independent clause and any number of dependent clauses linked together.
  • Compound sentence: two independent clauses joined by a comma and coordinating conjunction
  • Fragment: a sentence which does not have at least one independent clause
  • Run-on sentence: a sentence which includes too many independent clauses or independent clause improperly linked. Can usually be fixed with better punctuation or by making two sentences.
Syntax: word order in sentences

Synonyms: different words which have the same meaning. (See "Antonyms")

Vowel: 1) a sound which is made without obstructing the air in the mouth. 2) any letter which represents a vowel sound, in English A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. (see "Consonant")
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:44 AM
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Default Publishing

PUBLISHING -- Once you seek a publisher for your work, this vocabulary will be helpful.

Advance: a sum of money received by an author during the writing and publishing period; an advance is generally offset against royalties after publication.

Agent: a person who represents authors and works to sell their writing to publishers for a percentage.

Copyediting: the process of preparing text for publication by removing errors and refining the language.

Copyright: protective right in law held by the originator of any creative work, preventing others from using the work without permission.

Cover letter: a brief letter sent along with a manuscript offering additional information about the book, the author, his/her successes, ambitions, and why the recipient should read the enclosed manuscript. (see "Query Letter")

Electronic Publishing (e-publishing): the publication of work in a digital format, for instance as an e-book or e-zine.

Formatting: the organisation of printed matter into a standardised form, i.e. specific type size, font, spacing and so on. (i.e. Courier 12-point, double-spaced)

Ghostwriter: an author who writes a work and gives the credit of authorship to another.

Manuscript: the handwritten or typewritten copy of a work.

Proposal: a written suggestion for a book sent to a publisher, primarily used for works of non fiction.

Query Letter: a brief letter sent along with a manuscript offering additional information about the book, the author, his/her successes, ambitions, and why the recipient should read the enclosed manuscript. (see "Cover Letter")

Rejection Letter/Slip: acknowledgement from an editor/publisher that your work will not be used.

Rights: the specific rights granted by an author to a publisher which may include, but are not limited to, print or electronic publication rights, hardback or paperback rights, or the right to publish the book in certain countries.

Royalties: the amount of money paid to an author by a publisher based on sales of a book.

SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope): an envelope with your own address and a stamp, intended to make replying easier for the other party. It should be included with all correspondence to agents, editors, and publishers.

Self-Publishing: the act of publishing a book through means other than an established publishing house, generally using a print-on-demand service, which allows the author greater control over their work as well as increased revenue from same. (compare to "Vanity Publisher")

Simultaneous Submission: submitting the same manuscript to several publishers at once, generally frowned upon by publishers.

Vanity Publisher: 1) a company that publishes an author’s book under their imprint, but requires the author to pay for production costs in advance; 2) a company that preys on gullible authors offering to publish their book for a sizeable fee, after which little or no marketing is done to sell the book leaving the author out-of-pocket and with little or no book sales.

Withdrawal Letter: a letter withdrawing your manuscript for consideration to a publisher; used as a recourse when repeated enquities fail to bring a response over a long period of time.

Word Count: 1) the precise number of words in a given document; 2) a rough estimate used by publishers to estimate the length of a manuscript using a guideline of 250 words per page.
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:50 AM
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Default Poetry

POETRY

Assonance: the repetition of vowel sounds (see "Alliteration)

Apostrophe: when the poet addresses a person, thing, or abstract concept as if talking to someone directly. Often prefaced by "O".

Allegory: a kind of extended metaphor, often made explicit through naming characters and things according to what they symbolise

Alliteration: the repetition on consonant sounds (see "Assonance")

Alliterative Verse: an Old English form of poetry which consists of half-lines linked by alliteration

Anaphora: when a series of paragraphs, sentences, phrases or lines each begin with the same words. (See "Epistrophe")

Blazon: a detailed description of a person, using conventional tropes to describe each part of the body. A woman might have "rose cheeks", "pearly teeth", "luminous globes", "a voice like harps", etc. This was a staple of Elizabethan love poetry.

Blank Verse: un-rhymed iambic pentameter

Ballad meter: 1) most generally, a poetic form where lines alternate four stressed syllables and three, used for narrative. 2) more narrowly, a poetic form where lines alternate iambic tetrameter with iambic trimeter, stanzas consist of four lines, and rhyming is ABAB. (see "Common meter")

Chain Rhyme: when the rhyme scheme includes using a rhyme from one stanza to link to another stanza, and so on from there. A rhyme scheme rather than a type of rhyme.

Chiasmus: (to come)

Cinquain: a five line poem of strictly prescribed meter and/or parts of speech.

Common Meter (a.k.a. Hymn meter): 1) most generally, a poetic form where lines alternate four stressed syllables and three, used for narrative. 2) more narrowly, a poetic form where lines alternate iambic tetrameter with iambic trimeter, stanzas consist of four lines, and rhyming is XAXA. (see "Ballad meter")

Doggerel: poorly written, unpoetic, or joking verse

Dialect Poetry: poetry written in any non-standard dialect

Concretist Poetry: drawing with text, using the shape, size, and layout of text to add a visual element

Ekphrasis: the description of a work of art within another work of art, such as a poem about a painting or a paragraph describing a concert.

Epistrophe: when a series of paragraphs, sentences, phrases or lines each end with the same words. (See "Anaphora")

Free Verse: poetry in which rhyme and meter are not used in any structured way; poetry which exploits natural cadences, repetition, and images

Hyperbole (overstatement): describing something as more than it actually is, such as calling a small dog a "fierce monster" or an unpleasant person "Satan". (see "Meiosis")

Metaphor: when one thing is said to be another as a means of comparison. (see "Simile")
  • Explicit metaphors say X = Y. Example: "the eyes are the window to the soul"
  • Implicit metaphors suggest that X = Y by showing characteristics. Example: "the salesman slithered away"
  • Dead metaphors are used so often that people don't think of them metaphorically. Example: "a bright student". (See also "Cliche")
Meiosis (understatement): describing something as less than it actually is, such as calling a big problem "little" or an evil person "unpleasant". (see "Hyperbole")

Narrative poetry: poetry which tells a complete story

Occasional poems: poems written to commemorate particular occasions, such as weddings, funerals, Christmas, etc.

Onomatopoeia: when words sound like their meanings. Can range from sound effects like "woof woof" and "tick tock" to words like "rustle", "creak", and "moan".

Poetic conceit (a.k.a. extended metaphor): a metaphor which extends throughout a poem and is fully explored, rather than being used just once.

Personification (a.k.a. pathetic fallacy): giving human characteristics to non-human

Punctuation in Poetry
  • Caesura (plural "caesurea"): a pause in the middle of a line or poetry
  • End-stopping: when a pause, usually marked with some punctuation, comes at the end of a line
  • Enjambment: when a line ends with no punctuation and the phrase is continued on the next line. The two lines are "enjambed."
Rhyme: when the endings of two or more words match in some way.
  • Eye rhyme: the words end with the same spelling, but don't sound the same. "prove" and "love"
  • Feminine rhyme: the final two syllables sound the same, with the second to last being stronger. "button" and "mutton"
  • Masculine rhyme: the final syllables sound the same. "catch" and "match", "bomb" and "aplomb"
  • Multiple rhyme: more than one syllable makes the rhyme (includes feminine rhyme). "reprehensible" and "indespensible"
    • Mosaic rhyme: when multiple rhymes are spread across words.
    • Holorime: when whole lines rhyme with each other.
  • Slant rhyme: when a rhyme is inexact. "bust" and "hush"
Simile: when one thing is compared to another, usually with the words "like" or "as". Example: "He's like a rock". (See "Metaphor")
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Old 03-12-2009, 11:52 AM
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Default Writing Process

WRITING PROCESS -- Everyone has their own ways to write. Here are some common techniques and stages. (Work in Progress, definitions to come)

Drafts
Free writing
Outlining
Pre-writing
Proofreading
Rough draft
Revise/revision
Stream of consciousness
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