34 Writing Terms and Meanings

Writing Terms and Meanings

Whether you’re a professional writer, amateur writer, or student, it’s important to know and be able to define basic writing terminology. These literary terms will allow you to communicate effectively with others about your writing, which is necessary to properly understand assignments and interpret feedback from editors, agents, readers, or teachers.

Related: Rhetorical Devices, Literary Elements, Literary Techniques.

Literary and Drama terminology.

1. Anthology

An anthology is a collection of short stories published together in a single volume. Sometimes all of the stories in an anthology are written by the same person, but not always. Sometimes they include stories written by several authors, but all with a similar theme.

2. Bibliography

When writing a book, paper, or essay based on factual information compiled from a variety of sources, you will need to include a bibliography. A bibliography is simply a list of sources that were used to gather information used in the finished piece of writing. There are several bibliography formats, each of which is used in different situations. You can use a bibliography generator to help you create one.

3. Blurb

A blurb is a short description of a book, movie, or other product written for promotional purposes and appearing on the cover of a book or in an advertisement.

4. Catharsis

Conceived by Aristotle as the cleansing effect of emotional release that tragic drama has on its audience, catharsis stems from a Greek verb meaning “to purify, purge.” Today, it can be used to describe any emotional release, including a good long laugh or cry that is followed by a sense of balance and freshness afterwards.

5. Chekhov’s Gun

Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that suggests that details within a story or play will contribute to the overall narrative. This encourages writers to not make false promises in their narrative by including extemporaneous details that will not ultimately pay off by the last act, chapter, or conclusion.

6. Citation

When a writer quotes or paraphrases someone else’s work or ideas in a written work, the writer is responsible for including a citation that specifies the source of the information. This is how writers attribute credit to the sources they consult when researching topics to write about.

7. Context

In writing, context refers to the circumstances surrounding the information the author is providing to readers. Context sets the stage for the story or factual information being presented, providing insight into the reasons for and motivations behind a character’s actions and decisions.

8. Copywriting

The act of writing text for sales materials is called copywriting. This type of writing involves writing advertisements, website content, brochure content, and more.

9. Creative Writing

Creative writing involves creating original literary works focused on telling a story or evoking emotion in the reader. It can be works of fiction or nonfiction. There are many types of creative writing, including books, poems, and essays. Generally, any written work that is not academic, technical, journalistic, or professional represents an example of creative writing.

10. Denouement

Denouement is a French word that literally means the action of untying, from a verb meaning to untie. The English word is pronounced like the French: day-noo-MON. The last syllable has a nasalized vowel instead of the n sound. You can use it outside the context of plays or novels, too: you might describe the denouement of an argument between two friends.

11. Deus ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly or abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence. It is Latin for “God from the machine,” and the device has been around since the time of Greek theater. The ancient playwright Euripides popularized the technique.

12. Draft

Written works often go through multiple drafts before being finalized. When a writer completes a work that still needs to be edited or reviewed, the document is in draft form. People sometimes use the phrase rough draft instead of simply saying draft. A document remains in draft form until it has been finalized for submission or publication.

13. E-book

An e-book is a written work that is published and made available to readers in electronic form. This type of publication is available to readers as a digital download or to read online.

14. Ensemble

Ensemble comes from the Middle French word ensemblée, which means “together, at the same time.” Groups of people who perform at the same time are ensembles, so are things that are put together. A collection of short stories or artwork can be an ensemble, but you don’t have to be a writer or artist to be complimented on your ensemble — the outfit you are wearing.

15. Epilogue

An epilogue provides information about what happened to beyond a story’s ending point. It may explain what happened to key characters or how issues left unresolved at the conclusion of the story were finally resolved.

16. Essay

An essay is a brief written work in which a writer provides information on a particular topic while (usually) also sharing his or her opinion. There are several types of essays, including persuasive and descriptive essays. Essay writing is an important skill for students to have.

17. Feature Story

A feature story is a non-fiction human interest story written for a magazine, newspaper, or website. Rather than simply recounting the news, this type of writing involves providing more in-depth information about a topic of interest to readers of the publication or website on which it is published.

18. Genre

When referring to written work, the term genre refers to a specific category or type of writing. Writing genres include fairy tales, fiction, historical fiction, and many other. Click here to see the main literary of genres types.

19. Hamartia

Achilles’ heel was his hamartia – his fatal flaw. Most tragedies couldn’t exist without hamartia. It’s in the tragic plays of the ancient Greek writer Aeschylus to works like Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. In Shakespeare, examples of hamartia are Hamlet’s indecisiveness and Juliet’s blind loyalty to Romeo. Hamartia comes from a root meaning “to miss or fail.”

20. Manuscript

The completed version of an unpublished book or other writing is referred to as a manuscript. Once an author completes a manuscript, it will usually be submitted to the publisher. If the author has a contract with a publisher, the manuscript will be edited prior to publishing. If the work isn’t yet under contract with a publisher, the manuscript will be submitted for review.

21. Panster

A pantser is a writer who works without an outline, a term derived from the concept of writing by the seat of your pants. It stands in contrast to a plotter who is someone who outlines their work to a greater or lesser extent.

22. Pantomime

An entire show, done without words is often called a pantomime, but around December, you may read about a Christmas pantomime. This is a traditional holiday show in the United Kingdom. The play is usually based on a fairy tale, and it is put on especially for children. Although it is called a pantomime or panto, the show actually includes talking, jokes, and music. The tradition goes back to the 1700s and is still popular today.

23. Plagiarism

Plagiarism occurs when a writer uses someone else’s quotes or ideas and presents them as if the writer came up with the information on his or her own. It can involve directly copying text from someone else’s work, but there are actually several types of plagiarism that every writer must avoid.

24. Plotter

A plotter is someone who meticulously plans and outlines their story before they begin writing. If you’re a painstaking outliner who spends a large amount of time in the prewriting stage charting out plotlines, devising characters, and worldbuilding, you fall into the plotter category.Nov 24, 2021

25. Plot Hole

A plot hole is a writing error that occurs when key information is left out of a story or contradictory information is included. When there is a plot hole, things will occur in the story that wouldn’t be possible or practical in the context of what readers have been told along the way.

26. Plot Twist

A plot twist occurs when the story in a book takes an unexpected turn. Readers may think they have an idea of what is about to happen, but then something happens to completely change the course of the story. This technique is commonly used in suspenseful works of fiction.

27. Prologue

Like its buddy epilogue, which tells you what happens after the end of a story, a prologue is concerned with setup of a story. “As a prologue to what happened in the gym, I’ll tell you about the food fight in the cafeteria earlier that day.”

28. Trope

A common theme or device : cliché is an overused trope.

  • Rags to riches/ Cinderella: when the main character goes from a state of having very little money to a state of having a lot of money. She went from rags to riches overnight.
  • The chosen one: The Chosen One is usually an innocent and generally non-violent character. As such, they are often a major part of the plot and have a large role in the story’s resolution. In many cases, they are also the only person who can defeat or avoid an evil that has been plaguing an area or country for years or even centuries.
  • Whodunit: A whodunit is a mystery story that keeps the criminal’s identity a secret until the very end. A well-written whodunit can keep you up late turning pages, eager for the ending to be revealed. If a book, play, or movie is a whodunit, there’s usually a detective investigating what’s almost always a murder case.
Common Romance Tropes
  • Love triangle: A story about a boy and a girl falling in love seems a bit on the boring side, but the love triangle seems to be done and dusted. We do enjoy a good love story, but this one has been covered way too many times. You can always get lit review help if you are stuck, but it might just be time to get more creative.
  • Enemies to lovers: when two characters start off as enemies and, over the course of a book or series, end up in a romantic relationship. These ‘enemies’ have to overcome their differences or misconceptions about each other, and in the process, they fall in love.
  • Ugly duckling: The story of the ugly duckling has been around for ages and it is time to stop. The story of a girl who is considered less than attractive goes on to become prom queen is not original at all. Hiring literature review writing services can help writers discover their own originality.
  • Back to my small town: This person is from a small town but moves to the city. Once they have reached success, they return to their home town for some reason. Usually, this is when the parents have died. Then eye contact with the school sweetheart results in magic and they live happily ever after.

29. Script

A script contains the dialogue that actors will say when playing their roles in shows, movies, or plays. Writers who create this kind of work are called scriptwriters.

30. Scene

Scene can also describe part of a movie or a play. Did the last scene make you laugh, cry, or fall asleep? There are lots of common phrases that use the word scene. If you “make a scene,” you draw attention to yourself with some kind of outburst. If something happens “behind the scenes,” the public doesn’t know about it.

31. Style

The way a particular person writes is referred to as that individual’s style. It includes things like the author’s tone, word choice, and overall voice.

Related: Figurative Language

32. Subject Matter

Subject matter refers to the topic of a piece of writing. It is what a story or other type of written work is about. The word subject is often used interchangeably with the phrase subject matter in this context.

33. Tableau

Tableau comes from the old French for “picture, or painted target.” We usually use tableau to describe a vivid living scene. If you are a journalist and want to describe the tension in a courtroom, you might write a verbal tableau of the judge, the jury, and the witness box. People used to entertain themselves by doing tableau vivant, or living pictures, by reenacting perfectly the frozen scene of a famous painting.

34. Thesis Statement

When writing a research paper or essay, you’ll need to begin with a brief statement summarizing the main point or argument to be explored in the document. This is a thesis statement. A well-written thesis statement properly conveys to readers what to expect as a result of reading the document. Because everything in the document should relate to the thesis statement, it can also help writers stay on-topic.

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