Help Me Build the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

Help Me Build the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

I still clearly remember the day I learned what “WIP” meant. I was a newbie on a writing forum, and everybody was using special writing terms like  “WIP.” It got to the point where I wanted to scream: What’s a WIP? And why don’t I get one tooooooo? Then I googled it. Oh. Work-in-progress. That’s what it means. Of course.

As with any specialized occupation, writing comes complete with an equally specialized lexicon of its own. Now days, I take for granted terms like “WIP,” “MC,” “deus ex machina,” and “head hopping.” But there was a day when all I could do was slack my mouth and glaze out in confusion.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt this way.

Introducing the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

Action Beat

A description of the actions (gestures, facial expressions, or even thoughts) that accompany a speaking character’s words. It is included in the same paragraph as the dialogue as an indication that the person performing the action is also the person speaking.

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Active Voice

The opposite of passive voice. Example: Beautiful giraffes roam the Savannah. (active) As opposed to The Savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes. (passive) In active voice, the person or thing performing the action serves as the subject of the sentence, whereas with passive voice, the subject is the person or thing being acted upon. In linguistics, the actor in a sentence is called the “agent,” and the passive receiver of action is called the “patient.” These are independent of “subject” and “object,” but which is which determines the voice of the verb.

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Alliteration

A stylistic literary device identified by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of multiple words, or the repetition of the same sounds of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase. For example: “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.”

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Alpha Reader

An alpha reader is among the first to read a completed manuscript (MS) or work-in-progress (WIP) and is usually a close friend of the writer. The role of the alpha reader is to provide cheerleader-like support and encouragement rather than constructive criticism. See also: Beta Reader

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Antagonist

One standing in opposition to/thwarting the protagonist.

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Antagonistic Force

Whatever is standing in opposition to/thwarting the protagonist’s goal. Could be a human, but could also be an inanimate obstacle.

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Antihero

A protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality. These individuals often possess dark personality traits such as disagreeableness, dishonesty, and aggressiveness. Examples: Captain Mal in Firefly or Holden in The Catcher in the Rye.

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Archetype

A “type” of character, which is commonly repeated across literature: the mentor, the magician, etc.

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AYKB

“As you know, Bob…” A method of dumping exposition through dialog, infamous for its awkwardness and lack of realism. It involves an otherwise unnecessary conversation between two characters that the author forces on them solely to inform the reader of what the characters both already know. Writers often choose this technique to avoid taking the reader out of the story to reveal important background information, but it usually works against them by taking the characters out of the story instead.

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Back Matter

The additional parts of a book, appearing after the main body of the text (i.e., acknowledgements, historical notes, explanatory notes, end notes, an afterword, index, bibliographies, and appendixes). Also called End Matter.

Backstory

Inserting information about past events or thoughts that shaped the characters or story world.

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Beat

A term closely related to outlining. Basically, a description of the important action to take place in a story. May or may not be incredibly thorough, but is likely to hit the highlights of the important action of the story.

Beta Reader

Beta readers provide feedback during the writing and/or editing process and are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context. Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes and problems with continuity, characterization, and believability. In fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.

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Black Moment/Low Moment

The part in the story at which everything looks hopeless and the situation is at its lowest point. Usually coincides with the Third Plot Point.

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Blurb

A short summary of what the book is about, meant to hook the reader.

Burly Detective Syndrome

Frequently referring to a character by a description (“the burly detective”), usually out of fear of overusing the character’s name or pronoun (see Stutter).

Byline

The name of the author printed at the head of the article or on the cover of the book.

Character Arc

The personal/inner transformation the protagonist undergoes over the course of the story. Usually, he learns something through the main conflict that allows him to become a better person by the story’s end.

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Chekhov’s Gun

This is a dramatic principle that requires every single element within a story to be necessary and irreplaceable. The term was coined when Anton Chekhov wrote a letter to A.S. Lazarev, indicating that if a loaded gun is present in one scene, it will be fired in a subsequent scene, in order to avoid being superfluous. If you give something attention, such as the gun, it must be because it has some import later in the narrative.

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Chick Lit

A genre fiction centered on contemporary women and women’s issues that is often written in a light, humorous pace, and that generally deals with the protagonist and her relationships with family, friends and/or romantic interests. Often referred to as women’s commercial fiction.

Cliché

Any situation in a story that has been used too many times in literature and becomes cheesy to readers.

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Cliffhanger

The ending of a chapter or book in a moment of high suspense and tension, used to compel readers to read on or buy the next book in an installment.

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Climactic Moment

The moment in the Climax where the overall goal is reached or not reached. This is the moment when the protagonist defeats the antagonist or visa versa.

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Climactic Turning Point

The beginning of the Climax, halfway through the Third Act (at approximately the 88% mark in the book).

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Climax

The finale of the story, featuring the final and decisive confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonistic force, determining whether or not the protagonist will succeed or fail in gaining his main plot goal. Takes place in the final eighth of the story (the second half of the Third Act), starting around the 88% mark, and lasting until the last or next-to-last scene.

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Conflict

The overarching opposition fueling the entire plot of a story and presenting obstacles to the protagonist on a macro and micro level.

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Contagonist

A term unique to Dramatica’s list of archetypes. As defined by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley, the Contagonist “hinders and deludes the Protagonist, tempting it [sic] to take the wrong course or approach.”

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Content Editing

A content editor looks at the big picture: character arcs, plot arcs, and whether the story has a consistent tone. Also may comment on POV issues and/or narrative voice. A content edit is the first edit a story should go through after the rough edges have been knocked off the first draft. Your editor may suggest major changes which will waste effort polishing too much.

Copy Editing

The process of ensuring that a piece of writing is correct and consistent in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; that it is logically structured and audience-appropriate; and that the intended meaning of the text is communicated clearly through suitable word choice and style.

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Court Intrigue

A subcategory of epic fantasy that’s currently popular and is the fantasy equivalent of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Good examples of this are Robin Hobbs’s Assassin trilogy, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy, Martha Wells’s The Element of Fire, and Avon author Dave Duncan’s upcoming The King’s Blades trilogy.

COZY

A mystery novel that usually features a bloodless crime, with very little violence, sex, or coarse language (but not always a pure “clean read”). Usually, the person solving the crime is an amateur and has the support/friendship of a police officer/detective/medical examiner. Readers usually identify with the main character because they are positive and socially acceptable (even their small faults).

Creative Nonfiction

The use of literary style and writing technique to tell a true story. It’s an embellishment, but only for the sake of telling a story that teaches a lesson or conveys a change of heart or mind. Narrative, dialogue, setting, and voice are just a few creative writing tools used to grab a reader’s interest and leave them changed somehow at the end.

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Critique Partner/Critter

A partner with whom a writer exchanges manuscript critiques, in order to get knowledgeable feedback about how to improve a story. A critique partner receives no payment, only your critique of his own manuscript in return. (See also Beta Reader and Alpha Reader.)

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Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk explores the fusion between man and machine. A key element is the perfection of the Internet and virtual reality technology. In a cyberpunk novel, characters can experience and interact with computers in a 3D graphic environment so real that it feels like a physical landscape. The society in which cyberpunk is set tends to be heavily urban, and usually somewhat anarchic or feudal. The “father of cyberpunk” is William Gibson, author of the seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Eos authors defining this ever-evolving virtual reality include Neal Stephenson and Rudy Rucker.

Denouement

The wrap up after the story is done. The wind down from the action of the Climax. Sometimes not included in the full arc of the story, but tells afterward details.

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Deus Ex Machina

Literally translates “god from a machine” and was originally a reference to the “god” (played by an actor lowered onto the stage on a “machine”) who descended at the end of the Greek and Roman plays to solve all the mortal characters’ problems and put everything in order for a happy ending.

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Deuteragonist

A secondary protagonist and the driver of a subplot. Can be a sidekick.

Developmental Editing

Editing concerned primarily with the structure and content of a book that starts near the beginning of the manuscript’s life. A developmental editor works to give the book focus and direction (mostly towards what is “marketable”) by helping to develop author’s ideas, and so will point out inconsistencies in aspects such as logic, voice, and audience.

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Dialogue

Words spoken by a character, normally enclosed in quotation marks. Dialogue should sound realistic, without attempting to reproduce real speech verbatim. Indirect dialogue, also known as reported speech, is a narrative summary of dialogue that’s taken place.

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Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags and/or action beats let the reader know which character is speaking.

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Dieselpunk

A subgenre related to steampunk, although it is driven more by the culture of the 1920s through the early 1950s. Technology is strongly influenced by diesels.

Drabble

Something you write for fun. Or practice. Or both. Both is good.

Dumb Mechanic

Where a character explains something to a character who doesn’t know what they are talking about. The example from the name is a mechanic explaining what is wrong with a machine to someone who knows nothing about mechanics. It’s vital that the lack of knowledge needs be real and believable. It also needs to be limited to the needs of the moment. So a gear-head stopping to fix a lawyer’s car might explain a air bubble in the gas line, if that was the problem, but not how an engine works in detail.

See also, “As you know, Bob” (Where a character tells another character something he already knows.) The Dumb Mechanic is slightly better writing than “As you know, Bob,” since the author has at least tried to fix the problem, but the core problem is the same.

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Dystopian

This describes an imagined community, society, or world, in which everything is unpleasant or undesirable. It is the opposite of utopian, and literally means “bad place.”

End Matter

The additional parts of a book, appearing after the main body of the text (i.e., acknowledgements, historical notes, explanatory notes, end notes, an afterword, index, bibliographies, and appendixes). Also called Back Matter.

Epic Fantasy

Sweeping in scope, epic fantasy usually concerns a battle for rulership of a country, empire or entire world. Drawing heavily upon archetypal myths and the quintessential struggle between a few good people against overwhelming forces of evil, epic fantasy is best represented by author J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Eos authors of epic fantasy include New York Times bestselling Raymond E. Feist (The Serpentwar Saga) and Adam Lee (The Dominions of Irth). Some other popular epic fantasy authors are Robert Jordan, David Eddings, and Terry Brooks.

Epilogue

A separate section at the end of a work often commenting on the work as a whole/serving as an addendum.

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Exposition

The part of the story where background information about characters, events, setting, etc., is provided. Generally, the exposition can be found at the beginning of the story. However, other background information can be placed throughout the story as it is needed.

Fantasy

A genre of speculative fiction. Sci-fi typically aims for scientific plausibility, while fantasy often incorporates magical systems. Stories may contain elements of both or be exclusive to one or the other, but all such stories explore fantastic worlds and scenarios.

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First Act

The opening act in your story. In the classic Three-Act structure, the First Act comprises the first quarter of the story. It is primarily concerned with introducing characters, settings, and stakes, and setting up the main conflict. It includes such important structural moments as the Hook, the Inciting Event, and the Key Event. It ends with the First Plot Point.

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First Person

A point of view where the main character of a story is also the narrator. The reader “sees” through the eyes of the main character, so to speak. It uses pronouns such as “I,” and “me.” E.g., “I walked into the house.”

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First Pinch Point

An important structural turning point that occurs in the First Half of the Second Act that the 37% mark. It emphasizes the threat of the antagonistic force, shows what is at stake for the protagonist in the conflict, and introduces important new clues about the nature of the conflict.

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First Plot Point

The first major plot point in the story, marking the end of the First Act and the beginning of the Second. It takes place around the 25% mark. This is where the protagonist fully encounters the story’s conflict in a way that he forces him to choose to leave behind the Normal World of the First Act and enter the “adventure world” of the Second Act.

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Flashback

Short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the past.

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Flash Fiction

Extremely short fiction. Some flash fiction markets have a limit of 53 words, while others allow up to 1,000 words. Like longer fiction, flash fiction includes conflict and resolution, but some elements may be implied for the sake of brevity and left to readers’ imaginations. Due to its extreme brevity, flash fiction tends to focus on one turning point or revealing moment.

Flashforward

Short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the future.

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Foreshadowing

Involves planting hints early on in a book to prepare readers for important revelations and events that occur later in the story.

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Front Matter

The material preceding the main body/text of a work: including the title pages, printing/publishing data and/or a table of contents, foreword, preface, author’s note, dedication, etc.

Genre

A category of fiction (e.g., romance, mystery, or fantasy). “Genre fiction” is generally considered popular fiction as opposed to literary fiction.

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Ghost Writer

One who undertakes the physical labor of writing an article, book, or memoir for someone else, usually in secret. One who produces written content as a third party for someone else, nominally for a fee in exchange for all credit for said written content belonging to someone else.

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HEA

Happily Ever After. Romance writers use this to describe a genre as well as a moment. “A great HEA read.” Or, “you do get your HEA.” Most often seen with Harlequin and the “cozy” genre.

Head Hopping

A common gaffe that occurs when the narrative breaks “out of POV” and jumps without warning from the perspective of one character into the perspective of another.

Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure or pattern, identified by Joseph Campbell as being the common thread in many historical and mythological stories and purported to be the strongest psychological storyform. At its most basic level is it is a classic adventure storyform, featuring a hero who must overcome opposition and save his world. However, it can be applied to vastly different types of stories. Also known as the Monomyth.

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Historical Fiction

A literary genre where the plot takes place in the past, often (but not always) including historical figures.

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Hook

Any moment of interest designed to “hook” a reader’s curiosity. Specifically, it applies to the opening hook in the book’s first chapter, which piques reader curiosity about the plot and protagonist and convinces them to read the book.

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House

Refers to “publishing house”–a well-known, respected publisher.

Impact Character

Characters who are strong catalysts for change in the protagonist, causing inner conflict and helping put the plot into motion.

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Inciting Event/Incident

The moment that “officially” kicks of a story’s main conflict/plot. This is the protagonist’s first brush with the conflict–the Call to Adventure, which he will start out by rejecting to some degree. Usually takes place after the story’s initial set-up, at the 12% mark, halfway through the First Act. This is the first prominent turning point in the story.

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Info Dump

An undesirable writing method where the author “dumps” a lot of information or extensive description on the reader all at once, instead of weaving the information into the action of the story.

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In Medias Res

The Latin term for “in the middle,” which is applied to idea of beginning a story in the middle of things.

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Internal Dialogue

Reproduces a character’s thoughts and is often (though not always) indicated by italics.

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Key Event

If the Inciting Event is what gets your plot rolling, the Key Event is what sucks your protagonist into that plot. Even if you have a great big Inciting Event (like, say, the beginning of a war), it can’t affect your character until the Key Event drags him into the mess (as would happen if he were drafted into the Army).

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KidLit

Books for children.

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Line Editing

This form of editing means going over a manuscript line by line and editing it for grammar errors as you go. It doesn’t entail any extensive rewriting, but there may be some use of color editing to liven up flat prose, and there may be some reduction of redundancies (such as repeated information). This style of editing may include the use of a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

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Logline

Single sentence story summary, specifically used as pitch. See Premise Sentence.

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Love Interest

A principle secondary character for whom the protagonist has romantic interest (and/or the romantic subplot itself).

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MARY SUE (female), MARTY-STU (male)

Begun by fan fiction writers but now a part of writers’ general vocabulary. A derogatory term for a character than is able to do everything, with ultimate abilities. Often a female, but can be used to describe any character with unrealistic abilities.

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MC

Short for Main Character. The lead of the story.

Mentor

An experienced adviser who offers–sometimes reluctantly–to show the hero “the way.” Usually a trustworthy ally, the mentor figure will often impart an object or piece of information that will prove vital later in the hero’s quest. The name itself comes from a character in Homer’s The Odyssey. Examples include: Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and “Irv” in Cool Runnings (a less trustworthy mentor figure).

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MFC

Main Female Character. The female lead in a romance story. Usually gets the guy in the end.

MG

Middle Grade fiction, targeted to children ages 8 to 12 years old. Typically features a main character in the same age range and avoids “mature” content such as graphic violence or sexually explicit material. That’s not to say the stories are simplistic, of course.

Microfiction

Extremely short fiction. Some flash fiction markets have a limit of 53 words, while others allow up to 1,000 words. Like longer fiction, flash fiction includes conflict and resolution, but some elements may be implied for the sake of brevity and left to readers’ imaginations. Due to its extreme brevity, flash fiction tends to focus on one turning point or revealing moment. (See Flash Fiction.)

Midpoint

The Second Major Plot Point in a story’s structure. It occurs in the middle of the book, halfway through the Second Act, at the 50% mark. This is where the protagonist experiences a Moment of Truth, which allows him to better understand the antagonistic force and the external conflict, as well as the internal conflict driving his character arc. It signals a shift from the reactive phase of the first half into the active phase of the second half.

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Mimesis

Where syntax echoes, mimes the narrative.

MMC

Main Male Character. The male lead in a romance story. Usually gets the girl in the end.

Motif

An image or phrase with thematic significance that is repeated throughout the book.

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MPS: Missing Parent Syndrome

The rather common occurrence, usually found in works of fiction where the protagonist is underaged, where the parents and/or guardians are somehow left out for the majority of the plot. This can be due to death (Frodo in Lord of the Rings) or boarding school (Harry Potter) or visitation to another world (Narnia) or just about any other reason.

MS

“Manuscript.” A yet unpublished work, whether written or typed.

NA

New Adult (Fiction) is aimed at an older age group than Young Adult (12-18) and focuses on new adult experiences such as the first serious relationship, first serious job, going to college, and moving out on their own.

Narrative

The overall progression of a story. Also, specifically, the summary aspects of the writing, as distinct from dialogue, direct thoughts, and “shown” action. “Internal narrative” is told from a character’s point of view and, often, in his or her voice.

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Normal World

The initial setting in the story, meant to illustrate the character’s life before he meets with the story’s main conflict. This world may be destructive to the protagonist–in which case, he must learn to move away from it and live without it–or it may be healthy–in which case, the protagonist will have to leave it in order to defend it. The Normal World may be a definitive setting, which will change at the beginning of the Second Act, when the character enters the “adventure world” of the main conflict. However, it may also be more metaphorical, in which case the setting itself will not switch to a new setting, but rather the conflict will change the setting around the protagonist.

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Novel

A fictional prose work with a relatively long and often complex plot, usually divided into chapters, in which the story traditionally develops through the thoughts and actions of its characters.

Novella

A story that runs around 40K to 50K words. Normally, it has no subplot and no more than two POV characters. One of the harder forms to sell traditionally, though this is changing.

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Novellette

A short novel that is often about romantic relationships and is usually not very serious. Word count is 7,500 to 17,500 words.

Omniscient

A type of point of view (POV), in which the narration is told from an omniscient or “all-knowing” perspective (sometimes the author’s, sometimes just generally), in which things the characters would have no way of knowing are shared with readers. One of the most difficult types of POV to do well.

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On the Nose

A poor style of writing that presents the story in a way that is too straightforward, without irony or subtext. Especially common in dialogue, in which characters always say exactly what they’re thinking or feeling.

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On Sub

Your manuscript has been submitted, usually by your agent, to a list of editors at publishing houses who may or may not have agreed to read it.

Outline

A sketch of every event that makes up the structure of a story, which is written before a first draft to edit out any structural weak spots beforehand.

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Pacing

The rate at which a story progresses and events unfold.

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Pantser

A writer who prefers to write “by the seat of his pants,” meaning without previous outlining.

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Paranormal

A speculative fiction genre that involves elements such as vampires, shapeshifters, fairies, elves, etc. Often set in modern-day urban settings. Often romantic in nature.

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Plotter

A writer who prefers to write a book after going through an outlining process.

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Passive Voice

The opposite of active voice. Example: The Savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes. (passive) As opposed to
Beautiful giraffes roam the Savannah. (active) In active voice, the person or thing performing the action serves as the subject of the sentence, whereas with passive voice, the subject is the person or thing being acted upon. In linguistics, the actor in a sentence is called the “agent,” and the passive receiver of action is called the “patient.” These are independent of “subject” and “object,” but which is which determines the voice of the verb.

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Pinch Point

A scene or event that adds pressure to the heroes and reminds the reader of the villain’s plan or presence within the narrative. One of two turning points that take place in the Second Act (at the 37% and 62% marks, respectively).

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Plot Point

One of the major turning points in a stories structure. See First Plot Point, Midpoint, and Third Plot Point.

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POV

Point of View

PREWRITING

The first stage of the writing process, which generally includes brainstorming, planning, mapping, researching, and outlining. Prewriting encompasses everything a writer does before beginning the first draft, and it accomplishes such goals as determining the intended theme, organizing plot points, and establishing characters.

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Prologue

A separate, introductory section to a work.

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Proofreader

Someone reading through a completely edited work to find and/or correct typographical errors (i.e. typos).

Protag/Protagonist

The character whom the story is about and who is most directly affected by the antagonist. This character may be the narrator/POV character (such as Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen) or the protagonist may be a character who is viewed by someone else (as Atticus Finch and Heathcliff are viewed by Scout and Nelly Dean, respectively).

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Query Letter

A letter written when seeking representation from a literary agent. It describes your story and shows the agent why your book is worth their time and effort and why it is a good fit for their agency.

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Query Trenches

Generally refers to looking for representation from a literary agent (although it is possible to directly query publishers).

Red Herring

A false clue meant to mislead the reader. It creates a false trail for the reader to follow. A red herring can be an object, a character, part of the setting or any other way the author can think of to mislead.

Resolution

The final section of the story–usually the last two to three scenes in the final chapter. This is where any final loose ends are resolved after the main conflict has already been decided.

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Resonance

The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

Rising Action

A series of events within the book’s conflict building up–with greater and greater tension–to the story’s Climax.

Romance

A fiction genre focusing on romantic love.

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R&R: Revise and Resend/Resubmit

An agent or editor saw something they liked in your work but felt it need a significant revision. They’d like you to make the changes they suggested and resubmit it. It doesn’t necessary mean that they’ll take it though.

Scene

A scene is a sequence of events that happens at a particular place and time and that moves the story forward. The scene consists mostly of “showing” though it may contain some “telling.” The scene has a particular structure that gives the story motion.

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Scene Sequence

A series of scenes with an overall related focus. A sequence has a unified focus, usually one able to be summed up in a simple idea (e.g., a rescue, a wedding, a trial, a battle). Scene sequences have their own defined beginning, middle, and end within the overall story.

Scene Structure

The division of a Scene into a scene (the action that happens when a character has a goal, then conflict interferes with that goal and there is an outcome) and its sequel (the character reacting to the previous outcome, then facing a dilemma, and finally making a decision about it that will determine what the character’s goal is in the next Scene).

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Science Fiction

Aka Sci-Fi. Fiction that incorporates scientific elements such as futuristic societies, advanced technology, and alien worlds. Though usually aiming for scientific plausibility, it ranges in realism from currently understood physics and biology to highly speculative science.

Sequel

(A) A self-contained story that continues within the world of a previous story. It typically follows the characters, setting, or themes from the original, but with a new story premise and problem.

(B) The second half of a Scene, following the scene (goal, conflict, disaster). It contains the reaction, dilemma, and decision that the character has in response to the events of the scene.

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Serial Fiction

Novel (or longer) length fiction written in installments and published at regular intervals, either on a blog, in a magazine, or as small e-books.

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Skeptic

Every character has his opposite, which allows the author to draw important contrasts and plumb the depths of his theme. Just like the Antagonist is the opposite of the Protagonist, the Skeptic character archetype is the opposite of the Sidekick. He is someone who doubts everything, particularly the Protagonist’s choices.

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Second Act

The middle act in your story. In the classic Three-Act structure, the Second Act comprises the biggest part of the story, from the 25% mark to the 50% mark. It is primarily concerned with developing the main conflict. It includes such important structural moments as the First Pinch Point, the Midpoint, and the Second Pinch Point. It begins with the First Plot Point and ends with the Third Plot Point.

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Second Pinch Point

An important structural turning point that occurs in the Second Half of the Second Act that the 62% mark. It emphasizes the threat of the antagonistic force, shows what is at stake for the protagonist in the conflict, and introduces important new clues about the nature of the conflict.

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Second Plot Point

See Midpoint.

Series

More than one book telling the same or related stories.

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Setting

The physical place in which the story’s events happen.

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SF

Science Fiction, aka Sci-Fi. Fiction that incorporates scientific elements such as futuristic societies, advanced technology, and alien worlds. Though usually aiming for scientific plausibility, it ranges in realism from currently understood physics and biology to highly speculative science.

SFF

Science Fiction & Fantasy. A combined genre of speculative fiction. Sci-fi typically aims for scientific plausibility, while fantasy often incorporates magical systems. Stories may contain elements of both or be exclusive to one or the other, but all such stories explore fantastic worlds and scenarios.

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Shelf Time

The period of time when you put aside your work in progress, in order to be able to come back to it later with fresh eyes.

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Short Story

A story too short to be divided into chapters, usually under 7,500.

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Showing

(In contrast to Telling): Conveying an atmosphere, emotion or mood by relating the movements or expressions of objects or players rather than stating facts about them, e.g. “The boughs bowed and swayed, casting their icy load onto the quivering children” instead of “The frightened children got soaked by a load of snow falling from the branches.” Or “His face was white and his hands trembled as he slunk through the doorway” instead of “He felt nervous and hesitated to enter the room.”

For further study:

Sidekick

Sidekicks, by definition, are almost always with the main character, which allows the conflict to be ongoing. A person who helps and spends a lot of time with someone who is usually more important, powerful, etc.

For further study:

Speaker Tags

In its most basic form, this consists of the speaker’s name and a speech-related verb (said, shouted, asked, etc.). Often the simplest way of indicating which character is speaking.

For further study: 

Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history. It is often used as an umbrella term for science fiction and fantasy considered as a single genre. The term is used this way in academic and ideological criticism of these genres, as well as by some readers, writers, and editors of these genres.

For further study:

Standalone Book

Either a book that is not part of a series, or a book that is part of a series but does not depend on the other books in the series to make sense. Used most often in the former sense to indicate a book that has no sequels.

Standard Manuscript Format

The standard way editors, agents, and publishers want your manuscript formatted before you send it to them.

The cover page should be separate from the rest of the manuscript. It should include:

– name of the manuscript and author (or pen name)
– approximate word count (rounded to the nearest hundred)
– Your name, address, phone number, e-mail, and website
– Your agent’s details (if you have an agent)

font: Twelve point, Times New Roman, or Courier New Black

margins: One-inch margins on all four sides

indent: Half-inch paragraph indentations for the first line of each and every paragraph

space: Double space; no extra line between paragraphs

align: Align left

page numbering: Number pages beginning with the actual story (don’t count or put page numbers on the title page)

scene breaks: Indicate scene breaks by inserting a blank line and centering the number sign # in the center of the line

page header: Include your last name, the manuscript’s title, and the page number in the page header of every page except for the title page. Align the header to the right

chapters: Begin chapters on new pages (insert a page break or format using styles). Center the chapter title, even if it’s only Chapter One (or Chapter 1), about one-third of the way down the page. Skip a couple of lines and begin the text of the chapter.

end: Center a number sign # on an otherwise blank line one double-spaced line down from the final line of text of the final chapter or epilogue at the end of the manuscript. Or write The End. (The end should be labeled so an agent or editor isn’t looking for extra pages that aren’t there.)

italics: Use italics for italicized words.

character spacing: Use a single character space, not two spaces, between sentences.

The standard document format is MS Word (.doc) If you have a newer version of MS Word, Open Office, Pages, or something else, save the document in .doc (This is usually found somewhere like, File>>Save As, “MS Word 97-2003 (.doc)” Almost everyone can read .doc files.)

Finally, check the publisher or agent’s website. Some of them will have specific fonts, spacing, or other ways they want things done that might vary slightly from the general guidelines.

For further study:

Steampunk

A subgenre of fantasy fiction which is largely determined by its setting, which is typically an alternative-Victorian reality, laden with steam-powered technology. Corsets are optional.

Stutter

Using the same word or phrase twice, recently enough that the reader remembers it; depends partly on how distinctive the word is. Can be distracting if not used intentionally.

Subgenre

A subcategory of a major genre. For example, “sword and sorcery” and “portal fantasy” are subgenres within the fantasy genre, while “cozy” and “noir” are subgenres within the mystery genre.

Subplot

A secondary thread of the story, with its own beginning, middle, and end, the subplot may or may not be directly connected to the main plot, and generally involves supporting characters.

For further study:

Substantive Editing

A detailed and complete editing of a book, involving not just suggestions for the overall story, but also line-by-line editing of the prose itself. This is the most intensive type of editing.

Subtext

is the meaning beneath the dialogue; what the speaker really means, even though he’s not saying it directly. As humans, we often don’t articulate our thoughts exactly.

For further study

Summary

A description of the book’s content. Sometimes written as marketing copy—with a hook and no spoilers—to convince readers to buy the book. Sometimes written as a complete description of the plot—including spoilers—to convey the entire story to a potential agent or editor.

Synopsis

A detailed description of your story’s complete plot (including spoilers and the ending), written in either one or three pages, for the purpose of sharing with a literary agent.

Tagline

A line of text–usually a short, tantalizing sentence–which appears under the title of the book on the front cover and also in catalog listings.

Telling

(In contrast to Showing): Conveying information by stating facts about them, instead of relating the movements or expressions of objects or players, e.g. “The frightened children got soaked by a load of snow falling from the branches,” instead of, “The boughs bowed and swayed, casting their icy load onto the quivering children.” Or “He felt nervous and hesitated to enter the room,” instead of, “His face was white and his hands trembled as he slunk through the doorway.”

Theme

The moral statement at the heart of the story, usually a general, universal principle, which is then conveyed via the story’s specific message, as proven by the protagonist’s character arc and specifically his inner conflict between a Lie and a Truth.

For further study:

Third Act

The final act in your story. In the classic Three-Act structure, the Third Act comprises the final quarter of the story, from the 75% mark to the 100% mark. It is primarily concerned with the final, climactic confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonistic force. It begins with the Third Plot Point, includes the Climax, and ends with the Resolution.

For further study:

Third Person

The uninvolved narrator of the story, who refers to the actual players by name or as he/she/they, e.g.: “Peter ran in and hugged Susan.” Contrast this with a “first-person narrative,” e.g.: “When I saw Susan at the bar, I ran up and hugged her.”

Third Plot Point

The Third Plot Point in a story’s structure. It occurs in between the Second and Third Acts, at the 75% mark. This is where the protagonist experiences his lowest moment of defeat, in which he must choose, once and for all, whether his quest is worth the effort and whether he will embrace or reject the Lie that has been holding him back up to this point. He then enters the Climax ready for his final confrontation with the antagonistic force.

For further study:

Three Act Structure

The three-act structure is an approach to story structure that divides a fictional narrative into three parts, often called the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution.

For further study:

Trope

A story element or plot device that is particular to certain genres or stories, to the point they become a storytelling cliche. Examples include love triangles in Young Adult fiction or the “chosen one” in fantasy and science fiction.

Turning Point

A major moment in the story when the plot “turns” by changing in a dramatic way, almost always as the result of a “reveal” or twist that presents the characters with new information about the conflict.

Unreliable Narrator

The narrator’s unreliability might be obvious to the reader throughout, it might be revealed gradually, or it might come as a revelation that provides a major plot twist. Common examples are Vladimir Nabakov’s Humbert Humbert, from Lolita and Alex from A Clockwork Orange. A lesser known example is Micky DeWitt from Flank Street.

Upmarket Fiction

A type of fiction that is an amalgamation between Commercial Fiction, something with a wide audience that fits into a typical genre, and Literary Fiction, something that doesn’t fit exactly into a standard genre classification. Upmarket Fiction can appeal to both audiences; exceptional writing that doesn’t fit into a mold yet has the potential for mass appeal.

Urban Fantasy

A subcategory of contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy is set in a contemporary city. Often co-existing with the familiar city life is a hidden, magical aspect of the city frequently including magical creatures. Charles de Lint is one of the primary authors of urban fantasy. To some extent, Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale is an urban fantasy as well as Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

Voice

The tenor and style of a story’s narrative. Authorial voice is the “sound” unique to the author. However, each author can and will use multiple variations of voice for each character’s POV and dialogue as well.

For further study:

World Building

(A) The act of designing a story world, including its culture, language, technology, magic, biology, landscape, history, etc. The author does this to build a consistent backdrop for her story. It is especially important for science fiction and fantasy (and even historical novels), where the story world may be much different from the world that the readers inhabit.

(B) The art of distilling the elements of a story world, building the world within the minds of readers. This can be done through setting descriptions, exposition, dialog, or character actions and interactions. In most cases, avoid info-dumping exposition and AYKB dialog. Instead, weave in the worldbuilding as a seamless part of the story itself.

For further study:

YA

Young Adult (Fiction), a genre aimed at adolescents ages 12-18. Often told in first-person with fast pacing. Focuses on new, fresh, “first time” experiences and coming-of-age experiences, and there is often a strong romantic subplot. This genre, like Romance, includes many other genres under it such as YA Romance, YA Fantasy, and YA Mystery.

WIP

Work-in-progress. The story or novel the author is currently writing.

Writerly

An adjective. For when you say a writerly thing. Or if you wear a blazer with leather patches on your sleeves and sit at a coffee shop with your laptop, it could be said that you’re being writerly.

Writer’s Block

A state in which the writer doesn’t know how to proceed with writing. It can result from simply not knowing what should happen next in the story, or from larger life issues, such as depression.

For further study:

Zero Draft

The “vomit” draft, part of pre-writing. The writer “vomits” up whatever story ideas they have without concern as to structure, consistency, or sense. Used to a) explore world/worldbuild, b) explore/develop characters/character interactions c) develop and/or test plot elements d) anything the author wants.

What You Can Do to Help!

Help me turn this into a tool we can all reference and that will help other authors understand what it is we’re talking about when we use crazy terms like “logline,” “pinch point,” and “MS.” Just post your suggestions and definitions in the comments and I’ll update the master list as we go.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What writing terms aren’t listed here and should be? Tell me in the comments!

Help Me Build the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. What a fantastic idea, K.M.!

    Here we go…

    Dialogue

    Words spoken by a character, normally enclosed in quotation marks. Dialogue should sound realistic, without attempting to reproduce real speech verbatim.

    Internal dialogue reproduces a character’s thoughts, and is often (though not always) indicated by italics.

    Indirect dialogue, also known as reported speech, is a narrative summary of dialogue that’s taken place.

    Dialogue tags and/or action beats let the reader know which character is speaking.

    For further study:

    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/8-tips-for-awesome-dialogue/

    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/on-the-nose-dialogue/

  2. THIRD PERSON
    The uninvolved narrator of the story, who refers to the actuals players by name or as he/she/they, e.g. “Peter ran in and hugged Susan”. Contrast this with a ‘first-person narrative’, which may be present tense (“I gape at the sight of Susan standing at the bar, rush up and hug her tight.”) or past tense (“When I saw Susan at the bar, I ran up and hugged her.”)

  3. TAGLINE
    A line of text – usually a short, tantalizing sentence – which appears under the Title of the book on the front cover and also in catalogue listings, e.g.:
    Title: Aquila
    Tagline: Can Silvanus Escape That God?

  4. SHOWING
    (In contrast to TELLING): Conveying an atmosphere, emotion or mood by relating the movements or expressions of objects or players rather than stating facts about them, e.g. “The boughs bowed and swayed, casting their icy load onto the quivering children” instead of “The frightened children got soaked by a load of snow falling from the branches.” Or “His face was white and his hands trembled as he slunk through the doorway” instead of “He felt nervous and hesitated to enter the room.”

  5. Fernanda Lyra says:

    SUBPLOT

    A secondary thread of the story, with its own beginning, middle, and end, the subplot may or may not be directly connected to the main plot, and generally involves supporting characters.

  6. Fernanda Lyra says:

    CHICK LIT

    A genre fiction centered on contemporary women and women’s issues that is often written in a light, humorous pace, and that generally deals with the protagonist and her relationships with family, friends and/or romantic partners. Often referred to as women’s commercial fiction.

  7. MENTOR
    An experienced advisor who offers – sometimes reluctantly – to show the hero “the way”. Usually a trustworthy ally, the mentor figure will often impart an object or piece of information that will prove vital later in the hero’s quest. The name itself comes from a character in Homer’s The Odyssey.

    Examples include: Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and “Irv” in Cool Runnings (a less-trustworthy mentor figure).

  8. Trope—A story element or plot device that is particular to certain genres or stories, to the point where they become a storytelling cliche. Examples include love triangles in young adult fiction or the “chosen one” most common in fantasy and science fiction.

    Protag/Protagonist—The character whom the story is about and who is most directly affected by the antagonist. This character may be the narrator/POV character (such as Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen) or the protagonist may be a character who is viewed by someone else (as Atticus Finch and Heathcliff are viewed by Scout and Nelly Dean, respectively).

  9. MC – Short for Main Character. The lead of the story.

    Info Dump – An undesirable writing method where the author “dumps” a lot of information or extensive description on the reader all at once, instead of weaving the information into the action of the story.

    Anti-Hero – A character who is not the main Antagonist, or a supporting character of the Protagonist, but one who opposes the hero or the hero’s ideas in some way.

    • An ANTI HERO is a protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality. These individuals often possess dark personality traits such as disagreeableness, dishonesty, and aggressiveness.

      Like Captain Mal in Firefly or Holden in The catcher in the rye

    • I still don’t understand the concept of the anti-hero for some reason.

      • It is tricky. I think there are several definitions out there. Sometimes they are even split into Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain, but I still think that the application within stories of an Anti-Hero is pretty broad.

        • J. Oliver says:

          If you are still having difficulty, consider this, an Anti-hero is a hero who doesn’t act like a hero and who probably doesn’t want to be a hero or ‘good’ in the typical sense of the word. An anti-villain is a villain who acts more like a hero, but who ultimately proves themselves a villain even if they are ‘soft’. There are plenty of good broad definitions out there, but this helped me think of it in a broad sense.

      • Colin MacCallister says:

        Let’s use the example of a evil lab. Inside the lab there are innocent people. The protag needs to destroy the lab. A hero would try to get all the innocent people out before blowing it up. While an anti-hero may just blow it up. In an anti-hero’s mind, the ends justify the means.

  10. STUTTER (WRITING)

    Using the same word or phrase twice, recently enough that the reader remembers it; depends partly on how distinctive the word is. Can be distracting if not used intentionally.

    BURLY DETECTIVE SYNDROME

    Frequently referring to a character by a description (“the burly detective”), usually out of fear of overusing the character’s name or pronoun (see Stutter (Writing)).

  11. May I add R&R? This one was driving me crazy when I was reading it. I had to search everywhere for the definition!

    R&R: Revise and Resend/Resubmit
    An agent or editor saw something they liked in your work but felt it need a significant revision. They’d like you to make the changes they suggested and resubmit it. It doesn’t necessary mean that they’ll take it though.

  12. Antihero:

    1) An antagonistic character who bears personality traits commonly associated with noble and heroic characters

    2) A heroic character who bears personality traits commonly associated with villainous or disreputable characters.

  13. POV

    “Point-of-view”

  14. HISTORICAL FICTION

    A literary genre where the plot takes place in the past, often (but not always) including historical figures

  15. PROLOGUE

    A separate, introductory section to a work.

  16. What a great idea! Awesome list worth sharing.

  17. EPILOGUE

    A separate section at the end of a work often commenting on the work as a whole/serving as an addendum.

  18. CLIMATIC MOMENT-the moment in the climax where the overall goal is reached or not reached, the moment when the protagonist defeats the antagonist or visa versa

    YA-young adult, usually a genre

    BLURB-a short summary of what the book is about, meant to hook the reader

  19. Pacing–the rate at which a story progresses and events unfold.

    • I wish I knew more about the pacing process. Some books are paced differently than others and wonder is there a method to the madness.

      • Scrutinizer says:

        Most issues with pacing have to do with story structure. Check out Katie’s Structure series for more information (and the Story Structure Database for plenty of examples).

        Stories can be divided into four roughly equal parts (Act 1, Act 2A, Act 2B, Act 3), each with its own mission relative to the story’s development, and the turning points (“Plot Points”) between them form the major story pacing milestones. Actually, you can divide the story even further with the Inciting Incident, two Pinch Points, and the Climax at the odd eighth marks.

        Story structure is all about keeping things balanced and well-paced. If you can hit all the major milestones where they need to go, all the while raising stakes, conflict, and tension right up to the climax, your story’s pacing should take care of itself.

      • Scrutinizer says:

        Oh, and the difference in pacing that you sense for different stories is more likely due to different types of conflict or story problem than to any difference in structure. Lots of action-based conflict will feel faster paced than relationship drama, but everything will still follow the same basic structure behind the scenes.

        • That’s true. I definitely sense it in movies and books. Didn’t know it was due to differences in conflict though. But looking back it makes perfect sense. Hindsight is 20/20 right?

          Some books were unevenly paced in different parts but the overall story was great. The one I’m thinking of had a lot of relationship drama, so pace seemed slower.

          Storming was very balanced in its entirety so I didn’t really notice the pace so much. I just felt drawn into the story. Finished Cinder and had the same feeling. Currently reading the Einstein Prophecy and it’s having the same balanced affect on me. The ones that are balanced tend to be page turners!

          With cars if your tires are not balanced it could be a bumpy, not so pleasant ride. It seems even more so with story structure. Cool. I think I’m finally learning something!

          If I drank, I’d grab a cool one.

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

            Ditto what Scrutinizer said. Pacing demands are different for different types of stories, but the key is to make it so seamless that readers don’t even think about it. Glad you felt that way about Storming!

  20. Scrutinizer says:

    AYKB:

    “As you know, Bob…”

    A method of dumping exposition through dialog, infamous for its awkwardness and lack of realism. It involves an otherwise unnecessary conversation between two characters that the author forces on them solely to inform the reader of what the characters both already know. Writers often choose this technique to avoid taking the reader out of the story to reveal important background information, but it usually works against them by taking the characters out of the story instead.

    For further study:
    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/as-you-know-bob/

  21. Holy fudgeknuckles Batman, what a great idea! I Love it.

    One of the most recent definitions I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is that of the impact character in relation to engineering character arcs. SO AWESOME. Seems like this impact character/s are strong catalysts for change in the protagonist causing inner conflict and help put the plot into motion. This has greatly helped my understanding of the story.

    IMPACT CHARACTER=

    1. “Impact character” probably isn’t at the top of your list. But it should be. Because you can’t create a character arc without one.

    2. “Impact character” is the term coined by Dramatica authors Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley to describe what is just as accurately termed by editor Roz Morris the “catalyst character.” This is the character who slams into your protagonist, catalyzes him into change, and has a major impact on his life.

    3. The impact character is the one who enables, empowers, or sometimes just plain forces another character(s) to change.

    4. The impact character may be a friend, or he may be a foe.

    5. If the antagonist represents the story’s outer conflict, then the impact character represents the inner conflict.

    6. Just like the antagonist, the impact character is a conflict-causer. Just like the antagonist, he’s at odds with the protagonist. But unlike the antagonist, the conflict isn’t necessarily the result of opposing goals. Rather, its core is the opposing worldviews of the protagonist and the impact character. The protagonist believes the Lie; the impact character (lucky dog!) already knows the Truth.

    Even in posting this I learned something new! Conflict helps produce plot. What’s a plot without conflict right? It’d be a pretty stale story. The conflict can be external and internal, and both are essentially related to the antagonist and impact character. So if I understand this correctly the impact character is the catalyst for change in the protagonist helping him/her overcome the inner conflict that enables them to overcome the outer conflict represented by the evil antagonist to achieve their goal to live happily ever after….or not.

    Further reading: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/impact-character-2/

  22. BETA READER

    (paraphrasing from Google as it seemed like an excellent summary)

    “Beta readers provide feedback during the writing and/or editing process and are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context. Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes and problems with continuity, characterization, and believability. In fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.”

  23. Novella: a story that runs around 40K to 50K words. Normally, it has no subplot and no more than two POV characters. One of the harder forms to sell traditionally, though I’ve ready recently this is changing.

  24. Mimesis: where syntax echoes, mimes the narrative.

  25. CONFLICT

    The overarching opposition fueling the entire plot of a story and presenting obstacles to the protagonist on a macro and micro level.

    ….

    (And btw, did I mention that I LOVE this whole idea?! THANK YOU SO MUCH! ;D)

  26. Heather Wittman says:

    YA – Young Adult (Fiction), a genre aimed at adolescents ages 12 -18. Often told in first person with fast pacing. Focuses on new, fresh, ‘first time’ experiences and coming of age experiences, and there is often a strong romantic subplot. This is a genre that, like Romance, includes many other genres under it such as YA Romance, YA Fantasy, and YA Mystery. Differentiate from NA – New Adult (Fiction) which is aimed at an older age group and focuses on new adult experiences such as the first serious relationship, first serious job, going to college, and moving out on their own.

  27. MS

    “Manuscript” (In writing lingo: a yet unpublished work whether written or typed)

  28. Unreliable narrator.
    The narrator’s unreliability might be obvious to the reader throughout, it might be revealed gradually, or it might come as a revelation that provides a major plot twist.
    Common examples are Vladimir Nabakov’s Humbert Humbert, and Alex from A Clockwork Orange. A lesser known example is Micky DeWitt from Flank Street.

  29. Alliteration:
    A stylistic literary device identified by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of multiple words, or the repetition of the same sounds of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase.

  30. PROOFREADER

    Someone reading through a completely edited work to find and/or correct typographical errors (i.e. typos).

  31. Ruth Fanshaw says:

    SHELF TIME

    The period of time when you put aside your work in progress, in order to be able to come back to it later with fresh eyes.

  32. SUBTEXT:
    is the meaning beneath the dialogue; what the speaker really means, even though he’s not saying it directly. As humans, we often don’t articulate our thoughts exactly.

    Subtext in Dialogue – The Writer’s Toolbox – Ask The Writer – Gotham …
    https://www.writingclasses.com › toolbox

  33. Merriam Saunders says:

    I’d like to add “on submission” or “on sub” especially juxtaposed with being “in the query trenches”.

    I recently heard two writers who are in the query trenches referring to themselves as being on sub and realized there is some confusion out there about the difference between the two.

    Query Trenches: generally refers to looking for representation from a literary agent (although it is possible to directly query publishers)

    On sub: your MS has been submitted, usually by your agent, to a list of editors at publishing houses who may or may not have agreed to read it.

    Oh, that also makes me wonder if “house” was on your list, referring to publishers.

    Thanks!

  34. I am building a similar list myself, going beyond the ordinary of literary terms and picking what I think should be learned by all writers. A few of your words are on my lists. I welcome you to look through my list to see if it helps you. I did words for the A to Z challenge. I would list them here, but there are nearly 70 words.

    AtoZ 2014: http://writing.chrisvotey.com/atoz-2014/
    AtoZ 2015: http://writing.chrisvotey.com/atoz-2015/

  35. Kidlet: 1. a diminutive child. 2. term of endearment between parent/child; older to younger sibling.

    Thank you, sincerely, for this resource. Definitely raised hand (!), baffled by various terms, WIP, MC, YA et al.

  36. K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

    Can’t credit for the idea, although sadly my memory fails to provide me with the name of whoever came up with the idea.

  37. SIDEKICK :

    These definitions almost seems to be too simplistic.

    1. Sidekicks, by definition, are almost always with the main character, which allows the conflict to be ongoing
    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/why-your-hero-needs-yappy-sidekick/

    2. a person who helps and spends a lot of time with someone who is usually more important, powerful, etc. (Merriam-Webster)

  38. K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

    You go, you guys! This is awesome. We’ll have this puppy filled out before you know it.

  39. Ron Fitch says:

    A scene is a sequence of events that happens at a particular place and time and that moves the story forward. The scene consists mostly of “showing” though it may contain some “telling.” The scene has a particular structure that gives the story motion.
    Showing using the following tools:
    • Action.
    • Dialogue.
    • Interior Monologue.
    • Interior Emotion.
    • Sensory Description.
    Telling using the following tools:
    • Narrative Summary
    • Exposition
    • Description

  40. Creative Nonfiction:

    The use of literary style and writing technique to tell a true story. It’s an embellishment, but only for the sake of telling a story that teaches a lesson or conveys a change of heart or mind. Narrative, dialogue, setting, and voice are just a few creative writing tools used to grab a reader’s interest and leave them changed somehow at the end.

  41. I echo many of the other commenters: this is a great idea!

    Here’s a definition you could add:

    COPY EDITING

    The process of ensuring that a piece of writing is correct and consistent in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; that it is logically structured and audience-appropriate; and that the intended meaning of the text is communicated clearly through suitable word choice and style.

    For Further Reading:

    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-i-self-edit-my-novels-15-steps-from/

  42. If you are going to include AYKB, you should also have the Dumb Mechanic dialogue.

    Dumb Mechanic
    Where a character explains something to a character who doesn’t know what they are talking about. The example from the name is a mechanic explaining what is wrong with a machine to someone who knows nothing about mechanics. It’s vital that the lack of knowledge needs be real and believable. It also needs to be limited to the needs of the moment. So a gear-head stopping to fix a lawyer’s car might explain a air bubble in the gas line, if that was the problem, but not how an engine works in detail.

  43. Here’s one that wasn’t on the list but which you might want to include:

    PREWRITING

    The first stage of the writing process, which generally includes brainstorming, planning, mapping, researching, and outlining. Prewriting encompasses everything a writer does before beginning the first draft, and it accomplishes such goals as determining the intended theme, organizing plot points, and establishing characters.

    For further study:

    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/6-tasks-youll-love-yourself-for-checking-off-your-nano-pre-writing-list/

    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/book/outlining-your-novel/

  44. Lydia Hansen says:

    At first I was like “Pshaw! I know tons of writing terms! And then I started to scroll down the page and my mouth dropped open. MFC? SF? SFF? What? I need this index! What a brilliant idea, K.M.Weiland. 😀

  45. ALPHA READER

    An alpha reader is among the first to read a completed manuscript (MS) or work-in-progress (WIP) and is usually a close friend of the writer. The role of the alpha reader is to provide cheerleader-like support and encouragement rather than constructive criticism.

    See also: BETA READER

    I’ve provided a personal take on the subject here: http://www.iennivens.com/advice-for-new-writers-in-an-age-of-interactivity. Feel free to link to or borrow from my post if you find it helpful in clarifying the role.

  46. The glossary idea is great with lots of good info.
    Although I feel like a babe taking in his mother’s milk, growing and making sense of the world around him.

    Gotta go, think I’ve got a poopy diaper.

  47. Tried my best to come up with some definitions. I hope this helps!

    FIRST PERSON
    A point of view where the main character of a story is also the narrator. The reader “sees” through the eyes of the main character, so to speak. It uses pronouns such as “I,” and “me.” E.g., “I walked into the house.”

    EXPOSITION
    The part of the story where background information about characters, events, setting, etc. is provided. Generally, the exposition can be found at the beginning of the story. However, other background information can be placed throughout the story as it is needed.

  48. I’m amazed you didn’t have “writer’s block” entered. Could it be a case of… you know?

  49. In case you haven’t already Googled this.

    Novellette
    A short novel that is often about romantic relationships and is usually not very serious. Word count is 7,500 to 17,500 words.

    Thanks K.M. This is very cool and a lot of work. Cant’ wait to see the final version.

  50. Scrutinizer says:

    If you have “Scene,” you should probably also have “Sequel”:

    (A) A self-contained story that continues within the world of a previous story. It typically follows the characters, setting, or themes from the original, but with a new story premise and problem.

    (B) The second half of a Scene, following the scene (goal, conflict, disaster). It contains the reaction, dilemma, and decision that the character has in response to the events of the scene.

    For further study:
    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-write-a-sequel-thats-better-than-the-first-book/
    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-structure-scenes/
    http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/structuring-your-scenes-pt-7-three/

  51. Scrutinizer says:

    To finish up the acronyms:

    MMC:
    “Main Male Character”
    The male lead in a romance story. Usually gets the girl in the end.

    MFC:
    “Main Female Character”
    The female lead in a romance story. Usually gets the guy in the end.

    MG:
    Middle Grade fiction, targeted to children ages 8 to 12 years old. Typically features a main character in the same age range and avoids “mature” content such as graphic violence or sexually explicit material. That’s not to say the stories are simplistic, of course.

    SF:
    Science Fiction, aka Sci-Fi.
    Fiction that incorporates scientific elements such as futuristic societies, advanced technology, and alien worlds. Though usually aiming for scientific plausibility, it ranges in realism from currently understood physics and biology to highly speculative science.

    SFF:
    Science Fiction & Fantasy.
    A combined genre of speculative fiction. Sci fi typically aims for scientific plausibility, while fantasy often incorporates magical systems. Stories may contain elements of both or be exclusive to one or the other, but all such stories explore fantastic worlds and scenarios.

    • Scrutinizer says:

      And speaking of SFF,

      Worldbuilding:

      (A) The act of designing a story world, including its culture, language, technology, magic, biology, landscape, history, etc. The author does this to build a consistent backdrop for her story. It is especially important for science fiction and fantasy (and even historical novels), where the story world may be much different from the world that the readers inhabit.

      (B) The art of distilling the elements of a story world, building the world within the minds of readers. This can be done through setting descriptions, exposition, dialog, or character actions and interactions. In most cases, avoid info-dumping exposition and AYKB dialog. Instead, weave in the worldbuilding as a seamless part of the story itself.

      For further study:
      http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/are-you-asking-these-important/

  52. GHOST WRITER

    One who undertakes the physical labor of writing an article, book, or memoir for someone else, usually in secret.

    One who produces written content as a third party for someone else, nominally for a fee in exchange for all credit for said written content belonging to someone else.

    On another note, I will pay whatever you ask for this book when it’s done.

  53. Lorna G. Poston says:

    Your description for alliteration is a good one, but for newbies adding an example would be helpful too. “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers”

    For Passive Voice: on FB the other day, I saw a post that said, “If you can add ‘by aliens’ at the end of the sentence, then it’s passive voice.” Example: “The light was left on in the kitchen—by aliens.” 😀 Give them an example to correct it: “James left the light on in the kitchen.” Gotta say, when I first started writing, passive voice is one that drove me nuts and nearly had me bashing my computer.

  54. Chekhov’s Gun – This is a dramatic principle that requires every single element within a story to be necessary and irreplaceable. The term ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ was coined when Chekhov wrote a letter to A.S. Lazarev, stating that if you have a loaded gun in one scene, it must be fired in one of the subsequent scenes in order to avoid being superfluous. If you give something attention, such as the gun, it must be because it has some import later in the narrative.

  55. Scene structure: the division of a Scene into a scene (the action that happens when a character has a goal, then conflict interferes with that goal and there is an outcome) and its sequel (the character reacting to the previous outcome, then facing a dilemma, and finally making a decision about it that will determine what the character’s goal is in the next Scene)

  56. Plotter: a writer who prefers to write a book /after/ going through an outlining process

    Pantser: a writer who prefers to write “by the seat of his/her pants,” meaning, without previous outlining

    Outline: a sketch of every event that makes up the structure of a story, which is written before a first draft to edit out any structural weak spots beforehand

  57. Archetype: a ‘type’ of character which is commonly repeated across literature: the mentor, the magician, etc.

    Cliché: any situation in a story that has been used too many times in literature, and becomes cheesy to readers.

    Cliffhanger: the ending of a chapter or book in a moment of high suspense and tension, used to compel readers to read on or buy the next book in an installment.

    Dystopia: genre of literature that focuses on a form of organization of society in the future (typically post-apocalyptic) that is dysfunctional.

    Flashback: short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the past.

    Flashforward: short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the future.

  58. LOVE INTEREST

    A principle secondary character for whom the protagonist has romantic interest (and/or the romantic subplot itself).

  59. END MATTER

    The additional parts of a book appearing after the main body of the text (i.e. acknowledgements, historical notes, explanatory notes, end notes, an afterword, index, bibliographies, and appendixes). Also called Back Matter.

  60. Dystopian: This describes an imagined community, society, or world, in which everything is unpleasant or undesirable. It is the opposite of utopian, and literally means ‘bad place’.

  61. Love this! Here are my offerings.

    MARY SUE (fem.) (MARTY-SUE – (male.)) – began by fan fiction writers but now in writers general vocab. A derogatory term for a character than is able to do everything, the perfect heroine, with ultimate abilities. Not always a female, but can be used to describe any character with unrealistic abilities.

    HEA – Happily Ever After – Romance writers use this to describe a genre as well as a moment. “A great HEA read.” Or, “you do get your HEA.” Most often seen with Harlequin and the “cozy” genre. (I went a long time thinking this was a genre all its own!)

    COZY, also known as COZIES – a mystery novel that is usually a bloodless crime, with very little violence, sex or coarse language (but not always a pure “clean-read.”) Usually the person solving the crime is an amateur and has the support/friendship of a police officer/detective/medical examiner. Readers usually identify with the main character because they are positive and socially acceptable (even their small faults).

  62. FRONT MATTER

    The material preceding the main body/text of a work: including the title pages, printing/publishing data and/or a table of contents, foreword, preface, author’s note, dedication, etc.

  63. ANTAGONIST

    There can be multiple antagonists in a story, but ultimately it’s the greatest character standing in direct opposition to and blocking the protagonist achieving his story goal.

  64. K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

    This is awesome, you guys! Keep it up. We’ll have this thing filled out in no time.

  65. ACTIVE VOICE:
    The opposite of passive voice. Example: Beautiful giraffes roam the savannah. (active)
    As opposed to
    The savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes. (passive)

    BLACK MOMENT/LOW MOMENT:
    The part in the story at which everything looks hopeless and the situation is at its lowest point. Usually directly precedes the climax.

    DENOUEMENT:
    The wrap up after the story is done. The wind down from the action of the climax. Sometimes not included in the full arc of the story, but tells afterward details.

    DEUTERAGONIST:
    A secondary protagonist and the driver of a subplot. Can be a sidekick.

    Great idea! I wish I’d had one of these when I started writing. 😛

    • Scrutinizer says:

      You might want to include what active and passive voice actually are, rather than just opposites. With active voice, the person or thing performing the action serves as the subject of the sentence, whereas with passive voice, the subject is the person or thing being acted upon. I really like your examples, though.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

        Perfect! I combined both of your comments for a solid definition. Thanks!

        • Scrutinizer says:

          Great! One typo, though: you wrote “(passive)” twice under Passive Voice. I’m pretty sure the second one should be “(active).” With the massive surge of input you’ve been sorting through, though, it’s an understandable mistake.

    • Scrutinizer says:

      In linguistics, the actor in a sentence is called the “agent,” and the passive receiver of action is called the “patient.” These are independent of “subject” and “object,” but which is which determines the voice of the verb.

  66. Scrutinizer says:

    Wow, 100 comments already! It’s really a testament to the effectiveness of your content and teaching style, Katie, that you can recruit so many enthusiastic contributors so quickly. And that includes those of us who normally don’t say anything but who really appreciate all that you do here. You’re probably my favorite blogger on writing, and I’ve read a lot. Thank you so much for making resources like this!

  67. This is really taking off. Great job guys!

  68. Okay, I’ve been thinking about it all day and feel like my first definition for this was kind of rambly, so I’ll try again. But feel free to take it or not as it works! 😉

    ANTAGONIST

    One standing in opposition to/thwarting the protagonist.

  69. Upmarket Fiction: A type of fiction that is an amalgamation between Commercial Fiction, something with a wide audience that fits into a typical genre, and Literary Fiction, something that doesn’t fit exactly into a standard genre classification. Upmarket Fiction can appeal to both audiences; exceptional writing that doesn’t fit into a mold yet has the potential for mass appeal.

  70. SPECULATIVE FICTION:

    1. speculative fiction. noun. 1. a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

    Speculative fiction – Dictionary.com
    dictionary.reference.com/browse/speculative-fiction

    2. Speculative fiction: is a term often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein (July 07 1907-May 08, 1988) an American novelist and science fiction writer.

    Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history. It is often used as an umbrella term for science fiction and fantasy considered as a single genre. The term is used this way in academic and ideological criticism of these genres, as well as by some readers, writers, and editors of these genres.

    Further reading:
    a. http://www.goodreads.com/genres/speculative-fiction
    b. http://www.greententacles.com/articles/5/26/

    URBAN FANTASY:

    A subcategory of contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy is set in a contemporary city. Often co-existing with the familiar city life is a hidden, magical aspect of the city frequently including magical creatures. Charles de Lint is one of the primary authors of urban fantasy. To some extent, Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale is an urban fantasy as well as Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

    CYBERPUNK:

    Cyberpunk explores the fusion between man and machine. A key element is the perfection of the Internet and virtual reality technology. In a cyberpunk novel, characters can experience and interact with computers in a 3D graphic environment so real that it feels like a physical landscape. The society in which cyberpunk is set tends to be heavily urban, and usually somewhat anarchic or feudal. The “father of cyberpunk” is William Gibson, author of the seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Eos authors defining this ever-evolving virtual reality include Neal Stephenson and Rudy Rucker.

    EPIC FANTASY:

    Sweeping in scope, epic fantasy usually concerns a battle for rulership of a country, empire or entire world. Drawing heavily upon archetypal myths and the quintessential struggle between a few good people against overwhelming forces of evil, epic fantasy is best represented by author J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Eos authors of epic fantasy include New York Times bestselling Raymond E. Feist (The Serpentwar Saga) and Adam Lee (The Dominions Of Irth). Some other popular epic fantasy authors are Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks.

    COURT INTRIGUE:

    A subcategory of epic fantasy that’s currently popular and is the fantasy equivalent of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Good examples of this are Robin Hobbs’s Assassin trilogy, George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire trilogy, Martha Wells’s The Element Of Fire, and Avon author Dave Duncan’s upcoming The King’s Blades trilogy.

    Further reading: https://www.sfsite.com/columns/amy26.htm

  71. Line editing and proofreading:

    This form of editing means going over a manuscript line by line and editing it for grammar errors as you go. It doesn’t entail any extensive rewriting, but there may be some use of color editing to liven up flat prose, and there may be some reduction of redundancies (such as repeated information). Basically, line editing and proofreading checks for the most basic of grammatical and syntax errors. This style of editing may include the use of a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

  72. Two quick questions. One stupid and the other… well, probably it is as well.

    Stupid 1st: Court Intrigue is a sub-category of Epic Fantasy, how so? It gives examples through titles, which, unless you’ve read at least one… it is simply epic fantasy on a micro-cosmic level, instead of vast expanses, contained within the halls of power of a single kingdom/province/village?

    2nd: I’ve been checking back pretty frequently reading through the list, familiarizing myself with the terms; and scrolling down it’s easy to confuse the glossary terms with the links from the previous term (especially between antagonist and antagonistic force. Is there anyway to make the terms standout a bit more from the previous entry? It may be just a matter of making the term font size a tad bigger to distinguish it from ‘further study’/link size… or me paying a bit more attention as I scroll… probably best option.

    • comment awaiting moderation… back on probation…

      typo, ‘it is simply epic fantasy” should read ‘is it…’ it’s supposed to be a question, not a statement. Thanks.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yeah, sorry, I’m not sure why this got flagged for moderation. Anyway…

      This is actually the first I’ve heard of the court intrigue sub-category for fantasy as well. I like the sound of it though!

      I’ll have to take a look at the design overall and see if I can improve it. Thanks for the suggestions!

      • “exceeded stupid question filter settings” would be my guess

        I have to apologize to you. If I’d sit on the question for an hour or two, did some thinking/looking on my own, might figure it out without troubling you in the process.

        It was the first time I’d heard of it as well (court intrigue) and it was great to cross-reference with epic fantasy. If it is a microcosm of (which would make sense being cited as a sub-category) Wolf Hall would also fit that as an example. Made for some incredibly intense drama.

        You know what, the formatting works. You’ve put in a ton of work already to make this available and I should sit here and comment on font size!

        Again, my sincere apologies.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

          No, not stupid at all! Good questions both, although I think I will leave the format of the glossary as is for now.

          • Thank you, very gracious.

            Glad about the format! … although, when you do get around to it, may I request a projected holographic rolodex interface with voice activated search… if that wouldn’t be not too much trouble.

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

            Your wish is my command. 😉

          • woo-hoo, looking forward to it! ;-D

  73. Hey guys,

    I’ll try to do some more research and find a better definition for court intrigue then I’ll be back. What I’ve found so far sounds pretty intriguing! Pun unintended.

  74. Salut,

    So what I’ve discovered is that Court Intrigue is a subgenre of Epic or high fantasy and is a relatively new thing. Wow. I never realized how many sub-genre’s of fantasy there are! The genre’s are almost as diverse as the writers themselves.

    The term high fantasy (also epic fantasy) generally refers to fantasy that depicts an epic struggle between good and evil in a fantasy world, whether independent of or parallel to ours. The moral concepts in such tales take on objective status, and are not relative to the one making the judgement.
    (https://www.worldswithoutend.com/resources_sub-genres.asp)

    What is Court Intrigue Fantasy?
    Lawyers dueling in court rooms! Jury tampering! Okay, so not that kind of court. More like a royal court— think castles, thrones, and royal successions. Is Scar’s solo from The Lion King coming to mind? Absolutely! These stories have lots of layers and conflict, though not necessarily physical conflict, more behind the scenes conniving and pulling strings. These are complicated stories full of intrigue. Moreover, the characters are clever—usually on both sides of the aisle.
    There is a significant level of world-building in Court Intrigue stories in order to create a believable government with intricate hierarchies as well as several nations with complex relationships.

    * Level of Magic

    Variable. The level of magic in Court Intrigue Fantasy varies by world and is not a defining feature of the sub-genre. In some stories magic is barely present and not a factor in the storyline; in other stories magic is key to plot development and the possession of power.

    High. These stories do not usually have grand ideas, but there are plenty of social implications involved in the goings-on of a palace court. The idea of power and ideas of black and white are themes commonly explored in Court Intrigue.

    * Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    High. These stories do not usually have grand ideas, but there are plenty of social implications involved in the goings-on of a palace court. The idea of power and ideas of black and white are themes commonly explored in Court Intrigue.

    * Level of Characterization

    Moderate-High. Character development can sometimes be overshadowed by world building and plot development. However, characters are significant players in Court Intrigue stories and therefore tend to pop off the page. A common characteristic in this sub-genre is the morally gray areas of people’s lives, which gives readers more realistic characters.

    * Level of Plot Complexity

    High. Unraveling a plot full of twists and turns is the hallmark of the Court Intrigue sub-genre.

    * Level of Violence

    Moderate. Conflict is a significant part of all Court Intrigue stories, but it is not always violent. There are, however, often wars or the threat of war looming on the edges of the story. Sometimes, even, conflicts are resolved through violence, but in secret.

    FURTHER READING

    1. Best Fantasy Books: http://bestfantasybooks.com/court-intrigue-fantasy.html

    2. School Library Journal: Court Intrigue http://blogs.slj.com/adult4teen/2014/09/10/court-intrigue/

    3. Popular Court Intrigue books by Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/court-intrigue

  75. Flash Fiction

    Extremely short fiction. Some flash fiction markets have a limit of 53 words, while others allow up to 1000 words. Like longer fiction, flash fiction includes conflict and resolution, but some elements may be implied for the sake of brevity and left to readers’ imaginations. Due to its extreme brevity, flash fiction tends to focus on one turning point or revealing moment.

  76. Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick –

    – She watched though the window as the stupid man ate his precious eggs, bacon and toast. She had to muffle her mouth when he gulped down half of his juice and then vomited it out. Ha, hurt my sister do you? Tomorrow was going to be fun. She smiled, and it grew wider as she walked off to school.

    or:

    1. wash the dishes.
    2.Wash the laundry.
    3. Bury the mailman in the backyard.

    Or:

    “I love D.B.Z, books and wearing peoples skin.”

    I think I got it right correct me if I’m wrong.

    It means:

    (Forgive me my books are a little twisted.)

  77. Steampunk: A subgenre of fantasy fiction which is largely determined by its setting, which is typically an alternative-Victorian reality, laden with steam-powered technology. Corsets are optional.

    Dieselpunk: A subgenre related to Steampunk, although it is driven more by the culture of the 1920s through the early 1950s. Technology is strongly influenced by diesels.

    Beats: A term closely related to outlining. Basically, a description of the important action to take place in a story. May or may not be incredibly thorough, but is likely to hit the highlights of the important action of the story.

  78. I don’t know if this matches with the ‘official’ definition.. you can ignore it if you like.

    A content editor looks at big picture stuff: character arcs, plot arcs, whether the story has a consistent tone. Also may comment on POV issues and/or narrative voice. A content edit is the first edit a story should go through after the rough edges have been knocked off the first draft as your editor may suggest major changes which will waste effort polishing too much.

    As an aside not necessarily for publication I’ve been know to move chapters about, suggest cutting them completely, or change the POV character in a scene. I think the hardest thing I ever suggested was changing a first person, multiPOV to third person limited.

    I send a fair number of clients to your blog, this glossary is one of the reasons why.

  79. Josh Lewis says:

    Developmental Editing

    Editing concerned primarily with the structure and content of a book that starts near the beginning of the manuscript’s life. A developmental editor works to give the book focus and direction (mostly towards what is “marketable”) by helping to develop author’s ideas, and so will point out inconsistencies in aspects such as logic, voice, and audience.

    Definition influenced by The Longman Guide to Technical Editing by Carolyn D. Rude (2006)

    and

    “What is a Development Editor and What Can You Expect?” by Jane Friedman (2014, Sept 8) https://janefriedman.com/developmental-editor/

  80. Michael Ryan says:

    Resonance: The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

  81. Logline: Single sentence story summary. See Premise Sentence.

    For further study: 6 Reasons a Premise Sentence Strengthens Your Story

  82. You’re welcome, I find the site helps me when I’m stuck or write my self into a corner. Most of the stuff on there is so oddball that it can get things moving again.

  83. Standard Manuscript Format

    The standard way that editors, agents, and publishers want your manuscript formatted before you send it to them.

    The cover page should be on a seperate page from the rest of the manuscript. It should include:

    – name of the manuscript and author (or pen name)
    – approximate word count (rounded to the nearest hundred)
    – Your: name, address, phone number, e-mail, and website
    – Your agent’s details (if you have an agent)

    font: Twelve point, Times New Roman, or Courier New black

    margins: One-inch margins on all four sides

    indent: Half-inch paragraph indentations for the first line of each and every paragraph

    space: Double space; no extra line between paragraphs

    align: Align left

    page numbering: Number pages beginning with the actual story (don’t count or put page numbers on the title page)

    scene breaks: Indicate scene breaks by inserting a blank line and centering the number sign # in the center of the line

    page header: Include your last name, the manuscript’s title, and the page number in the page header of every page except for the title page. Align the header to the right

    chapters: Begin chapters on new pages (insert a page break or format using styles). Center the chapter title, even if it’s only Chapter One (or Chapter 1), about one-third of the way down the page. Skip a couple of lines and begin the text of the chapter.

    end: Center a number sign # on an otherwise blank line one double-spaced line down from the final line of text of the final chapter or epilogue at the end of the manuscript. Or write The End. (The end should be labeled so an agent or editor isn’t looking for extra pages that aren’t there.)

    italics: Use italics for italicized words.

    character spacing: Use a single character space, not two spaces, between sentences.

    The standard document format is MS Word (.doc) If you have a newer version of MS Word, Open Office, Pages, or something else, save the document in .doc (This is usually found somewhere like, File>>Save As, “MS Word 97-2003 (.doc)”
    Almost everyone can read .doc files)

    Finally, check the publisher or agent’s website. Some of them will have specific fonts, spacing, or other ways they want things done that might vary slightly from the general guidelines.

    To see screen shots of what this looks like: http://www.marlyspearson.com/formatting_101.htm

  84. My humble opinion (and excuse me for my clumsy English, please)

    Archetype is more than a type of character. It’s, according to its etymology, an ideal of that figure or character.

    Same as a Stereotype is more typical, almost a cliché.

  85. Andrea Rhyner says:

    Great idea!

    Red Herring – a false clue meant to mislead the reader. It creates a false trail for the reader to follow. A red herring can be an object, a character, part of the setting or any other way the author can think of to mislead.

  86. Andrea Rhyner says:

    Foreshadowing – Building subtle information for later, hinting at what is possible or what is to come. A successful job at foreshadowing will result in the reader thinking “I should have guessed that!” when the moment comes.

    Backstory – Inserting information about events or thoughts that shaped the characters or story world.

  87. RE: Dumb Mechanic

    See also, “As you know, Bob” (Where a character tells another character something he already knows.) The Dumb Mechanic is slightly better writing than “As you know, Bob”, as the author has at least tried to fix the problem, but the core problem is the same.

  88. I’d like to add the term “zero draft” to list. I’ve found the concept helpful.
    Zero Draft
    The “vomit” draft, part of pre-writing. The writer “vomits” up whatever story ideas they have without concern as to structure, consistency, or sense. Used to a) explore world/worldbuild, b) explore/develop characters/character interactions c) develop and/or test plot elements d) anything the author wants.
    Further reading:
    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/10/06/how-to-outline-during-national-plot-your-novel-month/
    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/09/14/25-ways-to-plot-plan-and-prep-your-story/
    I’ve found the zero draft a useful concept as a pantser. It can be the most terrible piece of writing in history and it doesn’t matter because it’s not a “real” draft, it’s just exploratory. It helps me find my plot and get to know my characters without having to commit to anything.

  89. MPS
    Missing Parent Syndrome

    The rather common occurrence, usually found in works of fiction where the protagonist is underaged, where the parents and/or guardians are somehow left out for the majority of the plot. This can be due to death (Frodo in Lord of the Rings,) or boarding school (Harry Potter,) or visitation to another world (Narnia,) or just about any other reason.

  90. Hannah Killian says:

    Drabble: Something you write for fun. Or practice. Or both. Both is good.

  91. Perhaps this was previously mentioned, but I think you should add Pitch to your list and how it is similar or different from a synopsis. I am actually trying to figure this out at the moment, and so I don’t have a definition to go with it.

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