A to Z Writing Terms

Alliteration:  A series of words in a sentence all beginning with the same sound. For example: Sing a song of six-pence.

Boilerplate: A standard publishing contract, with no changes made by the author or agent. The boilerplate is the starting point only, and later changes are usually made.

Characterization: The author’s expression of a character’s personality through the use of action, dialogue, thought, or commentary.

Denouement: The final outcome of the main complication of a story or play. It usually occurs after the climax and reveals all the secrets and misunderstandings connected to the plot.

Epigram: A short witty poem, usually makes a satiric or humorous point.

Freewriting: Writing continuously without worrying about how well you are writing. This kind of informal writing is meant to explore one’s thoughts, unload one’s feelings, or reflect on something.

Genre: The type or category of writing – like mystery, science fiction, romance, fantasy, etc.

Hook:  A narrative trick in the lead paragraph of a work that grabs the attention of the readers and keeps them reading.

Irony: When a person, situation, statement, or circumstance is not what it seems to be, but the exact opposite.

Journal: A diary or record of events, feelings, and thoughts usually recorded by date.

Kicker: In journalism – a sudden, surprising turn of events or ending; a twist.

Lead: The first paragraph of a manuscript. This is where the “hook” (to grab the reader’s attention) should be.

Myth: A story that attempts to explain events in nature by referring to supernatural causes, like gods and deities. Usually passed on from generation to generation

Narrative: A collection of events that tells a story, which may be true or not, placed in a particular order.

Onomatopoeia: The use of words that resemble the sound they denote. For example – hiss or buzz.

Paradox: A statement that initially appears to be contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense.

Quatrain: A four-line stanza. Quatrains are the most common stanzaic form in the English language, having various meters and rhyme schemes.

Rhythm: A term used to refer to the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds in poetry.

Subplot: The secondary action of a story, complete and interesting in its own right, that reinforces or contrasts with the main plot.

Theme: The central meaning or dominant idea in a literary work. It is the unifying point around which the plot, characters, setting, point of view, symbols, and other elements of a work are organized.

Understatement: The opposite of hyperbole, understatement (or litotes) refers to a figure of speech that says less than is intended.

Voice: The style, tone, and method of writing with which an author composes a work.

Writer’s Block: The inability to write for some period of time. It can be the inability to come up with good ideas to start a story, or extreme dissatisfaction with all efforts to write.

X – What I use for place holders in my first draft for names, place names, etc.  Usually in all caps followed by a statement in parentheses. EX: XXXXXX  (Look on Google maps for town name)

Yellow Highlighter – An indespensbile tool  to have handy when reading your manual aloud to catch mistakes.

Zzzzzzzzz – The lack of this is one reason why most writers drink coffee. Zzzz’s are elusive and fleeting when your mind is racing with ideas, or when you are on a deadline, and usually stay out of reach until the writer reaches the state of complete exhaustion  at which point  Zzzzzzs overcome them en masse.

I hope at least a few of those made you smile!



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