Glossary of Writing Terms

Welcome to the world of writing! There are certain terms and phrases that you will come across as you enter this wonderful world. Word-Mart has compiled a list of writing terms and phrases for your reference. This is by no means a comprehensive glossary, but as complete as we could make it for these pages. We hope it proves to be useful to Word-Mart’s visitors.

Glossary of Writing Terms

In case you feel there are other words that should have been included, or you need explanations of any of these terms, please feel free to write to us at [email protected]

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About the Author: Relevant information about the author, written for books, proposals, articles, and websites. Usually a couple of paragraphs to one page, written in the third person.

Acrostic: A sentence where the first letter of each word of the sentence helps to remember the spelling of a word, or order of things. For example – Never Eat Sour Wieners = North, East, South, West.

Advance: A percentage of the money paid to the writer by a publisher prior to publication of the book. Advances are paid against future royalties, and are paid back to the publisher once the book starts earning royalties.

Agent: An individual who markets creative works to publishers. Agents charge a commission of around 10 to 20 percent, rather than charging a fee.

All Rights: The publication owns all the rights to the work in all the media worldwide, but does not own the copyright.

Allegory: A narrative technique in which the characters are portrayed as things or concepts in order to convey a message. Usually used for satirical or political purposes.

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

Ambiance:  The feeling or mood of a particular scene or setting.

Ambiguity: Allows for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a word, phrase, action, or situation, all of which can be supported by the context of a work.

Analogy: A comparison of two unlike things, used to explain or illustrate a concept.

Anaphora: Several consecutive sentences all starting with the same words. For example – I will not give up. I will do it.  I will succeed.

Antagonist: The main character or force in a fiction that tries to stop the protagonist (the hero or heroine of the story) from achieving his/her goal.

Anthology: A collection of short stories written by various authors, compiled in one book or journal.

Antonyms: Words which are opposites in meaning. For example – come and go, clean and dirty, good and bad, etc.

Assignment: A piece of writing that a writer has been assigned to write by an editor or publisher for a pre-determined fee.

Assonance: Repetition of internal vowel sounds in nearby words that do not end the same, used to emphasize important words in a line. For example – asleep under a tree.

Autobiography: The writer’s own life story.

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Backlist: Books published before the present year, but still in print.

Ballad: A narrative folksong, usually created by common people and passed on orally.

Beat: One count pause in speech, action, or poetry.

Bibliography: The list of books, magazines, journals, people, websites, or any other resources that you consulted in the process of writing a book, article, or paper.

Bimonthly: Once every two months.

Biography: A life story of someone other than the writer’s.

Bionote (Bio): A short 2 or 3 sentence description of the author written in the 3rd person, usually to accompany an article.

Biweekly: Once every two weeks.

Blank Verse: Poetry that doesn’t rhyme.

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.

Book Review: A summary of a book, including its critique.

Byline: The author’s name appearing with his/her published work.

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Canon: Works generally considered by scholars, critics, and teachers to be the most important to read and study.

Caption: A brief description of a picture, graph, table, or diagram.

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

Clichй: An overused expression.

Climax: The moment of greatest intensity in a story, usually the point where the central character/protagonist faces and deals with the consequences of all his/her actions.

Clips: Published samples of writings that a writer submits with queries to prospective markets. Sometimes called “tear sheets”.

Closet Drama: A play written to be read rather than performed on stage.

Connotation: Implications that go beyond the literal meaning of the word.

Copyediting: Checking for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and word usage.

Copyright: The ownership by an author of his or her work. Copyright laws recognize the author’s right of ownership of anything that the author writes immediately upon its creation.

Couplet: Two consecutive lines of poetry that usually rhyme and have the same meter.

Cover Letter: A short letter accompanying a manuscript, proposal, or resume that introduces you, your work, and your credits. No more than one page.

CV:  Curriculum Vitae – a short one page resume.

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