Monthly Archives: August 2016

Brief Definitions of Key Writing Terms

When I started writing fiction, it was stepping into an entirely new industry. Like other professions, I had to learn the jargon and key writing terms. Reading trade publications and writing books as well as attending seminars and conferences, assisted me in understanding key terms.

Below are some frequently used terms.

HOOK – a literary technique in the opening of a story that grabs or captivates
the reader’s attention . . . to keep on reading.

CHARACTER – a person in a narrative, comedy or drama. Characters may take major or minor roles in a story. The Protagonist and the Antagonist are major characters.

SETTING – the background and locations that depict the drama and the tone of the story. Setting helps orient and gives a frame of reference to readers. Jacob M. Appel says the purpose is “to orient, to awe and to trap.”

POINT OF VIEW (POV) – the perspective of the narrative voice. The Point of View is the place or position from which a writer listens in and observes.

PLOT – the events that make-up the story particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, sequence or cause and effect. The 5 plot elements in writing are: Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.

DIALOGUE – a conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play or movie. Let your characters act and speak – don’t lecture the reader with narrative only.

CLIMAX – the high point or the most exciting part of the story. The rising action and conflict reach a peak in the story.

FLOW – to move or run smoothly without breaking continuity. The story should move along without impediment and lead the reader forward, draw the reader deeper into the tale and ultimately land him at the end.

PRECISION – the use of the right words and the removal of redundant words or phrases. Exact wording – no extraneous wording. This is essential in bringing the manuscript alive.

VOICE – the distinct personality and the individual writing style of the author. Your voice is how you write and the way you handle language. It is a combination of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development and dialogue.

ORIGINALITY – the uniqueness of “you.” It is what you bring of yourself to the story and like voice is rather elusive.

IMAGERY – the vivid descriptive or figurative language that appeals to one or more of the senses. A successful image – shows rather than explains.

PACE – the speed at which something happens or is done. Narrative pace determines how quickly or how slowly the writer takes a reader through the story. Place the characters in the scene and don’t overdue with explanations on how they got there.

UNITY – a quality of oneness in a paragraph. Each word and sentence leads the reader towards a greater understanding of the overall theme or idea. A unique remark or detail mentioned earlier in the storyline can be subtly repeated or reintroduced – bringing the piece together in a unified manner.

SENTENCE STRUCTURE – the combination of simple, compound and complex sentences found in a manuscript. The words and sentences must sound real and believable coming from the writer.

WORD CHOICE – often determines whether or not you get your message across. This means accurate word choice AND the proper ordering of words.

RHYTHM – a sense of movement marked by timing. It is the soundtrack of your writing. How does the piece make you feel? What emotions are evoked?

INSPIRATIONS – the thoughts and brainstorms that come from everywhere . . . at any time.

BALANCE – a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance. Look at the work to find a description, scene or metaphor that can be repeated later with some aspect changed to serve as a counterweight to the first usage.

I welcome your comments. Thank you for reading.

Measurements of Success

Why do we need all the “quantitative” or “visible” measurements in life to prove our success? Why does it seem we calculate success mainly from these vantage points? Westerns cultures are not alone in the placement of tangible assets as a cornerstone for acceptance into the “halls of success.” The dictionary’s definition of success is:… Continue Reading