Using the Definition of Writing Terms

Do you find yourself confused by the writing terms that writers and publishers constantly throw around? If so, you aren’t alone.

Is there a word for structure? Is there a word for position? What is the definition of a theme?

There are multiple terms used in writing, and it can be expected that anyone new to the central idea of writing might look on with vivid confusion.

Outlined below, we’ve compiled a list of the most common writing terms and word definitions. If you’ve not already come across them, you will soon. For time’s sake, we’ve omitted anything related specifically to poetry – the list of those definitions and terms might as well be infinite.

Without further ado, here is the list of writing terms and word definitions that you are most commonly going to see writers and publishers use on a regular basis.

What is the Definition of Writing Terms and Where Are They Used?

The following short list will familiarize you with the some of the most widely accepted terms often used in writing.

About the Author: All of the relevant information as it pertains to the author of the written work. This is typically anywhere from a few paragraphs to a single page in length.

Acrostic: A sentence where the first letter of each word can be used to help remember the order of things, or the way a word is spelled. For example, My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles (this is used to help remember the order of the planets, or at least it was when Pluto was still a planet.)

Advance: A sum of money paid to the writer, most often by a publisher, prior to the book being published. Advanced are paid against future royalties and will be paid back once the book starts earning money.

Agent: A person who markets written work to a publisher. Agents typically command 10 to 20% commission on all sales.

Allegory:  A narrative in which particular characters are portrayed as ideas in order to demonstrate message. Most often seen in satire.

Alliteration: A collection of words in a sentence that all begin with the same sound.

Ambiance: The mood of a scene.

Ambiguity: Multiple interpretations of a word, phrase or situation, all which are supported by the context of the writing.

Analogy: A comparison of two things that are not alike, used when explaining a concept or idea.

Antagonist: The main character in a book or story.

Autobiography: A story of the writer’s own life.

Blacklist: Books that were published prior to the current year, but are still in print.

Ballad: A folksong.

Beat: A single count pause in speech, poetry or action.

Bibliography: A complete list of books, magazines, journals, people, websites, and other resources that were used as sources when writing a book, article or paper.

Bimonthly:  Occurring once every two months.

Biography: A story of the life of someone who is not the writer.

Bionote: A short 3 or 3 sentence description about the author, writing in third person.

Biweekly: Occurring once every two weeks.

Blank Verse: Poetry that does not rhyme.

Boilerplate: A publishing contract, where no changes are made by the agent or author.

Book Review: A summary of a book.

Byline: The name of the author appearing along with their work that has been published.

Canon: Work considered by scholars, critics and professors to be the most important for study.

Caption: A short description of a picture or graph.

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Characterization: The author demonstration of the personality of a character through the use of dialogue, thought or commentary.

Cliché: A tired and dated expression.

Climax: The most intense point of a storyline, typically where the main character faces and deals with the consequences of their actions.

Clips: Published samples of writing.

Connotation: Implications that extend beyond the conventional meaning of a word.

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

Copyright: Ownership of a specific work.

Dead Metaphor: A metaphor that has lost its value due to being overused.

Deadline: The final day that a piece is due for submission.

Denotation: The true meaning of a word, void of feelings or suggestions that might be implied by it.

Denouement: The final outcome of the main complication of a story or play. Typically occurring after the climax or the revelation of secrets.

Dialogue: The words that the character of the story speak.

Diction: The choice of words, phrases, sentence structure, that the writer selects to create meaning.

Editor: The professional hired to edit articles for a publication.

Elegy: A sad, contemplative poem that is written to remember someone who has died.

Embargo: Prohibition against publishing something on a specific day. This is often seen in journalism to ensure that all news channels release information on the same day.

Euphemism: A phrase used to the place of something that is upsetting.

Fair Use: The reproduction of small excerpts from copyrighted material, used for educational or review purposes.

Figures of Speech: Ways of using language that deviate from the actual meanings of words in order to communicate alternate meanings.

Galleys: The first typeset of a manuscript that is sent to the author for review prior to printing.

Ghostwriter: A writer who is paid to write for another person. A ghostwriter does not receive any sort of credit or byline for their work. Typically, celebrities will hire ghostwriters to write books that will be sold under their own names.

Imagery: A collection of images in a literary work that are used to establish mood.

Irony: When a person or statement is not as it appears.

Kill Fee: Compensation made for an article that was written but never used.

Logline: A single sentence description of a screenplay or script.

Massmarket: A paperback book that is smaller in trim size than a standard paperback, typically it will have a different cover illustration than its hardcover counterpart.

Nut Graf: A term used in journalism to refer to the paragraph that contains the main part of the story.

On Acceptance: When the writer receives payment after the editor has accepted the finished copy.

On Publication: When the writer receives payment after the finished copy has been published.