Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by glorybee » Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:58 am

This week’s lesson isn’t really a lesson at all—it’s more of an appeal to writers to become more familiar with the lingo of the writing world. Here’s my analogy: when I was first on my own at age twenty, I cooked pretty basic meals, and I only needed to know basic terms like roast, tablespoon, batter, and stir. But over the years, as I’ve desired to become a better cook (and have gotten hooked on The Food Network), I’ve learned fancier cooking terms and ingredients and (to some extent) how to use them. I think, by learning and using these new tricks, I’ve become a far better cook.

You can see where I’m going with this. One way to improve your writing is to know the vocabulary of writing, and also to know how to use those terms. So I’m going to give you a list of terms—over 130 of them—grouped in ways that make sense to me. I consider this list to be very basic—sort of a freshman writer’s vocabulary. These are terms that beginning-to-intermediate writers should know and be able to provide examples of. I could easily have included double or triple the amount of literary terms, but I think this is a great start.

I encourage you to scan the list and to note those terms that may not be familiar to you.
What should you do then? Well, it depends on you, I guess. Some people are self-taught—if that’s you, then research the unfamiliar term and practice using it. Some people would rather have specific instruction or examples—if that’s you, come back here with a question. I’ll give it a shot.

WORDS ABOUT WRITING FICTION:

Conflict
*Man vs. man
* Man vs. self
*Man vs. nature
*Man vs. society
*Man vs supernatural

Plot
*Exposition
*Rising action
*Climax
* Falling action
*Resolution/denouement

Characterization
*Dialect/Accent/Jargon/Lingo
*Dialogue
*Description
*Motivation
*Flat/rounded characters

Protagonist/antagonist
POV
*First person
*Second person
*Third person (limited or omniscient)

Setting (both time and place)
Narrator
Deus ex machina
Flash back/flash forward
Anthropomorphism

TERMS THAT CAN (but some of them shouldn’t) BE FOUND IN ANY KIND OF WRITING

Hook
Allusion
Surprise
Suspense
Symbolism
Irony
Foreshadowing
Anachronism
Cliché
Gender-neutral writing
Imagery
Mood
Atmosphere
Show, don’t tell
Tell, don’t show
Transitions
Tight writing
Voice
Connotation
Hyperbole
Repetition
Stream of consciousness
Audience
Euphemism
Motif
Parallelism
Purple prose
Realism
Magical realism
Redundancy
Theme

WORDS ABOUT WRITING POETRY

Meter/metrical foot

Figurative language
*Metaphor/extended metaphor
*Simile
*Personification
*Oxymoron
*Paradox
*Allusion
*Idiom
*Pun

Types and structures of poems
*Free verse
*Ballad/narrative poetry
*Limerick
*Haiku
*Stanza
*Couplet
*Quatrain
*Sonnet

Words about how words sound
*Rhyme
*Alliteration
*Assonance
*Consonance
*Onomatopoeia
*Slant rhyme
*Internal rhyme
*Malapropism

Poetry conventions
Enjambment
End-stopped line
Rhyme scheme

THINGS PEOPLE WRITE

Fiction
Nonfiction
Creative nonfiction
Memoir
Biography
Autobiography
Play/skit/drama/screenplay
Devotional
Inspirational writing
Bible study
Allegory/fable/myth/parable
Literary fiction
Slice of life
Coming of age (bildungsroman)
Epistolary writing
Satire/farce/parody

PARTS OF SPEECH and SENTENCE CONSTRUCTION

Noun
Pronoun
Adjective
Adverb
Verb
Preposition
Conjunction
Interjection
Phrase/independent phrase
Clause
Compound sentence
Complex sentence
Sentence fragment
Run-on
Comma splice
Past tense/present tense

PUNCTUATION (know when to use them and when not to use them)

Period
Comma
Apostrophe
Question mark
Exclamation point
Em dash
En dash
Hyphen
Parenthesis
Quotation marks (single and double)
Semicolon
Colon
Ellipsis

HOMEWORK:

1. Pick one term above that’s new to you. Research it, and then either
a. Write a short example for practice (post here for brief critique, if you wish)
b. Ask a question for further clarification
c. Make a comment about that new term
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by Sibermom65 » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:30 pm

WOW! I thought I had a pretty good vocabulary and understood the terms, but you brought in so many more that I can see I need to spend a super amount of time on research!
Good topic.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by jaybird » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:02 pm

Onomatopoeia has to do with words that are sounds is what I gather.

A frog croaked in a pond
and then it croaked in midair
literally he died being a grandpa frog;
he plopped in the water
splash came a quacking mallard
whosh went the wave pushing the frog away
a large fish gulped up the frog
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by glorybee » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:17 pm

jaybird wrote:Onomatopoeia has to do with words that are sounds is what I gather.

A frog croaked in a pond
and then it croaked in midair
literally he died being a grandpa frog;
he plopped in the water
splash came a quacking mallard
whosh went the wave pushing the frog away
a large fish gulped up the frog
Close--but not all words that have to do with sounds are onomatopoeia. That term is reserved for words that themselves sound like the actual sound they are naming. So in your charming little example, croaked is not really an example of onomatopoeia, because what the frog says doesn't resemble the word croak. However, ribbit is an approximation of a frog's sound, and it would be considered onomatopoeia.

Still with your poem--whoosh would be considered onomatopoeia, but gulped would not. I'll let you figure out the rest of them.

Incidentally, in your writing, onomatopoeia should be put in italics, thus:

Jan fell heavily to the floor with a whump, having tripped over the cat.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by itsjoanne » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:26 pm

The only term I didn't recognize was enjambment - which is running a thought in a poem beyond the end of a stanza, couplet, or line.

I've used it in poetry before, and seen it quite a bit in others' work - the first poet who comes to mind for using this technique is e. e. cummings. I'd say he's pretty "famous" for it.

I'd say it is a great technique to "fool with" the rhythm/meter of a poem - to create pauses and such where the poetic form does not naturally place them.

Great lesson, Jan! Hope lots of others contribute!
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:31 pm

This list certainly kept me busy googling terms. Although I'm more or less familiar with many of the terms, I am fuzzy about some of them.

I'd like clarification regarding the differences between these three terms: setting, atmosphere, and mood.

Although I didn't see it listed, tone might be included. In the spoken word of course, the tone of voice conveys a great deal of meaning. However, is it possible to convey tone with the written word? The exact choice of words—connotation—can convey tone in the written word. Are there additional ways of conveying tone in writing?

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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by glorybee » Mon Aug 24, 2015 3:08 pm

itsjoanne wrote:The only term I didn't recognize was enjambment - which is running a thought in a poem beyond the end of a stanza, couplet, or line.

I've used it in poetry before, and seen it quite a bit in others' work - the first poet who comes to mind for using this technique is e. e. cummings. I'd say he's pretty "famous" for it.

I'd say it is a great technique to "fool with" the rhythm/meter of a poem - to create pauses and such where the poetic form does not naturally place them.

Great lesson, Jan! Hope lots of others contribute!
Enjambment really is more commonly applied to structured poetry (that with rhyme and meter) than free verse. I wrote a piece with a lot (probably too much) of enjambment for the Writing Challenge seven years ago:

I wrap myself in night, that velvet shroud—
I have no need for brazen light of day,
Nor little stars shall charm me. I have vowed
To dwell henceforth in sullen shades of grey.
No food is savory to me—no taste
Shall linger on my tongue. No melodies
Can penetrate the fortress I have placed
Around my icy heart. ‘Tis a disease
That stifles every sense. I cannot feel
A tender touch, compassion, mercy, grace—
And I defy capricious God to heal
When I have turned my back to His embrace.
Yet—through the leaden sky—a golden beam
Shoots forth. I spurned my God, but He found me.

You can see it at the ends of lines 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 13. Yeah, too much. :shock: But it's a pretty good model for what enjambment looks like.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by glorybee » Mon Aug 24, 2015 3:36 pm

Cinnamon Bear wrote:
I'd like clarification regarding the differences between these three terms: setting, atmosphere, and mood.

Although I didn't see it listed, tone might be included. In the spoken word of course, the tone of voice conveys a great deal of meaning. However, is it possible to convey tone with the written word? The exact choice of words—connotation—can convey tone in the written word. Are there additional ways of conveying tone in writing?

Cinnamon Bear
There’s certainly a bit of overlap in the terms setting, atmosphere, mood, and tone, especially in the last three. I’ll start with the easiest one: setting.

The setting of a story or a novel is simply the time and place in which the action happens.

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in Maycomb, Alabama, in the early 1930s
Gone with the Wind is set in the American South during the Civil War
The Harry Potter books are set in Hogwarts Castle (and other places in magical England) in the 1990s – early 2000s.

Atmosphere and mood are pretty much interchangeable—some teachers or writers might prefer one term over the other, but they both have to do with the effect that the writing has on the reader. Frequently, words with emotional content are used to describe atmosphere or mood: a book could be said to be gloomy, or peaceful, or uplifting. Setting is one thing that is used to establish atmosphere—other factors are the writer’s voice, word choice, pacing…and tone.

Tone is the writer’s attitude toward her subject. You can get a feel for tone by imagining that a professor of creative writing has asked his students to write a short story in which a spider figures significantly. In fact, let’s say that the professor also assigns some additional specific information—the main characters, the setting, even the conflict. Even within those constraints, a person (like me) who is horrified by spiders will write a very different story than a person who finds spiders adorable. Tone is indicated by vocabulary and voice, among other things.

I did a lesson on atmosphere here. And here is one on setting, from several years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever done one on tone, but a lot of what I said in the recent voice lessons would apply.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by itsjoanne » Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:49 am

glorybee wrote:
Enjambment really is more commonly applied to structured poetry (that with rhyme and meter) than free verse. I wrote a piece with a lot (probably too much) of enjambment for the Writing Challenge seven years ago:

I wrap myself in night, that velvet shroud—
I have no need for brazen light of day,
Nor little stars shall charm me. I have vowed
To dwell henceforth in sullen shades of grey.
No food is savory to me—no taste
Shall linger on my tongue. No melodies
Can penetrate the fortress I have placed
Around my icy heart. ‘Tis a disease
That stifles every sense. I cannot feel
A tender touch, compassion, mercy, grace—
And I defy capricious God to heal
When I have turned my back to His embrace.
Yet—through the leaden sky—a golden beam
Shoots forth. I spurned my God, but He found me.

You can see it at the ends of lines 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 13. Yeah, too much. :shock: But it's a pretty good model for what enjambment looks like.
Thanks for the clarification, Jan. :) Sorta figured.And I LIKE your poem. Enjambment works :)
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by Milly Born » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:23 pm

About Purple Prose

I'm afraid that before joining FW, I've produced my share of what I now know is purple prose. The very first challenge entry I sent out in a newly formed buddy group came back fluorescent, since one of my buddies had highlighted all adjectives and adverbs I used in an attempt to write beautifully.

Purple prose can come in various forms, but it boils down to nonfunctional flowery writing that distracts the reader from the contents. For example, using too many adjectives and adverbs like I did. Or using unnecessary complex words or phrases. Being overly descriptive. It may manifest in a sentence you are really proud of (yeah--guilty!), but is nothing but self-indulgent blabla.

The solution? Killing your darlings. And that's another important writing concept. :P
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by glorybee » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:30 pm

Milly, I have nothing to add, since you said that so beautifully.

My preference is for sparse, tight writing with every word chosen carefully to convey exact meaning, eliminating unnecessary fillers. I do know that some people like flowery description--but I think the day of long descriptive passages is long past.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by yvonblake » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:47 pm

Ten years ago, I barely knew half of these. Thanks to Faithwriters (like you, Jan) and other online writing blogs, classes, and websites, I've learned most of them.

I hadn't heard of "Deus ex machina " though. From the term "deux," I assumed it had to do with a supernatural power or God. I looked it up.

From what I read, I think it means that the plot has reached a point where there is no logical solution, so the writer uses a supernatural power to fix the problem. I think it must be much like ending the story with "He woke up, and it was all a dream," only this time - "A blinding light shot down from the sky and zapped the bully that had cornered the helpless main character."

Am I close? :D

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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by glorybee » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:59 pm

Yes, you're very close, except that a "deus ex machina" doesn't necessarily have to contain a supernatural element. It's any case in which a story''s (or novel's) ending is achieved by something (a character, an event, an item) that is introduced late in the story, for the sole purpose of conveniently solving all of the problems.

So if I've written a story about poor Susie, who's unemployed and homeless, and she's trying very hard to better her lot in life--applying for jobs, going back to school, volunteering--but at the last moment, she wins the lottery...that's deus ex machina. It's unfair to the reader, who would be justified in thinking "Why did she bother, then?" and even worse, "Why did I just read all this?"

Another term for "deus ex machina" is "the magic ending," and I wrote a lesson on it here.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:45 pm

Milly Born wrote:The very first challenge entry I sent out in a newly formed buddy group came back fluorescent, since one of my buddies had highlighted all adjectives and adverbs I used in an attempt to write beautifully...It may manifest in a sentence you are really proud of (yeah--guilty!), but is nothing but self-indulgent blabla.:P
I'm the buddy—I'm guilty as charged. :) However, I think you are being too hard on yourself, Milly. I don't think the entry you refer to—or any of your entries—could be considered purple prose. It is a good idea to use adjectives, and particularly adverbs, sparingly, but they have important roles.

I took a look at that early draft. I incorrectly highlighted "absolutely" as an adjective. It's an adverb of course. :lol:

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Re: Be a Better Writer--KNOWING WRITING LINGO

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:00 pm

glorybee wrote:...I did a lesson on atmosphere here. And here is one on setting, from several years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever done one on tone, but a lot of what I said in the recent voice lessons would apply.
Thanks for the clarifications and the links, Jan. I remember your lesson on atmosphere, but I don't think I read the one on setting before.

Oh, now I understand how tone comes through with just the written word. Choosing words with certain connotations can contribute to tone. But now I see that many other elements such as syntax, punctuation, and the things that you discussed in the lessons on voice also contribute.

Cinnamon Bear

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