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A Glossary of terms relating to Creative Writing


Shakespeare U174_1 Glossary

This glossary includes many key terms discussed in this unit that are relevant to the authoring and creative writing process.

Browse the glossary using this index

Special | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ALL

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A

Action thriller

Where the dramatic mood and pace is punctuated by a rapid series of high-tension events and actions.

B

Back story

The wider context or background, which sheds light on the current story.

C

Causality

Causality or causation denotes the relationship between one event (called cause) and another event (called effect) which is the consequence (result) of the first.

Character

A fictional person, with a specific identity and recognisable traits, depicted in a novel or drama.

Crime

Allied to mystery or murder mystery genres, ‘crime’ presents a story involving crime, the police and the law.

D

Dialogue

The lines spoken by characters in novels, plays and films.

Dirty realism

Originally applied to a particular kind of writing emerging from America in the early 1980s, though it was much in evidence before the term was coined, this is fiction that engages particularly with subjects considered marginal to ‘traditional’ literary material. (Including ‘everyday’ subjects, for example, a scene at a Laundromat; or ‘dirty realities’, such as the life of a vagrant or prisoner.)

E

Enigma

A riddle, puzzling person or thing; something that cannot absolutely be known or resolved.

F

Fairy tale

Often drawing on myths handed down orally through the world’s various different cultures, fairy tales feature a number of recognisable formulae and character ‘types’. A ‘fairy-tale’ ending is meant to imply a happy ending to a story, however this isn’t always the case, and often a fairy tale evokes a complex moral lesson.

Family saga

Where the story focuses on the activities and histories of one or more families, shown over time, often related in a series of lined novels, dealing with different periods in the family’s history.

G

Gay fiction

Where the main protagonists are gay, and usually, but not always, aimed at a gay readership.

Genre

A literary or artistic type or style, e.g. thriller or romance.

Gothic

Style popular in 18th and 19th century novels, involving supernatural or horrifying events.

Grammar

Established rules and conventions for using language.

H

Historical

Where the action takes place usually at least an entire lifetime ago, often but not always related in the vernacular of the particular period being evoked.

Humour

Fiction of any kind where the mood is, before everything, intended to be humorous, although it might also be said to be ‘dark’ or ‘black’ or ‘biting’, where the ‘joke’ of the fiction is something more than merely funny.

I

In medias res

Literally, ‘in the middle of things’. A story that begins ‘in the middle of the action’, without any form of introductory passage.

Interior monologue

The direct, unmediated thought processes of a particular character.

L

Legal thriller

Where the drama involves action perceived in relation to the law, usually involving specific legal details, and closely allied to the ‘courtroom drama’ genre, where most of the action revolves around scenes unfolding in a courtroom.

M

Magic realism

Aims to convey events in a realistic manner, yet also involving a degree of ‘surreal’ occurrences, or scenes where the laws of ‘everyday reality’ do not apply.

Maximalist

Where the scope of the fiction encompasses a wide spectrum of history and activity, often incorporating specialist knowledge of culture, science or history, and related over a long word-length.

N

Narrative

A written or spoken account of a series of events. The part of a literary work that deals with events and action, rather than dialogue.

Novel

A length of fictitious prose, over approximately 45,000 words in length, presenting character(s), place(s) and time(s), usually within the context of a story.

Novella

A short novel of between approximately 20,000 and 45,000 words.

O

Omniscience

Literally, to know everything.

P

Place

A particular part of space, described and identified with certain characteristics and qualities, possibly named, though by no means necessarily real.

Plot

A narrative of events, with the emphasis on causality.

Plot line

The mental map of a plot’s progression.

Point of view

The position from which one character views events.

Political fashion

Where the action centres around a real or invented political scenario, usually nationally or internationally, perhaps taking place in a parliament, or during a political campaign.

Psychological thriller

Where a mood of high tension and excitement is created mainly as the result of psychological drama and dilemma.

R

Realism

Fictional writing that aims to represent ‘everyday’ scenes, speech and behaviour through faithful depiction of ‘real life’ details, without recourse to obvious literary devices or conceits. Also known as ‘truth to nature’.

Romance

In its broader, historical sense, ‘romance’ refers to novels where the stories are exaggerated or remote from everyday life. Now it is often more taken to refer to a novel where the fiction centres on one or more love stories.

S

Science fiction

Where an alternative reality is created, usually in outer space, or on another planet, often involving a high degree of scientific or technical data about that ‘other world’.

Setting

The environment and atmosphere in which characters operate.

Short story

A length of prose up to approximately 20,000 words in length, most usually of between 1,000 and 5,000 words.

Simile

A comparison usually using ‘like’ or ‘as’, e.g. ‘ The clouds were like cotton wool’.

Story

A narrative of events arranged in their time-sequence.

Syntax

The grammatical structure in sentences.


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