As an adjective describing style, this word means dry and theoretical writing. When a piece of writing seems to be sucking all the life out if its subject with analysis, the writing is academic.
The device of using character and/or story elements symbolically to represent an abstraction in addition to the literal meaning. In some allegories an author may intend the characters to personify an abstraction like hope or freedom. The allegorical meaning usually deals with moral truth or a generalization about human existence. Forms include parable, fable, and some satire.
The repetition of sounds, especially initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words (as in "she sells sea shells"). The repetition can reinforce meaning, unify ideas, and/or supply a musical sound.
A direct or indirect reference to something, which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place or work of art. Allusions can be historical (like referring to Hitler), literary (like referring to Kurtz in Heart of Darkness), religious (like referring to Noah and the flood), or mythical (like referring to Zeus).
Something placed in an inappropriate period of time; i.e. the use of a wrist watch in Julius Caesar; the use of an anachronism may be intentional or deliberate and is used for effect (usually comic).
"doubling back" - the rhetorical repetition of one or several words, specifically, repetition of a word that ends one clause at the beginning of the next. Effect: Greater continuity, slower tempo, additional emphasis on words involved. Examples: "Men in great place are thrice servants; servants of the sovereign or state; and servants of business." Francis Bacon
The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines. "We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be...." Winston Churchill
A partial similarity of features on which a comparison may be based. A simile is an expressed analogy; a metaphor is an implied one. "Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." - Don Marquis. "Harrison Ford is like one of those sports cars that advertise acceleration from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in three or four seconds. He can go from slightly broody inaction to ferocious reaction in approximately the same time span." - Richard Schickel, Time magazine review of Patriot Games
A short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident.
The one who opposes another in a fight or conflict, or battle of wills - in literature, the "foil" of the main character, or " villain" -- the hero then is the protagonist.
(anthropos, man, and morphe, form). The ascription to animals or inanimate objects of human forms, emotions or characteristics. In most mythologies the gods are described as having human form and attributes. In a sense, anthropomorphism is a frequently unconscious way of description by analogy. To represent Zeus as an "all-father" with human qualities and features is anthropomorphism, to represent time as "Father Time" carrying a scythe and an hourglass is personification.
In literature or drama, anticlimax occurs when an action produces far smaller results than one had been led to expect. Anticlimax is frequently comic. "Sir, your snide manner and despicable arrogance have long been a source of disgust to me, but I've overlooked it until now. However, it has come to my attention that you have fallen so disgracefully deep into that mire of filth which is your mind as to attempt to besmirch my wife's honor and my good name. Sir, I challenge you to a game of badminton."
A character who lacks the qualities needed for heroism, who does not have an attitude of high purpose.
A figure of speech in which a contrary ideal is expressed in a balanced sentence that may also apply to entire body of work. "Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing." - Goethe "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...." Dickens
A brief, usually concise statement of a principle, truth, or sentiment, i.e., "Heaven for climate, hell for society." - Mark Twain
A figure of speech in which an unseen person or personified non-human object is addressed as if it could reply, i.e., invocations to a muse. "Judge, oh you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him" - Shakespeare
The use of an older or obsolete form, e.g., "Pipit sate upright in her chair."
the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies : also : a perfect example; also, an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C. G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconscious of the individual
A brief speech in which a character turns from the person he is addressing to speak directly to the audience; a dramatic device for letting the audience know what the is really thinking or feeling as opposed to what he pretends to think or feel.
Assonance is the sequential repetition of vowel sounds, particularly in stressed syllables, as in the line "Full fathom five thy father lies," in which "fathom" and "father" and "five" and "lies" have paralleled vowel sounds.
The lack of conjunctions between coordinate phrases, clauses or words, e.g., "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." J.F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address
The emotional tone or background that surrounds a scene.
A narrative poem composed in short stanzas, designed for singing or oral recitation, usually an exciting or dramatic episode
A novel concerning the youthful life and development of a major character, i.e., Dickens' David Copperfield
Unrhymed iambic pentameter
Term that describes pretentious, ranting, extravagant language. Other forms: bombaster (noun) bombastic, (adjective) bombastically, (adverb)
French "middle class" --refers to member of so-called middle class; in literature, used for characters whose political, social and economic values are largely shaped by their concern for property values and material possessions.
A burlesque is a form of indirect satire that imitates a serious literary work or genre but applies the imitated form to inappropriate subject matter. High Burlesque combines an elevated literary form with trivial subject matter; while Low Burlesque combines an undignified form with a serious or lofty subject.
Harsh joining of sounds, i.e.," We want no parlay with you and your grisly gang who work your wicked will." Winston Churchill.
The rhythmic flow, or sequence of sounds in writing or speaking / specifically used in poetry to designate measured repetition of emphasis and accent.
A pause introduced into the reading of a line of poetry by a mark of punctuation. Caesuras do not affect scansion.
Originally a biblical term denoting the scriptures included in the official Bible, the canon is a name given to an accepted body of works by an author, or more generally to those works which are considered in some way superior, central, or most worthy of study in a culture.
("seize the day") is a Latin phrase, used by Horace, which has come to denote an important literary motif especially common in lyric poetry: the encouragement to make the most of present life while it lasts, or to "live for the moment."
Greek: "purging" - the release of the emotions of pity and fear by the audience at the end of a Tragedy. According to Aristotle, these negative emotions are purged because the tragic protagonists' suffering an affirmation of human values rather than a depressing denial of them.
1) Any one of the persons involved in a story; 2) The distinguishing moral qualities and person traits of a character.
Developing (or dynamic) character
A character who during the course of a story undergoes a permanent change in some aspect of her personality or outlook.
A character who has only one outstanding trait or feature, or at the most a few distinguishing marks.
A character who is complex, multi-dimensional, and convincing.
A stereotyped character - one whose nature is familiar from prototypes in previous fiction.
A character who is the same sort of person at the end of the story as she was at the beginning.
A group of actors speaking or chanting or singing in unison, often while going through the steps of an elaborate formalized dance; a characteristic device of Greek drama for conveying communal or group emotion.
Two corresponding pairs arranged not in parallels (a-b-a-b) but in inverted order (a-b-b-a); from shape of the Greek letter chi (x). Example: "Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always." Also: "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." - Orwell
The arrangement of words, phrases or clauses in an order of ascending power. Often the last emphatic word in one phrase or clause is repeated as the first emphatic word of the next.
In writing or literature, coherence refers to a systematic or logical connection or consistency.
Casual conversation, informal, or regional writing, often includes slang expressions.
A literary work written in a comic style or treating a comic theme; a drama of light and amusing character, usually with a happy ending
The relief from emotional tension of a drama that is provided by the interposition of a comic episode or element.
A sentence with one independent clause and one or more subordinate clause.
Compound - Complex Sentence
A sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one subordinate Clause.
An extended an elaborate metaphoric comparison; used in poetry, it may form the framework of an entire poem
A person to whom secrets and intimate thoughts are told; a writer uses the confidant to show the thoughts of the major character. i.e.- Watson and Sherlock Holmes
The opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction. Used to show antagonism or irreconcilability.
The suggestions and associations of a word as opposed to strict denotative meaning
The repetition of the same or similar consonant sounds in a line or succeeding lines of verse, i.e., the r and s repetitions in Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream"Or, if there were a sympathy in choice/ War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it . . ." Consonance is similar to alliteration except that consonance doesn't limit the repeated sound to the initial letter of the word.
An image which persists throughout a work and determines form; i.e., Faulkner's controlling image is decadence
A secondary theme in a novel or play used as variation of the principal theme or in contrast
A pair of lines that end in rhyme. (But at my back I always hear, Time's winged chariot hurrying near.)
A turning point in the plot of a novel or play -- creating a conflict on which the plot may turn.
chivalric, romantic code and philosophy of love - illicit, secret, discreet, and always dedicated, i.e. King Arthur
The specific, exact meaning of a word (dictionary definition).
French "to untie" - the final outcome or unraveling of the main dramatic complications in a play or novel - usually in the last act or chapter.
Deus ex Machina
Latin "god from a machine" - a term used for the literary device of resolving a plot by the intervention of outside or supernatural forces, or by an unexpected trick or coincidence. Also: any artificial, forced, or improbable method of resolution
A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists: Cockney is a dialect of English.
A written/discussed composition in which two or more characters are represented as conversing. The conversational element of literary or dramatic composition.
A choice of words especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness.
Greek: "to teach" - the practice, art, or science of providing instruction. In literature, use of writing for offering guidance in moral, religious or ethical matters. If primary purpose is instruction = didactic
A word or phrase with double meaning
a poetic form in which a single character speaks to a silent audience, revealing both a dramatic situation and/or him/herself. In poetry, T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
A society which is the opposite of ideal. Orwell's 1984 is an example.
The term elegy was usually used in classical times for love poetry written with a specific meter, and in the Renaissance it kept this sense with some variation. However, since the seventeenth century elegy has come to mean a formal poem of lament and consolation concerning a particular person's death, or reflection on death in general (as in Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard" ).
The omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding. 2. A mark or series of marks ( . . . or * , for example) used in writing or printing to indicate an omission, especially of letters or words.
The running over of a sentence from one verse or couplet into another so that closely related words fall in different lines.
A long narrative poem told in a formal elevated style that focuses on a serious subject and chronicles the heroic deeds and events important to a culture or nation.
A concluding part added to a literary work; or, a speech delivered at the end of a play (as opposed to the prologue).
An event or happening within a longer prose or verse narrative.
Ending each item in a series with the same words or words. Effect: Forces the reader into an awareness of each item by placing it before a recurrent terminal word. Examples: "The Germans started the war, the French entered it, The Russians endured it, and the Allies won it. Or: Julie has beauty, Laura cultivates it, Wendy flaunts it, Janet disregards it Kim denies it, I enjoy it."
1. Of or associated with letters or the writing of letters. 2. Being in the form of a letter: epistolary exchanges. 3. Carried on by or composed of letters: an epistolary friendship. In literature, a novel written in the form of a series of letters is an epistolary, e.g. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
1a. A term used to characterize a person or thing, such as rosy-fingered in rosy-fingered dawn or the Great in Catherine the Great. b. A term used as a descriptive substitute for the name or title of a person, such as The Great Emancipator for Abraham Lincoln. 2. An abusive or contemptuous word or phrase
Literally a "trial," "test run," or "experiment" (from the French essayer, "to attempt"); hence a relatively short, informal piece of non-fiction prose that treats a topic of general interest in a seemingly casual, impressionistic, and lively way. Emerson was its most influential 19th-century American practitioner.
1) a moral element that determines a character's actions; 2) the character (principles, beliefs, and traditions) of a person, group, community or nation; 3) major customs & practices of a society; 4) the fundamental spirit of a culture
A formal composition or speech in praise of someone, usually delivered at a funeral or memorial service for the deceased.
The use of roundabout language to replace colloquial terms that are considered too blunt or unpleasant. Some common subjects which attract euphemisms are death ("passed away" replaces "died"); sex (as in the Elizabethan use of "French velvet" for "prostitute"); and bodily functions (as in Gulliver's "natural Necessities" in Swift's Gulliver's Travels).
Pleasant sounding, harmonious combination of words - good poetry is euphonious.
Latin: "from the chair" can function both as an adverb and an adjective, a term used to mean "with authority" or "from the seat of authority", i.e. a papal bull (document). With the authority derived from one's office or position: the pope speaking ex cathedra; ex cathedra determinations.
A piece of writing designed to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand.
Short, simple story using animal characters designed to teach a moral truth or lesson. (Aesop's Fables or Orwell's Animal Farm)
Events that lead to the resolution
Comedy that makes extensive use of improbable plot complications, zany characters, and slapstick humor. (films by the Marx brothers, the Three Stooges)
Figures of Speech
expressive uses of language - words used in other than the literal sense, used to provoke images. The basic figures of speech are: simile, metaphor, personification, synecdoche, metonymy, hyperbole, litotes, antithesis, apostrophe, and symbol.
An interruption of chronological sequence by interjection of events of earlier occurrence.
A person or thing that, by contrast, makes another seem better or more prominent.
A foot is the basis of meter: that is, the regular unit of rhythm which, when repeated, makes up a verse. Although the basis of meter in the classical languages was "quantitative" -- i.e., "long" and "short" syllables were based on the actual amount of time it took to speak the syllables -- and some English poets made experiments in this direction, virtually all English feet are based on a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Often used as a plot device, foreshadowing occurs when events, situations or words spoken by a character give a hint of what is to occur later.
Poetry that has no fixed metrical foot, and often no fixed number of feet per verse
A category or class of artistic endeavor having a particular form, technique or content. (Novel, short story, essay, epic, etc.)
An error in judgment - sometimes known as the "tragic flaw" - a fatal weakness that causes the downfall.
A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.
(adj.) - any course of action that stimulates interest, furthers investigation and causes one to discover something for herself (the major purpose of most great literature).
Greek; insolence; arrogance; excessive self-pride and self-confidence; the form of hamartia that stems from overbearing pride (most tragic heroes suffer from a form of hubris, i.e. Oedipus)
Obvious and deliberate exaggeration; an extravagant statement for the sake of emphasis
A kind of metrical foot. An iamb (the adjective is "iambic") is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. Example: They álso sérve who ónly stánd and wáit.
1. A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on. 2. The specific grammatical, syntactic, and structural character of a given language. 3. Regional speech or dialect. 4a. A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon: legal idiom. b. A style or manner of expression peculiar to a given people: "Also important is the uneasiness I've always felt at cutting myself off from my idiom, the American habits of speech and jest and reaction, all of them entirely different from the local variety" (S.J. Perelman). 5. A style of artistic expression characteristic of a particular individual, school, period, or medium: the idiom of the French impressionists; the punk rock idiom.
Inflected forms: pl. im•age•ries 1. A set of mental pictures or images. 2a. The use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas. b. The use of expressive or evocative images in art, literature, or music. c. A group or body of related images, as in a painting or poem. 3a. Representative images, particularly statues or icons. b. The art of making such images.
In media res
"in the middle of things" -- a literary device -- beginning a narrative in the middle of the action (when used, flashbacks maybe necessary.)
Inflected forms: pl. in•nu•en•does 1. An indirect or subtle, usually derogatory implication in expression; an insinuation.
a form of writing which represents the inner thoughts of a character—often associated with a stream of consciousness style of writing.
A change in normal word order; the placement of a verb before its subject.
A situation, or a use of language, involving some kind of incongruity or discrepancy. Three kinds of irony are distinguished.
When a character says one thing but means another.
The audience or reader is aware of critical information of which the characters are unaware.
What happens is different from what is expected to happen.
A form of understatement, or when something is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite - to say "he is no amateur" affirms he is a professional.
Poetry which takes its name from songs accompanied by the lyre -- is distinguished from dramatic and narrative poetry. Although the boundaries are flexible, most lyric poems are fairly short, and are often personal. Examples include the elegy and the ode.
Ludicrous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound. 2. An example of such misuse. After Mrs. Malaprop, a character in The Rivals, a play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
A figure of speech in which two unlike objects are compared by identification or by substitution of one for the other—i.e.—"George is a dead duck," or decorative—i.e.—"the ship of State," (or disparate—mixed metaphor—when it is too far-fetched.)
A systematically arranged and measured rhythm in verse.
When the name of one object or idea is used for another; i.e., the Crown refers to the King
A poetic form in which a single character is speaking to a silent auditor; reveals both a dramatic situation and the character. i.e.- T.S. Eliot - "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
The predominate atmosphere or tone or a work; the mood may shift to achieve comic relief, etc.
In drama a character who speaks directly to the audience, introduces the action, and provides a string of commentary between the dramatic scenes
Excessive admiration of oneself, from the Greek god Narcissus
In Mythology, Nemesis was the goddess of divine retribution - also: a) a rival or opponent who cannot be overcome or handled b) any situation or condition which one cannot change or triumph over, and c) an agent or act of punishment (roughly synonymous with fate).
Words which resemble in sound what they denote ("hiss," "rattle," "bang"), or words that correspond in other ways with what they describe.
A compact paradox - two contradictory words combined to produce effect -"eloquent silence."
A brief story, told or written in order to teach a moral lesson. In the Bible, Christ's tale of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 30-7) is an example.
A statement apparently self-contradictory or absurd (but containing a possible truth at times), i.e., "Fair is foul and foul is fair..." from Macbeth, by Shakespeare
A restatement - in poetry, to paraphrase the content is to makes its prose meaning as clear as possible.
A humorous, satirical imitation of a person, event, or serious work of fiction.
Ability to call forth feeling of pity, compassion and sadness.
A line of verse consisting of five metrical feet.
A sentence in which the writer builds suspense by beginning with subordinate elements and postpones the main clause until the end. E.g. Throwing her prom dress out the window, she vowed to spend the rest of her life as a welder.
An invented person; a character in drama or fiction [Latin: "mask"].
A figure of speech in which human attributes are given to an animal, an object, or a concept.
A chronicle, usually autobiographical, presenting the life story of a rogue or rascal, narrated in humorous or satirical scenes, in which the picaro, or central figure, lives more by wits than by industry. The picaresque tale ends to be episodic and without formal structure.
The sequence of incidents or events of which a story is composed; the meaningful manipulation of action.
The liberty taken by a writer to produce a desired effect by deviating from conventional form and established rules.
Point of View
Can be physical, mental, and personal - the relation through which a writer narrates or discusses a subject - a) author participant, b) author observant, c) author omniscient.
First person point of view
The story is told by one of its characters
Second person point of view
The story is told by one of its characters using second-person pronouns
Third person omniscient POV
The author tells the story using the third person; s/he knows all and is free to tell anything, including what the characters are thinking or feeling
Third person limited POV
The author tells the story using the third person but limits her/himself to a complete knowledge of one character in the story and tells only what that one character thinks, feels see, or hears
The repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinate words, phrases, or clauses.(I said, "Who killed him?" and he said, "I don't know who killed him but he's dead all right," and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Bay and she was all right only she was full of water. Hemingway, After the Storm.)
A speech often in verse addressed to the audience by an actor at the beginning of a play.
The ordinary language people use in speaking or writing; a literary medium distinguished from poetry by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech
leading character of a drama, novel or other literary work.[Greek: "first combatant"].
A brief popular epigram or maxim (In the Bible the book of Proverbs, a collection of moral sayings and counsels forming a book of canonical Jewish and Christian Scripture)
A play on words based on the similarity of sound between two different words with different meanings.
an inference that does not follow logically from the premises. literally: "does not follow"
1) The study and practice of effective communication; 2) The art of persuasion; 3) An insincere eloquence intended to win points and manipulate others. "Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion." - Aristotle
A rhetorical question implies that the answer is obvious--the kind of question that does not need actually to be answered. It is used for rhetorically persuading someone of a truth without argument, or to give emphasis to a supposed truth by stating its opposite ironically.
Romance is a medieval narrative genre and a precursor of the novel. Written at first in verse and later in prose (Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur), romance generally differs from epic in the following ways: its subject is about chivalric honor, daring deeds and gallant love; it has an adventurous or courtly setting; and the fortunes of the protagonist relate more to the individual than to society as a whole.
1. Bitter or cutting speech intended by its speaker to give pain to the person addressed; 2. a form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt and ridicule
The ridiculing of folly or stupidity, the use of irony and ridicule, a blend of humor and wit used to combat or criticize faults in society in the hope of remedying them. (Humor on a mission.)
The environment or surroundings described in a literary work; where the action takes place.
A figure of speech where two essentially different things are compared using like, as, or as if. "My love is like a red, red rose."
A speech spoken by a character alone on stage. A soliloquy is meant to convey the impression that the audience is listening to the character's thoughts. Unlike an aside, a soliloquy is not meant to imply that the actor acknowledges the audience's presence.
A familiar figure belonging by custom and tradition to certain types of writing. i.e. - hero, villain, fool, etc.
Stream of Consciousness
Stream-of-consciousness narration is a variant of the limited third-person point of view; the narrator relates only what is experienced by a character's mind from moment to moment, presenting life as thought process, or interior monologue. More precisely, "stream of consciousness" refers to any lengthy passages of introspection in literature; whereas "interior monologue" denotes a narrative entirely in a wandering, introspective style.
A subordinate plot in a work of fiction or a drama.
1) a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion (as in "every virtue is laudable; kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable")2) a subtle, specious, or crafty argument 3)deductive reasoning
A person, object, action or idea that points beyond its own meaning toward greater and more complex meaning(s). It is an object that is first of all itself, but that comes to stand for or represent other things. Example: The birth of the female white buffalo calf symbolizes the return of balance, spirituality, and harmony in nature and between all peoples.
Figure of speech—part used for whole or whole for part—i.e.—wheels for a car, the fleet for a group of sailors.
syn-es-the-sia n. A sensation produced at a point other than or remote from the point of stimulation, as of a color from hearing a certain sound (fro. Gk, syn = together + aisthesis = to perceive). In language, to describe something by appealing to two or more senses, e.g., A blue note.
The central and dominant idea in a work; or, the message or moral implicit in any work of art.
The writer's or speaker's attitude toward subject matter, audience or her/himself; the emotional coloring or emotional meaning of a work. Also: the musical quality in language.
A serious drama typically describing a conflict between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny or fate) and having a sorrowful or disastrous conclusion.
A philosophy that places reliance on a man's intuition and conscience, it holds that man's inner consciousness is divine, that in nature is revealed the whole of God's moral law and that ultimate truth is in man's inner feelings. (Emerson, Thoreau)
The principal defect (weakness in character) which leads to destruction (hamartia - error in judgment).
A figure of speech that consists of saying less than one means, or of saying what one means with less force than the occasion warrants.
A quality in literature, which gives it significance and appeal, not limited to place or time
The depiction of an ideal society. See also Dystopia.
Latin: "like truth" - a work in which characters and action seem to make sense as a representation of reality
Voice refers to the controlling presence or "authorial voice" behind the characters, narrators, and personae of literature. It is also described as the implied author. The particular qualities of the author's voice are manifested by her or his method of expression (an ironic narrator, a lyric persona), specific language, and so forth. (See also persona, tone, and point of view.)