Glossary of Writing Terms
Need help understanding a writing word or phrase? Check out the glossary.
Knowing writing terms can help you discover new techniques to try in your own writing and help you talk about writing with others.
Tip: The links on this page will take you to more information and activities related to the term.
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
Antagonist: The character who opposes the protagonist.
Audience: The reader or readers of a text or attendees at a performance.
Biographical Narrative: Writing that shares an important experience from someone else's life.
Character: A person portrayed in written work. Characters can also be animals, imaginary creatures, and even inanimate objects.
Character Sketch: Writing that focuses on describing an important character.
Climax: The most exciting or intense point in a plot, usually followed by a resolution or conclusion.
Comparison-contrast Essay: An essay that shows the similarities and differences between two subjects.
Conflict: A problem between characters or forces in a work of drama or fiction.
Dialogue: The words characters speak.
Edit: To correct the mechanics, usage, spelling, and grammar in writing or a change to writing designed to improve the mechanics, usage, spelling, and grammar.
Expository Writing: Writing that explains or shares information.
Fiction: Prose writing that that is imaginary and may or may not include some factual information or real-life events. Also refers to the types writing that are part of the fiction genre including novels, short stories, and novellas.
Fictional Narrative: Writing that tells a made-up story.
Freewriting: Writing for a set period of time as continuously as possible and without regard for the correctness or relevance of the writing.
Genre: A category or type of writing such as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
How-to Essay: An essay that tells the reader how to do something
Informational Writing: Writing that shares information.
Informative Essay: An essay that provides information in a logical order.
Narrative Writing: Writing that tells a story, whether true or fictional.
Narrator: The person or character who tells the story.
Nonfiction: Prose writing that is not fiction and is based on fact.
Opinion Essay: An essay that gives the writer's opinion, a view or belief that can't be proven as a fact.
Parenthetical Reference: Listing an author's last name and page number(s) from the book, article, or other source in parentheses in the text to give credit to a source.
Personal Narrative: Writing that shares an important experience from the writer's life.
Persuasive Writing: Writing that presents the writer's opinion and tries to convince the reader to agree.
Plagiarism: Ideas or content that is taken from another author and presented as the writer's own.
Plot: The main events in a story.
Plot Summary Writing that tells what happens in a story.
Problem-solution Essay: Writing that presents a problem and tries to convince the reader that the writer's solution will work.
Pro-con Essay: An essay that evaluates what is good and bad about an idea or a situation.
Prose: Writing that doesn't have a metrical structure—not poetry.
Protagonist: The main character.
Reporter's Formula: Answering the questions: Who, What? When?, Where? and Why? in writing.
Research Writing: Writing that presents information on a topic and indicates where the information comes from.
Resolution: The part of a story in which the conflict or dilemma is settled or solved.
Response to Literature: Writing that examines the theme, plot, characters, or other aspects of a chapter, story, book, or poem.
Revise: To improve the ideas, organization, word choice, or sentence fluency in writing.
Sensory Details: Details that describe what is seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched.
Setting: The time, place, and conditions in which a story unfolds.
Template: A document with a preset format that you can use as a starting point for writing.
Theme: The main idea or message in a written work.
Theme Analysis: Writing that focuses on the message the author is sharing about life.
Thesis: The main argument of a written work. Also a written work that presents research as part of the degree requirements for an educational program.
Tone: The general effect or feeling the readers gets from a written work.
Writing Process: The steps a writer takes to create a piece of writing: Prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and publishing.
Writing Workshop: A meeting of writers to discuss drafts of written work, suggest improvements, and share ideas.
Forms of Writing