Common Writing Terms

By Tim Hillebrant.

Okay, we’re writers, right?  I mean, this is why we’re here.  To share our stories and poems, and share in those of others.  To help each other get better at this craft we call writing.  And just like any other hobby or profession, we as writers have terms that are specifically suited to what we do. 

imgresEach of these terms have specific meanings and things they describe.  Some of which are obvious, but because we use them at least occasionally here at Writer’s Carnival, I’ve included them here.  Others may not be so obvious, but are still added because they’re common within the field of writing.  Admittedly, there are a lot of terms out there, more so than could ever be included in a single post, so I’ll choose those I feel are most commonly seen.   If you disagree, or know of others, please, share.  This is, after all, a group discussion.  So, let’s begin, shall we?


SPaG- This stands for Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar.  We also call them nits.  Basically, if your piece of writing has spelling errors, or issues with punctuation or the way it’s constructed, then you’ll it’s usually called SPaG.


Voice- Essentially, it’s the way you speak in your writing.  The way you tell your story that’s going to be different in every single writer out there.  Every author’s style is distinct and is something they develop with time and practice in their writing.  Some good examples of a writer’s voice can be found in the works of King, Rowling, or Rice.


Editing- Yeah, I know, obvious.  But we use it so let’s define it.   Basically, editing is nothing more than reviewing your work for errors.  We look for things like content, punctuation, spelling, continuity, shifting tenses, and more.


Continuity- Basically, it’s maintaining consistency of action and details within your writing.  Making sure what happens in chapter 1 isn’t changed in chapter 21, unless it’s to reveal more details about it.  An example would be a character having blue eyes at the beginning of the story, and brown eyes at the end, and no reason for the change.


Tenses- There’s present tense- you’re writing about things as they happen, or past tense, where you’re writing about things that have happened.
Examples-While the stormtroopers come from around the bend in the corridor, I depressed the button, igniting my lightsaber to intercept them. I stand ready for battle.   This is present tense.
The stormtroopers appeared from around the bend, only to find me there ready for them, ignited lightsaber in hand.  They fired, and my lasersword danced to intercept the onslaught of blaster bolts.  The battle was on.   An example of past tense.


First Person- This is when the story is told by the point of view of the main character.  Uses words like I, me, we, in the narrative.  The Twilight books were told in first person, for one example.  Treasure Island, Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird would be others.


Third Person-   The storyteller, or narrator, talks about the person or persons whom the story is about.  Uses words like he, she, they, in the narrative.  Examples of this include the aforementioned Harry Potter books, Game of Thrones, or Charlotte’s Web.


Plot- The sequence of events that develop the story.  It’s also entirely possible to have more than one plot in a story.


Dialogue- This is the term used to describe it when characters are speaking to each other.


Imagery- This is the language used to create representations of actions, objects and other ideas in our minds in a way that appeals to our physical senses of touch, taste, vision, hearing, and smell.


So I’ve listed here ten common terms we often see in the writing world, and even listed some examples for clarification.   What do you think?  Are there any common terms that should be listed?  Or expanded upon?  Share your voice, and let us know.


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