A Backpacker's Tale

500 Descriptive Words To Improve Your Writing

creative writing vocabulary list pdf

These  descriptive words  will help improve your writing. All these  describing words  are from my own personal notes. I’m an avid, and active, reader, and over the last couple of years I’ve jotted down the descriptive words that I pop out to me.

This list of descriptive words for writing was born from a desire to become enhance my vocabulary and become a better storyteller, and writer. Three things I care a lot about – just a  fun fact about me .

I’ve learned over time – and with many failures – that working with describing words on a page is akin to a potter at the molding wheel. And as writers, we use them to slowly shape our stories whether it’s writing about  driving around the world  or inspiring people to create their own list of  bucket list ideas .

The list is separated by  parts of speech ; You’ll find a list of adjectives, descriptive phrases, action verbs, and more.

At the end are some phrases I like, that I have read here or there over the years. Make sure to check out our  list of descriptive adjectives  as well.

I hope you use this  list of descriptive words , and phrases and garner inspiration to enhance your tales.

500 Describing Words to Improve Your Writing

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creative writing vocabulary list pdf

1 – although.

“he was making headway, albeit rather slowly.”

1 – very typical of a certain kind of person or thing.

“the archetypal country doctor”

1 – without purpose or direction.

“Don’t live an aimless life.”

1 – To face or endure danger or pain; showing courage.

The brave healthcare workers are putting their life on the line.

1 – perplexed and confused; very puzzled.

“I had a bewildered look on my face”

1 – giving out or reflecting a lot of light; shining.

The sun was bright in his eyes.

2 – vivid and bold color.

The grass in Ireland is bright green.

1 – Bright or Radiant.

The brilliant light was blinding.

1 – Clever or Smart

He was a brilliant student. He always chose to use the right word.

1 – unlimited, infinite, or immense.

The boundless energy of the kid wore me out.

1 – socially unconventional in a way regarded as characteristic of creative

Running this  travel blog  has led me to live a boho life.

2 – woman’s fashion aesthetic is characterized by flowing print fabrics, layers of clothing, and costume jewelry such as long strings of beads, dangling earrings, and multiple bangles.

she went for the boho look in a floor-length green dress teamed with a fringed  jacket  and chandelier earrings.

1 – hurt by repeated blows or punishment.

he finished the day battered and bruised.

2 – damaged by age or used repeatedly.

I finished the day battered and bruised.

1 – a taste sensation that is peculiarly sharp or acrid.

The bitter fruit tasted terrible.

1 – lacking due thought or consideration

Zack Morris showed a blithe disregard for the rules.

2 – Happy or Lighthearted Character

Want to watch a blithe romantic comedy?

1 – having a blue tinge; somewhat blue.

The bluish tint of the water was stylish.

1 – Lost in deep sadness of thought.

The kid was brooding that his parents wouldn’t buy the toy.

1 – having the characteristic of a baby.

He acted babyish when he lost the game.

1 – not fake; or counterfeit

This is a bona fide masterpiece.

1 – lose or hanging.

My eyes are baggy after a red-eye flight.

1 – loved very dearly.

The teacher was beloved by his students.

1 – a low murmuring or humming sound.

The buzzing bee flew across the park.

1 – strong, or strongly built.

The burly bear was intimidating.

1 – having a lot of bounce.

The trampoline was extra bouncy.

2 – confident or having a jaunty rhythm.

The man was bouncy and full of life.

1 – very apt to stay afloat.

The pool floaty was extremely buoyant.

2 – cheerful.

The buoyant salesman was very charming.

1 – lacking plants or life.

The bleak desert was barren.

2 – Cold and Miserable Outlook.

After his divorce, he had a bleak outlook on life.

1 – expressing or marked by earnest entreaty or pleading.

The beseeching peasant feared for his life.

1 – having the taste of butter.

The buttery bread warmed the soul.

1 – having feelings or actions control or remaining calm.

Even though he was afraid he remained composed.

1 – caverns in either size, shape, or atmosphere.

The cavernous mansion stood empty.

2 – Giving the impression of dark and vast.

The cavernous eyes.

1 – a series of columns set at specific intervals, and supporting a roof.

The ancient marble colonnades are just one reason to explore the  best islands in Greece .

1 – free from worry or anxiety.

he was a carefree soul.

1 – having a rough texture; large grains.

The treated wood was coarse.

1 – anxious to protect or avoid potential danger or mishaps.

he was careful not to get into trouble.

1 – making or liable to make a harsh, high-pitched sound when being moved or when pressure or weight is applied.

“I climbed the creaky stairs”

1 – dirt free, unmarked, or have been washed.

the room was clean.

1 – having a wavy outline

The crenelated coast when  backpacking Thailand  is breathtaking. ..

1 – covered by clouds.

It was too cloudy to go hiking.

1 – present from birth.

“a congenital defect of the heart.”

1 – a striking array of colors.

The colorful painting lit up the room.

1 – rude language.

They didn’t allow the colorful speech to get past the sensors.

1 – Happy / Sprightly

He was chipper after getting  married in Sweden .

1 – rude shortness

The curt manager’s comments angered the waiter.

1 – confused

The chef was confounded by the dinner tickets.

1 – continuing occurrence

I suffer from chronic indigestion.

2 – present and encountered.

Chronic meddling always causes problems.

1 – relating to the community / Collective ownership.

The communal garden gives us great vegetables every year.

1 – huge in size, power, or stupendous.

The colossal rocks blocked the dusty path.

1 – pleasing

Chicago food  has some of the most delectable meals I’ve ever had.

1 – delicate

The dainty glass broke from the fall.

2 – tasty

The dainty sandwich was filling.

1 – untidy in appearance

Boys often have a disheveled room.

1 – devoted to a cause or purpose

Star Wars has dedicated fans.

2 – given a purpose

He has a dedicated server to protect his data.

1 – awarded or received marks of honor.

He was decorated with a medal for winning the race.

2 – furnished with something ornamental

A hallmark of the parade are the decorated floats.

1 – chosen but not yet installed

the ambassador designates the future assignments.

He has a designated server to protect his data.

1 – bright, brilliant, or showy, colorful, and impressive.

The dazzling fireworks were the highlight of the festival.

1 – eating food quickly.

The Lion is a devouring beast.

2 – destructively consuming/absorbing

Don’t let devouring loneliness defeat you.

1 – below / far from the surface

His joy was buried deep below the surface of an ocean of swirling emotions.

Deep-Pocketed 

1- Having a great deal of money; being wealthy.

The deep-pocketed businessman donated a large sum of money to the charity. 

Disagreeable 

1- Having a disposition that is not pleasant or agreeable; disagreeable behavior or remarks.

“I’m sorry I was so disagreeable earlier. I had a really bad day.” 

DILAPIDATED

1 – fallen into decay or deteriorated

The dilapidated home needed an intense amount of love and care.

1 – serving for ornamental decoration.

The decorative replica was made to be displayed. And invoked a strong emotion.

1 – moving from the common direction.

Do follow the popular path. Instead, go into the unknown, and discover your divergent path.

Compassionate 

1 – Showing concern and sympathy for others, especially those in distress.

When I saw the homeless man on the side of the road, I felt compassion for him and wished I could help him. 

Entertaining  

1 – A movie that is enjoyable and amusing.

The new comedy starring Melissa McCarthy was very entertaining. 

1 – hard to pin down, identify, or isolate.

They knew the elusive thief lurked nearby.

1 – enthusiastic joy

They were exuberant about their upcoming trip to some of the  most beautiful places in the world .

1 – vertical position

Few erect columns were peppered throughout the temple ruins.

1 – having the ability to expand.

The expansive landscape is seemingly never-ending.

1 – deriving style, ideas, and taste from a wide range of sources.

The eclectic mix of opinions caused an argument.

EXASPERATING

1 – cause a strong feeling of annoyance

The planes exasperating delay made everyone late.

1 – fully detailed or well planned.

The elaborate design of Bangkok’s royal palace is breathtaking.

1 – uttered, or emphasizing on.

The emphatic refusal helped them close the deal.

1 – productive / desired effects.

The efficient writer finished before the deadline.

2 – being involved or an immediate agent.

The efficient action helped make a change.

EVER-DEEPENING

1 – go deeper

He had an ever-deepening love for sports.

1 – thorough / all possibilities

The exhaustive to-do list was intimidating.

1 – seemingly without end

The endless forest instilled a mood of tranquility.

EXTRAVAGANT

1 – exceeding normal limits or excessively elaborate

The extravagant building is grand.

2 – extremely high in price

The extravagant purchase maxed out his credit card purchase.

1 – elegance

The elegant clothes belonged to the king.

1 – relating to or named after

The eponymous landscape outside Dingle is one of the  best places to visit in Ireland .

1 – relating to a celebration,  festival , or feast.

The festive dinner got a little out of hand.

1 – tinged with red in the face, from shame, heat, or physical exertion.

Caught in a lie, his face became flushed with embarrassment.

1 – very hot or passionate desire.

I have a fervent desire to explore the world.

FAST-MOVING

1 – moving quickly

The fast-moving current washed away our supplies.

FANTASTICAL

1 – based on fantasy

Game of Thrones takes place in a fantastical world, filled with dragons, and magic.

1 – unrestrained violence or brutality

The ferocious lion hunted his prey.

1 – having to do with the burial.

They found treasure in the Pharaoh’s funerary chamber.

1 – focused on something.

The dog was fixated on the squirrel.

1 – loving having fun.

The fun-loving locals love putting on their annual festival.

1 – covered with grass

The grassy knolls are stunning.

1 – a large number of

He had charm galore.

1 – repulsion, or inspiring horror.

The movie was too gruesome for me.

1 – possessing glory

When  backpacking New Zealand  you see glorious landscapes. 

Good-Looking 

1 – Very good-looking, or beautiful. Can be used to describe people, things, or places. For example, “She is a glorious sight in that dress.” 

1 – painful or distressing

It was a harrowing adventure filled with an unexpected twists, turns, and sacrifices.

1 – an unrestrained expression

I was greeted with a hearty welcome.

2 – wholesome or substantial

I enjoyed the hearty meal.

1 – relating to an herb

Those herbaceous florae were savory.

1 – alone

He was isolated during the exam.

INTOLERABLE

1 – not tolerable or unbearable

The intolerable noise kept me up all night.

1 – picturesque or pleasing

The idyllic Irish landscapes are some of the best in Europe.

1 – great in size or degree

Our immense Universe is without limits.

1 – extreme degree

The intense amount of work was overbearing.

1 – irk or tedious

Sometimes we all have to do Irksome tasks.

1 – prone to act, acting momentarily

To lose weight sometimes we have to deny our impulses for bad food.

1 – tempting

The inviting meal made my mouth water.

1 – existing in, or belonging to

The innate behavior of a child was to cause trouble.

1 – memorable or cannot be washed away or erased.

The indelible landscape means there are hundreds of  places to visit in the United States .

INFURIATING

1 – the feeling of extreme anger.

The infuriating delay at the airport made him miss his flight.

1 – spotless / extremely clean

Singapore is an immaculately clean country.

2 – having no flaw

The glass in Venice is immaculate.

1 – having many complex parts

Mona Lisa is an intricate painting. Making it the most famous in the world.

1 – belonging to the inside,

I great battles happen inside the interior of our minds.

1 – sprightly

he took a jaunty stroll through the park.

1 – having a disorienting effect

The jarring truth is that dreams without goals, remain dreams.

1 – ready, or in favor of

I am keen to go to the bar.

2 – sensitive perception

He had a keen nose.

1 – having lungs

The lunged fish swan in the pond.

1 – transparent or clear; Glasslike

The limpid waters in Thailand or famed around the world.

1 – expending or bestowing excess

The lavish palace of Versailles is one of the most popular  day trips from Paris .

1 – outlandish, or eccentric

Some ludicrous movies aren’t bad.

1 – filled with desire or lust

She was filled with lascivious thoughts.

1 – lack of interest, or energy

His listless attitude held him back in life.

1 – sad or lonely

Ah, the lonesome road, has many trails, but many rewards.

1 – highly significant, outstanding

The monumental task can be accomplished by taking little steps every day.

1 – expressing sadness

A melancholy nature will keep you stuck.

MERITORIOUS

1 – deserving reward or praise.

A meritorious life of service.

1 – intrusive or getting involved in

The meddlesome raccoon knocked over the trash can.

1 – Huge, exceedingly large

Many of the mammoth  caves in the United States  are worth visiting.

1 – existing today

Many modern-day advances give our lives ease.

1 – inferior in size or degree

The minor problems in life or nothing to sweat over –  life is too short .

1 – covered by mist.

The heavy air of the misty morning endowed the park with an eerie coolness.

1 – covered by mystery

The monk has a mysterious nature.

OUT-OF-PLACE

1 – not where it should be

The restaurant felt out of place.

1 – elaborate or excessively decorated

The ornate .ruins draw in visitors.

OUTSTANDING

1 – standing out

His outstanding skills put him in line for a promotion.

2 – unpaid

Outstanding bills can be stressful.

1 – lack of sharpness

His obtuse answer made no sense.

1 – lacking remembrance, or memory

Don’t be oblivious to the opportunities that life presents you.

1 – wealth, abundance

The opulent hotel is worth the price tag.

1 – characteristic of a person

His hot temper was peculiar.

2 – different from the normal

The book had a particular plot twist in the book.

1 – not spoiled, or corrupted

The pristine beaches had soft sand.

2 – earliest state

The pristine state of the forest

1 – a sense of peace

The peaceful forest instilled a peace of tranquility.

1 – argumentative quarrelsome

He has a pugnacious nature.

1 – mental and emotional state of fear

Don’t panic. Breathe and slow down.

1 – able to be passed

The currents were passable during the low tide.

1 – turning, a pivot

Taking my first trip to Ireland was a pivotal moment in my life.

1 – critical

It was a pivotal piece of the puzzle.

1 – polishing, smooth, glossy

Polish your writing before publishing the piece.

1 – by or in itself

That’s not the facts per se, but valuable to know.

1 – notably luxurious or rich

His plush life made him soft.

1 – elevated or arrogant

The pompous rhetoric is hurtful.

2- exhibiting an air of self-importance.

The pompous politician lost sight of his vision.

1 – extreme or severe

After rigorous training, he was ready to test himself.

Sidesplitting 

1 – When something is so funny that it causes one’s sides to split, it is side-splitting.

My mom’s joke was sidesplittingly funny.

1 – like thunder

The thunderous roar of the waves beating along the coast.

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR WRITING: ACTION and Strong VERBS

These are some of the best words. They are great when wanting to show a clear meaning of a sentence or improve a short story.

1- regard something as being caused by.

I attribute my grammar skill to how many questions I ask.

1 – provide clear evidence; declare that something exist.

I attest that life is good

1 – make minor changes.

I had to amend your application before sending it in.

1 – regard (an object, quality, or person) with respect or warm approval.

I admire your commitment to learning the English Language.

1 – praise enthusiastically

I acclaimed actor won the best actor for his deep performance.

1 – achieve or complete successfully.

I accomplish my goals.

1 – increase in sound

They amplify the sound at the concert.

2 – make copies of something

The notes amplify that new evidence. ..

1 – change, or make changes too

They altered the rules of the game.

1 – (of a problem, opportunity, or situation) emerge; become apparent.

“a string of new difficulties have arisen “

2 – get or stand up.

“he arose at 5:30 to work out.”

1 – to clear out or save (Usually water from a boat)

They bailed him out of trouble.

1 – talk enthusiastically for a long time

Just one of the many  fun facts about me . Sometimes I like to babble about travel.

1 – to set upon

We were beset with locals trying to make a sale.

2 – to set with ornaments

The roses are beset with thrones.

1 – fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.

I newspaper story belied the facts.

2 – fail to fulfill or justify (a claim or expectation); betray.

The notebooks belie Darwin’s later recollection.

1 – hit repeatedly with blows.

He battered the broken car.

1 – become perplexed.

I was bewildered by the lack of work the team had done.

1 – bend the head or upper part of the body as a sign of respect, greeting, or shame.

It is common to bow in Asia.

2 – play (a stringed instrument or music) using a bow.

The techniques by which the pieces were bowed.

1 – think deeply about something that makes the person unhappy.

He brooded over his bad day.

1 – encourage or help

I need to boost my spirits.

2 – push from below

She needs to boost to master the English Language.

1 – cast a spell or enchant.

I was bewitched by the lush landscape.

1 – low murmuring or humming sound.

Flies buzz when they fly.

1 – lock with a bar that slides into a socket.

He bolted the door for protection.

2 – ran away quickly.

He bolted down the street.

1 – strike hard.

He bashed the wall in anger.

2 – criticize.

He bashed the smoking industry.

1 – break or burst

They bust the water balloon.

2 – lose something

He went bust at the poker table…

1 – squeeze together

Compress the laptop’s file to save space.

1 – to bring to an end.

The summit concluded with world peace.

2 – to reach a logical end or decision.

The magazine concludes that Rome is one of the  most beautiful cities in the world .

He concluded his college application with a question.

1 – unmarked, free dirt

He cleaned the room every other week.

1 – fall or hang in copious or luxuriant quantities.

“the cool water cascading down the waterfall.”

1 – decrease in size, number, or range.

“glass contracts as it cools.”

2 – become shorter and tighter to affect the movement of part of the body.

“The heart is a muscle that contracts about seventy times a minute”

1 – wind into rings

The sailor coiled the rope.

1 – to cover something

Massive trees canopied the small island.

1 – to form short bends or ripples / Wrinkle

Don’t crinkle my shirt.

2 – a think crackling sound

The crinkling bag woke up the dog.

1 – chuckle or laugh

He chortled with amusement.

2 – sing or chant

She chortled in her happiness.

1 – broken into small parts.

The  Greek Islands  are filled with crumbling ruins.

1 – beg or sponge

He cadges for a free cup of coffee.

1 – sharp, quick, repeated noises

The crackling fire.

1 – to dig and bring to light.

Don’t dredge up those painful memories.

1 – travel somewhere in a hurry

I dashed through the forest.

2 – strike, or destroy

The ship was dashed upon the rocks.

She dashed his spirits.

1 – cause (someone) to feel consternation and distress.

A deep  feeling  of dismay overtook the room.

1 – greatly astonish or amaze

I’m often dumbfounded after watching the task force meetings.

1 – eat / destroy / adsorb quickly

I want to devour the big meal.

2 – read eagerly

Amy always devours a good book.

1 – make (someone’s) clothes or hair messy.

Boris Johnson disheveled his hair before being on camera.

1 – to lessen the courage of

A lesser man would be daunted by this challenge.

1 – to set apart for a purpose. to distinguish as a class

We designate this room as the class lab.

2 – to point out a location

A marker designating where the trial starts.

1 – to feel aversion to (Offend)

His distaste for the joke was apparent.

1 – to dig

Suspicion led him to delve into his wife’s bag.

1 – to search for information

He delved into the past to find the problem.

1 – to get carried along (by water, air, etc)

The windy drift pushed the hot air balloon to the west.

1 – a pile of something in heaps

Snow drifts covered the landscape.

1 – to stray or move from a principle, standard, or topic.

Don’t deviate from your goals. Stayed focused even when life is tough.

1 – to cause annoyance or irritation

I hope you’re not exasperated by this list of descriptive words.

1 – Set up / to fix/put together in an upright position

The father and son erected the tree house.

1 – to become known,

Jane emerged from her travels a most well-rounded person.

1 – To make it ornamental or make it more attractive.

Frank embellished his life story to impress his date.

1 – to furnish / to provide with

I’m endowed with a  good sense of humor .

1 – allure or tempt

He was enticed by the smell of the chocolate.

1 – eliminate by wearing away surface

The rocks are effaced by wear and tear.

1 – rot slowly

Don’t let your anger fester about your tough English test.

1 – steal secretly

He filches the cookie from the jar.

1 – give a false appearance

The company feigned how bad his leg hurt.

1 – containing frescoes

The frescoed walls of the chapel inspired my love of art.

1 – to pass quickly or shift

The chortling birds flitted around the forest.

1 – to flow in an irregular current

The stream gurgling stream swept over the rocks.

2 – ta gurgling sound

The gurgling stream blocked the path.

1 – to gather,

Tim garnered his courage before presenting his  essay  to his teachers.

1 – move quickly

He hastened his journey home.

1 – lift or raise by tackle

Hoist the flag.

1 – lift or raise or pull

He heaved the trunk onto the oak table.

1 – a harmful or disquieting occurrence

The past mistakes haunted him.

2 – to visit often to seek the company of

I spend a lot of time haunting the bookstore.

1 – cross one with another.

The intertwined vines were impassable.

1 – place a body in a tomb or grave

The king was interred with all the honor due him.

1 – weave.

It’s dangerous to interweave lies and the truth.

1 – to make, irritated, or weary

He was irked trying to learn all the  English grammar  rules.

1 – endow or influence

He imbued the spirit of the old times.

INTERSPERSE

1 – spaced in intervals

The interspersed paintings covered the east wing.

1 – sharp uneven surface

The jagged mountains dotted the horizon.

1 – come into contact or pushing

The jostling crowd flooded to the door.

2 – vying for a position.

The workers began to jostle for the new job.

1 – expend or bestow

His lavish habits cost him a lot of money.

1 – slow parting

The effects lingered long after it was over.

1 – take a large shape or an impending occurrence

The  teacher  loomed over the  student  to make sure he wasn’t cheating.

1 – an area to stop

Lay-by the dock the ship tied up.

1 – utter barely audible sounds in a low voice.

He muttered to himself about his workload.

1 – hypnotizing

The mesmerizing beauty of the  best islands in Croatia  is not easily forgotten.

1 – settle snugly

A small town nestled among the mountains.

1 – grab or catch

He nabbed the best spot in the class for the  English lesson .

1 – a slow trickle, to seep out of something

The oozing gunk stained the floor.

1 – exiled

He was ostracized after his betrayal was made public.

1 – to peer through / to look furtively.

Don’t peek around the corner.

1 – to go deep into, or thrust into something.

I plunged into the task of self-development.

1 – landscape with a level surface, and little change

He wandered the plateau looking for his lost wallet.

1 – search for information.

His friend probed him with questions about the girl.

1 – sprinkled throughout

The olive trees peppered the Greek countryside.

1 – work laboriously

The book plodded along slowly.

1 – soaked in

The city was steeped in charm.

1 – a loud sharp noise

He shirked when he thought he saw a ghost.

1 – to spread without restraint

The sprawling landscape of the desert is one of the best  things to do in Tucson .

1 – fill with things or with satiety

He was stuffed after Thanksgiving dinner.

1 – feeling to do something (usually wrong)

He was tempted to eat the candy.

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR WRITING: LIST OF ADVERBS

1 – Suddenly or Unexpectedly.

The car stopped abruptly.

2 – In a rude manner.

His mom abruptly cut him off.

3 – Steep

The hill ascends abruptly.

Apathetically 

1- Without enthusiasm or interest.

She played with the dog apathetically, barely looking at it. 

ADDITIONALLY

1 – extra factor or circumstance.

brokers finance themselves additionally by short-term borrowing.

2 – used to introduce a new fact or argument.

Additionally, the regulations require a clean environment.

ALTERNATELY

1 – one after the other or next

Alternately, don’t give up when things get hard.

Begrudgingly 

begrudgingly (adverb) – unwillingly; reluctantly 

I begrudgingly gave him my number.

 Deliberately 

1- done or planned with care and intention

The mother deliberately left the child in the car while she went into the store. 

 Dramatically 

1. in a dramatic manner

The actress dramatically read the lines from the script. 

EFFECTIVELY

1 – being effective or in effect

John effectively finished his to-do list before stopping for the day.

1 – evident or provide evidence

He was evidently born in Ohio.

1 – expert in something

He expertly navigated his way through the maze of alleyways.

Extraordinary 

1 – strikingly unusual or different; remarkable

This painting is extraordinary! 

FURTHERMORE

1 – what precedes

Furthermore, people should travel more.

1 – a gloomy or somber

He grimly walked to see his boos.

1 – a sinister character

The dark figure had a grimly stance that shadows seemed to cling to.

Inquisitively 

1- Inquisitively is defined as in a curious or questioning manner. 

Looking inquisitively at someone means looking at them in a way that suggests you want to know more about them. For example, you may be staring intently at their face as if you are trying to read their thoughts. 

Intelligently

1 – In an intelligent way

The mother cat was intelligently trying to get her kitten out from under the car. 

1 – to a great degree

The immensely talented writer self-published his book.

INTENTIONALLY

1 – intentional manner or awareness

He intentionally arrived at the airport early.

1 – intense

He intensely focused on the problem at hand.

IMPULSIVELY

1 – from impulse

He impulsively got up early every morning.

He invitingly offered me a free drink.

INFURIATINGLY

1 – extreme anger

Moving to my wife in Sweden is an infuriatingly slow process.

1 – born or existing in.

He innately loved filling his head with quotes about adventure.

1 – lasting or unforgettable cannot be removed.

The indelibly hued landscape when  backpacking Italy  changed my life.

INTRICATELY

1 – complex with many parts

The intricately designed plot has levels of detail.

1 – eager or intense

They are keenly attuned to your bad behavior.

1 – clear; glassiness

The limpidly rushing water of the cascading waterfall.

LUDICROUSLY

1 – meriting laughter or exaggeration

He ludicrously lost his wallet.

Synonym for Richly or Grandly

1 – marked by excess

The lavishly decorated crown marked him as king.

Methodically 

1 – In a precise and orderly way.

The scientist methodically recorded the data. 

MONUMENTALLY

1 – large, or to an extreme degree

He monumentally failed in his task.

1 – without doubt

The claims were patently false.

1 – peace or tranquility

he peacefully listened to the sounds of birds singing outside his window.

1 – strict

He rigorously worked at his craft every day.

ROMANTICALLY

1 – romantic

He was romantically involved with her.

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR WRITING: NOUNS

1 – the process of absorbing.

The absorption of the spilled water.

2 – The whole occupation of the mind.

The absorption of my work overtakes every other desire.

1 – strong desire to do or to achieve something which takes hard work.

People trying to improve their skills with this list of descriptive words for  writing  have a lot of ambition.

2 – determination to achieve success.

life offers many opportunities for those with ambition.

1 – a large quantity of something.

I have an abundance of ambition.

2 – The condition of having a copious quantity of something; bountifulness.

The vineyard has an abundance of grapes.

1 – a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime.

“He’s a wine aficionado.”

1 – a dark volcanic rock that displays a columnar structure and is made of fine-grained.

The fertile soil was made of decomposed basalt.

1 – something of monstrous size

That’s a behemoth-sized lion.

1 – a person who is socially unconventional in a way regarded as characteristic of creative artists; a bohemian.

The town bohos opened an art gallery.

1 – an increase

A boost in the economy.

1 – a room or pantry used for storing wine or hard liquor.

Can you grab the wine out of the buttery?

1 – a beer that has a strong hop taste; or liquor with the sharp taste of plant extracts.

What bitters do you have on tap?

1 – a combination of qualities of color, such as shape, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

“I was struck by her beauty .”

Synonym  for Rock or Stone

1 – a large rock, mostly worn smooth by years of erosion.

The boulder blocked the path.

1 – move quickly.

He buzzed through these descriptive words.

1 – Irish name for a beehive hut.

The ruins of a clochán sat on the other side of the field.

1 – a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.

“both parties must sign employment contracts “

1 – a mass of something that falls or hangs in copious or luxuriant quantities.

“A cascade of pink bougainvillea.”

2 – a large number or amount of something occurring or arriving in rapid succession.

“a cascade of antiwar literature”

1 – an ornamental decoration at the ridge of a roof or top of a wall or screen.

High on the roof was a cresting decoration.

1 – Someone who chips

The chipper was hard at working cutting down the tree.

1 – one delegated by a superior to execute a duty or an office

The commissary was tasked with finding a cure.

1 – a series of loops

The coil of pumps was confusing.

2 – everyday troubles

Sometimes we all need to shrug off the coils of the workday.

1 – any of an order (Coniferales) of mostly evergreen trees and shrubs having usually needle-shaped or scalelike leaves like pine, cones, and arillate fruit.

The group of conifer trees took over the forest.

1 – to create

Christians believe in the creation story.

1 – an agreement or promise / attached to someone or something

I have a commitment to my wife.

1 – a cover carried above by a person of rank / or a cloth suspended

The canopy covered the diners on the patio.

1 – a heap of stones in a heap. Usually a landmark or memorial. Typically on a hilltop or skyline.

The stony cairn marked the way back.

Characteristics

1- Colorful Having many different colors. The sunset was so colorful.

Loyalty is one of his best characteristics

1 – something to eat considered rare and luxurious

What is your favorite delicacy in Italy?

2 – the quality or state of being dainty of someone or something

Spiderwebs have a delicacy.

1 – to flow along

To drift through life is sad.

2 – an underlying meaning or design.

The spy understood the drift of his orders.

1 – dislike food or drink

Many have a distaste for mushrooms.

1 – representation in images or  describing words  depicting something or someone.

The depiction of the movie wasn’t congruent with the book.

1 – a deep place or state of being

The depths of our abilities remain unknown until we push for greatness.

1 – an arrangement, or state of being engaged

Social engagement took most of my day.

1 – a massive structure

The social edifice holds together certain rules.

plural noun

1 – city districts / or surroundings in your space or vicinity

The crystal environs of the waterfalls.

1 – a public showcase

The art exhibition was a success.

1 – a high position of superiority, Commanding or in a profession.

His eminence in the film made him a legend.

1 – refined taste, dignified gracefulness

The novel had an air of elegance and wit.

EXASPERATION

1 – a state of exasperated or exasperating someone/feeling irritation

He was exasperated after working all day.

1 – the act of representing a medium

I don’t understand the expression that artists are trying to achieve.

FOCAL POINT

1 – point of attention.

The focal point of this blog post is  describing words  that help others master descriptive  writing .

1 – an embarrassing mistake or error.

Interpreting someone is considered a social faux pas.

1 – the front of the building

The store’s facade was highly decorated.

1 – a false, or fake appearance

His friends saw through his thinly veiled facade.

A love this descriptive word.

1 – a boisterous and loud burst of laughter.

The joke caused a guffaw in the room.

1 – enthusiastic and filled with joy.

1 – a gloomy or somber outlook

He had a grim disposition on life.

The grim tale left me afraid.

1 – the quality or current state

The grandeur of ancient Rome inspired our world.

1 – grand

Many of the  best places to visit in Europe  are grand in design, scope, and scale.

1 – strong wind

The gust of wind caused the bike to tip over.

1 – an outburst of feeling

He had a gust of energy that came with the good news.

1 – either side of an arch.

The dog loves to have his back haunches scratched.

1 – a great number

A host of ants took over the picnic.

1 – something to indicate

He gave the indication that he was going to travel this summer.

1 – a stage or exception

In this instance, we all need to be quiet.

2 – example

For instance, pasta tastes better in Italy.

1 – inside limits or inner constitution

Travelers loved the lavish interior of the modern-day art gallery.

1 – limestone land or limestone plateau

The karst lands were filled with sinkholes and caverns.

1 – a plant organism made up of alge

Working the lichen spotted lake held a natural charm rarely found.

1 – machine for interlacing

Working the loom is hard and painful.

1 – soil made of silt, sand, and clay.

The loam ground was hard to walk.

LAUNDERETTE

1 – a self-service laundry

The launderette was packed with others.

1 – causing wonder and astonishment

Abu Simbel, in Egypt, is a marvel to behold.

1 – a great number of

This myriad  list  of descriptive words is very helpful – like our list of descriptive words for personality -.

1 – middle of the day

The midday meal made him want a nap.

1 – a single massive stone in a column or obelisk

Monoliths pepper the old landscape.

1 – a single massive stone in a column or obelisk from prehistoric origin.

The Menhir’s of Stonehenge tower over all who stand before it.

METROPOLITAN

1 – one who lives in a metropolis

The metropolitan knew the city backward and forwards.

1 – wealth and Abundance

The opulence of the Blue Mosque makes it one of the  best things to do in Turkey .

1 – of an unusual size

The outsize bed wouldn’t fit.

1 – a dirty slovenly place

Clean up this pigpen of a room.

1 – the quality of excitement or attractive

He was charming and had a large amount of pizzazz.

1 – an earnest entreaty

They plead for another helping of mashed potatoes.

1 – a bar something is hung on

The bird sat on the perch.

1 – a medical instrument for exploring

The doctor used a probe to discover what was wrong.

1 – a person despised or rejected

The thief was treated as a pariah.

1 – chasing after

Our pursuits define our lives.

1 – contradictory phases or conclusions.

Life is full of many a paradox.

1 – state of fear

Don’t panic about your writing . Just learn more descriptive words that will improve your writing.

1 – a close inspection; under a microscope

His paper was under a lot of scrutiny.

1 – riot or commotion

Tumult uprisings are a big part of history.

2 – loud noise

a tumult of noise kept me from sleeping.

1 – tiles

The tiling walls were stunning.

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR WRITING: LIST OF PREPOSITIONS WITH DEFINITION

preposition

1 – surrounded by; in the middle of

He walked amid the rolling hills and lush landscape.

2 – in an atmosphere or against a background of.

Mid accusations of cheating the student were suspended.

DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR WRITING: DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES

Here are a lot of describing words that I’ve picked up from various books, and blog posts. I fell in love with this word list. And are great for adding detail.

Pro tip:  The  describing words  are all around you. Listen to how people use descriptive language in your favorite movies, tv shows, and podcast. Try to find describing words in the things you read. The  lesson  you are looking for and the right words are all around you! You just have to look for the lesson to find the best describing word.

ARID STEPPE

1 – one of the vast treeless tracts in Europe and Asia.

The arid steppe of Mongolia is famous around the world.

ATLANTIC SWELLS

1- Waves crashing on the coast.

The Atlantic swells crashed against the crenelated coast.

BROODING SUMMITS

1 – sad terrain, a  phrase to describe  mountain ranges.

The brooding summits, covered in clouds, look like a storm is coming.

BEHIND THE TIMES

1 – not aware of or using the latest ideas or techniques; out of date.

When it came to tech, he was behind the times.

CRYSTALLINE LAKES

1 – a good description to describe a still lake. Or a phrase lake on a nice day.

The crystalline lake boasted the perfect space to camp.

CRUMBLING CASTLES

1 – a castle falling apart.

Ireland’s peppered with crumbling castles.

CRESTING MOUNTAINS

1 – descriptive of a scenic mountain range.

The cresting mountains of New Zealand are unforgettable.

EVER- DEEPENING

1 – getting deeper

The ever-deepening snow made the terrain impassable.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of Rome echoes even until today.

INFINITE HILLS

The infinite hills of New Zealand lure thousands of visitors a year. This is one of my favorite descriptive phrases.

ICY ROLLERS

1 – cold waves

The icy rollers of the Atlantic Ocean beat along the coast.

INDELIBLY WILD

The indelibly wild forest of Peru.

LUNAR-SCAPED

1 – landscape similar to that on the moon

The Lunar-scaped beaches on Milos, put it high on many travelers’  lists of Greek Islands  to visit.

LONG-FORGOTTEN

The long-forgotten castle has centuries of neglect.

A great  descriptive word  for the forest!

1 – covered by moss

The moss-clad rocks sat along the stream.

MODERN HIGH-RISE SKYSCRAPERS

The hundreds of workers wasted their lives in modern high-rise skyscrapers.

Descriptive Words for Food

1 – having a pleasing smell

1 – having a brittle texture and a dry, brittle sound when broken

Crunchy 

1 – having a brittle texture and a crisp, crackling sound when broken

1 – having a strong, satisfying flavor

1 – having a pleasing, sugary flavor

1 -having a sour, acidic taste

Salty 

1 – having a salty, savory flavor

1 – not having a strong or distinctive flavor

 1 – having a hot, pungent flavor

1 – having a lot of flavors 

1 – something that tastes extremely good 

1- providing the body with essential nutrients 

1 – making someone want to eat something 

Scrumptious

1 – extremely delicious and appetizing 

1 – a sweet liquid produced by flowers and used as a drink or in cooking 

1 – producing an excessive flow of saliva 

1 – of or relating to the sense of taste 

1 – arousing or tempting the appetite 

1 – having an extremely pleasing taste 

1 – delightfully beautiful or elegant 

1 – extremely luxurious and expensive 

Scintillating

1 – brilliantly sparkling 

1 – strikingly unusual or different 

1 – restoring or invigorating 

1 – promoting good health

1 – energetically alive and vigorous 

1 – pleasantly firm and fresh 

1 -full of juice 

1 – having a strong, distinctive taste 

Mouth-watering 

1- so delicious as to make the mouth water 

1 – easily broken or chewed and having a delicate, pleasing texture 

Descriptive Words for Trees

Words to describe trees is one of the most requested updates for this post. So I have updated the list with a bunch of tree descriptive words. I hope you enjoy it! 

  • massive 
  • towering 
  • gigantic 
  • enormous 

Descriptive Words in Spanish

  • ágil – agile
  • bello – beautiful
  • brillante – brilliant
  • cálido – warm
  • claro – clear
  • colorido – colorful
  • cortés – courteous
  • curioso – curious
  • dulce – sweet
  • enérgico – energetic
  • fresco – fresh
  • gentil – gentle
  • inteligente – intelligent
  • joven – young
  • ligero – light
  • lindo – pretty
  • maduro – mature
  • maravilloso – marvelous
  • nervioso – nervous
  • optimista – optimistic
  • pacífico – peaceful
  • perezoso – lazy
  • romántico – romantic
  • sensible – sensible
  • serio – serious
  • simpático – likable
  • triste – sad
  • vibrante – vibrant 

LIST OF DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES

Here are some words to describe the positive qualities of people’s personalities. And using words like this to showcase a  personality  can connect those feeling with your readers.

affectionate – readily feeling or showing fondness or tenderness.

Agile – able to move quickly and easily.

Altruistic – showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish.

amiable – having or displaying a friendly and pleasant manner.

bright – giving out or reflecting much light; shining. – A very common descriptive phrase.

Bonza – excellent; first-rate.

charming – very pleasant or attractive.

Conscientious – wishing to do one’s work or duty well and thoroughly

imaginative – having or showing creativity or inventiveness.

List of Common Adjectives

These are great for common adjectives that can be used for anything from a descriptive phrase, descriptive writing, or a cover letter. 

compassionate

distinguished

enthusiastic

fashionable

fascinating

independent

influential

intelligent

mesmerizing

WORD LIST OF ATTRIBUTIVE ADJECTIVES

What are attributive adjectives?

These are words to can be placed inside a sentence that can modify a person or a thing. These  different adjective  are only used before nouns.

Example Sentence:  The tender steak made my mouth water.

Heart-stopping

Too-yummy-to-be-believed

Face-to-face vicious

adjective for thick vines

  • coiling, twisting, writhing
  • constricting
  • claustrophobic 

WORD LIST OF MULTIPLE ADJECTIVES

What are multiple adjectives?

Sometimes called paired adjectives. This is using more than one word to describe a noun.

Almost an adjective can be multiple adjectives if it can be paired together with other describing words to describe a noun. The key is to put them in the right order.

But here are some common ones.

Example Sentence:  The thick, dense college application seemed daunting.

Smart, energetic

Small, round

Short, Fast

Pretty Little

WHAT ARE COORDINATE ADJECTIVES

Similar to paired adjectives,  Coordinate adjectives

are two – or maybe even more – adjectives that describe the same noun. They are separated by a common.

LIST OF POSITIVE ADJECTIVES

Positive words are a great way to make your readers feel something about a character, place, or object. Positive words of descriptive are powerful.

Example: He was brave enough to use a new word to showcase his skill in front of the class.

Adventurous

Affectionate

Broadminded

Knowledgeable

Self-confident

Warmhearted

descriptive words starting with m

Magnificent.

impressively beautiful, elaborate or striking

Example: The view from the top of the mountain was simply magnificent.

given to unpredictable changes in mood or feelings

Example: He was in a moody state after his fight with his girlfriend.

Melancholic

feeling or expressing a deep sadness or gloominess

Example: The melancholic music helped me release my emotions.

Mischievous

Playful or causing trouble in a playful way Example: The mischievous child kept on playing pranks on his siblings.

difficult or impossible to understand or explain

Example: The disappearance of the man is still a mysterious case to this day.

having or showing impressive beauty or dignity

Example: The Taj Mahal is a majestic work of art.

having a smooth, rich, or full flavor or personality

Example: The mellow sound of the saxophone helped me relax.

relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past

Example: The modern technology we have today has made life easier.

Magnanimous

generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or less powerful person

Example: Despite losing the game, he still remained magnanimous and congratulated the winning team.

unassuming or moderate in size, quantity, or importance

Example: She is a modest person who never seeks attention.

Descriptive Words Starting With N

feeling or showing anxiety or worry.

Example: I’m nervous about my upcoming job interview.

having or showing high moral principles or ideals.

Example: He was a noble man who always put others before himself.

making a lot of sound, often in an unpleasant or disruptive way.

Example: The party next door was very noisy and kept us up all night.

existing or occurring as part of nature; not artificial or man-made.

Example: The park was a beautiful natural oasis in the middle of the city.

clean, orderly, and well-organized.

Example: His desk was always so neat and tidy.

pleasingly stylish or clever; neat or attractive.

Example: The nifty new gadget made my life easier.

quick and light in movement or action.

Example: The nimble cat easily caught the mouse.

feeling a sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Example: Looking at old family photos made her feel nostalgic for her childhood.

providing nourishment or food that is essential for health and growth.

Example: The salad was full of nutritious vegetables and healthy fats.

worthy of attention or notice; remarkable.

Example: His notable achievements in the field of science made him a household name.

descriptive words of a leader and Leadership Skills

Here are some great descriptive words that are great for describing effective leaders, passionate leaders, and other leadership qualities.  

Charismatic

Having a compelling charm or appeal that inspires devotion in others.

Example: His charismatic personality made him a great public speaker. And a successful leaders. 

having or showing a powerful imagination and the ability to think about or plan the future with wisdom or foresight.

Example: Steve Jobs was a visionary who revolutionized the technology industry. And held many leadership roles throughout his life. 

Feeling or showing self-assurance; having faith in oneself and one’s abilities.

Example: A confident leader can inspire confidence in others. Which makes him a true leader. 

Settling an issue; producing a definite result.

Example: A decisive leader is able to make tough decisions when necessary.

Having the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Example: An empathetic leader is able to connect with and inspire their team. Which makes them effective leaders. 

Relating to the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of achieving them.

Example: A strategic leader is able to plan and execute successful business strategies.

Inspirational

providing inspiration or motivation to others; uplifting and motivating.

Example: An inspirational leader can inspire their team to achieve great things. And allows him to be a true leader. 

Trustworthy

deserving of trust or confidence; reliable.

Example: A trustworthy leader is one who can be relied upon to keep their promises.

able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.

Example: A resilient leader is able to bounce back from setbacks and continue to lead effectively.

having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s importance.

Example: A humble leader is able to put the needs of others ahead of their own and lead with integrity. And a true leader is humble, and it’s a sign of effective leadership. 

MORE ENGLISH GRAMMAR QUESTIONS WERE ANSWERED!

What are the different kinds of adjectives.

There are several kinds of adjectives, including descriptive adjectives, limiting adjectives, proper adjectives, demonstrative adjectives, interrogative adjectives, and distributive adjectives.

Descriptive adjectives describe the qualities of a noun or pronoun, such as “blue,” “soft,” or “happy.”

Limiting adjectives limit the noun or pronoun by indicating a specific quantity or amount, such as “two,” “many,” or “few.”

Proper adjectives are formed from proper nouns and describe a particular noun or pronoun, such as “American,” “Italian,” or “Shakespearean.”

Demonstrative adjectives point out or indicate which noun or pronoun is being referred to, such as “this,” “that,” “these,” or “those.”

Interrogative adjectives are used to ask questions and include “which,” “what,” and “whose.”

Distributive adjectives refer to individual members of a group, such as “each,” “every,” “either,” or “neither.”

What are Negative Adjectives?

Negative adjectives are adjectives that describe something negatively, or with a negative connotation. And indicating that it lacks or has the opposite of a positive quality. They can be used talk about a personality trait, character trait, and change your writing style. 

Examples of negative adjectives include “bad,” “ugly,” “harmful,” “horrible,” “unpleasant,” “unfortunate,” “unfriendly,” “unhappy,” “displeasing,” “unfair,” and “unsatisfactory.”

These adjectives can be used to express criticism, disapproval, or disappointment towards someone or something. Negative adjectives can also be used to contrast one thing with another, such as in phrases like “less beautiful,” “not as smart,” or “less effective.”

positive personality adjectives

  • Affable – friendly, easy-going and pleasant to talk to
  • Ambitious – determined to succeed and reach goals
  • Assertive – confident and self-assured; able to stand up for oneself and one’s beliefs
  • Authentic – genuine and true to oneself; not fake or artificial
  • Benevolent – kind, caring and generous, with a desire to do good for others
  • Brave – courageous, not afraid to face challenges or danger
  • Charismatic – possessing a compelling charm or appeal that inspires devotion in others
  • Compassionate – empathetic, caring and understanding towards others who are suffering
  • Confident – having faith in oneself and one’s abilities; self-assured
  • Creative – imaginative, original and innovative
  • Diplomatic – able to handle delicate or difficult situations with tact and sensitivity
  • Empathetic – having the ability to understand and share the feelings of others
  • Enthusiastic – passionate, energetic and eager to do things
  • Gracious – courteous, kind and polite
  • Honest – truthful and sincere; not deceptive or deceitful
  • Humorous – having a sense of humor and able to make others laugh
  • Independent – self-sufficient and able to take care of oneself
  • Intuitive – able to understand or know something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning
  • Optimistic – hopeful and positive, expecting good outcomes and opportunities
  • Passionate – having strong emotions and intense feelings towards something or someone.

WHAT IS A PRESENT PARTICIPLE?

A word formed from a verb that ends in ing.

Sentence: He couldn’t stop laughing.

What is a Pronoun?

Pronouns are words that replace a noun.

A word formed from a verb that ends in  ing.

Sentence: He couldn’t stop  laughing.

What is a Collective Noun?

A collective noun is a word that refers to a group of things or animals as a single unit. Some common collective nouns are flock, herd, pack, and swarm. 

What is a Prepositional Phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with a noun or a pronoun. The preposition shows the relationship between the noun or pronoun and the verb. 

 What are Some Popular Synonyms?

Some popular synonyms are beautiful, pretty, handsome, and stunning. 

What are Transition Words

Transition words are used to connect ideas, show relationships between ideas, and indicate the logic of thought or argument. They are used to signal the start and end of paragraphs, introduce new paragraphs, and connect related thoughts within a paragraph. 

There we go! Over 500 descriptive words that will help you improve your writing! This list is always being updated as I find new  describing words  I like through reading and writing. Becoming a good writer and increasing your  skill , and learning  a new word  is an endless quest. These are great words that can improve your follow-up comments or inline feedback on your writing.

And I hope that you found the list of adjectives, nouns, descriptive phrases, and verbs useful. And helps you get a little better and expand your  vocabulary.

Check back for new  descriptive words  monthly!

Become a Writer Today

400 Descriptive Words List to Make Your Writing Shine

Do you want to make your writing more engaging? Check out this descriptive words list with 400 words you can use today.

As you strive to be a more engaging writer, using descriptive words can help. It’s easy to overuse these words, but sprinkling them in here and there is a great way to colorize your writing.

Descriptive words are adjectives, which describe nouns and pronouns, or adverbs, which describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Identifying and using these will help you write stronger pieces and descriptive essays .

This descriptive word list is a good place to start. It also pairs nicely with our list of mood words .

Descriptive Words List: 400 Words to Make Your Writing More Colorful

Example sentences using adjectives, common endings for adjectives, list of adverbs in english, example sentences using adverbs, a final word on descriptive words list, what are some good descriptive words, what words describe movement.

Descriptive words list

Descriptive words take writing from boring to engaging. Consider this sentence:

  • She swam across the water.

While this tells you what is happening, it has little to help you imagine the scene. If you add some adjectives and adverbs and transform the statement to this:

  • She swam speedily across the choppy water.

Now you have a better picture of what happened. In order to transform your writing in this way, you need a number of descriptive words at the ready, and this list of descriptive words will help.

List of Descriptive Adjectives in English

Ruins of abandoned factory architecture

Adjectives are the most common type of descriptive words, so first we will look at these. These words describe features like shape, texture, color, and size. They help differentiate between items in a group by calling out distinguishing features.

In English grammar, you can use the following to describe nouns and pronouns:

  • Adventurous
  • Accomplished
  • Comfortable
  • Embellished
  • Enthusiastic
  • Everlasting
  • Fashionable
  • Intelligent
  • Quarrelsome
  • Querulous 
  • Questionable
  • Thoughtless
  • Uninterested

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many synonyms and other words that could be added. In addition, all colors are considered adjectives and describing words. Nationalities, like American or English, can also fit this list.

As you work on creating descriptive writing, get used to using these and similar words. You might also find our list of pronouns useful.

To better understand how adjectives look in sentences, consider these examples:

  • The fuzzy red fox jumped over the tall fence. (red, tall)
  • We like to visit the beautiful forest (beautiful)
  • The garden shed feels damp this morning. (garden, damp)
  • The trip to Disney World was magical. (Magical)
  • The beautiful bird sat on the rough branch and sang. (beautiful, rough)
  • The woman is short, but her husband is tall. (short, tall)
  • I prefer cold climates. (cold)
  • The luxurious hotel included soft robes for each guest. (luxurious, soft, each)

Because listing all adjectives in the English language is impossible, knowing their endings is helpful, especially for ESL language learners. Some of the common endings for adjectives include:

If you see a word ending in one of these, and you know it isn’t a noun, chances are high it is an adjective.

The English language also uses adverbs to describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. These descriptive words show intensity, number, and extent. They often end in -ly.

  • Accidentally
  • Aggressively
  • Apathetically
  • Assertively
  • Astronomically
  • Beautifully
  • Begrudgingly
  • Blearily 
  • Deceivingly
  • Deliberately
  • Differently
  • Dramatically
  • Emotionally
  • Exceptionally
  • Frightfully
  • Frenetically
  • Frivolously
  • Hysterically
  • Inquisitively
  • Intelligently
  • Impressively
  • Ludicrously
  • Methodically
  • Mysteriously
  • Neglectfully
  • Obnoxiously
  • Occasionally
  • Pointlessly
  • Significantly
  • Splendidly 
  • Substantially
  • Technically
  • Unexpectedly
  • Victoriously
  • Vitally 
  • Vivaciously
  • Voluntarily

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. As you learn to identify adverbs or use them in your writing, look for words that describe verbs and other descriptive words that end in -ly.

Editing tip: Sometimes adverbs can also serve as filler words that you can remove or use to slow down or speed up a piece.

To better understand how adverbs show up in sentences as descriptive words, consider these examples:

  • The electric car drove so quietly we didn’t hear it coming. (so, quietly)
  • My dog barked angrily at the intruder. (angrily)
  • The girls sang beautifully. (beautifully)
  • He swam across the pool quickly. (quickly)
  • The box is surprisingly heavy for its size. (surprisingly) 
  • The toddler walked very carefully across the slippery floor. (very, carefully)
  • Language learning is incredibly easy for some students, and incredibly hard for others (incredibly)

As you learn how to become a better writer , descriptive language is a big part of the picture. Adjectives and adverbs are the parts of speech that allow you to describe other things vividly. While you can overuse them, they can add color and interest to your writing when used well.

Keep this list of descriptive words handy. When you have a need, pull it out and find one that fits your writing. Whether you’re writing a sentence, a short story, or an entire novel, you’ll find it easier to get descriptive when you have these words on hand.

Check Like this? Check out our list of sensory words .

FAQs on Descriptive Words List

Descriptive words are words that make something easier to identify by describing its characteristics. Some good words that fit this include: Bright Adventurous Jovial Charming Peaceful

Some descriptive words describe the movement of an object. These include: Swiftly Fluidly Gracefully Smoothly Disjointedly

creative writing vocabulary list pdf

Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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Help Me Build the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

The Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

creative writing vocabulary list pdf

I still clearly remember the day I learned what “WIP” meant. I was a newbie on a writing forum, and everybody was using special writing terms like “WIP.” It got to the point where I wanted to scream: What’s a WIP? And why don’t I get one tooooooo? Then I googled it. Oh. Work-in-progress. That’s what it means. Of course.

As with any specialized occupation, writing comes complete with an equally specialized lexicon. Nowadays, I take for granted terms like “WIP,” “MC,” “ deus ex machin a,” and “head hopping.” But there was a day when all I could do was slack my mouth and glaze out in confusion.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt this way.

Introducing the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

Action beat.

A description of the actions (gestures, facial expressions, or even thoughts) that accompany a speaking character’s words. An action beat should be included in the same paragraph as the dialogue as an indication that the person performing the action is also the person speaking.

For further study:

  • Action Beats

Active Voice

The opposite of passive voice.

Active Voice:  Beautiful giraffes roam the Savannah.

Passive Voice: The Savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes.

In active voice, the person or thing performing the action serves as the subject of the sentence. In passive voice, the subject is the person or thing being acted upon . In linguistics, the actor in a sentence is called the “agent,” and the passive receiver of action is called the “patient.” These are independent of “subject” and “object,” but which is which determines the voice of the verb.

  • Active Voice vs. Passive Voice: How to Use Both to Get the Most Out of Your Writing

Alliteration

A stylistic literary device identified by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of multiple words, or the repetition of the same sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase.

Example: P eter P iper p icked a p eck of p ickled p eppers.

For further study

  • 4 Tricks for Picking the Perfect Word

Alpha Reader

An alpha reader is among the first to read a completed manuscript (MS) or work-in-progress (WIP) and is usually a close friend of the writer. The role of the alpha reader is to provide cheerleader-like support and encouragement rather than constructive criticism.

See also:  Beta Reader

  • Is Now the Time for an Alpha Reader?

A person (or force) standing in opposition to the protagonist.

  • How to Choose the Right Antagonist for Your Story
  • How to Write Multiple Antagonists
  • Evil, Insane, Envious, and Ethical: The Four Major Types of Antagonists

Antagonistic Force

Whatever is standing in opposition to the protagonist’s goal. Could be a human, but could also be an inanimate obstacle.

  • What if Your Antagonist Isn’t a Person?
  • The Pixar Way to Think About Story Conflict

A protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality. These individuals often possess dark personality traits such as disagreeableness, dishonesty, and aggressiveness.

Examples: Captain Mal in Firefly or Holden in  The Catcher in the Rye .

  • 4 Ways to Make Your Antihero Deliciously Irresistible

A “type” of character, which is commonly repeated across literature.

Examples: The Mentor, the Magician, etc.

  • 8 ½ Character Archetypes You Should Be Writing
  • Three Character Archetypes in Fiction

“As you know, Bob…” A method of dumping exposition through dialogue, infamous for its awkwardness and lack of realism. It involves an otherwise unnecessary conversation between two characters that the author forces on them solely to inform readers of what the characters both already know. Writers often choose this technique to reveal important background information without taking readers out of the story, but it usually works against them by taking the characters out of the story instead.

  • The Sneaky Secret Life of “As You Know, Bob…”

Back Matter

The additional parts of a book, appearing after the main body of the text (i.e., acknowledgements, historical notes, explanatory notes, end notes, an afterword, index, bibliographies, and appendixes). Also called End Matter.

Information about past events or thoughts that shaped the characters or story world.

  • Backstory: The Importance of What Isn’t Told
  • The #1 Problem With Backstory (and Its Simple Fix)
  • Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Give You a Better (and Darker) Backstory
  • The Only Rule About Backstory That Matters
  • When Not to Tell Your Character’s Backstory

An important event or turning point within a story.

  • The Units of Story: The Beat

Beta Reader

Beta readers provide feedback during the writing and/or editing process. They are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context. Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, continuity problems, characterization, and believability. The beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.

For further study :

  • A Quick Guide to Beta Reader Etiquette
  • 15 Places to Find Your Next Beta Reader
  • Relax! Beta Readers Aren’t Scary: Here Are 3 Truths About Them

Black Moment/Low Moment

The part of the story when everything looks hopeless and the situation is at its lowest point. Usually coincides with the Third Plot Point.

  • How to Figure Out the Worst Thing That Can Happen to Your Character
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 12: The Third Plot Point
  • The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 9: The Third Act

A short summary of what the book is about, meant to hook the reader.

  • How to Write a Book Blurb That Sells

Burly Detective Syndrome

Frequently referring to a character by a description (“the burly detective”), usually out of fear of overusing the character’s name or pronoun (see Stutter).

  • Most Common Writing Mistake: Referencing Characters by Title Rather Than Name

The name of the author printed at the head of the article or on the cover of the book.

Character Arc

The personal/inner transformation the protagonist undergoes over the course of the story. Usually, the character learns something through the main conflict in order to become a better person by the story’s end.

For further study: 

  • How to Write Character Arcs

Chekhov’s Gun

This is a dramatic principle that requires every single element within a story to be necessary and irreplaceable. The term was coined when Anton Chekhov wrote a letter to A.S. Lazarev, indicating that if a loaded gun is present in one scene it should be fired in a subsequent scene in order to avoid being superfluous. If you give something attention, such as the gun, it must be because it has some import later in the narrative.

  • Chekhov’s Gun: What It Is and How to Use It
  • Setup and Payoff: The Two Equally Important Halves of Story Foreshadowing

A genre fiction centered on contemporary women and women’s issues that is often written in a light, humorous tone. Generally, it deals with the protagonist and her relationships with family, friends, and/or romantic interests. Often referred to as women’s commercial fiction.

Any situation in a story that has been used too many times in literature, to the point it loses meaning and/or becomes cheesy.

  • Turn Clichés on Their Heads
  • Are You Creating Your Own Personal Clichés?
  • 3 Ways to Make Clichés Work in Your Writing

Cliffhanger

The ending of a chapter or book in a moment of high suspense and tension, used to compel readers to read on or buy the next book in an installment.

  • Is the Cliffhanger Ending Overrated?

Climactic Moment

The moment in the Climax where the overall goal is reached or not reached. This is the moment when the protagonist defeats the antagonist or visa versa.

  • Want Readers to Adore Your Book? Learn How to Ace Your Climactic Moment
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 14: The Climax
  • How to Structure a Whammy of a Climax
  • The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 10: The Climax

Climactic Turning Point

The beginning of the Climax, halfway through the Third Act (at approximately the 88% mark in the book).

The finale of the story, featuring the final and decisive confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonistic force, determining whether or not the protagonist will succeed or fail in gaining the main plot goal. Takes place in the final eighth of the story (the second half of the Third Act), starting around the 88% mark, and lasting until the last or next-to-last scene.

  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The Climax
  • What Is the Role of Theme in a Story’s Climax?

The overarching opposition fueling the entire plot of a story and presenting obstacles to the protagonist on a macro and micro level.

  • What’s the Difference Between Conflict and Tension?
  • Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 31: One-Dimensional Conflict
  • The Four Different Types of Conflict in Dialogue
  • 5 Ways to Keep Readers Riveted With Conflict

Contagonist

A term unique to Dramatica ’s list of archetypes. As defined by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley, the Contagonist “hinders and deludes the Protagonist, tempting it [ sic ] to take the wrong course or approach.”

  • What’s a Contagonist? (How to Keep Story Conflict High Without the Antagonist)

Content Editing

A content editor looks at the big picture: character arcs, plot arcs, tone, and pacing. Also may comment on POV issues and/or narrative voice. A content edit is the first edit a story should go through after the rough edges have been knocked off the first draft.

  • Your Novel Is a Hot Mess! How to Edit Your Book
  • 5 Steps to a Thorough Book Edit

Copy Editing

The process of ensuring that a piece of writing is correct and consistent in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; that it is logically structured and audience-appropriate; and that the intended meaning of the text is communicated clearly through suitable word choice and style.

  • How to Edit Fiction: Watch Me Correct My Own Story in Real Time
  • 6 Tips for How to Organize Your Novel’s Edits
  • 5 Ways to Trim Your Book’s Word Count

Court Intrigue

A subcategory of epic fantasy that’s currently popular and is the fantasy equivalent of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers . Good examples of this are Robin Hobbs’s Assassin trilogy, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Martha Wells’s The Element of Fire , and Dave Duncan’s The King’s Blades trilogy.

A mystery novel that usually features a bloodless crime, with very little violence, sex, or coarse language (but not always a pure “clean read”). Usually, the person solving the crime is an amateur and has the support/friendship of a police officer/detective/medical examiner. Readers usually identify with the main character because they are positive and socially acceptable (even their small faults).

Creative Nonfiction

The use of literary style and writing technique to tell a true story. It’s an embellishment, but only for the sake of telling a story that teaches a lesson or conveys a change of heart or mind. Narrative, dialogue, setting, and voice are just a few creative writing tools used to grab a reader’s interest and leave them changed somehow at the end.

  • What Non-Fiction Authors Can Teach Novelists

Critique Partner/Critter

A partner with whom a writer exchanges manuscript critiques, in order to get knowledgeable feedback about how to improve a story. Critique partners receive no payment, only your critique of their own writing in return. (See also Beta Reader and Alpha Reader.)

  • Questions for Critique Partners
  • When You’ve Chosen the Wrong Critique Partner

Cyberpunk explores the fusion between man and machine. A key element is the perfection of the Internet and virtual reality technology. In a cyberpunk novel, characters can experience and interact with computers in a 3D graphic environment so real it feels like a physical landscape. The society in which cyberpunk is set tends to be heavily urban and usually somewhat anarchic or feudal. The “father of cyberpunk” is William Gibson, author of the seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer . Other authors defining this ever-evolving virtual reality include Neal Stephenson and Rudy Rucker.

The wrap up after the story is done. The wind down from the action of the Climax. Sometimes not included in the full arc of the story, but tells afterward details.

  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 15: The Resolution
  • The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 11: The Resolution
  • The Characteristic Moment Belongs at the End of Your Book Too

Deus Ex Machina

Literally translates “god from a machine” and was originally a reference to the “god” (played by an actor lowered onto the stage on a “machine”) who descended at the end of the Greek and Roman plays to solve all the mortal characters’ problems and put everything in order for a happy ending.

  • Deus Ex Machina : Latin for “Don’t Do This in Your Story”

Deuteragonist

A secondary protagonist and the driver of a subplot. Can be a sidekick.

Developmental Editing

Editing concerned primarily with the structure and content of a book that starts near the beginning of the manuscript’s life. A developmental editor works to give the book focus and direction (mostly towards what is “marketable”) by helping to develop author’s ideas, and so will point out inconsistencies in aspects such as logic, voice, and audience.

For further reading:

  • What Is a Developmental Editor and What Can You Expect?

Words spoken by a character, conventionally enclosed in quotation marks. Dialogue should sound realistic, without attempting to reproduce real speech verbatim. Indirect dialogue, also known as reported speech, is a narrative summary of dialogue.

  • Get Rid of On-the-Nose Dialogue Once and For All
  • How to Write Funny Dialogue

Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags and/or action beats let readers know which character is speaking.

  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: How Not to Use Speaker Tags and Action Beat

A subgenre related to steampunk, although it is driven more by the culture of the 1920s through the early 1950s. Technology is strongly influenced by diesels.

  • Storming: A Dieselpunk Adventure

Fiction of almost or exactly one hundred words, but not over. Something you write for fun. Or practice. Or both. Both is good.

Dumb Mechanic

Where a character explains something to a character who doesn’t know anything about the subject. For example, a mechanic explains what is wrong with a machine to someone who knows nothing about mechanics. It’s vital the ignorant character’s lack of knowledge be realistic and believable.

See also, “As you know, Bob” (i.e., a character telling another character something they both know.) The Dumb Mechanic is slightly better than “As you know, Bob,” but the core problem is the same.

  • Are You Making Your Characters (and Yourself) Look Stupid?

This describes an imagined community, society, or world, in which everything is unpleasant or undesirable. It is the opposite of utopian, and literally means “bad place.”

The additional parts of a book, appearing after the main body of the text (i.e., acknowledgements, historical notes, explanatory notes, end notes, an afterword, index, bibliographies, and appendixes). Also called Back Matter.

Epic Fantasy

Sweeping in scope, epic fantasy usually concerns a battle for rulership of a country, empire, or entire world. Drawing heavily upon archetypal myths and the quintessential struggle between a few good people against overwhelming forces of evil, epic fantasy is best represented by author J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Other authors of epic fantasy include New York Times ‘ bestselling Raymond E. Feist ( The Serpentwar Saga ) and Adam Lee ( The Dominions of Irth ). Some other popular epic fantasy authors are Robert Jordan, David Eddings, and Terry Brooks.

A separate section at the end of a work often commenting on the work as a whole and/or serving as an addendum.

  • How to Write an Epilogue That Works
  • One Way to Tell if Your Prologue (and Epilogue) Is Unnecessary

The part of the story where background information about characters, events, setting, etc., is provided.

A genre of speculative fiction. Sci-fi typically aims for scientific plausibility, while fantasy often incorporates magical systems. Stories may contain elements of both or be exclusive to one or the other, but all such stories explore fantastic worlds and scenarios.

  • Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions
  • One Handy Way to Add Instant Originality to Your Fantasy Novel
  • Waiter! There’s a Smphurphle in My Fantasy Novel: Do’s and Don’ts of Made-Up Words
  • Are You Asking These Important Questions About Your Fantasy Setting?

The opening act in your story. In the classic Three-Act structure, the First Act comprises the first quarter of the story. It is primarily concerned with introducing characters, settings, and stakes, as well as setting up the main conflict. It includes such important structural moments as the Hook, the Inciting Event, and the Key Event. It ends with the First Plot Point.

  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The First Act
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The First Act
  • How to Take the Guesswork Out of What Scenes Belong in Your First Act

First Person

A point of view in which readers “see” through the eyes of the main character. It uses pronouns such as “I” and “me.”

For example: “I walked into the house.”

  • 3 Ways You Can Use a First-Person Narrator to Tell a Better Story
  • Don’t Even Think About Using First-Person Unless…
  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: Is Your First-Person Narrator Overpowering Your Story?

First Pinch Point

An important structural turning point that occurs in the First Half of the Second Act at the 37% mark. It emphasizes the threat of the antagonistic force, shows what is at stake for the protagonist in the conflict, and introduces important new clues about the nature of the conflict.

  • What Are Pinch Points? And How Can They Make Your Book Easier to Write?

First Plot Point

The first major plot point in the story, marking the end of the First Act and the beginning of the Second. It takes place around the 25% mark. This is where the protagonist fully encounters the story’s conflict in a way that the choice to leave behind the Normal World of the First Act and enter the “adventure world” of the Second Act.

  • Never Confuse the Key Event and the First Plot Point in Your Book Again!
  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The First Plot Point
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The First Plot Point

Short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the past.

  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: Are Your Flashbacks Flashy or Flabby?

Flash Fiction

Extremely short fiction. Some flash fiction markets have a limit of 50 words, while others allow up to 1,000 words. Like longer fiction, flash fiction includes conflict and resolution, but some elements may be implied and left to readers’ imaginations. Due to its extreme brevity, flash fiction tends to focus on a single turning point or revealing moment.

Flashforward

Short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the future.

  • Hook Readers With a Sneak Peek
  • Foreshadowing

Involves planting hints early on in a book to prepare readers for important revelations and events that occur later in the story.

Front Matter

The material preceding the main body/text of a work: including the title pages, printing/publishing data and/or a table of contents, foreword, preface, author’s note, dedication, etc.

A category of fiction (e.g., romance, mystery, or fantasy). “Genre fiction” is generally considered popular fiction as opposed to literary fiction.

  • Definitions of Fiction Categories and Genres
  • What Is Genre Fiction?
  • Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

Ghost Writer

One who undertakes the physical labor of writing an article, book, or memoir for someone else, usually in secret. One who produces written content as a third party for someone else, nominally for a fee in exchange for all credit for said written content belonging to someone else.

  • 5 Writing Lessons I Learned Ghostwriting for New York Times Bestsellers

Happily Ever After. Romance writers use this to describe a genre as well as a moment. “A great HEA read.” Or, “you do get your HEA?” Most often seen with Harlequin and the “cozy” genre.

Head Hopping

A common gaffe that occurs when the narrative breaks “out of POV” and jumps without warning from the perspective of one character into the perspective of another.

  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: Head-Hopping POV

Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure or pattern, identified by Joseph Campbell as being the common thread in many historical and mythological stories and purported to be the strongest psychological storyform. At its most basic level is it is a classic adventure storyform, featuring a hero who must overcome opposition and save his world. However, it can be applied to vastly different types of stories. Also known as the Monomyth.

  • The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler
  • The Hero’s Journey: An Author’s Guide to Plotting

Historical Fiction

A literary genre where the plot takes place in the past, often (but not always) including historical figures.

  • 7 Easy Ways to Research a Historical Novel
  • Why Your Novel May Not Be Historical Fiction After All

Any moment of interest designed to “hook” a reader’s curiosity. Specifically, it applies to the opening Hook in the book’s first chapter, which piques reader curiosity about the plot and protagonist and convinces them to read the book.

  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The Hook
  • How to Drive Your Readers Wild With Hints and Story Hooks—Without Frustrating Them
  • Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough

Refers to well-known, respected publishing houses.

Impact Character

A character who is a strong catalyst for change in the protagonist, causing inner conflict and helping put the plot into motion.

  • The Impact Character: Why Every Character Arc Needs One

Inciting Event/Incident

The moment that “officially” kicks off a story’s main conflict/plot. This is the protagonist’s first brush with the conflict—the Call to Adventure, which the character will start out by rejecting to some degree. Usually takes place after the story’s initial set-up, at the 12% mark, halfway through the First Act. This is the first prominent turning point in the story.

  • Your Book’s Inciting Event: It’s Not What You Think It Is
  • The Secrets of Story Structure: Inciting Event and Key Event
  • Maximize Your Story’s Inciting Event

An undesirable writing method in which the author “dumps” information or extensive description on the reader all at once, instead of weaving the information into the action of the story.

  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: Info Dumps
  • This Is How to Transform Info Dumps Into Exciting Plot Reveals
  • How to Use Dialogue to Avoid Lengthy Info Dumps

In Medias Res

The Latin term for “in the middle,” which is applied to idea of beginning a story in the middle of things .

  • Dostoevsky and the Art of In Medias Res
  • In Medias Res : How to Do It and How Not to

Internal Dialogue

Reproduces a character’s thoughts and is often (though not always) indicated by italics.

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Internal Monologue
  • 5 Ways to Write Character Thoughts Worth More Than a Penny

If the Inciting Event is what gets your plot rolling, the Key Event is what sucks your protagonist into that plot. Even if you have a great big Inciting Event (like, say, the beginning of a war), it can’t affect your character until the Key Event drags him into the mess (as would happen if he were drafted into the Army).

Books for children.

Line Editing

This form of editing means going over a manuscript line by line and editing it for grammar errors as you go. It doesn’t entail any extensive rewriting, but there may be some use of color editing to liven up flat prose, and there may be some reduction of redundancies (such as repeated information). This type of editing may include the use of a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

  • Is a Professional Editor a Waste of Money?

Single sentence story summary, specifically used as pitch. See Premise Sentence.

  • 6 Reasons a Premise Sentence Strengthens Your Story

Love Interest

A principle secondary character for whom the protagonist has romantic interest (and/or the romantic subplot itself).

  • How to Take Advantage of Your 4 Most Important Characters

MARY SUE (female), MARTY-STU (male)

Begun by fan fiction writers but now a part of writers’ general vocabulary. A derogatory term for a character who is able to do everything, with unrealistic abilities.

  • How to Spot (and Kill) Your Mary Sue Characters

Short for Main Character. The lead of the story.

  • Protagonist and Main Character— Same Person? The Answer May Transform Your Story!

An experienced adviser who offers—sometimes reluctantly—to show the hero “the way.” Usually a trustworthy ally, the mentor figure will often impart an object or piece of information that will prove vital later in the hero’s quest. The name itself comes from a character in Homer’s The Odyssey . Examples include: Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars , Gandalf from Lord of the Rings , and “Irv” in Cool Runnings (a less trustworthy mentor figure).

  • 4 Ways to Write a Thought-Provoking Mentor Character

Main Female Character. The female lead in a romance story. Usually gets the guy in the end.

Middle Grade fiction, targeted to children ages 8 to 12 years old. Typically features a main character in the same age range and avoids “mature” content such as graphic violence or sexually explicit material. That’s not to say the stories are simplistic, of course.

Microfiction

Extremely short fiction. Some flash fiction markets have a limit of 50 words, while others allow up to 1,000 words. Like longer fiction, flash fiction includes conflict and resolution, but some elements may be implied for the sake of brevity and left to readers’ imaginations. Due to its extreme brevity, flash fiction tends to focus on a single turning point or revealing moment. (See Flash Fiction.)

The Second Major Plot Point in a story’s structure. It occurs in the middle of the book, halfway through the Second Act, at the 50% mark. This is where the protagonist experiences a Moment of Truth, which allows a better understanding of the antagonistic force and the external conflict, as well as the internal conflict driving the character arc. It signals a shift from the reactive phase of the first half into the active phase of the second half.

  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The Midpoint
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The Midpoint
  • How the Perfect Midpoint Moves Your Protagonist From Reaction to Action
  • How to Transform Your Story With a Moment of Truth

Main Male Character. The male lead in a romance story. Usually gets the girl in the end.

An image or phrase with thematic significance that is repeated throughout the book.

  • Strengthening a Thematic Motif Through Repetition

MPS: Missing Parent Syndrome

The rather common occurrence in which the protagonist is underage but the parents and/or guardians are somehow left out for the majority of the plot. This can be due to death (Frodo in Lord of the Rings ) or boarding school ( Harry Potter ) or visitation to another world ( Narnia ) or just about any other reason.

“Manuscript.” A yet unpublished work, whether written or typed.

New Adult (Fiction) is aimed at an older age group than Young Adult (12-18) and focuses on new adult experiences such as the first serious relationship, first serious job, going to college, and moving out on their own.

The overall progression of a story. Also, specifically, the summary aspects of the writing, as distinct from dialogue, direct thoughts, and “shown” action. “Internal narrative” is told from a character’s point of view and, often, in his or her voice.

  • Keep Your Story Moving With a Cohesive Narrative
  • 6 Steps to Create a Fantastic Narrative Voice
  • Top 4 Editing Tricks for Creating a Seamless Narrative

Normal World

The initial setting in the story, meant to illustrate the characters’ lives before they meet with the story’s main conflict. This world may be destructive to the protagonist (in which case, the protagonist must learn to move away from it and live without it), or it may be healthy (in which case, the protagonist will have to leave it in order to defend it). The Normal World may be a definitive setting, which will change at the beginning of the Second Act, when the character enters the “adventure world” of the main conflict. However, it may also be more metaphorical, in which case the setting itself will not switch to a new setting, but rather the conflict will change the setting around the protagonist.

  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The Normal World
  • 5 Misconceptions About Your Story’s Normal World
  • Provide Contrast Using Your Character’s Normal World

A fictional prose work with a relatively long and often complex plot, usually divided into chapters, in which the story traditionally develops through the thoughts and actions of its characters.

A story that runs from around 40K to 50K words. Normally, it has no subplot and no more than two POV characters. One of the harder forms to sell traditionally, though this is changing.

  • 3 Reasons You Should Consider Writing a Novella Right Now

A short novel that is often about romantic relationships and is usually not very serious. Word count is 7,500 to 17,500 words.

A type of point of view (POV), in which the narration is told from an omniscient or “all-knowing” perspective (sometimes the author’s, sometimes just generally), in which things the characters would have no way of knowing are shared with readers. One of the most difficult types of POV to do well.

  • What Every Writer Ought to Know About the Omniscient POV

On the Nose

A poor style of writing that presents the story in a way that is too straightforward, without irony or subtext. Especially common in dialogue, in which characters always say exactly what they’re thinking or feeling.

Your manuscript has been submitted, usually by your agent, to a list of editors at publishing houses who may or may not have agreed to read it.

A sketch of every event that makes up the structure of a story, which is written before a first draft to edit out any structural weak spots beforehand.

  • How to Outline Your Novel
  • What Should Your Book Outline Look Like? [Free Download]

The rate at which a story progresses and events unfold.

  • Here Are Five Great Ways to Pace Your Story
  • 4 Pacing Tricks to Keep Readers’ Attention
  • 5 Ways to Use Pacing to Write a Powerful Story

Writers who prefer to write “by the seat of their pants,” meaning without previous outlining.

  • Can You Structure if You’re a Pantser?
  • The Mirror Moment: A Method for Both Plotters and Pantsers
  • Thinking About Outlining Your Novel? One Pantser’s Story

A speculative fiction genre that involves elements such as vampires, shapeshifters, fairies, elves, etc. Often set in modern-day urban settings. Often romantic in nature.

  • How to Tell the Difference Between Fantasy and Paranormal

A writer who prefers to write a book after going through an outlining process.

Passive Voice

The opposite of active voice.

Examples:  

Active Voice: Beautiful giraffes roam the Savannah.

  • To Be or Not To Be: In Defense of the Passive Voice

Pinch Point

A scene or event that adds pressure to the heroes and reminds readers of the antagonist’s plan or presence within the narrative. One of two turning points that take place in the Second Act (at the 37% and 62% marks, respectively).

One of the major turning points in a story’s structure. See also First Plot Point, Midpoint, and Third Plot Point.

  • What Are Plot Points?
  • Are Your Plot Points Too Weak?
  • A Matter of Timing: Positioning Your Major Plot Points Within Your Story
  • Point of View

The first stage of the writing process, which generally includes brainstorming, planning, mapping, researching, and outlining. Prewriting encompasses everything a writer does before beginning the first draft, and it accomplishes such goals as determining the intended theme, organizing plot points, and establishing characters. See also Outlining.

  • 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List

A separate, introductory section to a work.

  • Skip the Prologue!
  • When Not to Skip the Prologue
  • Find Out if Your Prologue Is Destroying Your Story’s Subtext

Proofreader

Someone reading through a completely edited work to find and/or correct typographical errors (i.e., typos).

Protag/Protagonist

The character whom the story is about and who is most directly affected by the antagonist. This character may be the narrator/POV character (such as Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen), or the protagonist may be a character who is viewed by someone else (as Atticus Finch and Heathcliff are viewed by Scout and Nelly Dean, respectively).

  • 3 Ways to Choose the Right Protagonist
  • The Only Reason You Should Ever Choose a Protagonist

Query Letter

A letter written when seeking representation from a literary agent. It describes your story and shows agents why your book is worth their time and effort and is a good fit for their agency.

  • How to Write a Great Query Letter

Query Trenches

Generally refers to looking for representation from a literary agent (although it is possible to directly query publishers).

Red Herring

A false clue meant to mislead the reader. It creates a false trail for the reader to follow. A red herring can be an object, a character, part of the setting, etc.

The final section of the story—usually the last two to three scenes in the final chapter. This is where any final loose ends are resolved after the main conflict has already been decided.

  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The Resolution
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The Resolution

The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

Rising Action

A series of events within the book’s conflict building up—with greater and greater tension—to the story’s Climax.

A fiction genre focusing on romantic love.

  • Romance University

R&R: Revise and Resend/Resubmit

An agent or editor saw something they liked in your work but felt it need a significant revision. They’d like you to make the changes they suggested and resubmit it. It doesn’t necessary mean they’ll take it though.

A scene is a sequence of events that happens at a particular place and time and that moves the story forward. The scene consists mostly of “showing” though it may contain some “telling.” The scene has a particular structure that gives the story motion.

  • How to Structure Scenes in Your Story
  • How to Write Interesting Scenes
  • 7 Questions You Have About Scenes vs. Chapters

Scene Sequence

A series of scenes with an overall related focus. A sequence has a unified focus which can usually be summed up in a simple idea (e.g., a rescue, a wedding, a trial, a battle). Scene sequences have their own defined beginning, middle, and end within the overall story.

The division of a Scene into a scene (the action that happens when a character has a goal , then conflict interferes with that goal and there is an outcome ) and its sequel (the character reacting to the previous outcome, then facing a dilemma , and finally making a decision about it that will determine what the character’s goal is in the next Scene).

  • Learn How to Structure Your Scenes–in 5 Minutes!
  • Incidents and Happenings: Scenes That Aren’t Actually Scenes

Science Fiction

Aka Sci-Fi. Fiction that incorporates scientific elements such as futuristic societies, advanced technology, and alien worlds. Though usually aiming for scientific plausibility, it ranges in realism from currently understood physics and biology to highly speculative science.

(A) A self-contained story that continues within the world of a previous story. It typically follows the characters, setting, or themes from the original, but with a new story premise and problem.

(B) The second half of a Scene, following the scene (goal, conflict, disaster). It contains the reaction, dilemma, and decision that the character has in response to the events of the scene.

  • How to Write a Sequel That’s BETTER Than the First Book

Serial Fiction

Novel (or longer) length fiction written in installments and published at regular intervals, either on a blog, in a magazine, or as small e-books.

  • How the Amazon Kindle Serials Program Works

Every character has his opposite, which allows the author to draw important contrasts and plumb the depths of his theme. Just like the Antagonist is the opposite of the Protagonist, the Skeptic character archetype is the opposite of the Sidekick. This is someone who doubts everything, particularly the Protagonist’s choices.

The middle act in your story. In the classic Three-Act structure, the Second Act comprises the biggest part of the story, from the 25% mark to the 75% mark. It is primarily concerned with developing the main conflict. It includes such important structural moments as the First Pinch Point, the Midpoint, and the Second Pinch Point. It begins with the First Plot Point and ends with the Third Plot Point.

  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The First Half of the Second Act
  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The Second Half of the Second Act

Second Pinch Point

An important structural turning point that occurs in the Second Half of the Second Act at the 62% mark. It emphasizes the threat of the antagonistic force, shows what is at stake for the protagonist in the conflict, and introduces important new clues about the nature of the conflict.

Second Plot Point

See Midpoint.

More than one book telling the same or related stories.

  • Creating a Book Series: Great Idea or Think Again?
  • FAQ: How to Write Character Arcs in a Series
  • How to Outline a Series of Bestselling Books

The physical place in which the story’s events happen.

  • 16 Ways to Make Your Setting a Character in Its Own Right
  • 4 Setting Questions That Will Deepen Your Characters
  • Ineffective Setting Descriptions

Science Fiction, aka Sci-Fi. Fiction that incorporates scientific elements such as futuristic societies, advanced technology, and alien worlds. Though usually aiming for scientific plausibility, it ranges in realism from currently understood physics and biology to highly speculative science.

Science Fiction & Fantasy. A combined genre of speculative fiction. Sci-fi typically aims for scientific plausibility, while fantasy often incorporates magical systems. Stories may contain elements of both or be exclusive to one or the other, but all such stories explore fantastic worlds and scenarios.

The period of time when you put aside your work in progress, in order to be able to come back to it later with fresh eyes.

  • Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing

Short Story

A story too short to be divided into chapters, usually under 7,500.

  • Let’s Write a Short Story

(In contrast to Telling): Conveying an atmosphere, emotion, or mood by relating the movements or expressions of objects or players rather than stating facts about them.

Showing: The boughs bowed and swayed, dumping their icy load onto the quivering children.

Telling: The frightened children got soaked by a load of snow falling from the branches.

Showing: His face paled and his hands trembled as he slunk through the doorway.

Telling: He felt nervous and hesitated to enter the room.

  • Showing and Telling: The Quick and Easy Way to Tell the Difference
  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: Are Your Verbs Showing or Telling?
  • Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 33: Telling Important Scenes, Instead of Showing
  • 3 Tips for Improving Show, Don’t Tell
  • 8 Quick Tips for Show, Don’t Tell

Sidekicks, by definition, are almost always with the main character, which allows the conflict to be ongoing. A person who helps and spends a lot of time with someone who is usually more important, powerful, etc.

  • Why Your Hero Needs a Yappy Sidekick

Speaker Tags

In its most basic form, this consists of the speaker’s name and a speech-related verb ( said , shouted , asked , etc.). Often the simplest way of indicating which character is speaking.

  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: How Not to Use Speaker Tags and Action Beats
  • Most Common Writing Mistakes: Avoiding “Said”

Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, superhero, utopian, dystopian, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and alternate history. It is often used as an umbrella term for science fiction and fantasy when considered as a single genre. The term is used this way in academic and ideological criticism of these genres, as well as by some readers, writers, and editors of these genres.

  • What Is Speculative Fiction?

Standalone Book

Either a book that is not part of a series, or a book that is part of a series but does not depend on the other books in the series to make sense. Used most often in the former sense to indicate a book that has no sequels.

Standard Manuscript Format

The standard way editors, agents, and publishers want your manuscript formatted before you send it to them.

The cover page should be separate from the rest of the manuscript. It should include:

– name of the manuscript and author (or pen name) – approximate word count (rounded to the nearest hundred) – Your name, address, phone number, e-mail, and website – Your agent’s details (if you have an agent)

font: Twelve point, Times New Roman or Courier New Black.

margins: One-inch margins on all four sides.

indent: Half-inch paragraph indentations for the first line of each and every paragraph.

space: Double space; no extra line between paragraphs.

align: Align left.

page numbering: Number pages beginning with the actual story (don’t count or put page numbers on the title page).

scene breaks: Indicate scene breaks by inserting a blank line and centering the number sign (#) in the center of the line.

page header: Include your last name, the manuscript’s title, and the page number in the page header of every page except for the title page. Align the header to the right.

chapters: Begin chapters on new pages (insert a page break or format using styles). Center the chapter title, even if it’s only Chapter One (or Chapter 1), about one-third of the way down the page. Skip a couple of lines and begin the text of the chapter.

end: Center a number sign (#) on an otherwise blank line one double-spaced line down from the final line of text of the final chapter or epilogue at the end of the manuscript. Or write The End. (The end should be labeled so an agent or editor isn’t looking for extra pages that aren’t there.)

italics: Use italics for italicized words (versus underlining them).

character spacing: Use a single character space, not two spaces, between sentences.

The standard document format is MS Word (.doc) If you have a newer version of MS Word, Open Office, Pages, or something else, save the document in .doc (This is usually found somewhere like, File>>Save As, “MS Word 97-2003 (.doc)” Almost everyone can read .doc files.)

Finally, check the publisher or agent’s website. Some will have specific fonts, spacing, or other ways they want things done that might vary slightly from the general guidelines.

  • Formatting 101: how to format your novel for submission

A subgenre of fantasy fiction which is largely determined by its setting, which is typically an alternative-Victorian reality, laden with steam-powered technology. Corsets are optional.

Using the same word or phrase twice, recently enough that the reader remembers it; depends partly on how distinctive the word is. Can be distracting if not used intentionally.

A subcategory of a major genre. For example, “sword and sorcery” and “portal fantasy” are subgenres within the fantasy genre, while “cozy” and “noir” are subgenres within the mystery genre.

A secondary thread of the story, with its own beginning, middle, and end, the subplot may or may not be directly connected to the main plot, and generally involves supporting characters.

  • 5 Tips for Organizing Subplots
  • Can a Character’s Arc Be a Subplot?
  • Does Your Story Need Subplots?

Substantive Editing

A detailed and complete editing of a book, involving not just suggestions for the overall story, but also line-by-line editing of the prose itself. This is the most intensive type of editing.

The meaning beneath the dialogue—what the speaker really means, even though it’s being said directly.

  • Subtext: The Art of Iceberging
  • I Just Figured Out What All My Favorite Stories Have in Common—and It Blew My Mind
  • The Only 5 Ingredients You Need for Story Subtext

A description of the book’s content. Sometimes written as marketing copy—with a hook and no spoilers—to convince readers to buy the book. Sometimes written as a complete description of the plot—including spoilers—to convey the entire story to a potential agent or editor.

A detailed description of your story’s complete plot (including spoilers and the ending), written in either one or three pages, for the purpose of sharing with a literary agent.

A line of text—usually a short, tantalizing sentence—which appears under the title of the book on the front cover and also in catalogue listings.

(In contrast to Showing): Conveying information by stating facts about them, instead of relating the movements or expressions of objects or players.

  • Telling Important Scenes, Instead of Showing
  • Are Your Verbs Showing or Telling?
  • Three Places Where You Should Tell Instead of Show

The moral statement at the heart of the story, usually a general, universal principle, which is then conveyed via the story’s specific message, as proven by the protagonist’s character arc and specifically his inner conflict between a Lie and a Truth.

  • Plot, Character, and Theme: The Greatest Love Triangle in Fiction
  • Want a Powerful Theme for Your Novel? Play Devil’s Advocate!
  • What’s the Difference Between Your Story’s Theme and Its Message?

The final act in your story. In the classic Three-Act structure, the Third Act comprises the final quarter of the story, from the 75% mark to the 100% mark. It is primarily concerned with the final, climactic confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonistic force. It begins with the Third Plot Point, includes the Climax, and ends with the Resolution.

  • The Secrets of Story Structure: The Third Act
  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The Third Act
  • How to Write a Flat Character Arc: The Third Act
  • How to Write a Negative Character Arc: The Third Act

Third Person

The uninvolved narrator of the story, who refers to the actual players by name or as he/she/they, e.g.: “Peter ran in and hugged Susan.” Contrast this with a “first-person narrative,” e.g.: “When I saw Susan at the bar, I ran up and hugged her.”

  • Everything You Need to Know About Writing a 3rd-Person POV

Third Plot Point

The Third Plot Point in a story’s structure occurs in between the Second and Third Acts, at the 75% mark. This is where the protagonist experiences the lowest moment of defeat and is faced with a choice about whether the quest is worth the effort—symbolically representing whether or not the character will embrace or reject the Lie. The character then enters the Climax ready for the final confrontation with the antagonistic force.

  • Creating Stunning Character Arcs: The Third Plot Point

Three-Act Structure

The three-act structure is an approach to story structure that divides a fictional narrative into three parts, often called the Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution.

  • Structuring Your Novel
  • 5 Secrets of Story Structure

A story element or plot device that is particular to certain genres or stories, to the point they become a storytelling cliche. Examples include love triangles in Young Adult fiction or the “chosen one” in fantasy and science fiction.

Turning Point

A major moment in the story when the plot “turns” by changing in a dramatic way, almost always as the result of a “reveal” or twist that presents the characters with new information about the conflict.

Unreliable Narrator

The narrator’s unreliability might be obvious to the reader throughout, it might be revealed gradually, or it might come as a revelation that provides a major plot twist. Common examples are Vladimir Nabakov’s Humbert Humbert from Lolita  and Alex from A Clockwork Orange . A lesser known example is Micky DeWitt from Flank Street .

Upmarket Fiction

A type of fiction that is an amalgamation between commercial fiction (something with a wide audience that fits into a typical genre) and literary fiction (something that doesn’t fit exactly into a standard genre classification). Upmarket fiction can appeal to audiences of both commercial and literary fiction. It offers exceptional writing that doesn’t fit into a mold, yet has the potential for mass appeal.

Urban Fantasy

A subcategory of contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy is set in a contemporary city. Often co-existing with the familiar city life is a hidden, magical aspect of the city frequently including magical creatures. Charles de Lint is one of the primary authors of urban fantasy. To some extent, Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale is an urban fantasy as well as Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere .

The tenor and style of a story’s narrative. Authorial voice is the “sound” unique to the author. However, each author can and will use multiple variations of voice for each character’s POV and dialogue as well.

  • Writing Voice: 6 Things You Need to Know to Improve It
  • What Every Writer Needs to Know About Finding Your Writing Voice

World Building

(A) The act of designing a story world, including its culture, language, technology, magic, biology, landscape, history, etc. The author does this to build a consistent backdrop for the story. It is especially important for science fiction and fantasy (and even historical novels), in which the story world may be much different from the world readers inhabit.

(B) The art of distilling the elements of a story world, building the world within the minds of readers. This can be done through setting descriptions, exposition, dialogue, or character actions and interactions. In most cases, avoid info-dumping exposition and AYKB dialog. Instead, weave in the worldbuilding as a seamless part of the story itself.

  • How to Decide if You Should Use a Real-Life Setting in Your Story

Young Adult (Fiction), a genre aimed at adolescents ages 12-18. Often told in first-person with fast pacing. Focuses on new, fresh, “first time” experiences and coming-of-age experiences. There is often a strong romantic subplot. This genre, like romance, includes many other subgenres under it such as YA Romance, YA Fantasy, and YA Mystery.

Work-in-progress. The story or novel the author is currently writing.

An adjective for when you say a writerly thing. If you wear a blazer with leather patches on your sleeves and sit at a coffee shop with your laptop, it could be said that you’re being writerly. 😉

Writer’s Block

A state in which the writer doesn’t know how to proceed with writing. It can result from simply not knowing what should happen next in the story, or from larger life issues, such as depression.

  • Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration
  • 7 Things to Try When Writing Is Hard
  • Are You Struggling to Be Creative? This Might Be Why

The “vomit” draft, part of pre-writing. The writer “vomits” up whatever story ideas they have without concern as to structure, consistency, or sense. Used to a) explore world/worldbuild, b) explore/develop characters/character interactions c) develop and/or test plot elements d) anything the author wants.

Can You Think of Any Terms This Glossary Is Missing?

Help me turn this into a tool we can all reference and that will help other authors understand what it is we’re talking about when we use crazy terms like “logline,” “pinch point,” and “MS.” Post your suggestions and definitions in the comments, and I’ll update the list.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What writing terms aren’t listed here and should be? Tell me in the comments!

Help Me Build the Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

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K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel , Structuring Your Novel , and Creating Character Arcs . A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

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What a fantastic idea, K.M.!

Here we go…

Words spoken by a character, normally enclosed in quotation marks. Dialogue should sound realistic, without attempting to reproduce real speech verbatim.

Internal dialogue reproduces a character’s thoughts, and is often (though not always) indicated by italics.

Indirect dialogue, also known as reported speech, is a narrative summary of dialogue that’s taken place.

Dialogue tags and/or action beats let the reader know which character is speaking.

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/8-tips-for-awesome-dialogue/

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/on-the-nose-dialogue/

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THIRD PERSON The uninvolved narrator of the story, who refers to the actuals players by name or as he/she/they, e.g. “Peter ran in and hugged Susan”. Contrast this with a ‘first-person narrative’, which may be present tense (“I gape at the sight of Susan standing at the bar, rush up and hug her tight.”) or past tense (“When I saw Susan at the bar, I ran up and hugged her.”)

TAGLINE A line of text – usually a short, tantalizing sentence – which appears under the Title of the book on the front cover and also in catalogue listings, e.g.: Title: Aquila Tagline: Can Silvanus Escape That God?

SHOWING (In contrast to TELLING): Conveying an atmosphere, emotion or mood by relating the movements or expressions of objects or players rather than stating facts about them, e.g. “The boughs bowed and swayed, casting their icy load onto the quivering children” instead of “The frightened children got soaked by a load of snow falling from the branches.” Or “His face was white and his hands trembled as he slunk through the doorway” instead of “He felt nervous and hesitated to enter the room.”

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A genre fiction centered on contemporary women and women’s issues that is often written in a light, humorous pace, and that generally deals with the protagonist and her relationships with family, friends and/or romantic partners. Often referred to as women’s commercial fiction.

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MENTOR An experienced advisor who offers – sometimes reluctantly – to show the hero “the way”. Usually a trustworthy ally, the mentor figure will often impart an object or piece of information that will prove vital later in the hero’s quest. The name itself comes from a character in Homer’s The Odyssey.

Examples include: Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and “Irv” in Cool Runnings (a less-trustworthy mentor figure).

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Good stuff, thx!

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Trope—A story element or plot device that is particular to certain genres or stories, to the point where they become a storytelling cliche. Examples include love triangles in young adult fiction or the “chosen one” most common in fantasy and science fiction.

Protag/Protagonist—The character whom the story is about and who is most directly affected by the antagonist. This character may be the narrator/POV character (such as Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen) or the protagonist may be a character who is viewed by someone else (as Atticus Finch and Heathcliff are viewed by Scout and Nelly Dean, respectively).

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MC – Short for Main Character. The lead of the story.

Info Dump – An undesirable writing method where the author “dumps” a lot of information or extensive description on the reader all at once, instead of weaving the information into the action of the story.

Anti-Hero – A character who is not the main Antagonist, or a supporting character of the Protagonist, but one who opposes the hero or the hero’s ideas in some way.

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An ANTI HERO is a protagonist who lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage, and morality. These individuals often possess dark personality traits such as disagreeableness, dishonesty, and aggressiveness.

Like Captain Mal in Firefly or Holden in The catcher in the rye

I still don’t understand the concept of the anti-hero for some reason.

It is tricky. I think there are several definitions out there. Sometimes they are even split into Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain, but I still think that the application within stories of an Anti-Hero is pretty broad.

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If you are still having difficulty, consider this, an Anti-hero is a hero who doesn’t act like a hero and who probably doesn’t want to be a hero or ‘good’ in the typical sense of the word. An anti-villain is a villain who acts more like a hero, but who ultimately proves themselves a villain even if they are ‘soft’. There are plenty of good broad definitions out there, but this helped me think of it in a broad sense.

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Let’s use the example of a evil lab. Inside the lab there are innocent people. The protag needs to destroy the lab. A hero would try to get all the innocent people out before blowing it up. While an anti-hero may just blow it up. In an anti-hero’s mind, the ends justify the means.

Thanks, all the examples are very helpful. Sounds like an antihero can play up a lot of drama.

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STUTTER (WRITING)

BURLY DETECTIVE SYNDROME

Frequently referring to a character by a description (“the burly detective”), usually out of fear of overusing the character’s name or pronoun (see Stutter (Writing)).

Cool never heard of these.

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May I add R&R? This one was driving me crazy when I was reading it. I had to search everywhere for the definition!

R&R: Revise and Resend/Resubmit An agent or editor saw something they liked in your work but felt it need a significant revision. They’d like you to make the changes they suggested and resubmit it. It doesn’t necessary mean that they’ll take it though.

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Good one. Never heard of it either.

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1) An antagonistic character who bears personality traits commonly associated with noble and heroic characters

2) A heroic character who bears personality traits commonly associated with villainous or disreputable characters.

This is a popular one today. Third time I read it and it still makes no sense to me. Think my brain is shutting down and rebooting.

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“Point-of-view”

Whoo! You’re today’s super-definer!

HISTORICAL FICTION

A literary genre where the plot takes place in the past, often (but not always) including historical figures

So the only difference between regular fiction and historical is the time period correct?

As I understand it, that’s fairly accurate. Within that, though, excellently written historical fiction also tends to focus in a much deeper way on the details of bringing an unfamiliar era to life (which would be approached much differently/taken for granted in a story with a more contemporary setting).

As time passes, though, the historical “cut-off” date is always bumping up, so as you can see, the line between the two is sometimes rather transparent. 😉

For a bit more, you can read Katie’s article here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/why-your-novel-may-not-be-historical/

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What a great idea! Awesome list worth sharing.

A separate section at the end of a work often commenting on the work as a whole/serving as an addendum.

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CLIMATIC MOMENT-the moment in the climax where the overall goal is reached or not reached, the moment when the protagonist defeats the antagonist or visa versa

YA-young adult, usually a genre

BLURB-a short summary of what the book is about, meant to hook the reader

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Pacing–the rate at which a story progresses and events unfold.

I wish I knew more about the pacing process. Some books are paced differently than others and wonder is there a method to the madness.

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Most issues with pacing have to do with story structure. Check out Katie’s Structure series for more information (and the Story Structure Database for plenty of examples).

Stories can be divided into four roughly equal parts (Act 1, Act 2A, Act 2B, Act 3), each with its own mission relative to the story’s development, and the turning points (“Plot Points”) between them form the major story pacing milestones. Actually, you can divide the story even further with the Inciting Incident, two Pinch Points, and the Climax at the odd eighth marks.

Story structure is all about keeping things balanced and well-paced. If you can hit all the major milestones where they need to go, all the while raising stakes, conflict, and tension right up to the climax, your story’s pacing should take care of itself.

Wow, that’s awesome. That’s what I need to master. The elements of story structure. Thank you!

Oh, and the difference in pacing that you sense for different stories is more likely due to different types of conflict or story problem than to any difference in structure. Lots of action-based conflict will feel faster paced than relationship drama, but everything will still follow the same basic structure behind the scenes.

That’s true. I definitely sense it in movies and books. Didn’t know it was due to differences in conflict though. But looking back it makes perfect sense. Hindsight is 20/20 right?

Some books were unevenly paced in different parts but the overall story was great. The one I’m thinking of had a lot of relationship drama, so pace seemed slower.

Storming was very balanced in its entirety so I didn’t really notice the pace so much. I just felt drawn into the story. Finished Cinder and had the same feeling. Currently reading the Einstein Prophecy and it’s having the same balanced affect on me. The ones that are balanced tend to be page turners!

With cars if your tires are not balanced it could be a bumpy, not so pleasant ride. It seems even more so with story structure. Cool. I think I’m finally learning something!

If I drank, I’d grab a cool one.

Ditto what Scrutinizer said. Pacing demands are different for different types of stories, but the key is to make it so seamless that readers don’t even think about it. Glad you felt that way about Storming !

“As you know, Bob…”

A method of dumping exposition through dialog, infamous for its awkwardness and lack of realism. It involves an otherwise unnecessary conversation between two characters that the author forces on them solely to inform the reader of what the characters both already know. Writers often choose this technique to avoid taking the reader out of the story to reveal important background information, but it usually works against them by taking the characters out of the story instead.

For further study: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/as-you-know-bob/

This one is funny. Had a hardy chuckle! I’m definitely guilty of AYKB.

Holy fudgeknuckles Batman, what a great idea! I Love it.

One of the most recent definitions I’ve thoroughly enjoyed is that of the impact character in relation to engineering character arcs. SO AWESOME. Seems like this impact character/s are strong catalysts for change in the protagonist causing inner conflict and help put the plot into motion. This has greatly helped my understanding of the story.

IMPACT CHARACTER=

1. “Impact character” probably isn’t at the top of your list. But it should be. Because you can’t create a character arc without one.

2. “Impact character” is the term coined by Dramatica authors Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley to describe what is just as accurately termed by editor Roz Morris the “catalyst character.” This is the character who slams into your protagonist, catalyzes him into change, and has a major impact on his life.

3. The impact character is the one who enables, empowers, or sometimes just plain forces another character(s) to change.

4. The impact character may be a friend, or he may be a foe.

5. If the antagonist represents the story’s outer conflict, then the impact character represents the inner conflict.

6. Just like the antagonist, the impact character is a conflict-causer. Just like the antagonist, he’s at odds with the protagonist. But unlike the antagonist, the conflict isn’t necessarily the result of opposing goals. Rather, its core is the opposing worldviews of the protagonist and the impact character. The protagonist believes the Lie; the impact character (lucky dog!) already knows the Truth.

Even in posting this I learned something new! Conflict helps produce plot. What’s a plot without conflict right? It’d be a pretty stale story. The conflict can be external and internal, and both are essentially related to the antagonist and impact character. So if I understand this correctly the impact character is the catalyst for change in the protagonist helping him/her overcome the inner conflict that enables them to overcome the outer conflict represented by the evil antagonist to achieve their goal to live happily ever after….or not.

Further reading: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/impact-character-2/

BETA READER

(paraphrasing from Google as it seemed like an excellent summary)

“Beta readers provide feedback during the writing and/or editing process and are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context. Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes and problems with continuity, characterization, and believability. In fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.”

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Novella: a story that runs around 40K to 50K words. Normally, it has no subplot and no more than two POV characters. One of the harder forms to sell traditionally, though I’ve ready recently this is changing.

Good one! I knew it was shorter but didn’t know the details.

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Mimesis: where syntax echoes, mimes the narrative.

I’ll have research this one.

(And btw, did I mention that I LOVE this whole idea?! THANK YOU SO MUCH! ;D)

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YA – Young Adult (Fiction), a genre aimed at adolescents ages 12 -18. Often told in first person with fast pacing. Focuses on new, fresh, ‘first time’ experiences and coming of age experiences, and there is often a strong romantic subplot. This is a genre that, like Romance, includes many other genres under it such as YA Romance, YA Fantasy, and YA Mystery. Differentiate from NA – New Adult (Fiction) which is aimed at an older age group and focuses on new adult experiences such as the first serious relationship, first serious job, going to college, and moving out on their own.

“Manuscript” (In writing lingo: a yet unpublished work whether written or typed)

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Unreliable narrator. The narrator’s unreliability might be obvious to the reader throughout, it might be revealed gradually, or it might come as a revelation that provides a major plot twist. Common examples are Vladimir Nabakov’s Humbert Humbert, and Alex from A Clockwork Orange. A lesser known example is Micky DeWitt from Flank Street.

Alliteration: A stylistic literary device identified by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of multiple words, or the repetition of the same sounds of the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase.

PROOFREADER

Someone reading through a completely edited work to find and/or correct typographical errors (i.e. typos).

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SUBTEXT: is the meaning beneath the dialogue; what the speaker really means, even though he’s not saying it directly. As humans, we often don’t articulate our thoughts exactly.

Subtext in Dialogue – The Writer’s Toolbox – Ask The Writer – Gotham … https://www.writingclasses.com › toolbox

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I’d like to add “on submission” or “on sub” especially juxtaposed with being “in the query trenches”.

I recently heard two writers who are in the query trenches referring to themselves as being on sub and realized there is some confusion out there about the difference between the two.

Query Trenches: generally refers to looking for representation from a literary agent (although it is possible to directly query publishers)

On sub: your MS has been submitted, usually by your agent, to a list of editors at publishing houses who may or may not have agreed to read it.

Oh, that also makes me wonder if “house” was on your list, referring to publishers.

Perfect! Thanks, Merriam. I added “House” as well.

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I am building a similar list myself, going beyond the ordinary of literary terms and picking what I think should be learned by all writers. A few of your words are on my lists. I welcome you to look through my list to see if it helps you. I did words for the A to Z challenge. I would list them here, but there are nearly 70 words.

AtoZ 2014: http://writing.chrisvotey.com/atoz-2014/ AtoZ 2015: http://writing.chrisvotey.com/atoz-2015/

Awesome! Thanks, Chris.

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Kidlet: 1. a diminutive child. 2. term of endearment between parent/child; older to younger sibling.

Thank you, sincerely, for this resource. Definitely raised hand (!), baffled by various terms, WIP, MC, YA et al.

Hah. That made me laugh so hard I almost have to include in the glossary. 😉

LOL… that’s great, so glad to hear! 😀

Of all the things I’ve almost been included in, this would rank among the top!

Can’t credit for the idea, although sadly my memory fails to provide me with the name of whoever came up with the idea.

These definitions almost seems to be too simplistic.

1. Sidekicks, by definition, are almost always with the main character, which allows the conflict to be ongoing https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/why-your-hero-needs-yappy-sidekick/

2. a person who helps and spends a lot of time with someone who is usually more important, powerful, etc. (Merriam-Webster)

You go, you guys! This is awesome. We’ll have this puppy filled out before you know it.

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A scene is a sequence of events that happens at a particular place and time and that moves the story forward. The scene consists mostly of “showing” though it may contain some “telling.” The scene has a particular structure that gives the story motion. Showing using the following tools: • Action. • Dialogue. • Interior Monologue. • Interior Emotion. • Sensory Description. Telling using the following tools: • Narrative Summary • Exposition • Description

I like this one. Thx!

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Creative Nonfiction:

The use of literary style and writing technique to tell a true story. It’s an embellishment, but only for the sake of telling a story that teaches a lesson or conveys a change of heart or mind. Narrative, dialogue, setting, and voice are just a few creative writing tools used to grab a reader’s interest and leave them changed somehow at the end.

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I echo many of the other commenters: this is a great idea!

Here’s a definition you could add:

COPY EDITING

For Further Reading:

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-i-self-edit-my-novels-15-steps-from/

Nice. I’ll have to follow that link for more info. Thx.

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If you are going to include AYKB, you should also have the Dumb Mechanic dialogue.

Dumb Mechanic Where a character explains something to a character who doesn’t know what they are talking about. The example from the name is a mechanic explaining what is wrong with a machine to someone who knows nothing about mechanics. It’s vital that the lack of knowledge needs be real and believable. It also needs to be limited to the needs of the moment. So a gear-head stopping to fix a lawyer’s car might explain a air bubble in the gas line, if that was the problem, but not how an engine works in detail.

I’m learning stuff here too! I’d never heard it called that.

Here’s one that wasn’t on the list but which you might want to include:

The first stage of the writing process, which generally includes brainstorming, planning, mapping, researching, and outlining. Prewriting encompasses everything a writer does before beginning the first draft, and it accomplishes such goals as determining the intended theme, organizing plot points, and establishing characters.

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/6-tasks-youll-love-yourself-for-checking-off-your-nano-pre-writing-list/

https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/book/outlining-your-novel/

Good one! Thanks!

SWEET. I absolutely adore prewriting. I’ve never heard it defined like this.

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At first I was like “Pshaw! I know tons of writing terms! And then I started to scroll down the page and my mouth dropped open. MFC? SF? SFF? What? I need this index! What a brilliant idea, K.M.Weiland. 😀

Hah. I’m learning stuff too!

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ALPHA READER

See also: BETA READER

I’ve provided a personal take on the subject here: http://www.iennivens.com/advice-for-new-writers-in-an-age-of-interactivity . Feel free to link to or borrow from my post if you find it helpful in clarifying the role.

Nice! Never heard of the alpha reader.

The glossary idea is great with lots of good info. Although I feel like a babe taking in his mother’s milk, growing and making sense of the world around him.

Gotta go, think I’ve got a poopy diaper.

Thank you for all your contributions!

I should be thanking you for all of your contributions ?

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Tried my best to come up with some definitions. I hope this helps!

FIRST PERSON A point of view where the main character of a story is also the narrator. The reader “sees” through the eyes of the main character, so to speak. It uses pronouns such as “I,” and “me.” E.g., “I walked into the house.”

EXPOSITION The part of the story where background information about characters, events, setting, etc. is provided. Generally, the exposition can be found at the beginning of the story. However, other background information can be placed throughout the story as it is needed.

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I’m amazed you didn’t have “writer’s block” entered. Could it be a case of… you know?

Hah. Must have been. Please feel free to add your definition!

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In case you haven’t already Googled this.

Novellette A short novel that is often about romantic relationships and is usually not very serious. Word count is 7,500 to 17,500 words.

Thanks K.M. This is very cool and a lot of work. Cant’ wait to see the final version.

If you have “Scene,” you should probably also have “Sequel”:

For further study: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-write-a-sequel-thats-better-than-the-first-book/ https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-structure-scenes/ https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/structuring-your-scenes-pt-7-three/

To finish up the acronyms:

MMC: “Main Male Character” The male lead in a romance story. Usually gets the girl in the end.

MFC: “Main Female Character” The female lead in a romance story. Usually gets the guy in the end.

MG: Middle Grade fiction, targeted to children ages 8 to 12 years old. Typically features a main character in the same age range and avoids “mature” content such as graphic violence or sexually explicit material. That’s not to say the stories are simplistic, of course.

SF: Science Fiction, aka Sci-Fi. Fiction that incorporates scientific elements such as futuristic societies, advanced technology, and alien worlds. Though usually aiming for scientific plausibility, it ranges in realism from currently understood physics and biology to highly speculative science.

SFF: Science Fiction & Fantasy. A combined genre of speculative fiction. Sci fi typically aims for scientific plausibility, while fantasy often incorporates magical systems. Stories may contain elements of both or be exclusive to one or the other, but all such stories explore fantastic worlds and scenarios.

And speaking of SFF,

Worldbuilding:

(A) The act of designing a story world, including its culture, language, technology, magic, biology, landscape, history, etc. The author does this to build a consistent backdrop for her story. It is especially important for science fiction and fantasy (and even historical novels), where the story world may be much different from the world that the readers inhabit.

(B) The art of distilling the elements of a story world, building the world within the minds of readers. This can be done through setting descriptions, exposition, dialog, or character actions and interactions. In most cases, avoid info-dumping exposition and AYKB dialog. Instead, weave in the worldbuilding as a seamless part of the story itself.

For further study: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/are-you-asking-these-important/

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GHOST WRITER

One who undertakes the physical labor of writing an article, book, or memoir for someone else, usually in secret.

One who produces written content as a third party for someone else, nominally for a fee in exchange for all credit for said written content belonging to someone else.

On another note, I will pay whatever you ask for this book when it’s done.

For now, it’s a totally free resource!

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Your description for alliteration is a good one, but for newbies adding an example would be helpful too. “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers”

For Passive Voice: on FB the other day, I saw a post that said, “If you can add ‘by aliens’ at the end of the sentence, then it’s passive voice.” Example: “The light was left on in the kitchen—by aliens.” 😀 Give them an example to correct it: “James left the light on in the kitchen.” Gotta say, when I first started writing, passive voice is one that drove me nuts and nearly had me bashing my computer.

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Chekhov’s Gun – This is a dramatic principle that requires every single element within a story to be necessary and irreplaceable. The term ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ was coined when Chekhov wrote a letter to A.S. Lazarev, stating that if you have a loaded gun in one scene, it must be fired in one of the subsequent scenes in order to avoid being superfluous. If you give something attention, such as the gun, it must be because it has some import later in the narrative.

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Scene structure: the division of a Scene into a scene (the action that happens when a character has a goal, then conflict interferes with that goal and there is an outcome) and its sequel (the character reacting to the previous outcome, then facing a dilemma, and finally making a decision about it that will determine what the character’s goal is in the next Scene)

Plotter: a writer who prefers to write a book /after/ going through an outlining process

Pantser: a writer who prefers to write “by the seat of his/her pants,” meaning, without previous outlining

Outline: a sketch of every event that makes up the structure of a story, which is written before a first draft to edit out any structural weak spots beforehand

Archetype: a ‘type’ of character which is commonly repeated across literature: the mentor, the magician, etc.

Cliché: any situation in a story that has been used too many times in literature, and becomes cheesy to readers.

Cliffhanger: the ending of a chapter or book in a moment of high suspense and tension, used to compel readers to read on or buy the next book in an installment.

Dystopia: genre of literature that focuses on a form of organization of society in the future (typically post-apocalyptic) that is dysfunctional.

Flashback: short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the past.

Flashforward: short narration that breaks a story’s linear time sequence by showing the future.

LOVE INTEREST

The additional parts of a book appearing after the main body of the text (i.e. acknowledgements, historical notes, explanatory notes, end notes, an afterword, index, bibliographies, and appendixes). Also called Back Matter.

Dystopian: This describes an imagined community, society, or world, in which everything is unpleasant or undesirable. It is the opposite of utopian, and literally means ‘bad place’.

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Love this! Here are my offerings.

MARY SUE (fem.) (MARTY-SUE – (male.)) – began by fan fiction writers but now in writers general vocab. A derogatory term for a character than is able to do everything, the perfect heroine, with ultimate abilities. Not always a female, but can be used to describe any character with unrealistic abilities.

HEA – Happily Ever After – Romance writers use this to describe a genre as well as a moment. “A great HEA read.” Or, “you do get your HEA.” Most often seen with Harlequin and the “cozy” genre. (I went a long time thinking this was a genre all its own!)

COZY, also known as COZIES – a mystery novel that is usually a bloodless crime, with very little violence, sex or coarse language (but not always a pure “clean-read.”) Usually the person solving the crime is an amateur and has the support/friendship of a police officer/detective/medical examiner. Readers usually identify with the main character because they are positive and socially acceptable (even their small faults).

FRONT MATTER

The material preceding the main body/text of a work: including the title pages, printing/publishing data and/or a table of contents, foreword, preface, author’s note, dedication, etc.

There can be multiple antagonists in a story, but ultimately it’s the greatest character standing in direct opposition to and blocking the protagonist achieving his story goal.

This is awesome, you guys! Keep it up. We’ll have this thing filled out in no time.

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ACTIVE VOICE: The opposite of passive voice. Example: Beautiful giraffes roam the savannah. (active) As opposed to The savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes. (passive)

BLACK MOMENT/LOW MOMENT: The part in the story at which everything looks hopeless and the situation is at its lowest point. Usually directly precedes the climax.

DENOUEMENT: The wrap up after the story is done. The wind down from the action of the climax. Sometimes not included in the full arc of the story, but tells afterward details.

DEUTERAGONIST: A secondary protagonist and the driver of a subplot. Can be a sidekick.

Great idea! I wish I’d had one of these when I started writing. 😛

You might want to include what active and passive voice actually are, rather than just opposites. With active voice, the person or thing performing the action serves as the subject of the sentence, whereas with passive voice, the subject is the person or thing being acted upon. I really like your examples, though.

Perfect! I combined both of your comments for a solid definition. Thanks!

Great! One typo, though: you wrote “(passive)” twice under Passive Voice. I’m pretty sure the second one should be “(active).” With the massive surge of input you’ve been sorting through, though, it’s an understandable mistake.

Excellent! Thanks for catching that.

In linguistics, the actor in a sentence is called the “agent,” and the passive receiver of action is called the “patient.” These are independent of “subject” and “object,” but which is which determines the voice of the verb.

Wow, 100 comments already! It’s really a testament to the effectiveness of your content and teaching style, Katie, that you can recruit so many enthusiastic contributors so quickly. And that includes those of us who normally don’t say anything but who really appreciate all that you do here. You’re probably my favorite blogger on writing, and I’ve read a lot. Thank you so much for making resources like this!

Aw, that’s very kind of you. Makes my day to hear you’re finding the site useful! And a super-huge thanks to you and everyone else whose enthusiasm for this project has been so infectious!

I know awesome isn’t it? Ah, splendid indeed. 🙂

This is really taking off. Great job guys!

Okay, I’ve been thinking about it all day and feel like my first definition for this was kind of rambly, so I’ll try again. But feel free to take it or not as it works! 😉

One standing in opposition to/thwarting the protagonist.

I like it. Simplicity is bliss!

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Upmarket Fiction: A type of fiction that is an amalgamation between Commercial Fiction, something with a wide audience that fits into a typical genre, and Literary Fiction, something that doesn’t fit exactly into a standard genre classification. Upmarket Fiction can appeal to both audiences; exceptional writing that doesn’t fit into a mold yet has the potential for mass appeal.

SPECULATIVE FICTION:

1. speculative fiction. noun. 1. a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.

Speculative fiction – Dictionary.com dictionary.reference.com/browse/speculative-fiction

2. Speculative fiction: is a term often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein (July 07 1907-May 08, 1988) an American novelist and science fiction writer.

Speculative fiction is a fiction genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways. In these contexts, it generally overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history. It is often used as an umbrella term for science fiction and fantasy considered as a single genre. The term is used this way in academic and ideological criticism of these genres, as well as by some readers, writers, and editors of these genres.

Further reading: a. http://www.goodreads.com/genres/speculative-fiction b. http://www.greententacles.com/articles/5/26/

URBAN FANTASY:

A subcategory of contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy is set in a contemporary city. Often co-existing with the familiar city life is a hidden, magical aspect of the city frequently including magical creatures. Charles de Lint is one of the primary authors of urban fantasy. To some extent, Mark Helprin’s A Winter’s Tale is an urban fantasy as well as Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.

Cyberpunk explores the fusion between man and machine. A key element is the perfection of the Internet and virtual reality technology. In a cyberpunk novel, characters can experience and interact with computers in a 3D graphic environment so real that it feels like a physical landscape. The society in which cyberpunk is set tends to be heavily urban, and usually somewhat anarchic or feudal. The “father of cyberpunk” is William Gibson, author of the seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Eos authors defining this ever-evolving virtual reality include Neal Stephenson and Rudy Rucker.

EPIC FANTASY:

Sweeping in scope, epic fantasy usually concerns a battle for rulership of a country, empire or entire world. Drawing heavily upon archetypal myths and the quintessential struggle between a few good people against overwhelming forces of evil, epic fantasy is best represented by author J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Eos authors of epic fantasy include New York Times bestselling Raymond E. Feist (The Serpentwar Saga) and Adam Lee (The Dominions Of Irth). Some other popular epic fantasy authors are Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks.

COURT INTRIGUE:

A subcategory of epic fantasy that’s currently popular and is the fantasy equivalent of Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Good examples of this are Robin Hobbs’s Assassin trilogy, George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire trilogy, Martha Wells’s The Element Of Fire, and Avon author Dave Duncan’s upcoming The King’s Blades trilogy.

Further reading: https://www.sfsite.com/columns/amy26.htm

Line editing and proofreading:

This form of editing means going over a manuscript line by line and editing it for grammar errors as you go. It doesn’t entail any extensive rewriting, but there may be some use of color editing to liven up flat prose, and there may be some reduction of redundancies (such as repeated information). Basically, line editing and proofreading checks for the most basic of grammatical and syntax errors. This style of editing may include the use of a style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

Forgot to add further reading : LINE EDITING https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/the-importance-of-professional-editing/

Two quick questions. One stupid and the other… well, probably it is as well.

Stupid 1st: Court Intrigue is a sub-category of Epic Fantasy, how so? It gives examples through titles, which, unless you’ve read at least one… it is simply epic fantasy on a micro-cosmic level, instead of vast expanses, contained within the halls of power of a single kingdom/province/village?

2nd: I’ve been checking back pretty frequently reading through the list, familiarizing myself with the terms; and scrolling down it’s easy to confuse the glossary terms with the links from the previous term (especially between antagonist and antagonistic force . Is there anyway to make the terms standout a bit more from the previous entry? It may be just a matter of making the term font size a tad bigger to distinguish it from ‘further study’/link size… or me paying a bit more attention as I scroll… probably best option.

comment awaiting moderation… back on probation…

typo, ‘it is simply epic fantasy” should read ‘ is it…’ it’s supposed to be a question, not a statement. Thanks.

Yeah, sorry, I’m not sure why this got flagged for moderation. Anyway…

This is actually the first I’ve heard of the court intrigue sub-category for fantasy as well. I like the sound of it though!

I’ll have to take a look at the design overall and see if I can improve it. Thanks for the suggestions!

“exceeded stupid question filter settings” would be my guess

I have to apologize to you. If I’d sit on the question for an hour or two, did some thinking/looking on my own, might figure it out without troubling you in the process.

It was the first time I’d heard of it as well (court intrigue) and it was great to cross-reference with epic fantasy. If it is a microcosm of (which would make sense being cited as a sub-category) Wolf Hall would also fit that as an example. Made for some incredibly intense drama.

You know what, the formatting works. You’ve put in a ton of work already to make this available and I should sit here and comment on font size!

Again, my sincere apologies.

No, not stupid at all! Good questions both, although I think I will leave the format of the glossary as is for now.

Thank you, very gracious.

Glad about the format! … although , when you do get around to it, may I request a projected holographic rolodex interface with voice activated search… if that wouldn’t be not too much trouble.

Your wish is my command. 😉

woo-hoo, looking forward to it! ;-D

I’ll try to do some more research and find a better definition for court intrigue then I’ll be back. What I’ve found so far sounds pretty intriguing! Pun unintended.

So what I’ve discovered is that Court Intrigue is a subgenre of Epic or high fantasy and is a relatively new thing. Wow. I never realized how many sub-genre’s of fantasy there are! The genre’s are almost as diverse as the writers themselves.

The term high fantasy (also epic fantasy) generally refers to fantasy that depicts an epic struggle between good and evil in a fantasy world, whether independent of or parallel to ours. The moral concepts in such tales take on objective status, and are not relative to the one making the judgement. ( https://www.worldswithoutend.com/resources_sub-genres.asp )

What is Court Intrigue Fantasy? Lawyers dueling in court rooms! Jury tampering! Okay, so not that kind of court. More like a royal court— think castles, thrones, and royal successions. Is Scar’s solo from The Lion King coming to mind? Absolutely! These stories have lots of layers and conflict, though not necessarily physical conflict, more behind the scenes conniving and pulling strings. These are complicated stories full of intrigue. Moreover, the characters are clever—usually on both sides of the aisle. There is a significant level of world-building in Court Intrigue stories in order to create a believable government with intricate hierarchies as well as several nations with complex relationships.

* Level of Magic

Variable. The level of magic in Court Intrigue Fantasy varies by world and is not a defining feature of the sub-genre. In some stories magic is barely present and not a factor in the storyline; in other stories magic is key to plot development and the possession of power.

High. These stories do not usually have grand ideas, but there are plenty of social implications involved in the goings-on of a palace court. The idea of power and ideas of black and white are themes commonly explored in Court Intrigue.

* Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

* Level of Characterization

Moderate-High. Character development can sometimes be overshadowed by world building and plot development. However, characters are significant players in Court Intrigue stories and therefore tend to pop off the page. A common characteristic in this sub-genre is the morally gray areas of people’s lives, which gives readers more realistic characters.

* Level of Plot Complexity

High. Unraveling a plot full of twists and turns is the hallmark of the Court Intrigue sub-genre.

* Level of Violence

Moderate. Conflict is a significant part of all Court Intrigue stories, but it is not always violent. There are, however, often wars or the threat of war looming on the edges of the story. Sometimes, even, conflicts are resolved through violence, but in secret.

FURTHER READING

1. Best Fantasy Books: http://bestfantasybooks.com/court-intrigue-fantasy.html

2. School Library Journal: Court Intrigue http://blogs.slj.com/adult4teen/2014/09/10/court-intrigue/

3. Popular Court Intrigue books by Good reads: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/court-intrigue

Fascinating! Thanks for digging this up for us.

Benjamin, I agree with Katie, thank you… like hitting a vein of ore.

No problem. It was fun and I learned something in the process.

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Extremely short fiction. Some flash fiction markets have a limit of 53 words, while others allow up to 1000 words. Like longer fiction, flash fiction includes conflict and resolution, but some elements may be implied for the sake of brevity and left to readers’ imaginations. Due to its extreme brevity, flash fiction tends to focus on one turning point or revealing moment.

Awesome thanks!

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Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick –

– She watched though the window as the stupid man ate his precious eggs, bacon and toast. She had to muffle her mouth when he gulped down half of his juice and then vomited it out. Ha, hurt my sister do you? Tomorrow was going to be fun. She smiled, and it grew wider as she walked off to school.

1. wash the dishes. 2.Wash the laundry. 3. Bury the mailman in the backyard.

“I love D.B.Z, books and wearing peoples skin.”

I think I got it right correct me if I’m wrong.

(Forgive me my books are a little twisted.)

I’m probably being dense, but this doesn’t make sense to me. :p What are you defining?

A character is speaking a list, and the last item in the list is darker or more disturbing than the rest.

Squick means:

“Possibly a contraction of “squeamish” and “Ick!” A negative emotional response, more specifically a disturbed or disgusted one.”

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Squick

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/PlayingWith/BreadEggsMilkSquick

Thanks! I’ll have to look into that. First I’ve heard of it!

You’re welcome. 😀 I love Tv troupes. Beware, the site is addicting and you can get lost reading in there for hours.

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Steampunk: A subgenre of fantasy fiction which is largely determined by its setting, which is typically an alternative-Victorian reality, laden with steam-powered technology. Corsets are optional.

Dieselpunk: A subgenre related to Steampunk, although it is driven more by the culture of the 1920s through the early 1950s. Technology is strongly influenced by diesels.

Beats: A term closely related to outlining. Basically, a description of the important action to take place in a story. May or may not be incredibly thorough, but is likely to hit the highlights of the important action of the story.

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Corsets are optional? That’s so wrong. 😉

I don’t know if this matches with the ‘official’ definition.. you can ignore it if you like.

A content editor looks at big picture stuff: character arcs, plot arcs, whether the story has a consistent tone. Also may comment on POV issues and/or narrative voice. A content edit is the first edit a story should go through after the rough edges have been knocked off the first draft as your editor may suggest major changes which will waste effort polishing too much.

As an aside not necessarily for publication I’ve been know to move chapters about, suggest cutting them completely, or change the POV character in a scene. I think the hardest thing I ever suggested was changing a first person, multiPOV to third person limited.

I send a fair number of clients to your blog, this glossary is one of the reasons why.

That’s great! Thanks, Alex!

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Editing concerned primarily with the structure and content of a book that starts near the beginning of the manuscript’s life. A developmental editor works to give the book focus and direction (mostly towards what is “marketable”) by helping to develop author’s ideas, and so will point out inconsistencies in aspects such as logic, voice, and audience.

Definition influenced by The Longman Guide to Technical Editing by Carolyn D. Rude (2006)

“What is a Development Editor and What Can You Expect?” by Jane Friedman (2014, Sept 8) https://janefriedman.com/developmental-editor/

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Resonance: The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

Logline: Single sentence story summary. See Premise Sentence.

For further study: 6 Reasons a Premise Sentence Strengthens Your Story

( thank you for the crucial clarification! lol… and alliteration tie-in!)

You’re welcome, I find the site helps me when I’m stuck or write my self into a corner. Most of the stuff on there is so oddball that it can get things moving again.

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The standard way that editors, agents, and publishers want your manuscript formatted before you send it to them.

The cover page should be on a seperate page from the rest of the manuscript. It should include:

– name of the manuscript and author (or pen name) – approximate word count (rounded to the nearest hundred) – Your: name, address, phone number, e-mail, and website – Your agent’s details (if you have an agent)

font: Twelve point, Times New Roman, or Courier New black

margins: One-inch margins on all four sides

indent: Half-inch paragraph indentations for the first line of each and every paragraph

space: Double space; no extra line between paragraphs

align: Align left

page numbering: Number pages beginning with the actual story (don’t count or put page numbers on the title page)

scene breaks: Indicate scene breaks by inserting a blank line and centering the number sign # in the center of the line

page header: Include your last name, the manuscript’s title, and the page number in the page header of every page except for the title page. Align the header to the right

end: Center a number sign # on an otherwise blank line one double-spaced line down from the final line of text of the final chapter or epilogue at the end of the manuscript. Or write The End. (The end should be labeled so an agent or editor isn’t looking for extra pages that aren’t there.)

italics: Use italics for italicized words.

The standard document format is MS Word (.doc) If you have a newer version of MS Word, Open Office, Pages, or something else, save the document in .doc (This is usually found somewhere like, File>>Save As, “MS Word 97-2003 (.doc)” Almost everyone can read .doc files)

Finally, check the publisher or agent’s website. Some of them will have specific fonts, spacing, or other ways they want things done that might vary slightly from the general guidelines.

To see screen shots of what this looks like: http://www.marlyspearson.com/formatting_101.htm

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My humble opinion (and excuse me for my clumsy English, please)

Archetype is more than a type of character. It’s, according to its etymology, an ideal of that figure or character.

Same as a Stereotype is more typical, almost a cliché.

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Great idea!

Red Herring – a false clue meant to mislead the reader. It creates a false trail for the reader to follow. A red herring can be an object, a character, part of the setting or any other way the author can think of to mislead.

Foreshadowing – Building subtle information for later, hinting at what is possible or what is to come. A successful job at foreshadowing will result in the reader thinking “I should have guessed that!” when the moment comes.

Backstory – Inserting information about events or thoughts that shaped the characters or story world.

Thank you, Andrea!

RE: Dumb Mechanic

See also, “As you know, Bob” (Where a character tells another character something he already knows.) The Dumb Mechanic is slightly better writing than “As you know, Bob”, as the author has at least tried to fix the problem, but the core problem is the same.

Thanks, Aaron!

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I’d like to add the term “zero draft” to list. I’ve found the concept helpful. Zero Draft The “vomit” draft, part of pre-writing. The writer “vomits” up whatever story ideas they have without concern as to structure, consistency, or sense. Used to a) explore world/worldbuild, b) explore/develop characters/character interactions c) develop and/or test plot elements d) anything the author wants. Further reading: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/10/06/how-to-outline-during-national-plot-your-novel-month/ http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/09/14/25-ways-to-plot-plan-and-prep-your-story/ I’ve found the zero draft a useful concept as a pantser. It can be the most terrible piece of writing in history and it doesn’t matter because it’s not a “real” draft, it’s just exploratory. It helps me find my plot and get to know my characters without having to commit to anything.

Sounds like my outlining phase!

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MPS Missing Parent Syndrome

The rather common occurrence, usually found in works of fiction where the protagonist is underaged, where the parents and/or guardians are somehow left out for the majority of the plot. This can be due to death (Frodo in Lord of the Rings,) or boarding school (Harry Potter,) or visitation to another world (Narnia,) or just about any other reason.

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Drabble: Something you write for fun. Or practice. Or both. Both is good.

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Perhaps this was previously mentioned, but I think you should add Pitch to your list and how it is similar or different from a synopsis. I am actually trying to figure this out at the moment, and so I don’t have a definition to go with it.

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This is absolutely brilliant! Thank you. You are missing a definition for Plot. I suggest:

PLOT: 1. The series of escalating conflicts that tell the story of the characters progression toward the climax. 2. The writer’s evil plan (thus “plot”) to ruin someone’s life for the edification and/or amusement of others.

Those are the one’s I use. It was a nightmare to find or construct good simple definitions for Plot.

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Don’t know how I missed this post before now. Off the top of my head…

McGuffin Designing Principle Story Logic Story Arc Under Conflict – Internal Conflict; External Conflict

If I think of any more, I’ll pop back over. Hope these help.

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Wow! Excellent and comprehensive list! I learned from it that some concepts I knew were “a thing” (like AYKB 😀 ). I don’t know if this is within your scope; however, I do recall that as a fledgling writer, “onomatopoeia” was a word I saw often. I had no clue what it meant until I broke down and opened a dictionary.

One of my favorite words! 😀

Mine too, along with kerfuffle, flibbertigibbet and persnickety. Defenestration is right up there, too. 😀

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Drabble… fiction of almost or exactly one hundred words, but not over. Flash fiction… short pieces of fiction written within a 24-48 hour period.

Drabble’s a new one to me. Thanks!

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Wow, this info is really useful! some of these writing terms were actually new to me so thank you for this list! I remember when I didn’t even know what MC meant! haha

[…] https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/help-me-build-the-ultimate-index-of-writing-terms/ […]

[…] a phrase?) Anyway, KM Weiland, who wrote several of the books I learned to write novels from put THIS together and I love it so much. It’s a glossary of writing terms and jargon. What’s […]

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Rafal Reyzer

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115 Advanced English Words (Advanced Vocabulary List)

Author: Rafal Reyzer

Below, you’ll find a list of 115 advanced words in English. I included examples so you can see the words in action.

Learning vocabulary is my hobby. It’s amazing how many meanings the word has, where it comes from, and what it represents in a cultural context . The more words you know, the more things and experiences you can name, which helps a lot if you want to become a writer.

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”― Markus Zusak

115 Advanced Words in English

I suggest you read them out loud and try to create your examples – this will dramatically increase retention and chances that you’ll use the word in conversation.

1. Construe (verb)

a) interpret (a word or action) in a particular way.

Example: From her arguments, I construe she wants to turn the world into a place of chaos.

2. Peruse (verb)

a) read (something), typically thoroughly or carefully. b) examine carefully or at length.

Example: He carefully perused the dusty bookshelves of the forgotten library.

3. Condone (verb)

a) accept (behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive). b) approve or sanction (something), especially with reluctance.

Example: For the last time, she condoned their egregious mistake.

4. Latent (adjective)

(of a quality or state) existing but not yet developed or manifest; hidden or concealed.

Example: There was a latent threat in his words.

5. Acrimonious (adjective)

(typically of speech or discussion) angry and bitter.

Example: She rejected his offer with an acrimonious sneer.

6. Indubitable (adjective)

impossible to doubt; unquestionable.

Example: His version of the account was indubitable.

7. Propitious (adjective)

giving or indicating a good chance of success; favorable.

Example: He received a propitious message.

8. Tremulous (adjective)

a) shaking or quivering slightly b) timid; nervous.

Example: She was tremulous with fear.

9. Masquerade (noun/verb)

a) noun – a false show or pretense. b) verb – pretend to be someone one is not.

Example: The whole grand reception was a masquerade.

10. Salient (adjective)

most noticeable or important.

Example: The nose was the most salient feature of his face .

11. Embroil (verb)

involve (someone) deeply in an argument, conflict, or difficult situation.

Example: She was embroiled in the scheme and there was no way out.

12. Languish (verb)

(of a person, animal, or plant) lose or lack vitality; grow weak.

Example: They just languished there in the sun.

13. Aspersion (noun)

an attack on the reputation or integrity of someone or something.

Example: They hurled aspersions as she came along.

14. Sedulous (adjective)

(of a person or action) showing dedication and diligence.

Example: He was the most sedulous worker we ever had.

15. Pertinacious (adjective)

holding firmly to an opinion or a course of action.

Example: This guy is so pertinacious. He’ll never let it go.

16. Encumber (verb)

restrict or impede (someone or something) in such a way that free action or movement is difficult.

Example: The thought of homework encumbered her mind for the rest of the day.

17. Effusion (noun)

a) an instance of giving off something such as a liquid or gas. b) an act of talking or writing in an unrestrained or heartfelt way.

Example: There was an effusion of boisterous laughter as she cracked a joke.

18. Waffle (verb)

speak or write at length vaguely or trivially.

Example: Stop waffling about it or I’ll pull your tongue out!

19. Intrepid (adjective)

fearless; adventurous (often used for rhetorical or humorous effect).

Example: He was the most intrepid warrior in the kingdom.

20. Mores (noun)

the essential or characteristic customs and conventions of a society or community.

Example: By not observing the mores, she put herself in trouble.

21. Disheveled (adjective)

untidy, disarranged

Example: The disheveled room had dirty socks and empty beer bottles on the floor.

22. Sumptuous (adjective)

splendid and expensive-looking

Example: They were regaled with sumptuous gifts and splendid food.

23. Reciprocate (verb)

respond to (a gesture or action) by making a corresponding one.

Example: The Moroccan trader gave him some tea, so he felt he had to reciprocate by buying something.

24. Infallible (adjective)

incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.

Example: When it comes to matters of money, he’s infallible.

25. Dissident (noun/adjective)

a) a person who opposes the official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state. b) in opposition to official policy.

Example: The government forces clashed with dissidents on Friday.

26. Dispatch (verb/noun)

a) send off to a destination or for a purpose. b) the sending of someone or something to a destination or for a purpose.

Example: Troops were dispatched to quash the riot.

27. Intransigence (noun)

refusal to change one’s views or to agree about something.

Example: Her character was that of endless intransigence and pigheadedness.

28. Pastoral (adjective/noun)

a) (of land) used for the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle. b) a work of literature portraying an idealized version of country life.

Example: The light pastoral depicted children strolling through meadows among the cattle.

29. Concede (verb)

a) admit or agree that something is true after first denying or resisting it. b) surrender or yield (a possession, right, or privilege).

Example: After repeated requests from the bureaucrats, he finally conceded.

30. Manifold (adjective)

many and various

Example: There are manifold forms of life in the universe.

31. Punitive (adjective)

inflicting or intended as punishment.

Example: Punitive actions were taken against the delinquents.

32. Nonplus (noun/verb)

a) surprise and confuse (someone) so much that they are unsure how to react. b) a state of being very surprised and confused.

Example: They were nonplused by the stupidity of his remark.

33. Salacious (adjective)

a) having or conveying an undue or indecent interest in sexual matters.

Example: The salacious dog had to be restrained.

34. Behoove (verb)

a) it is a duty or responsibility for someone to do something. b) it is appropriate or suitable; it befits.

Example: It behooves us to act like decent people in this situation.

35. Vulpine (adjective)

a) relating to a fox or foxes. b) crafty; cunning.

Example: Her vulpine ways made him confused and thirsty for answers.

36. Premise (noun)

a) a previous statement or proposition from which another is inferred or follows as a conclusion.

Example: I will allow selling the property on the premise that you’ll pay the agreed price in cash.

37. Demise (noun)

a) a person’s death.

Example: The sudden fall led to his demise.

38. Megalomania (noun)

a) obsession with the exercise of power. b) delusion about one’s power or importance (typically as a symptom of manic or paranoid disorder).

Example: Megalomania was the worst, among his many negative qualities.

39. Asinine (adjective)

Example: Bringing a knife to a gunfight? You’re asinine.

40. Surfeit (noun/verb)

a) an excessive amount of something. b) cause (someone) to desire no more of something as a result of having consumed or done it to excess.

Example: They were surfeited with the chocolate pancakes.

41. Reputable (adjective)

having a good reputation.

Example: I’ll give you a recommendation for a reputable psychologist.

42. Oblique (adjective)

a) neither parallel nor at right angles to a specified or implied line; slanting. b) not expressed or done directly.

Example: His oblique explanations didn’t bring any light to the matter.

43. Jeopardize (verb)

put (someone or something) into a situation in which there is a danger of loss, harm, or failure.

Example: By divulging secret information, he jeopardized the whole operation.

44. Impudence (noun)

the quality of being impudent; impertinence.

Example: Her impudence was the main reason she wasn’t promoted.

45. Desolate (adjective/verb)

a) (of a place) uninhabited and giving an impression of bleak emptiness. b) make (a place) appear bleakly empty.

Example: Two weary cloaked travelers passed through this gloomy and desolate land.

46. Ballast (noun/verb)

a) heavy material, such as gravel, sand, or iron, placed in the bilge of a ship to ensure its stability. b) give stability to (a ship) by putting a heavy substance in its bilge.

Example: Drop the ballast or we’re going under!

47. Disperse (verb/adjective)

a) distribute or spread over a wide area. b) denoting a phase dispersed in another phase, as in a colloid.

Example: They dispersed the bug-killer over the field.

48. Faze (verb)

disturb or disconcert (someone).

Example: He wasn’t fazed by their threats.

49. Compunction (noun)

a feeling of guilt or moral scruple that prevents or follows the doing of something bad.

Example: She showed no compunction for the grisly crime she committed.

50. Complacency (noun)

a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.

Example: Dwelling in complacency is how you lose the endgame.

51. Caliber (noun)

a) the quality of someone’s character or the level of their ability. b) the internal diameter or bore of a gun barrel.

Example: They needed a person of high caliber to complete this assignment.

52. Entreat (verb)

ask someone earnestly or anxiously to do something.

Example: She wouldn’t listen to entreating children surrounding her.

53. Dissection (noun)

a) the action of dissecting a body or plant to study its internal parts. b) a very detailed analysis of a text or idea.

Example: He dissected the paragraph with such precision that even the distinguished professors were amazed.

54. Antiquated (adjective)

old-fashioned or outdated.

Example: Stop using antiquated phrases.

55. Anguish (noun/verb)

a) severe mental or physical pain or suffering. b) be extremely distressed about something.

Example: To his anguish, she said they would never meet again.

56. Effeminate (adjective)

(of a man) having characteristics regarded as typical of a woman; unmanly.

Example: His effeminate nature was unattractive to most women.

57. Enmity (noun)

a state or feeling of active opposition or hostility.

Example: After the unfortunate event, a bitter feeling of enmity emerged between the two camps.

58. Epoch (noun)

a) a particular period in history or a person’s life. b) the beginning of a period in the history of someone or something.

Example: It was in the epoch of Socrates and Plato that ideas of the afterlife first took hold over the European psyche.

59. Intrinsic (adjective)

belonging naturally; essential.

Example: His talent for public speaking was an intrinsic part of his personality.

60. Quotidian (adjective)

of or occurring every day; daily.

Example: After struggling with the quotidian tasks, she was finally able to go to sleep.

61. Hazardous (adjective)

risky; dangerous.

Example: They started on their hazardous mission to Mars.

62. Peregrination (noun)

a journey, especially a long or meandering one.

Example: After many peregrinations, she finally settled in Jordan.

63. Attenuate (verb)

a) reduce the force, effect, or value of. b) reduce in thickness; make thin.

Example: Medical cannabis attenuated the pain of the cancer patient.

64. Unravel (verb)

untangle something.

Example: He was able to unravel the intricacies of the ancient language.

65. Behemoth (noun)

a) a huge or monstrous creature b) something enormous, especially a large and powerful organization.

Example: This tank was a behemoth, crushing everything in its way.

66. Impeccable (adjective)

by the highest standards; faultless.

Example: His reputation was impeccable among his peers.

67. Jaded (adjective)

a) bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something. b) physically tired; exhausted.

Example: The privileged kids were jaded with another birthday party.

68. Figurative (adjective)

departing from a literal use of words; metaphorical.

Example: He was a master of pithy, figurative expressions.

69. Relic (noun)

a) an object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical interest. b) a part of a deceased holy person’s body or belongings kept as an object of reverence.

Example: Holy Grail is one of the most famous relics of all time.

70. Wreak (verb)

a) cause (a large amount of damage or harm). b) inflict (vengeance).

Example: They wreaked vengeance on those who crossed them.

71. Utopia (noun)

an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.

Example: A harmonious republic was a utopia – impossible to conceive in the current political situation.

72. Vegetate (verb)

live or spend a period in a dull, inactive, unchallenging way.

Example: They vegetated in the neighborhood for years before they finally moved out.

73. Infringe (verb)

a) actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.). b) act to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.

Example: He infringed on their agreement by opting out just after twenty days into the contract.

74. Subtlety (noun)

a) the quality or state of being subtle. b) a subtle distinction, feature, or argument.

Example: His paintings contained many subtleties and eclectic elements.

75. Epitaph (noun)

a phrase or form of words written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone.

Example: “Always in our hearts,” said his tombstone.

76. Grisly (adjective)

causing horror or disgust.

Example: This grisly murder was depicted in graphic detail by the newspaper.

77. Libido (noun)

a) sexual desire. b) the energy of the sexual drive as a component of the life instinct.

Example: Even the sleeping pills were not able to restrain her libido. She was a true nymphomaniac!

78. Epitome (noun)

a) a person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type. b) a summary of a written work; an abstract

Example: The president was an epitome of imbecility.

79. Topple (verb)

a) overbalance or cause to overbalance and fall. b) remove (a government or person in authority) from power; overthrow.

Example: After drinking ten shots in a row, he tried to dance, but quickly toppled on the dance floor.

80. Morose (adjective)

a) sullen and ill-tempered.

Example: His morose mood was a turn-off for everyone he met.

81. Impalpable (adjective)

a) unable to be felt by touch. b) not easily comprehended.

Example: There was an impalpable sense of dread hanging in the air. Then they heard something behind the wall.

82. Gratuitous (adjective)

a) done without good reason; uncalled for. b) given or done free of charge.

Example: His gratuitous remark met with scorn from his companions.

83. Opaque (adjective)

not able to be seen through; not transparent.

Example: He couldn’t see anything through the opaque glass of the jail cell.

84. Postmortem (noun)

an examination of a dead body to determine the cause of death.

Example: The postmortem proved the hunch of the inspector to be true: the victim was strangled.

85. Eclectic (adjective/noun)

a) deriving ideas, styles, or tastes from a broad and diverse range of sources. b) a person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Example: His eclectic interests made him a peerless raconteur.

86. Delve (verb)

reach inside a receptacle and search for something.

Example: She delved deeply into the details of the business deal.

87. Studious (adjective)

a) spending a lot of time studying or reading. b) done deliberately or with a purpose in mind.

Example: His studious ejaculations obscured their view of reality.

88. Impel (verb)

a) drive, force, or urge (someone) to do something. b) drive forward; propel.

Example: He impelled the soldiers to face the enemy.

89. Mannered (adjective)

a) behaving in a specified way. b) (of behavior, art, or a literary style) marked by idiosyncratic or exaggerated mannerisms; artificial.

Example: She answered in a mannered, slightly cocky way.

90. Peevish (adjective)

having or showing an irritable disposition.

Example: Don’t be so peevish! I just said: “You’re an asshole”.

91. Stickler (noun)

a person who insists on a certain quality or type of behavior

Example: She’s such a stickler for keeping the floor free of dirty socks.

92. Adulterate (verb)

render (something) poorer in quality by adding another substance.

Example: The adulterated vodka gave them a huge hangover.

93. Deplete (verb)

a) use up the supply or resources of. b) diminish in number or quantity.

Example: All our resources are being depleted.

94. Nadir (noun)

the lowest or most unsuccessful point in a situation.

Example: Even the best of us reach a nadir at some point in our lives.

95. Prelude (noun)

a) an action or event serving as an introduction to something more important. b) an introductory piece of music , most commonly an orchestral opening to an act of an opera, the first movement of a suite, or a piece preceding a fugue.

Example: Bathing in coconut milk was just a prelude to a long and complicated cosmetic procedure.

96. Curtail (verb)

reduce in extent or quantity; restrict on.

Example: He curtailed his late trips into the night.

97. Tacit (adjective)

understood or implied without being stated.

Example: Her nod was a sign of a tacit agreement.

98. Abstruse (adjective)

difficult to understand; obscure.

Example: His philosophy was abstruse.

99. Placate (verb)

make (someone) less angry or hostile.

Example: She placated the poor bastard by buying him another drink.

100. Fathomless (adjective)

unable to be measured or understood; extremely deep.

Example: The fathomless expanding cosmos.

101. Iconoclastic (adjective)

criticizing or attacking cherished beliefs or institutions.

Example: He said that Mother Theresa was evil. He likes this iconoclastic approach.

102. Antithesis (noun)

a person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else.

Example: She’s an antithesis of a good musician.

103. Magniloquent (adjective)

using high-flown or bombastic language.

Example: His magniloquent speech didn’t impress anyone.

104. Deference (noun)

polite submission and respect. Example: He conceded with the request out of deference to the old man.

105. Unwitting (adjective)

a) (of a person) not aware of the full facts. b) not done on purpose; unintentional.

Example: His unwitting involvement in the crime ultimately put him in jail.

106. Mutinous (adjective)

a) (of a soldier or sailor) refusing to obey the orders of a person in authority. b) willful or disobedient.

Example: The mutinous sailors threw the captain over the board.

107. Craven (adjective/noun)

a) contemptibly lacking in courage; cowardly. b) a cowardly person.

Example: The craven fool wouldn’t get out of hiding to save his wife.

108. Luminary (noun)

a person who inspires or influences others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere.

Example: The luminaries slowly stepped on stage to converse about celestial bodies.

109. Homage (noun)

special honor or respect that is shown publicly.

Example: She played an exquisite song in homage to her master.

110. Cupidity (noun)

greed for money or possessions. Example: Cupidity left him with a lot of money, but no friends.

111. Syllogism (noun)

an instance of a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions (premises)

Example: He amazed the audience and other debaters by employing brilliant syllogisms.

112. Facetious (adjective)

treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant.

Example: Don’t be facetious! It’s a serious matter!

113. Martinet (noun)

a person who demands complete obedience; a strict disciplinarian.

Example: In the army, we soldiered under a hell of a martinet.

114. Irksome (adjective)

irritating; annoying. Example: His continuous questions were irksome.

115. Defalcate (verb)

embezzle (funds with which one has been entrusted).

Example: The embezzled the Jones family for one million dollars.

This is a part of the language and vocabulary series, which includes:

  • 12 Ways to Expand Your Vocabulary
  • 40 Best Essays of All Time (With Links)
  • 50 Sophisticated Words in English (With Examples From Movies)
  • 80 Most Beautiful Words in The World (Defined)
  • 100 English Words With Deep Meanings

Parting words

In wrapping up, diving into the depths of the English language reveals a treasure trove of advanced words, each a testament to its rich tapestry and evolution. Embracing these linguistic gems not only elevates our expression but also deepens our appreciation for the language’s intricate beauty. Expand your vocabulary , and you unlock new realms of communication and understanding.

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Creative Writing Vocabulary

Creative Writing Vocabulary

Subject: English

Age range: 11-14

Resource type: Lesson (complete)

English GCSE and English KS3 resources

Last updated

19 February 2022

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creative writing vocabulary list pdf

Creative writing vocabulary lesson that explores how to use vocabulary to introduce new characters. Includes a model example, detailed teacher and student notes, engaging tasks, differentiated materials, and a huge range of adjectives for students to adapt and adopt into their own creative writing.

A useful lesson for both KS3 and GCSE English Literature and English Language students.

Includes differentiated activities, source materials, engaging tasks and extensive student and teacher notes.

Check out our English Shop for loads more free and inexpensive KS3, KS4, KS5, Literacy and whole school resources.

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Creative Writing

Creative writing complete scheme of work pack. Designed for KS3 students but easily adaptable for GCSE English Language students, the pack includes resources on both narrative and descriptive writing. Includes: 1) Creative writing introduction 2) Characters - developing mystery and mysterious figures focused on The Signal-Man 3) Plot development and structure lesson around The Signalman 4) Structure and endings lesson exploring The Signalman and other examples 5) Speech punctuation and character development lesson 6) Themes and motifs lesson 7) Genre lesson exploring westerns, their conventions and how students can adapt genre themselves 8) Setting and descriptive writing lesson, exploring structure and vocabulary 9) Vocabulary improvement lesson with a focus on character 10) Pathetic fallacy and personification 11) Short story analysis - plot, structure, narrative voice 12) Short story structure analysis 13) Creative writing punctuation workshop with differentiated worksheets 14) Assessment planning lesson 15) Assessment review lesson 16) Short story analysis of language - Desiree's Baby 17) Short story analysis - structure 18) Six week homework pack 19) Six week scheme of work document

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English worksheets & lessons for beginners

English vocabulary list (with PDF)

English vocabulary list.

Memorizing English vocabulary is a necessary step to speak English. Designed for school or personal use, these English words lists allows you to enrich your vocabulary in a targeted and effective way.

Each lesson contains hundreds of English words that you can memorize easily, classified and indexed into different themes of daily life to cover all the most used and most common vocabulary in English : family, geography, sport, professions, media, travel and everyday topics…

This page will be useful both as part of individual learning whether you are  a student, traveller or professional, and as a complement to school work.

All the words lists on this page are free to download in PDF so you will always have at hand a simple and concise reference tool to find the right word in all circumstances. You will need to use a dictionary to search for the meaning of words you don’t already know. With the help of those lists, you will be able to understand words that you do not know from their context, and thus enrich your vocabulary even more as you go along.

If you are teaching or learning ESL, you can use those essential English vocabulary lists to help you in your lessons. You can also use these words lists if you are preparing for the IELTS exam.

English vocabulary list (include free PDF)

  • Domestic animals and farm animals
  • Zoo animals
  • The insects
  • Aquatic animals
  • Feelings and emotions
  • The environment
  • Hospitality
  • Transportation
  • Politics & Government
  • Travel & tourism
  • The human body
  • Physical description: the face
  • Health and Medicine
  • The astrological signs
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • The Weather
  • Movies & cinema
  • Real estate
  • IT & internet
  • Job interview
  • Immigration
  • Journalism & press
  • Good and bad qualities
  • Money and banking
  • Photography
  • The religion 
  • The five senses
  • Love and wedding
  • Beach and seaside 
  • War and peace 
  • History and past 
  • Trains and railways
  • Trees, plants and gardening
  • Mythology and heroes
  • Architecture and construction 
  • Bathroom items
  • Education and school
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Routine & daily life
  • Communication
  • Food & nutrition
  • Gestures and positions
  • Personality: character and behavior
  • Astronomy, space and universe
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents and injuries
  • The quantities
  • List of jobs in English
  • Expressing opinion
  • At the airport
  • Food & drinks
  • Linking words
  • Law and Legal terms
  • Business and Economics
  • Useful adjectives (A to C)
  • Useful adjectives (D to H)
  • Useful adjectives (I to O)
  • Useful adjectives (P to S)
  • Useful adjectives (T to Z)
  • 100 most common Phrasal verbs list
  • List of adverbs
  • 100 most used English verbs
  • 100 English verbs of body movement and action
  • 100 most common English adverbs

IMAGES

  1. Useful word list to brighten your writing : APStudents

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  2. English Language Creative Writing: Improving vocabulary

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  3. Creative Writing Vocabulary List

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  4. 🎉 Creative writing words. Motivational words for creative writing. 2019

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  5. 100 Colorful Words to Use in Place of “Said”

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  6. Creative Writing Vocabulary List : Writing Terms

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. 500 Descriptive Words

    AMBITION. 1 - strong desire to do or to achieve something which takes hard work. People trying to improve their skills with this list of descriptive words for writing have a lot of ambition. 2 - determination to achieve success. life offers many opportunities for those with ambition.

  2. 400 Descriptive Words List To Make Your Writing Shine

    These words describe features like shape, texture, color, and size. They help differentiate between items in a group by calling out distinguishing features. In English grammar, you can use the following to describe nouns and pronouns: Abandoned. Abrupt. Academic. Acute. Admirable. Adorable.

  3. PDF DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR YOUR WRITING

    of descriptive words will bolster the quality of your students' writing exercises. Use these lists of adjectives and adverbs to nudge reluctant writers into developing characters and setting, or to help students "retire" overused words. Ability—Condition lucky manly mighty modern open outstanding powerful real relaxed rich robust sharp shy

  4. PDF Creative Writing Fundamentals

    Creative Writing Fundamentals _____ 1 Creative Writing is a very subjective discipline and mode of writing. However, there are some universal elements to consider and strengthen, no matter what genre you wish to write in. This guide will briefly go over images, voice, setting and story, which are central to any kind of Creative Writing you wish ...

  5. PDF Vocabulary for essays

    May be printed for personal use. Words with an asterix (*) indicate high modality (ie. 'strong' words). In academic writing, it is often preferable to use medium modality words (e.g. "often" instead of "always"; "may" instead of "must"). Tip: Only use words which you are comfortable with, otherwise your writing will sound 'forced' or 'unnatural'.

  6. PDF 277 Action Words that Supercharge Your High Impact Writing

    Thats why I created this list. It gives you a shortcut to words that really work. But before we dive into the list, here are some quick tips: Tip #1: Nail the Verb First The list contains mostly verbs. And theres a reason. Verbs are the most critical part in marketing writing. They are the action-driver. Find the right verb first.

  7. Bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing

    Bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing Subject: English Age range: 11-14 Resource type: Worksheet/Activity File previews docx, 14.43 KB pdf, 98.05 KB pdf, 81.4 KB pdf, 92.13 KB pdf, 93.96 KB pdf, 135.45 KB Just a bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing. Creative Commons "Sharealike"

  8. PDF Introduction to Creative Writing

    Introduction to Creative Writing . The creative self is fundamental to the way we find meaning and purpose in the world. The best fiction, poetry, and drama draw on everyday habits of imagination that make interaction with others possible and fruitful. At the same time, literature and creative writing develop basic skills of the imagination ...

  9. PDF Words that Enhance Writing

    Sensory details are words that stir any of the five senses: touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. For example, rather than saying "She drank the lemonade," say: "She felt her tongue tingle as she sipped the frosty glass of tart, sugary lemonade.". Touch. Touch. Touch. Touch. Touch.

  10. (PDF) The Handbook of Creative Writing

    The Handbook of Creative Writing ... Download Free PDF. Download Free PDF. The Handbook of Creative Writing. The Handbook of Creative Writing. Rozina Bibi. See Full PDF Download PDF. See Full PDF Download PDF. Related Papers. The Student's Guide to Writing. 1999 • Martin Coyle.

  11. The Ultimate Glossary of Writing Terms

    The use of literary style and writing technique to tell a true story. It's an embellishment, but only for the sake of telling a story that teaches a lesson or conveys a change of heart or mind. Narrative, dialogue, setting, and voice are just a few creative writing tools used to grab a reader's interest and leave them changed somehow at the ...

  12. PDF Key Words

    Writing, or dialogue in drama, that makes the writer's ideas more meaningful, descriptive or memorable. Includes metaphors, similes, hyperbole, personification, onomatopoeia and oxymoron. Foreshadowing Clues suggesting the outcome of a story (but not when the outcome is deliberately revealed through the use of a narrator or flashback).

  13. Creative Writing

    A vocabulary list featuring Creative Writing. ... Practice Answer a few questions on each word. Use this to prep for your next quiz! Vocabulary Jam Compete with other teams in real-time to see who answers the most questions correctly! Spelling Bee Test your spelling acumen. Read the definition, listen to the word and try spelling it!

  14. 115 Advanced English Words (Advanced Vocabulary List)

    AI Marketing Course 115 Advanced English Words (Advanced Vocabulary List) By: Rafal Reyzer Updated: Sep 28th, 2023 Below, you'll find a list of 115 advanced words in English. I included examples so you can see the words in action. Learning vocabulary is my hobby.

  15. Creative Writing Vocabulary Lists1

    Creative Writing Vocabulary Lists1 - Free download as Word Doc (.doc), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. some vocab list

  16. Creative writing sample

    A vocabulary list featuring Creative writing sample. ... Practice Answer a few questions on each word. Use this to prep for your next quiz! Vocabulary Jam Compete with other teams in real-time to see who answers the most questions correctly! Spelling Bee Test your spelling acumen. Read the definition, listen to the word and try spelling it!

  17. Creative Writing Vocabulary

    Resource type: Lesson (complete) File previews Creative writing vocabulary lesson that explores how to use vocabulary to introduce new characters. Includes a model example, detailed teacher and student notes, engaging tasks, differentiated materials, and a huge range of adjectives for students to adapt and adopt into their own creative writing.

  18. PDF CREATIVE WRITING

    It will help their writing a great deal if the class think about a few features of their poem in advance: A good starting-point is to brainstorm related vocabulary from words/phrases the pupils know, which could be supplemented by those in Dialect Dictionaries and the Word Lists at the back of this booklet

  19. PDF VOCABULARY LIST

    The list covers vocabulary appropriate to the B1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and includes receptive vocabulary (words that the candidate is expected to understand but which is not the focus of a question) and productive vocabulary (words that the candidate needs to know to answer ...

  20. PDF High School Creative Writing Curriculum

    High School Creative Writing Curriculum. Course Description: Creative Writing is designed for students to create original forms of descriptive writing, poetry, drama and fiction. Vocabulary development, creative writing techniques, and skills are explored. Students submit their work to local and national magazines.

  21. PDF Writing Vocabulary

    Below the vocabulary word, students may practice writing a sentence with the newly learned vocabulary word. For additional practice, there are several blank cards at the back of the writing section. Students may practice writing the newly learned vocabulary words into sentences on these blank cards.

  22. Creative Writing: Introductory

    personification. symbolism. imagery. rhetorical question. parallelism. apostrophe. aside. If you need inspiration for your next story or poem, be sure to review this list of words related to creative writing. We won't keep you in suspense: you'll learn all about plot, characterization, dialogue, and more.

  23. English vocabulary list (with PDF)

    Each lesson contains hundreds of English words that you can memorize easily, classified and indexed into different themes of daily life to cover all the most used and most common vocabulary in English: family, geography, sport, professions, media, travel and everyday topics…