1. Antagonist = a character who opposes something or someone (like the protagonist) in a story.
  2. Autobiography = your own life story.
  3. Backstory =  things that happened before the the story that you’re reading got started, told to you after the fact.
  4. Biography = someone else’s life story.
  5. Cliché = an overused phrase (she hit the nail on the head; he’s as smart as a whip).  It can also refer to an overused concept, like starting a story with a dream.
  6. Dystopia = a story that takes place in a really unpleasant, miserable society.
  7. Fantasy = a story set in an unreal world, or with characters or other elements that you know don’t occur in real life.
  8. Genre = a category of writing.  Is your book fiction or non-fiction?  Is it Middle Grade or Young Adult?  If it’s non-fiction, is it a biography, an autobiography, or a memoir?  If it’s fiction, is it historical, realistic, or fantasy?  Does it contain magical realism, romance, mystery, or humor?  Other common fiction genres include suspense/thriller, science fiction, dystopia, and horror.  Stories are often some combination of these genres.
  9. Historical = a story that took place in the past, often a long time ago.
  10. Horror = a story that is extremely scary.
  11. Humor = a story that makes you laugh.
  12. Magical realism = a story that seems mostly real, but has some magical parts to it, so that you’re not quite sure if it really happened.
  13. Memoir = a specific part of your own life.
  14. Metaphor = a direct comparison between two things without “like” or “as” (my life is a garbage dump).
  15. Middle Grade = a book for 4th through 8th-graders (approximately).  The protagonist is usually aged eight to twelve years.
  16. Mystery = a story with lots of secrets.  Often, a crime has been committed.
  17. Pacing = how quickly or slowly a story seems to move.  This will vary depending on what’s happening at different points in the story.
  18. Protagonist = the main character(s) in a story.
  19. Realistic = a story told in the real, present-day world.  Also known as Contemporary fiction.
  20. Romance = a love story.
  21. Science Fiction = a story based on science (can be made-up science).  It often takes place in the future or on some other planet.
  22. Showing = revealing a picture of a scene or how someone feels through an interesting detail (the petals drooped) or a character’s actions or dialogue (He raced to the door.  “They’re here!”).  This is a tough one for many writers to understand!
  23. Simile = an obvious comparison between two things, usually including the words “like” (her hair stuck out like a frightened cat’s) or “as” (as stinky as a landfill on a hot day)
  24. Suspense/Thriller = a story in which the character(s) always seem like they’re about to die or be seriously injured.
  25. Telling = directly stating what something is or how someone feels, often by using a boring verb (the flowers were wilted) or an “emotion” word (he felt impatient).  This is a tough one for many writers to avoid!
  26. Voice = the “feel” or personality of a story.  See if you can describe a story with one powerful word!
  27. Young Adult = a book for teenagers.  The protagonist is usually aged thirteen to eighteen years.  The themes are often more intense than those in Middle-Grade books (romance, death, etc).book-open-pages-literature-159872 croppedCan’t find the word you’re looking for? Go to the Submit page and let us know, so that we can add it!