The second part of my Fiction Glossary defines more of the common words and phrases agents, editors and experienced writers use.
FICTION GLOSSARY (PART 2)
INCITING INCIDENT — The event that opens the novel, changes the protagonist’s status quo and starts the story moving.
IN MEDIA RES — Starting in the middle of the action rather than at the beginning.
LAYERING — Using words in a way that gives depth to your story. Similar to subtext because it adds richness and significance. It makes the reader think.
LITERARY — A short story or novel that is more character-driven than plot-driven. Usually contains finer writing, more metaphorical language, and more subtext than a commercial work does. Offers insight into human nature.
MAXIMUM CAPACITY — Your characters should be operating at maximum capacity, meaning to the best of their ability at the time with the talents and skills they have. They should always act intelligently unless your novel is intended to be comic.
MOMENT OF TRUTH (REVELATION, EPIPHANY) — That point in the story in which the character recognizes a certain truth about herself or in which the premise (or core meaning) is expressed. Usually coincides with the story’s climax and leads to substantial change in the character.
NARRATIVE NONFICTION — Fiction techniques are used to tell a true (or truth-based) story. Also known as creative nonfiction.
NARRATIVE SPINE — The backbone you hang the events (plot points) from, the combination of plot and premise.
OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE — An object or an action, external to the character that represents something internal. It can be one thing or a series of things.
ONE-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTER — Also know as a cardboard or flat character. All good or all bad. No complexities, inconsistencies or paradoxes in the character’s personality. Often stereotypical (dumb blonde, alcoholic detective, crooked southern sheriff).
PLOT — The events the author chooses to tell the story; an arrangement of events that will express your premise and then prove it — without relying on explanation. A dramatic structure that has a climax and a resolution. A structured presentation of occurrences as opposed to “life as lived.” The function of this structure is to build pressure on characters, forcing them to make more and more difficult decisions, and take action that gradually reveals their true nature, often surprising themselves and causing them personal growth and permanent change.
PLOT-DRIVEN STORY — A story in which the main conflict arises from forces external to the principal characters.
POINT OF VIEW — The person through whose eyes a specific scene is being experienced. The POV may shift from scene to scene or even change during a scene.
PREMISE — The author’s position on the story’s theme, the underlying point of your story. The story’s ultimate, universal meaning as expressed through the plot. Premise shapes the author’s choices of events for the plot.
(More to Come in Part 3)