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Definitions Of Writing Terms

TIP Sheet
DEFINITIONS OF WRITING TERMS

Alliteration: The repetition of the same sound in successive words, usually, but not necessarily, at the beginning of words: Blown buds of barren flowers...

Apostrophe: A figure of speech in which the absent is addressed as if present, the dead as if alive, or the inanimate and abstract as if animate and concrete: Come, Sleep; O Sleep!

Argumentation: Writing or speaking in which reasons or arguments are presented in a logical way.

Arrangement: The order in which details are placed or organized in a piece of writing.

Audience: Those people who read or hear what you have written; readers to whom a piece of writing is addressed.

Balance: The arranging of words or phrases so that two ideas are given equal emphasis in a sentence or paragraph; a pleasing rhythm created when a pattern is repeated in a sentence.

Body: The paragraphs between the introduction and conclusion that develop the main idea(s) of the writing.

Brainstorming: Collecting ideas by thinking freely and openly about all the possibilities; used often with groups.

Central idea: The main point of a piece of writing, often stated in a thesis statement or topic sentence.

Clincher sentence: The sentence that summarizes the point being made in a paragraph, usually located at the end.

Coherence: The arrangement of ideas in such a way that the reader can easily follow from one point to the next.

Composition: A process in which a writer's ideas are combined into one unified piece of writing.

Deductive reasoning: The act of reasoning from a general idea to a specific point or conclusion.

Definition: (See Extended definition, below)

Description: Writing that paints a colorful picture of a person, place, thing, or idea using vivid sensory details.

Details: The words used to describe a person, support an argument, persuade an audience, explain a process, or in some way support the central idea.

Emphasis: Placing greater stress on the most important idea in a piece of writing by giving it special treatment; emphasis can be achieved by placing the important idea in a special position, by repeating a key word or phrase, or by simply writing more about it.

Essay: A piece of factual writing in which ideas on a single topic are presented, explained, argued, or described in an interesting way.

Exposition: Writing that explains.

Expressive writing: Writing in which the author's primary purpose is to describe or communicate personal feelings, attitudes, and opinions.

Extended definition: Writing that goes beyond a simple definition of a term in order to make a point; it can cover several paragraphs and include personal definitions and experiences, figures of speech, and quotations.

Figurative language: Language that goes beyond the normal meaning of the words used; writing in which a figure of speech is used to heighten or color the meaning.

Focus: Concentration on a specific subject to give it emphasis or importance.

Form: The arrangement of the details into a pattern or style; the way in which the content of writing is organized.

Free writing: Writing openly and freely on any topic; focused free writing is writing openly on a specific topic.

Generalization: An idea or statement which emphasizes general characteristics rather than specific manifestations.

Grammar: The study of the structure and features of language; rules and standards which are to be followed to produce acceptable writing and speaking.

Hyperbole: A figure of speech in which there is conscious exaggeration for the sake of emphasis: His hands dangled a mile out of his sleeves.

Idiom: A phrase or expression which means something other than what the words actually say. An idiom is usually understandable to a particular group of people: Up the Boohai (a New Zealand idiom meaning "all wrong.")

Inductive reasoning: Reasoning which leads one to a conclusion or generalization after examining specific examples or facts; drawing generalizations from specific evidence.

Inverted sentence: A sentence in which the normal word order is inverted or switched, usually so that the verb comes before the subject.

Irony: A figure of speech in which what is meant is emphasized by asserting the opposite: You're going to love what the wrecker did to your car.

Issue: A point or question to be decided.

Jargon: The technical language of a particular group that is inappropriate in most formal writing since it is frequently not understandable by those outside the group.

Journal: A daily record of thoughts, impressions, and autobiographical information, often a source of ideas for writing.

Juxtaposition: Placing two ideas (words or pictures) side by side so that their closeness creates a new, often ironic, meaning.

Limiting the subject: Narrowing the subject to a specific topic that is suitable for the writing or speaking assignment.

Literal: The actual or dictionary meaning of a word; language that means exactly what it appears to mean.

Loaded words: Words that are slanted for or against the subject.

Logic: The science of correct reasoning; correctly using facts, examples, and reasons to support the point.

Malapropism: the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase; especially the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context (Merriam Webster): "The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder" (Richard Daley, former Chicago mayor).

Metaphor: A figure of speech that makes an implied comparison of two unlike things by declaring them to be identical: The ship plowed the seas.

Metonymy: A figure of speech in which one word is used in place of another word that it suggests: He loves to read Dickens (Dickens' work); or the substitution of the part for the whole - I saw fifty sails (ships with sails).

Modifier: A word, phrase, or clause that limits, alters, or describes another word or group of words.

Narration: Writing that tells a story or recounts an event.

Objective: Relating information in an impersonal manner; without interjecting feelings or opinions.

Observation: Paying close attention to people, places, things, and events to collect details for later use.

Onomatopoeia: The use of words in which the sound suggests the sense: The silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain...

Overview: A general idea of what is to be covered in a piece of writing.

Oxymoron: A two-word phrase containing contradictory elements: jumbo shrimp, friendly fire, numb feeling.

Personal narrative: Personal writing that covers an event in the writer's life; it often contains personal comments and ideas as well as a description of the event.

Personification: A figure of speech in which abstract qualities or inanimate and natural objects are given the attributes of human beings: Virtue is bold and goodness never fearful.

Persuasion: Writing that is meant to change the way the reader thinks or acts.

Point of view: The position or angle from which a story is told, for example, first-person ("I"), third-person ("he").

Process: A method of doing something that involves several steps or stages; for example, the writing process involves prewriting, planning, writing, and revising.

Prose: Writing or speaking in the usual or ordinary form; prose becomes poetry when it is given rhyme or rhythm.

Pun: A play upon words of the same sound but of different meanings or upon different meanings of the same word: They went and told the sexton and the sexton tolled the bell.

Purpose: The specific reason a person has for writing; the goal of writing, for example, to inform, entertain, or persuade.

Revision: Changing a piece of writing to improve it in style or content.

Simile: A figure of speech that directly compares two unlike things, using words such as like, as, or than: The fallen leaves wandered like lost children through the empty streets.

Spontaneity: Doing, thinking, or writing without planning.

Subjective: Thinking and writing that includes personal feelings, attitudes, and opinions.

Theme: The central idea in a piece of writing (lengthy writings may have several themes); a term sometimes used to describe a short essay.

Thesis statement: A statement of the purpose, intent, or main idea of an essay.

Tone: The writer's attitude toward the subject; for example, a writer's tone may be light, serious, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, solemn, or objective.

Topic: The specific subject of a piece of writing.

Topic sentence: The sentence that contains the main idea of a paragraph.

Transitions: Words or phrases that help clarify the relationships between ideas and tie them together, for example, nevertheless, moreover, most important, as a result.

Unity: A sense of oneness; writing in which each sentence helps to develop the main idea.

Usage: The way in which people use language; usage may be standard (formal and informal) or nonstandard.

Vivid details: Details which appeal to the senses and help the reader see, feel, smell, taste, and hear the subject.

 

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