Elements of Literature: Vocabulary

Table of Contents | Introduction | About the Author

Character is a term used to describe a person or possibly an animal within a story.

Dialogue is a term used to describe what a character actually said. Within a story it is indicated by the use of quotation marks. However, within a play it is indicated by the use of a colon after the name of the character speaking with no quotation marks required.

Fiction is a term used to describe writing that is not true because it is writing that has been created from an author's imagination. It is usually in the form of a short story or a novel.

Five senses represent the human ability to perceive. They include sight/seeing, smell/smelling, taste/tasting, touch/feeling, and sound/hearing. They are used by authors to extend the reader's perception.

Genre is a term used to describe the various groupings within literature. Poetry and short stories represent a major genre. Spenserian sonnets and English ballads represent sub-genres within the major genre of poetry.

Literature is a term used to describe writing which has some significance. There is usually a universality to the message and excellence in the actual writing.

Non-fiction is a term which describes writing that is true or factual. It may be in the form of informative articles or books. Essays are also an example of this genre.


Parody is the mimicking of a work of literature to achieve a humorous effect.

Poetry is a term used to describe literature which is based upon sound and emotion. Its actual definition is much disputed; however, it is generally seen as the opposite of prose. Poems are individual writings using poetry.

Pseudonym is the use of a false name by an author. It is not used as an alias to escape punishment, but instead for personal reasons. It is also called a pen name or a sobriquet.

Prose is a term used to describe writing which is straightforward in nature. It is written in sentence and paragraph form and can be either fiction or non-fiction.

Punctuation of titles of written works falls into two categories. Short works, such as short stories, and most poems have quotation marks placed on either side of the title. Long works such as novels and plays are italicized. Underlining is used to indicate italics when it is not possible to italicize.

Satire is a literary work which aims at correcting a human or societal fault by making fun of it. It is frequently biting and bitter rather than truly humorous.

Verisimilitude is a term describing how close to reality or truth a work of literature appears to be.

Susan Lake and Associates small logo