Glossary

Here are some terms that you might come across in your reading. The definitions given below are not meant to be exhaustive. Indeed, whole books have been written to explain some of these terms, such as archetype, hero, realism, and symbolism. 

These notes are meant to provide basic definitions of frequently used literary terms; I hope these definitions will establish common ground for book discussions. Most of the examples given are works reviewed on this Web site.

Index


ABCDEFGHI—J—KLMNO
P—Q—RSTU—V—W—X—Y—Z—


—A—

ALA Youth Media Awards

allegory

alternative history

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Anthony Awards

anticlimax

antihero

archetype

—B—

Bancroft Prizes

bathos

Bechdel test

bildungsroman

black humor

bookends

Booker Prize

Boucheron

Bram Stoker Awards

—C—

caper

caricature

Carnegie Medal

Carol Shields Prize for Fiction

character

characterization

Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

climax

coherence

conflict

Costa Book Awards

cozy

—D—

David Cohen Prize

Dayton Literary Peace Prize

deus ex machina

dénouement

dystopia

—E—

Edgar Awards

epistolary novel

existentialism

exposition

—F—

flashback

foreshadowing

framed narrative

—G—

genre

Giller Prize

gothic

—H—

Hammett Prize

hard-boiled

Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

hero, heroine

Hugo Awards

—I—

International Booker Prize

International DUBLIN Literary Award

irony

—J—

—K—

Kibble Awards

—L—

Lambda Literary Awards

—M—

magical realism

Mary Higgins Clark Award

melodrama

motif

mystery

—N—

narration

narrative perspective

narrative structure

narrator

Nebula Awards

Ned Kelly Award

New Criticism

New Journalism

noir

novel of manners

—O—

Otherwise Award

—P—

parody

pathetic fallacy

pathos

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

plot

point of view

pomo

postmodernism

prequel

propaganda novel

protagonist

Pulitzer Prizes

purple patch

—Q—

—R—

RBC Taylor Prize

reader-response criticism

realism

red herring

roman à clef

romance

—S—

satire

sentimentality

setting

Shamus Awards

Shirley Jackson Awards

Southern gothic

speculative fiction

Stella Prize

stereotype

stream of consciousness

subplot

symbol

—T—

Tiptree Award

tone

—U—

unity

utopia

—V—

—W—

Women’s Prize For Fiction

—X—

—Y—

YA

—Z—