Literary Terms Library
In our Literary Terms series, we examine the definitions of frequently used (and misused) words. What is the difference between horror and terror? Apocalyptic and dystopian? Magical realism, science fiction, and fantasy? In this series, we tackle questions such as these. Today, we present our full Literary Terms archive so that you can refresh your vocabulary for the new year. So go ahead: dive in, and enjoy!
Terror is the feeling of dread and apprehension at the possibility of something frightening, while horror is the shock and repulsion of seeing the frightening thing.
Internal Monologue and Stream of Consciousness
Stream of consciousness is a narrative device that is the written equivalent to a character’s thought process—or a stylized way of thinking out loud. It is often written in first person and is less ordered and occasionally more jumbled than an internal monologue, which is most often written in third person and follows a slightly more structured flow of thoughts to depict a characters’ opinions of his environment.
Legends, myths, and fairy tales all have a place in folklore, the main difference between them being content, and whether or not that content has a historical basis.
Apocalyptic, Dystopian, and Post-Apocalyptic
The future of mankind has been imagined and reimagined in literature for decades, but it seems lately there has been an influx of stories on the topic . . . we’ll examine three end-of-the-world terms that are often used synonymously, but are really quite different.
Magical Realism, Science Fiction, and Fantasy
Magical realism, science fiction, and fantasy all construct their own unique realities in different ways. It may seem like it would be easy to distinguish these genres, but the lines are not as clear as you might think.
Gothic, Grotesque, and The Uncanny
Here at TMR, we love scary stories, and it is useful to examine the vocabulary we use to describe the fiction that frightens us.
Flash fiction is generally considered to be a story of 1000 words or less (though there is even some debate about this), but within this category alone there are several subsets.
All three of these nouns take residence in one another, making their distinctions difficult, but each one has its own specific and correct use.
Narrative Nonfiction, Autobiography, and Memoir
There’s something special about excellent nonfiction, but the water gets muddy when you try to label works under its large umbrella.