Sources and Abbreviations: “Writing About Drama,” A Short Guide to Writing About Literature (SG);

“A Glossary of Fictional Terms,”  Story and Structure (SS)


Anagnorisis (recognition):  When a character perceives what has happened (SG 157).

Antagonist:  Any force that is in conflict with the protagonist.  An antagonist may be another person, an aspect of the physical or social environment, or a destructive element in the protagonist’s own nature (SS 554).

Antecedent Action: What has happened in the past (SG 166).

Aside:  A character speaks in the same presence of others but is understood not to be heard by them (SG 175).

Characterization:  What the characters do or say, by what other characters say about them, and by the setting in which they move (SG 179).

Climax:  The turning point or high point in a plot (SS555; SG 165).

Conflict:  A clash of actions, desires, ideas, or goals in the plot of a story.  This may include “man against man,” “man against environment,” or “man against himself” (SS 555; SG 166).

Convention:  The tacit and sometimes unconscious agreement between artist and audience that allows objects and actions to become what they are not in reality (SG 174).

Crisis (or Crises):  Moments or events which cause tension that lead to the play’s climax (SG 165).

Denouement (unknotting):  The slackening of tension after the climax at the end of the play or that portion of the plot that reveals the final outcome of its conflicts or the solution of its mysteries (SS555; SG 165).

Dilemma:  A situation in which a character must choose between two courses of action, both undesirable (SS 555).

Exposition:  The part of the play which tells the audience what it has to know about the past or antecedent action  (SG 166).

Falling Action:  That segment of the plot which comes between the climax and conclusion (SS 556).

Irony (dramatic):  ironic deeds or situations – Actions that have some consequence more or less the reverse of what the doer intends;  ironic speech – The speaker’s words mean one thing to him but something more significant to an audience;  Sophoclean irony – Pervasive use of ironic deeds and speeches (SG 155-157).

Peripeteia (reversal):  When a deed or action backfires or has a reverse effect (see also ironic deeds or situations) (SG 157). 

Plot:  The sequence or incidents or events of which a story is composed (SG 164-169; SS 557).

Hamartia (tragic flaw or error):  The character trait or action which causes the tragic hero to come to grief (SG 157-158).

Prologue:  A device to introduce the antecedent actions and characters in a play (SG 166-167).

Protagonist:  The central character in a story (SS 557).

Rising Action:  The development of plot in a story that precedes and leads up to the climax (SS 557; SG 165).

Setting:  The context in time and place in which the story takes places (SS 557; SG 176-178).

Soliloquy:  A solitary character speaks his thought aloud (SG 175).

Symbol (literary):  Something that means more than what it is; an object, person, situation, or action that in addition to its literal meaning suggests other meanings as well (SS 558).

Theme:  The central idea or unifying generalization implied or stated by a literary work (SS 558).














I.                     Analyze

Not:   Near the end of the story Dick Prosser sat down on the river bank and took off his               

           shoes.  He placed them next to each other.  He “stood up like a soldier, erect, in his

           bleeding feet, and faced the mob.”  They then killed him.

But:   Near the end of the story Dick Prosser “did a curious thing.”  He sat down on the

           bank, took off his shoes, neatly placed them side by side, and faced the mob.  In this

           action, Dick asserted his manhood.  He still has human dignity, and he faces his

           impending death like a man.


II.                   Title

Not:   “The Destructors”

But:   A Character Analysis of Trevor in “The Destructors”

Or:     The Theme of Solidarity in The Grapes of Wrath


III.                 Tense

Not:   Rainsford was a brave man who did not panic.

But:   Rainsford is a brave man who does not panic.


IV.                Quotations

Not:   long or approximate

But:   fairly short and exact

Not:   Jack is an egotist.  “I deserve the biggest share.  All you guys done was go get it.  I

           done all the hard thinkin’ part of gettin’ it.”

But:   Jack reveals his egotism when he claims, “I deserve the biggest share” of the loot the

          gang has captured because “I done all the hard thinkin’ part of gettin’ it.”

                       Or:    Jack reveals his egotism when he claims to “deserve the biggest share” of the loot.


V.                  Person

Not:   In the second chapter we find that the butler is a phony.

Not:   In the second chapter you discover the secret.

But:   In the second chapter the reader discovers the missing clue.


VI.                Statements

Not:   I think Trevor led the gang to destroy the house.

But:   Trevor represents the creative act of destruction.






















Allegory              A literary work in which characters, events, and often settings

                        combine to convey another complete level of meaning.

Alliteration         Repetition of the same consonant sounds, usually at the beginning

                        of words:  “Should the glee—glaze—

                                           In Death’s—stiff—stare—“

                                                   (Emily Dickinson)

Allusion                An indirect reference to some character or event in literature, history,

                        or mythology that enriches the meaning of the passage:

                        In Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the persona

                        says, “No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be,” suggesting

                        that he lacks Hamlet’s nobility.

Ambiguity           Something that may be validly interpreted in more than one way;

                        double meaning.

Analysis              An approach to writing about a literary work or film that involves

                        focusing on a significant part of the work and relating that part to the

                        general significance and impact of the whole piece.

Antagonist         The character (or force such as war or poverty) in a drama, poem, or

                        work of fiction whose actions oppose those of the protagonist (the main


Anticlimax            A trivial event following immediately after significant events.

Apostrophe          A poetic figure of speech in which a personification is addressed:

                             “You sea! I resign myself to you also—

                               I guess what you mean.”    (Walt Whitman)

Archetype            A recurring character-type, plot, symbol, or theme of universal

                        significance: the blind prophet figure, the journey to the underworld,

                        the sea as source of life, the initiation theme, etc.

Argument            The main idea or thesis that a work presents; an essay that supports an

                        interpretation with evidence and reasoning.

Assonance          The repetition of similar vowel sounds within syllables:

                            “On desperate seas long wont to roam”  (Edgar Allen Poe)

Atmosphere              The emotional content of a scene or setting, usually described in terms

                        of feeling: somber, gloomy, joyful, expectant.  (See tone and mood)

Audience              In composition, the readers for whom a piece of writing is intended.

Ballad            A narrative poem in four-line stanzas, rhyming xaxa, often sung or

                        recited as a folk tale.

Blank Verse            Unrhymed iambic pentameter, the line that most closely resembles

                        speech in English:

                            “When I see birches bend to left and right

                             Across the lines of straighter, darker trees,

                             I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.”  (Robert Frost)

Brainstorming        A form of invention that involves listing words and phrases in rapid

                        succession in order to explore an idea or concept more fully.

Carpe Diem             Literally, “seize the day,” a phrase applicable to many lyric poems

                        advocating lustful living:

                            “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

                                  Old time is still a-flying:

                              And this same flower that smiles today

                              Tomorrow will be dying.”     (Robert Herrick)

Catharsis           In classical tragedy, the purging of pity and fear experienced by the

                        audience at the end of the play; a “there but for the grace of the gods go

                        I” sense of relief.

Central Point of

View             See Point of View


Chorus          In Greek drama, a group (often led by an individual) who comment on

                        or interpret the action of the play.


Order            The presentation of events according to the time they occur. 

Claim             The point or assertion that a writer advances for the reader’s


Climax         The point toward which the action of a plot builds as the conflicts

                        become increasingly more intense or complex; the turning point.

Clustering          A variation of brainstorming in which a writer places a key word or

                        phrase in a circle (as the nucleus) and adds related words and ideas in

                        radiating lines and circles.

Coherence          In good writing, the orderly, logical relationship among the many

                        parts--the smooth moving forward of ideas through clearly related

                        sentences.  Also see Unity.

Comedy              A play, light in tone, designed to amuse and entertain, that usually ends

                        happily, often with a marriage.

Comedy of Manners        A risqué play satirizing the conventions of courtship and marriage.

Complication        The rising action of a plot during which the conflicts build toward the


Conceit         A highly imaginative, often startling, figure of speech drawing an

                        analogy between two unlike things in an ingenious way:

                            “In this sad state, God’s tender bowels run

                             Out streams of grace. . .”   (Edward Taylor)

Concrete              That which can be touched, seen, or tasted; not abstract.

                        Concrete illustrations make abstractions easier to understand.

Conflict         The struggle between opposing characters or forces that causes tension

                        or suspense in the plot.

Connotation         The associations that attach themselves to many words, deeply

                        affecting their literal meanings (i.e., haze, smog; female parent, mother)

Consonance              Close repetition of the same consonant sounds preceded by different

                        vowel  sounds (slip, slap, slop).  At the end of lines of poetry, this

                        pattern produces half-rhyme.

Controlling Idea

(Thesis)               The main idea or point of a plot, story, or essay.

Controlling Image        In a short story, novel, play, or poem, an image that recurs and

                        carries such symbolic significance that it embodies the theme of the

                        work, as the wallpaper does in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” as

                        the thunderstorm does in Chopin’s “The Storm,” as the General’s

                        pistols do in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, as the grass does in Whitman’s

                        Leaves of Grass.

Convection          An accepted improbability in a literary work, such as the dramatic aside

                        in which an actor turns from the stage and addresses the audience.

Couplet         Two rhymed lines of poetry:

                            “For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

                            that then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

                                  (William Shakespeare)

Crisis           See Plot.

Critical Essay        Writing done by a critic, who analyzes, evaluates, and interprets a

                        film or work of literature.

Crosscutting        A film editing technique—pieces from two separately shot scenes are

                        intermixed, creating a sequence that moves back and forth between

                        them.  The technique invites comparison and contrast between the two

                        scenes that are crosscut.

Cut                 In film, a simple method of moving from one scene to the next: one

                        image ends and the next immediately begins.


Denotation            The literal meaning of a word.

Denouement               Literally the “untying”;  the resolution of the conflicts following the

                        climax (or crisis) of a plot.

Diction          Choice of words in writing and speaking

Dissolve              In film, a transitional technique in which one scene fades from the

                        screen as the next materializes.

Double Entendre        A double meaning, one of which usually carries sexual suggestions,

                        as in the country-western song about a truck driver who calls his

                        wife long distance to say he is bringing his “big ol’ engine” home to



Monologue            A poem consisting of a self-revealing speech delivered by one person

                        to a silent listener; for instance, Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess”

Dramatic Irony        See Irony

                       Dramatic Point of

                       View                                See Point of View

                       Elegy                      A poem commemorating someone’s death.

                       Empathy                 Literally, “feeling in”; the emotional identification that a reader or an

                                                                audience feels with a character.

                      English Sonnet                See Sonnet

                        Epigram                 A short, witty saying that often conveys a bit of wisdom:

                                                                “Heaven for climate, hell for society.”    (Mark Twain)

                        Epilogue                                The concluding section of a literary work, usually a play, in which

                                                loose threads are tied together or a moral is drawn.

Epiphany              A moment of insight for a character, in which the light of truth

                        suddenly dawns.

Episode          In a narrative, a unified sequence of events; in Greek drama, the action

                        between choruses.

Establishing Shot        In film, an overall scene or sequence that provides information about

                        the location, atmosphere, period, or other background that the viewer

                        needs for orientation.

Explication            A line-by-line commentary and interpretation based on a close reading

                        of a scene or a short literary work.

Exposition            That part of a plot devoted to supplying background information,

                        explaining events that happened before the current action.

Extended Metaphor        See Metaphor

Fable              A story, usually using symbolic characters and settings, designed to

                        teach a lesson.

Fade              A transitional device in film—the image slowly disappears into a solid-

                        colored or black screen in a fade-out.  In a fade-in, the image slowly

                        materializes from a solid screen.

Falling Action        In classical dramatic structure, the part of a play after the climax, in

                        which the consequences of the conflict are revealed.  Also see


Figurative Language Words that carry suggestive or symbolic meaning beyond the literal


First Person Point

of View             See Point of View

Flashback           Part of a narrative that interrupts the chronological flow by relating

                        events from the past.

Flat Character        In contrast to a well-developed character, a flat one is stereotyped or

                        shallow, not seeming as complex as real people.

Foil                 A character, usually a minor one, who emphasizes the qualities of

                        another one through implied comparison and contrast between the two.

Foreshadowing        Early clues about what will happen later in a narrative or play.


Formal Writing        The highest level or usage, in which no contractions, fragments, or

                        slang are used.

Frame           A single picture on the film—there are usually twenty-four frames in

                        one second of film viewing time.

Free Verse            Poetry that does not have regular rhyme, rhyme, or standard form.

Free Writing        Writing without  regard to coherence or correctness, intended to relax

                        the writer and produce ideas for further writing.

Genre            A classification of literature: drama, novel, novella, short story, poem.

Hero              The character intended to engage most fully the audience’s or reader’s

                        sympathies and admiration.  Also see Protagonist.

Hubris           Unmitigated pride, often the cause of the hero’s downfall in Greek


Hyperbole             A purposeful exaggeration.

Image/Imagery        Passages or words that appeal to the senses.

Informal Writing        The familiar, everyday level of usage, which includes contractions

                        and perhaps slang but precludes nonstandard grammar and punctuation.

Internal Rhyme        The occurrence of similar sounds within the lines of a poem rather than

                        just at the ends of lines.

Invention              The process of generating subjects, topics, details, and plans for writing

Irony              Incongruity between expectation and actuality—

                        Verbal irony involves a discrepancy between the words spoken and

                        intended meaning, as a sarcasm.

                        Dramatic irony involves the difference between what a character

                        believes is true and what the better-informed reader or audience knows

                        to be true.

                        Situational irony involves the contrast between characters’ hopes and

                        fears and their eventual fate.

                        Visual irony involves the incongruity between how something appears

                        and how it really is.

Italian Sonnet        See Sonnet.

Jargon         The specialized words and expressions belonging to certain

                        professions, sports, hobbies, or social groups.  Sometimes any tangled

                        and incomprehensible prose is called jargon.

Juxtaposition        The simultaneous presentation of two conflicting images or ideas,

                        designed to make a point of contrast: for example, an elaborate

                        and well-kept church surrounded by squalorous slums.

Limited Omniscient

Point of View        See Point of View.

Literary Present        Use of present-tense verbs to write about events occurring in a poem,

                        story, play, novel, or film.

Logical Order        Arrangement of points and ideas according to some reasonable

                        principle or scheme.

Long Shot               In film, a picture seemingly taken from a distance: for example,

                        people are seen head to toe, landscapes from sky to ground as in a

                        painting, rooms from ceiling to floor.

Lyric              A poem that primarily expresses emotion.  In ancient times, poetry

                        sung with the accompaniment of a lyre (stringed instrument).

Metaphor            A figure of speech that makes an imaginative comparison between

                        two literally unlike things:

                        “New York is a sucked orange.”  (R.W. Emerson)

Metaphysical Poetry A style of poetry (usually associated with seventeenth-century poet

                        John Donne) that boasts intellectual, complex, and even strained

                        images (called conceits), which frequently link the personal and

                        familiar to the cosmic and mysterious.  Also see Conceit.

Meter            See Rhythm.


Mood              The emotional content of a scene or setting, usually described in terms

                        of feeling: somber, gloomy, joyful, expectant.  Also see Tone.

Motif             A pattern of identical or similar images recurring throughout a passage

                        or entire work.

Myth              A traditional story involving deities and heroes, usually expressing and

                        inculcating the established values of a culture.

Narrative            A story in prose or verse.

Narrator              The person who tells the story to the audience or reader.  Also see

                        Unreliable Narrator.

Objective Point of

View             See Point of View.

Ode                 A long, serious lyric focusing on a stated theme: “Ode to the West

                        Wind,”  “Ode on Melancholy.”

Onomatopoeia        A word that sounds like what it names: whoosh, clang, babble, buzz.

Oxymoron            A single phrase that juxtaposes opposite terms: the lonely crowd, a

                        roaring silence, etc.

Pan                 A camera movement used in film—the camera swivels from left to

                        right or right to left.  The effect for the viewer is like turning one’s head

Parable         A story designed to demonstrate a principle or lesson using symbolic

                        characters, details, and plot lines.

Paradox                An apparently contradictory statement that nonetheless makes sense:

                        “Time held me green and dying”  (Dylan Thomas, “Fern Hill”)

Paraphrase                A restatement in different words, usually briefer than the original


Parody          An imitation of a piece of writing, copying some features such as

                        diction, style, and form, but changing or exaggerating other features

                        for humorous effect.

Peripheral Point

of View             See Point of View

Persona              The person created by the writer to be the speaker of the poem or

                        story—the persona is not usually identical to the writer: for example,

                        a personally optimistic writer could create a cynical persona to

                        narrate a story.

Personification        Giving human qualities to nonhuman things:

                        “Rain come down, give this dirty town a drink of water.”

                        (Dire Straits)

Plagiarism         Carelessly or deliberately presenting the words or ideas of another

                        writer as your own.

Plot                 A series of causally related events or episodes that occur in a narrative

                        or play.  Also see Climax, Complication, Conflict, Denouement,

                        Falling Action, Resolution, and Rising Action.

Point of View        The angle or perspective from which a story is reported and interpreted.

                        An omniscient or shifting point of view, which may include the

                        author’s comments on the action, presents the story through a

                        combination of characters, shifting from one person’s thoughts to

                        another’s.  An objective or dramatic point of view presents the story

                        directly, as a play does, using only external actions, speech, and

                        gestures.  A central point of view tells the story through the voice of a

                        central character and is often presented as a first-person account.  A

                        peripheral point of view uses a minor character to tell the story.  Both

                        central and peripheral points of view are considered limited omniscient

                        because they give only one character’s perceptions.  Also see Narrator

                        and Tone.

Prewriting          The process that writers use to gather ideas, consider audience,

                        determine purpose, develop thesis and tentative structure (plan), and

                        generally prepare for the actual writing stage.



I.        Three basic properties of musical sound—pitch, dynamics, and tone color


A.      PITCH:  We instinctively hear some sound as high, others as low.

The quality of highness or lowness of sound is called pitch.


B.       DYNAMICS:  The second basic property of musical sound is its

loudness or softness—its volume of sound is called dynamics.


C.       TONE COLOR:  The individual notes in music, whether loud or

soft, differ in general quality of sound, depending on the instruments

or voices that produce them.  Tone color or timbre, is the term for this



II.      The basic properties of sound are arranged into time patterns.


A.      RHYTHM:  In general, this refers to the whole time aspect of music.

More specifically, rhythms refer to the particular arrangements of

long and short notes in melodies or other musical passages.


B.       BEAT:  Musical time is measured in beats.  Listening to a marching

band, we cannot fail to sense a regular recurrence of short time units,

which serve as a steady background for more complicated time patterns.

We can easily beat time to music by waving a hand or tapping a foot.

What is being waved or tapped is the music’s beat.


C.       METER:  Any recurring pattern of strong and weak beats is called meter.

Meter is a strong/weak pattern repeated again and again to form a

continuous steady pulse.


D.      TEMPO:  This is the term for the speed of music.  In metrical music, the

tempo is the rate at which the basic, regular beats of the meter follow one

another. (Slow, fast, very fast, moderate, etc.)


























Architecture is the artistic quality of buildings that relates to things, uses space, and draws or assaults the viewer.


Requirements must consider:







Periods of Architecture:


_____ Romanesque                                 A.   St. Vitus Cathedral


_____ Gothic                                            B.   Church of St. Nicholas


_____ Renaissance                                  C.   Church of St. Peter and St. Paul


_____ Baroque                                         D.   Church of Our Lady of Tyn


_____ Neo-Gothic                                            E.   St. George’s Basilica


_____ Modernist (Art Nouveau)              F.   Slavonic Monastery


G.       Pinkas Synagogue, Strahov Monastery





Earth-rooted—deals with site, gravity, raw materials, centrality

Sky-Oriented—suggests an axis mundi, a defiance of gravity, an integration of light

Earth-resting—uses the earth as a platform and the sky as a background























  1. ambo
  2. ambulatory
  3. apse
  4. arcade
  5. architrave
  6. atrium
  7. barrel vault
  8. buttress
  9. capital
  10. ciborium
  11. corbel
  12. cornice
  13. crenellations
  14. cross vault
  15. cupola or dome
  16. curtain wall
  17. dado
  18. diaconicon
  19. dominical vault
  20. entablature
  21. epistyle
  22. exedra
  23. exonarthex
  24. extrado
  25. fresco
  26. faience
  27. fresco
  28. frieze
  29. iconostasis
  30. impost
  31. intrado
  32. lintel
  33. lunette
  34. metatorium
  35. mosaic
  36. narthax
  37. ogive arch
  38. order
  39. paracclesion
  40. pendentive
  41. penetralia
  42. peristyle
  43. pier
  44. pilaster
  45. refectory
  46. revetment
  47. soffit
  48. squinch
  49. surbase
  50. tympanium
  51. vault
  52. voussoirs





1.                    Look at the building.  Consider the form of the building.  Does the form (its shape) follow the

function (use) of the building?  That is, do you know the intended use of the building by

looking at it?  What details identify its function?


        How well does the building fit the site?  Did the architect overlook any problems of use?


        Do you consider the building beautiful or ugly?  List characteristics that make it so.


        How would you describe the shape of the structure?


        What materials were used in its construction?  Are they warm and friendly or cold/brutal?


        Did the architect pay attention to detail?  (Compare the frieze on the Parthenon in Greece

        with its sculptures depicting the triumphs of war in honor of their gods.)


        How did the architect use color?  Is it warm or cold color?


        Can you imagine why the architects chose these colors?


2.                    Walk to the entrance.  Is it easy to find?

How does the space make you feel?

Does the space draw you to the center?


What pathways (movement of people through the space) does the space create?


What methods does the architect use to direct you in the space?


Are there obstructions? Name several and decide if you think the architect planned them or were they later additions by the owners?


Did the architect make efficient use of space (for example, do the people move freely or is it hard to navigate the space?)?


Do the different use of facilities have different colors?


Which areas are more calming or exciting?


How do the colors or shapes achieve such an effect?


What do you think the architects consider the most important function of the building?


3.                    Building specifications

How is the building divided functionally?  If you were to design the space, would you combine spaces, integrate them, and mingle them?


4.                    Comparison Seeing

How important is the building in the city as suggested by the size and prominence of the building?

How does it reflect the values of its time?  Compare it to Chartres Cathedral.  In the respective cities and time periods, which building assumes a more important role and why?  If you are not familiar with Chartres, choose a different building. 


What is the biggest difference between the two buildings?