Sometimes we use writer, editor, gamer, or storyteller jargon. If we say something in one of our blogs you don’t understand, check this page first to see if we thought to include it. Don’t see a term you don’t know? Please don’t be afraid to ask in a comment so we can add it. Thanks! :)
Character: One of the three elements of all stories (the other two being plot and setting). These are the actors on the stage: the protagonist, antagonist, and everyone else who makes things happen. Character answers the who, and usually the why, of the story. An important consideration, though: not every character is a person; not every person is a character.
MacGuffin: This is an object around which the plot occurs but that itself might do nothing. Examples include the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Alvis in Last Exile (that she is also a character is beside the point).
Monomyth: Also known as the hero’s journey, the monomyth as described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces lays out what he claims to be a fairly typical story repeated in cultures all over the world. If you don’t feel like reading Campbell yourself, see Geoffrey McVey’s analysis for more information about it.
Plot: One of the three elements of all stories (the other two being character and setting). The action of the story. Plot answers the what and how of the story. Without plot, it’s hard to have an actual story.
Setting: One of the three elements of all stories (the other two being character and plot). This is the stage on which the actors appear. Setting answers the where and when of the story. Very infrequently, setting can also be a character.
Spec-Fic or Spec Fic: Short for “speculative fiction.”
Speculative Fiction: Stories in the genres of science-fiction and fantasy. Horror is sometimes lumped in as well. These are stories with invented settings (including futuristic or altered versions of Earth), often with fanciful elements (such as magic or advanced technology).
Story: A narrative in which characters confront a conflict and are changed.