Sunday, May 14, 2017

6 Literary Terms I Wish Existed in English

The English language is beautifully complex. But there are times when language falls short of feelings and concepts. Some things can’t be explained with words, no matter how hard we try. And some things can be explained but are too wordy.  Word precision—it’s a wonderful when it’s available!

Here are just a few, excellent literary terms that do exist:

A person who thoroughly enjoys and collects books is a bibliophile (me!), just like a person who thoroughly enjoys movies is a cinephile (my family members).

Feels—the emotions you can’t put into words after you finished a particularly good book/movie. Yes, that’s an actual definition.

Mary Sue—an underdeveloped fictional character, not gender specific. Usually happens to be an orphan with a tragic backstory and morally upright.

Palimpsest—a manuscript written over an older text on the same parchment. 

Palindrome—a word or a phrase spelled backwards is still the same phrase.

Petrichor—the smell of rain on dry ground. I know it’s not technically book-related, but I like rain and I like this word!

Trinity Syndrome—a strong female character who becomes inexplicably weaker than the male protagonist.

But what do we do when a concept doesn’t have a word? Invent it, probably. Shakespeare and Chaucer did. Even dystopia is a fairly recent term from the late 1800s. Here are just a few of the concepts that I have found that should have a singular term—or at least a compound word—but don’t. 

1) Living multiple lives in one/multiple bodies (not reincarnation).

This is becoming a popular sci-fi/fantasy trope, and honestly, it’s one of my favorites. It’s when a character lives a completely different, but self-aware life (not a dream) when they go to sleep. I’ve read a couple books with it, and I like it so much, I included it in my latest novel.

Think Avatar. When Sully goes to sleep in the chamber, he wakes up in his Avatar body. And when he sleeps in Pandora, he wakes up as his human self. It’s such an interesting concept with lots of possibilities and plot complications. But it’s not like we can tall it “Avatar” without violating copyright laws and whatnot. Besides, it’s present in other stories, like Your Name.

2) Wanting to throw your book against the wall but liking books too much to actually do so.

I’m not sure when I became that person whose so careful with books that I will try not to bend the spine of my paperbacks. I don’t like having those little lines crease the title.

But I still get angry at books. Sometimes so frustrated that I want to throw it across the room, but I can’t bring myself to do so. It could damage the pages! Never mind that it already damaged my heart.

3) Wanting to violently react to your book but being in a public place.

Ever wanted to hit a flight attendant or your train partner upside the head with the book you just finished? I didn’t think so. Even if you did, who wants to get kicked off a train? Or an airplane for that matter? 

Sure, you can silently cry in public, but what about scream or rant? Instead, you are left with all your feeling bottled up inside. It’s almost like…

4) Being in a fandom of one.

There are advantages and disadvantages to reading a book none of your friends have. Advantage—you can form your own opinion without influences. Disadvantage—you can’t talk to anybody about it.
 RJ: Please, Vincent! I’m just a desperate guy trying to feed his family!
Vincent: You don’t have a family.
RJ: I meant a family of one.
(Over the Hedge)

5) The irresistible impulse to walk into every library/bookstore you see.

The John Rylands Library, Manchester, UK

Every time I visit a new city or town, I’m on the lookout for a bookstore. Even if the native language isn’t English, I like walking into new bookstores and libraries and admiring the shelves upon shelves of books, or boats next to boats if you happen to be in Venice. If I’m with a family member, they have to drag me out. One time, a school group left me in a bookstore, which I quite enjoyed, truth be told.

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

6) Exhaustion from staying up far too late reading.

This is me right now. I haven’t done this in so long, but nearly every bookworm has experienced it at least once. Or twice. Or thrice. Because heaven forbid we actually follow through with reading just one more chapter…


Film references: Avatar, Your Name, and Over the Hedge.

Let’s chat! Can you relate to any of these feelings? Have any suggestions for concise words? What are some of your favorite literary terms? Are there any other feelings/concepts you wish had a term of their own? 


  1. Yes, we really need a word for the first one! Awesome post <3

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. Thanks, Ellie! I especially wish there was a word for the first one because I like to use that concept in my own stories. A singular term would make discussions and querying a whole lot easier.

    2. #5 - Foregathenium (pronounced forEDGEaTHEnium. :-D

    3. Or, maybe it would make a better verb to call it Repositoraforage?? ;-)