Writing Jargon: A Quick Reference

Writers love words, so it's no surprise that a bunch of writing-related acronyms and terms have cropped up. You'll notice them tossed around on Twitter, Facebook, and other publishing-related sites. And if you're participating in #PitchWars, you're sure to see many of them in the mentor's wish lists posts. Since not everyone has the same background (and might not necessarily ask for clarification), I've decided to channel Noah Webster, and put together a short, and by no means all-inclusive, dictionary of common terms.

A          Adult

ARC     Advanced reader copy; early copies of books used for publicity and review

Beta    A reader familiar with your genre who gives overall feedback on a polished MS. Is not necessarily a writer. I usually think of my betas as test subjects. They can be a one-time reader or help with multiple projects.

Bio        A 2-3 sentence background on the author.

Blurb   Promotional quote

CB        Chapter book

CP        Critique partner. Another writer, familiar with your genre, to exchange scenes and/or manuscripts with, who provides detailed, honest feedback. CPs tend to dig deeper and provide more in-depth feedback.

CR        Contemporary romance

DV       Diversity

H/h      Hero/heroine

HEA     Happily ever after

HF       Historical fiction

HFN     Happy for now

HR       Historical romance    

MC       Main character

MG      Middle grade

MR      Magical realism

MS       Manuscript

MSWL Manuscript wish list; what agents, editors, or mentors are looking for in their inbox

NA       New adult

PB        Picture book

PNR     Paranormal romance

POC     Person of color

POV     Point of view

SFF      Science fiction and fantasy

Slush   An agents normal query inbox, filled with unsolicited pitches; also called slush pile

TL;DR  Too long; didn’t read. Can be used to point out passages that are too long or precedes a summary of a longer section.

UF       Urban fantasy

WC      Word count

WF      Woman’s fiction

WIP     Work in progress

WOC    Women of color

YA        Young adult


If you stopped by looking for a term that's not listed above, please feel free to let me know so I can update the list!


Dictionary Day

It turns out that today is Dictionary Day (C'mon Google, how'd you miss it?).    This less-than-recent, but somewhat humorous, article from the Boston Globe makes a tongue-in-cheek plea for celebration if you'd like to read more about it. 

Noah Webster was born on October 16, 1758, and devoted a considerable amount of time and effort compiling An American Dictionary of the English Language.  According to Merriam-Webster, Mr. Webster learned 26 languages to put it together.  That's a language for every letter of the English alphabet.  I've barely mastered English.  Mr. Webster, my hat's off to you.

One of my all-time favorite dictionaries is the Oxford English Dictionary.  I learned to love the gigantic reference in college when I studied Dickens and Shakespeare.  It is fascinating how words, and the English language, has evolved.  I could probably lose hours flipping though it.

I consulted Webster this morning, as a matter of fact.  It occurred to me that we (the general population) discuss seasons as springtime, summertime, wintertime, and fall/autumn.  Does falltime even exist?  Thankfully, the dictionary was able to clear it up.  Falltime does exist, and even though spell check will tell you it's two words, Webster will tell you it's one...and that it means autumn.   

I would also like to thank Webster for being the first to document the word chowder.  Without him, I might be enjoying a bowl of clam soup on a falltime day like today, and it wouldn't be nearly as yummy as clam chowder in autumn.