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!


Stop, Drop & Roll

Yesterday, I blogged about some of my new writing projects (a contemporary baseball romance and a Regency romance), and shared Burn Story #1: The Incredible Hulk Burn. Today, I have another memorable burn story to share with you, but first, I'd like to present some statistics so we can all be in the right frame of mind for my tale.

  • Odds of being struck by lightning in your life-time: 1 in 3,000*
  • Odds of becoming President of the United States: 1 in 10,000,000*
  • Odds of winning the Powerball jackpot: 1 in 175,000,000*
  • Odds of being badly burned by a rogue popcorn kernel: 1 in 1,000,000,000 (<-I made this up, but it has to be somewhere around there)

And now, I share with you another memorable burn story.

Burn Story #2: The Unfortunate Popcorn Kernel Incident of 2010

It was a Tuesday night in September. I was ready to settle in to watch NCIS, and what better to go with my favorite Naval team of investigators than a nice bowl of fresh-popped popcorn? Exactly.

So, I pulled out my trusty electric popcorn popper--an old model that once belonged to my grandmother, and got to work.



The batch started out like any other. I got a bowl. I poured in the kernels. I flipped the switch to ON. There was a whirring noise and things started to happen. Popcorn started popping. But I found out the hard way: snacks can be dangerous.

And then, in the midst of puffy, white clouds, a rogue kernel took flight. It flew out of the popper, bounced off the counter, and landed in a very uncomfortable location under my shirt. Ladies (and maybe some men): I think you know the spot I'm talking about. That V where things tend to fall and get stuck.

This kernel was hot! Piping hot! Skin sizzling hot!

I did one heck of a I-have-a-hot-popcorn-kernel-trapped-in-my-bosom dance. I let out a horror-movie yelp. And I got that bugger out of there as fast as I could..but it was too late. The damage was already done.

And let's just say it was bad. Not only is that location tricky to bandage, but for those of you who have ever sunburned your chest, you can probably imagine the discomfort. Especially if you've blistered.

I'll be honest, I stuck with microwave popcorn for a long time after that. But there's just something about fresh popped corn that I love, so I've plugged the popper back in, poured in some kernels, and flipped the switch. But these days,  I make sure to wear high-necked shirts and safety goggles, just in case.**

I can laugh about it now. And maybe you will, too.

*Google search results

**Serious about the shirt. Kidding about the safety goggles, but they probably aren't a bad idea.