Today, I thought I'd provide some definitions. See, I talk a lot about writing stuff, for obvious reasons, and I'm realizing now that some of you might not know what the heck I'm saying half the time. So here's the language of the writing world, a dictionary of sorts, to help you out as you read through my posts.
For those of you who are aspiring writers, this might also give you a better idea of how to interact with this wonderful weird world. I'm not going to define what I consider basic English class terms (plot and metaphor and basic genres), but if you have a question about a particular term at any point, just let me know! I will continue to update this post as necessary
Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC): A copy of a novel given to specific readers and reviewers as a sort of promotion before the novel is actually published. This edition is also used for final proofreading, and is therefore sometimes referred to as a "proof." It may also be called a "galley."
Agent: A professional, hopefully one who is very reputable and experienced, who represents an author's work. A literary agent sends manuscripts and queries to publishers, giving the author a better chance of being looked at, and helps negotiate contracts.
Alpha Readers: Trusted people who read a writer's story as she/he writes, generally chapter by chapter, to give critique and response.
Alternate Universe (AU): An alteration of an existing fictional world, often seen in fanfiction, fanart, or other non-canonical creative works.
Audience: The target readers of a piece of writing.
Beta Readers: Very trusted people who read a writer's story after she/he is finished writing, to give critique and response.
Blog: A useful online tool in which people write about their lives and businesses. You're on one right now, funnily enough.
BroTP: A non-romantic ship, i.e. you love the friendship between these two characters.
Canon: Something officially accepted as being part of a fictional world/story/characterization. Approved by the author. Non-canon is the opposite; headcanon is an in-between, where it's not officially stated but fits into the canon and may be accepted by most of a fandom.
Category: A classification of books defined by the audience's age group.
Comp Titles: Other books (or sometimes movies and TV shows) that are compared to a writer's manuscript, generally for pitch or publicity purposes.
Contract: The magical legal piece of paper that means you are now in an official business transaction with either an agent or a publisher. Usually very complicated and jargony and needs to be looked over carefully before being signed.
Critique: Commentary on a draft of a novel that is neither blandly complimentary or viciously cruel in its best form, but rather, constructive. This will help the writer to improve their novel and edit, so long as the writer is not being a sissy.
Critique Partners: Two writers, usually of similar style/genre type, who swap stories with each other in order to give critique and response.
Did Not Finish (DNF): A book that a reader decided not to finish reading.
Draft: Different versions of a novel, progressing in number the more the novel is edited. You want a good few of these before you do anything in the way of publishing.
Editing: The process by which a writer revises, proofreads and alters a novel so that it's actually relatively good. Must be done to the brink of perfection, but will never ever get there. Not optional. Sometimes known as "the e-word."
Editor: A person who edits for profit. When referred to in this context, an editor is usually a high-up member of a publishing team. Many of them will not look at an author's work unless they are represented by a literary agent. When an author says they've been accepted by an editor, it generally means they are on track for publication.
Elevator Pitch: A pitch that can be spoken within the space of an elevator ride, about 20-30 seconds. A very important tool for writers going to writing conferences.
Fanart: A piece of artwork focused on a fictional world/story/characters that do not belong to the artist. May be seen as the visual form of fanfiction.
Fandom: A group of readers, or "fans," who are almost more insane than the author themselves. They like to hang out, dress like random characters, and obsess over minute details in a particular fictional world/set of characters/story. Sometimes known by authors as "minions."
Fanfiction: A fictional piece written about a fictional world/story/characters that belong to a different writer than the one writing the fanfic. Thus, the piece of fiction is non-canon, but often rather amusing. Either that or extremely inappropriate. Sometimes both.
Formatting: Using the right word style, punctuation, spacing, margins, etc, in order to make the publisher/editor/agent happy.
Full Manuscript Request: When an editor or agent, after receiving a pitch, asks to be given the entire manuscript to read. Also known as "full request," "FM," or "FMR."
Genre: A classification of books defined by the subject and content of the story. For a more detailed examination of genre, see this post.
Internet: A place where fandoms hang out, particularly on social media, especially Tumblr.
Logline: A dramatic, one sentence summary of a novel. Very annoying to write.
Manuscript: The full, formatted text of an unpublished book.
Middle Grade (MG): The category for a novel written for preteens, ages 10-14ish.
NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, officially in November, although there are spinoffs every month at this point. Very useful tool for getting a novel done, as it sets a specific word goal (50,000) for you to reach and gives you a structured, social environment in which to do so.
New Adult (NA): A somewhat controversial new category for novels written for college age adults.
Novel: A long fictional story that takes book form. Usually 45,000 to 100,000 words in length, but this varies by category and genre.
Novella: A short fictional piece/book that hits somewhere from 25 pages to novel length.
One True Pair (OTP): Two (or more) fictional characters that you ship very intensely, if not the most intensely.
Pantser: A writer who doesn't plan before writing and just jumps into it, writing "by the seat of their pants." Otherwise known as "me."
Partial Manuscript Request: When an editor or agent, after receiving a pitch, asks to be given a specific portion of a manuscript to read. Also known as "partial request," "PM," or "PMR."
Pitch: What you say to get an agent or editor interested in working with your book. This comes in many different forms and sizes, both written and verbal, including the elevator pitch, query, and proposal.
Plotter: A writer who plans (plots out) most of their novel before writing the actual text.
Point of View (POV): The perspective from which a story is told. Various types of POVs exist, and they are often discussed in English classes.
Proposal: Like a query, but for non-fiction. I don't know much about this because I write fiction.
Publicist: A professional whose job is to promote books and get them sold. Nowadays, the author is likely to do most the publicity themselves.
Publisher: A business that makes money by publishing and selling books.
Publishing: The act of taking a manuscript and converting it into a bound, sales-worthy book.
Query: A very important, one page, formatted business letter requesting that an agent or editor consider a book for representation/publication.
Reader: A very cool person who allows writers to bank in on their craziness. Valuable and desired.
Revise and Resubmit (R&R): When an agent, after reading your full manuscript, asks that you revise it in a number of ways and then resubmit it to be considered for representation.
Scam: A "publisher" or "agent" that's really just pulling one over on you. There are lots of different kinds of scams, but most involve you paying said publisher or agent, and that's a no-no. This can ruin your repute as an author and is really just awful to go through. Be wary!
Self-Publishing: When an author publishes their own book, usually by paying a lot up front to a self-publishing company and other freelance professionals, which means they ultimate manage all of the formatting, artwork, editing, publicity, etc. themselves.
Shipping: The very popular phenomenon of being a fan of a fictional relationship. When you "ship" two characters, you want them to end up together romantically. Some people ship within canon, others ship completely random couples for unexplained reasons. The ones who do that are usually on Tumblr. The noun form, i.e. referring to a couple that you ship, is also "ship." Fans ship ships.
Short Story: A fictional piece that is shorter than a novella.
Spelling and Grammar: Not optional.
Synopsis: A document of varied length, either 1-2 pages or 8-12 pages, which summarizes the entire plot of a novel.
To Be Read (TBR): A book that a reader intends to read, but has not yet read.
Trunking a Novel: When a writer decides to stop working on their book, presumably forever. (Although many times, I've changed my mind after trunking a book.)
Tumblr: A very fun social media website for the most fanatical and unstable of fans.
Work in Progress (WIP): A novel that is currently being written or edited.
Worldbuilding: The process of creating a fictional world in a novel, usually applicable the most in fantasy and sci-fi genres. This is very complicated and the bane of many writers' existences.
Writer: Someone who is a bit mentally unstable and likes to express it by telling stories through the written word. Also known as "author," although author is a little more formal. I generally use "author" in reference to published writers only.
Writing Conference: Where a bunch of writers get together, often with agents and publishers, to attempt to get their crazy out in public and also to improve upon it somewhat. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Writing Group: A group of writers who work with each other on being insane and writing. Often they are all critique partners.
Young Adult (YA): The category for a novel written for teens, ages 14-19ish.
That's it! Thanks for reading! Hope this was helpful. Come back next time for my list of writing advice by other people. If you're a writer, or even a well-read reader, go ahead and submit your own piece of writing advice in the comments! The world wants your thoughts.
What other terms do you think should be in this dictionary?
Image via wnyc.org.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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