I began my legal career 30 years ago as a secretary. To this day, I am convinced that I was only hired because I was the one person in the building that day who knew that the trio of $3000 machines in the center of the floor were LaserJet printers that never would work until you got computers to go with them. It certainly wasn’t my legal acumen; I didn’t know what a plaintiff or defendant was until my third day. Now, as an attorney, I can belt out and translate legalese with the best of them.
I was startled when I discovered that the same learning curve exists for mystery writing. Over time, I have compiled an assortment of writing acronyms and terms, which include the following, in no particular order. (Yes, if you are as OCD as I am, the non-alphabetical order will drive you batty, but the self-help book I read promised it would help with my recovery.)
Backstory – Not the history of orthopedic medicine, but the stuff that happened to your characters before your story opens.
Cozy – Not how I feel in front of a roaring fire in my fireplace during the depths of winter, but a mystery subgenre where violence is usually downplayed and the crime takes place in a small, socially intimate community.
MS – Not a professional woman who wishes to remain neutral regarding her marital status, but “manuscript.”
MSS – Not a bevy of belles, but “manuscripts.”
MC – Not the master of ceremonies at an event, but the main character in your work.
POV – Point of View. Not your opinion about politics or the chartreuse and pink dress your best friend is wearing – you might want to keep the chartreuse and pink opinion to yourself in any event - but rather the way in which you tell your story and from whose perspective.
WIP – Not a program initiated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to create jobs during the Great Depression, but “work in progress.”
Swag – Not a jaunty step nor a fancy curtain top but the promotional materials authors use to encourage the public to read their book.
Pantser – Not a tailor, but a free spirit who sits down at her desk and starts writing, surprised as she sees what flows forth from her word crafting.
Plotster – Not a gardener, but a frustratingly (at least to those of us, such as myself, born without the organization gene) organized individual who plans out the plot of his novel before starting to write.
Flash Fiction – Not a photograph of a book taken in the dark but a short story that is less than 100 words long.
Protagonist – The Good Guy.
Antagonist – The Bad Guy.
NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Participating in National Novel Writing Month causes writers across the world to spend the 30 days of November glassy eyed, greeting each other with announcements about their word count for the day and how close they are to 50,000 words. Over the years, it has grown into an Event, with its own website, sponsors and badges. Participation is free. My favorite NaNoWriMo festival is not the main event in November, but the lower key April and July spring and summer virtual writing camps where the writer gets to 1) pick his word count for the month and 2) choose whether she is going to write new material or edit existing material.
What words and acronyms has the writing profession taught you?
We should have this list printed and handed out to non-writers who are stuck in the middle of a group of writers. I've seen the puzzled, glassy-eyed stares from poor readers trying to figure out what the heck their favorite authors are talking about!
Annette has a great idea.
What Annette said! I'd like to add Zon to the list. Not a sci fi character but the ever-present Amazon!
great list, Nancy. I remember reading the Guppy emails and wondering about swag...what it is and where to find it.
Actually, I'm not familiar with Swag, I thought it was Blurb! In addition to Annette's list, telling newbie writers how to format for a manuscript is another mystery they need to know--hopefully before the Guppy project of Fantasy Agent--right Nancy?
Every aspiring writer needs to be familiar with these! And with formatting a manuscript.
So funny, Nancy, and useful. I would add Plantster: Not an organic gardener, but a writer who mixes plotting and pantsing into an organic writing experience.
Very funny post, Nancy. I’m going along with Molly.
So funny and so true! I remember the first time some asked me about my WIP. My what?
And as KM suggested, all that editing speak: STET, ital, and rom for starters.
Nice list, Nancy! I'd also add ARC--not a curve, but an advance reading copy for reviewers.
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