Friday, January 11, 2013

Sprechen Sie Writer?


I've been at this writing thing for several years in earnest, but every now and then it becomes painfully obvious to me that I should've paid more attention to my college English class or read more about certain genres or pop culture references.  I’m actively compiling this list to benefit writers of varying levels of emersion in the waters of authordom, to help us look less stupid or simply to help you navigate the world of writing a little more confidently.

I am taking suggestions to add to this list, it's not complete by any stretch.  I am particularly interested in ‘writer-culture’ words. Or, perhaps you disagree with my definition. I’d like to hear about that as well.

I’ve broken it down by categories.

General Terms

Active Voice                           Writing where the subject of the sentence is carrying out action

ARC                                       Advanced Reader Copy, printed before the actual print run on a new book

Auxiliary or Helping verb         A verb that goes with another verb (have or do)

Back Matter                            Back pages of a book that have appendixes, indexes and endnotes

Bastard Title                            Optional first page of a book containing only the title and nothing else

Blank Verse                            Unrhymed poetry

Block Quote                            A quotation set off from the main text (usually indented) and NOT surrounded by quotes

Bluelines                                  Final proofs that offer a last chance to make changes

Boilerplate                               Standard text used in multiple documents with little or no change, usually referring to contract language

Bubble                                     The circle that surrounds editors comments

Chicago Style                          The preferred method used by The Chicago Manual of Style - style guide for writing

Cliché                                      An expression or idea that is so overused that the meaning is weakened, more commonly used today to mean stereotypical or predictable

Clip                                         A sample of work

Conventions                            mechanical correctness, spelling, grammar, usage, indenting, capitals, and punctuation

Dead Copy                              Final edited Manuscript that is used to proof typesetting (less commonly used with software)

Draft                                       Preliminary version of a piece that will likely require revision and editing

Editing                                    Proof reading for mechanical features of writing, spelling, punctuation, etc

Ellipses                                    …

Fair Use                                   Allowing copying of short portions of copyrighted material for educational or review purposes

Forward                                  Introductory statement in the front matter written by someone other than the author

Front Matter                            Printed material at the start of a book including title page, table of contents and dedications

Front Piece                              A page in the front matter facing the title page, usually containing an illustration and often on different card stock

Galley                                      The first printed version (proof) of a document

GLB                                        Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual

H/H                                         Hero and Heroine (A couple in a romance novel)

HEA                                        Happily ever after (used in the romance genre)

het                                           Heterosexual

HFN                                        Happy for Now (used in the romance genre)

Hook                                       The important part of a work at the beginning that captures a reader's interest

House Style                             Preferred editorial style of a publisher

Imprint                                     A branding name used by a publisher for books they release, one publisher may have several

ISBN                                       Unique number assigned to each book by a publisher, now a 13 digit number, not necessarily required by self-publication

Lead or Lede                          The first couple of lines of a story

Ligature                                   Special characters formed by combining two or more letters, such as æ  

Logline                                     A brief description of a piece, usually a teaser

MC                                          Main Character

Meme                                      Pronounced ‘meem’ - an idea, belief or system of beliefs that spreads among a culture

NaNoWriMo                           Pronounced ‘Nah No Rye Moe’, National Novel Writing Month, a 50k word challenge for the month of November

Neologism                               A new word or expression

On Acceptance                       Payment received only when the editor accepts the final manuscript

On Publication                        Payment received only when the MS is published

On Spec                                  A submission accepted without obligation to publish it

Orphan or Widow                   First line of a paragraph that appears at the bottom of a page by itself

Parenthetical                           Using these (), still acceptable but falling out of use in fiction

Passive Voice                          A sentence where the subject is being acted upon instead of doing the action

Pitch                                        A short description of a piece

POD                                        Print on Demand

POV                                        Point of view - the perspective of the story, 1st person

Preface                                    Introductory statement in the front matter written by the AUTHOR

Prewriting                               Invention, Brainstorming, Researching, Plotting, Outlining before starting on the first draft

Proof                                       A trial sheet printed to be checked and corrected; a galley is the first proof

Query                                      A sales letter showcasing writing style, usually limited in length to 1 or 2 pages

Red Shirt                                 Expendable, refers to the crewmen of the TV Series Star Trek who were often killed during a mission

Reproduction Proof                A high quality proof for final review before printing

Revising                                  Making structural or content changes to a draft

Royalty                                   The Percentage of book sales paid to the author by the publisher

Run-on Sentence                     A sentence containing two or more independent clauses improperly joined or simply too long

Serial Comma                          Comma preceding 'and' or 'or' in a list of items

Show Don't Tell                      Writing in a manner that allows the reader to experience the story through the description of actions, thought, senses and feelings rather than through exposition or summary

Stet                                          Proofreading mark indicating that the editing marks should be ignored and the text displayed as the original (let it stand)

Synopsis                                  A longer description of a piece, usually including all the secrets and how the story ends

Tautology                                Needless repeating of a word or idea, such as 'final result'

Trim or Boil                             To reduce the length of a story

Vanity Press or Publisher        Where the author pays to have their work published and covers all out of pocket expenses themselves

Voice                                       The personality of the writer coming through the words

WIP                                         Work in progress, usually the current project being written

YA                                          Young Adult genre



Editing terms or abbreviations

ASGCM                                  American Suburban Gated-Community McCastles - Castle or palace settings where royals don't actually act like royals and answer the door themselves, dress themselves, etc

awk                                         Awkward sentence or phrase

cap                                           Capitalization

DTG                                        Delete the grimace

FBP                                         Floating Body Parts, using description in a way that gives action to the character/person, not his/her independent body parts, like 'Her eyes roamed the room'

frag                                          Sentence Fragment

gr                                             Grammar error

ital                                           Italicize

lc                                             lower case

MS                                          Manuscript

mss                                          manuscript formatting

nc or ?                                     Not clear or confusing

p                                              Punctuation

P E                                          Printer's Error

R O                                         Run-on sentence

ref                                            Pronoun antecedent is unclear

RUE                                        Resist the urge to explain

SDT                                        Show, Don't tell

sp                                            Spelling Error

ss                                             Sentence structure error

t                                               Incorrect Verb tense

Tr                                             Transposition error

TSTL                                       Character acting Too Stupid To Live

UC                                          Upper Case

wc                                           Word Choice


Grammar Terms (Just a little refresher)

Alliteration                              A series of words all beginning with the same letter or sound

Anagram                                 A word or phrase formed by transposing the letters of another word or phrase

Antecedent                             A word or phrase that is referred to by a pronoun

Clause                                     A complete phrase containing a noun and verb that is part of a compound sentence

Complex Sentence                  A sentence containing an independent clause and one or more dependent clauses

Compound Sentence               A sentence containing two or more clauses separated by 'and', 'but' or 'or'

Gerund                                    A form of verb acting as a noun and ending in 'ing', like 'acting' (present participle)

Homograph                             Words spelled the same but pronounced differently and having different meaning

Homonym                               Word spelled and pronounced the same way but with different meaning

Hyperbole                               Extravagant and deliberate exaggeration

Idiom                                      A phrase peculiar to one geographic area or group of people

Imperative                               A word used as a command; Go

Independent Clause                 A group of words containing a subject, verb, and if necessary, an object, that can stand alone as a sentence

Indirect Object                        The object preceding the direct object that tells to whom or for whom the verb is acting, such as 'me' in 'He sold me'

Interrogative Pronoun              A pronoun used to ask a question, What, Which, Where, Whom, Whose, etc

Intransitive Verb                      A verb that doesn't need a direct object, such as 'she fainted'

Metaphor                                A phrase comparing two unalike things WITHOUT using 'like' or 'as'

Onomatopoeia                         Use of Words whose pronunciation sounds like their meaning, like Buzz or Hiss

Oxymoron                               Phrase consisting of words with contradictory meaning, military intelligence

Palindrome                              A phrase or word that reads the same forward or backward

Participle                                 A verb form ending in 'ing' or 'ed' that can be used as an adjective

Personification                         Giving human traits to non-human objects

Predicate                                 Part of a sentence, excluding the subject, that tells about the subject

Restrictive Clause                    A subordinate clause essential to the meaning of the sentence and which does not require a coma preceding it

Simile                                      Comparing two similar things using 'like' or 'as'

Split Infinitive                          A verb form where an adverb or phrase comes between the 'to' and the verb

Subordinating Conjunction      A conjunction such as 'although, because, since, while' that precedes a subordinate clause

Transitive Verb                       A verb that requires a direct object, 'he threw the ball'


Page Set-up or Style words

Curly Quotes                           Special Quotation marks slanted toward the quote (smart quotes)

Deck                                        The sentence or two under the title of a book

Folio                                        The page number on a page; blind folio has no page number but counts in the page count

Kerning                                   Adjusting the space between characters

Leading                                   Adjusting space between lines of text

N                                            Short for number

Nut Graf                                 The paragraph right after the hook which explains an article

Plate                                        A full page illustration, often on higher grade paper or different color

Running Head                         A title that is repeated at the top of every page

Sink                                         Distance from the top of a printed page to the first element on that page

Slug Line                                 ALL CAPS - location and time of day



I look forward to hearing from you with more suggestions.

Clear Ether!

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