Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Terminology

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Terminology is an important part of writing and publishing. Knowing these terms gives the author credibility in the writing and publishing worlds. Communication with editors and agents is easier and the knowledge builds confidence so the author is better equipped to handle questions from readers, other writers, and interviewers. Workshops, classes, and conferences are less stressful for a prepared author. Writers can also supplement their fiction-writing income by writing non-fiction articles for magazines, blogs, and informational sources.

The terms are divided into sections, based on topic.

Writing Craft Terms:
Author intrusion – inserting research facts designed to “teach” the reader; inclusion of social, political, religious, and economic views when they aren’t important to the story’s plot; using dialogue/dialect that doesn’t fit the character’s education/upbringing/location
Backstory/information dump – history of the character or information that is “dumped” into the story all at once instead of vital bits of information being fed to the reader as needed
Beta Reader – a person who reads the manuscript and gives the author feedback before the publication process to catch plot and character inconsistencies, pacing issues, areas that need clarification, and grammar/punctuation problems, depending on knowledge.
Blurb – short description of the book designed to hook the reader; usually 25-150 words; used for promo and back cover
Character arc – the process in which the main character(s) grow, evolve, and/or change over the course of the story
Characterization – how the character’s life experience has influenced who she is, how she interacts with others, her mannerisms, etc.; personality traits
Foreshadowing – subtle hints at upcoming conflicts and actions
GMC – goals, motivation, and conflict
HEA – happily ever after
Headhopping – changing point of view without proper transitions or breaks
HFN – happy for now
Misplaced/dangling modifier – adjective phrase that modifies the wrong noun
MS – manuscript
Pacing – the movement of the plot from beginning to end
Pantser – writer who begins writing the book without having a thought-out plot
Active vs. passive sentence structure – sentence in which the subject is doing the action vs. sentence in which the action is being done to the subject by someone or something
Pitch/elevator pitch – very brief blurb designed to draw immediate interest from an editor or agent; a face-to-face or online opportunity to “sell” your book to an editor or agent, using a brief blurb
Plotter – writer who plots the story before writing the book
POV – point of view
POV glitch – when the POV character shows things that can only be known by the other character(s)
Query – submission letter to an editor or agent
Synopsis – tells the chronological order of your story, using your characters' goals, motivations, and conflicts to describe what each character wants, why he reacts the way he reacts, and how those decisions and behaviors affect him and his growth (character arc) through the events that happen; also tells the progression of the plot and its resolution--whether it's permanent or temporary--and is written in present tense from a narrator's perspective
Tagline – brief phrase meant to spark interest in the book
Voice – intangible quality that adds depth and personality to a story; sets the mood and tone; influenced by word choice, punctuation, word order, and sentence structure
WIP – work in progress
World Building – process of creating the world in which the story takes place

Publishing Terms:
Advance – money paid to the author in anticipation of royalty earnings. The amount is subtracted from any royalties earned. Generally, the author does not have to return the advance, even if it exceeds total royalties earned.
ARC – advance readers copy
Copy edits – checks for grammar, spelling, and punctuation; also verifies legal and usage questions and checks or questions facts
Developmental edits – edits for plot and character development
Digital-first publisher – publishes e-book version first and may also offer a print version at a later date
DMCA takedown notice – Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice; notices sent by authors and publishers to pirate sites for the removal of pirated files
DRM – digital rights management: technology that limits the use of digital media for users
E-publisher – digital publisher; some also publish POD versions
ISBN – international standard book number
KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing
KDP Select – Kindle Direct Publishing exclusive
Line edits – checks the pacing, story continuity, and content
Nook Press – Barnes & Noble self-publishing venue
POD – print on demand
PW – Publishers Weekly
Royalties – percentage of the sale price earned by the author on sold copies
RT – Romantic Times
Self-publishing – publishing in which the author is the publisher and is responsible for all aspects of book production, distribution, and marketing, including but not limited to editing, cover art, and formatting expenses. The author receives all royalties directly from the chosen distributors.
Series or "category" romances – books issued under a common imprint/series name that are usually numbered sequentially and released at regular intervals, usually monthly, with the same number of releases each time. These books are most commonly published by Harlequin and Entangled.
Single-title romances – longer romances released individually and not as part of a numbered series. Single-title romances may be released in hard cover, trade paperback, or mass-market paperback sizes.
Subsidy/Vanity publishing – the production of books in which the author participates in the costs of production or distribution in any manner, including assessment of fees or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishing programs that withhold or seek full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishing programs whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates.
Traditional publisher – print publisher; some also publish e-book versions.

Genre Definitions:
Contemporary Romance – Romance manuscripts that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and have a contemporary setting.
Erotic Romance – Romance manuscripts in which the sexual relationship plays an integral part of the plot, sexual language is explicit, and sex scenes are graphic.
Historical Romance – Romance manuscripts set in any historical time period.
Inspirational Romance – Romance manuscripts in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system) are a major part of the romantic relationship.
Paranormal Romance – Romance manuscripts in which the future, a fantasy world, or paranormal elements are an integral part of the plot.
Romantic Suspense – Romance manuscripts in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
Young Adult Romance – Romance manuscripts geared toward young adult readers.

Erotic Romance Terms:
BDSM – bondage, discipline/domination, submission/sadism, masochism
DP – double penetration
D/s – Dom or Domme/submissive
GLBT(Q) – gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, (questioning)
TP – triple penetration

Sexual partnering:
MF – male/female
MM – male/male
FF – female/female
MFM – male/female/male (men are not sexually involved with each other)
MMF – male/male/female (men are sexually involved with each other as well as the woman)
FMF – female/male/female (women are not sexually involved with each other)
FFM – female/female/male (women are sexually involved with each other as well as the man)
MMM – male/male/male (all men are sexually involved with each other)
FFF – female/female/female (all women are sexually involved with each other)
MMMF – male/male/male/female (men are sexually involved with each other as well as the woman)
MFMM – male/female/male/male (men are not sexually involved with each other)

Knowledge is power. It builds confidence and helps improve writing by creating a strong foundation for a successful career.

This post concludes the WTW career series. Did you miss some of the topics? Or would you like to have them all in a single handbook like WTW: The Writing Craft Handbook? I have good news! WTW: The Writing Career Handbook is coming to e-book and print on Friday, July 18!!! Here's a peek at the cover:

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!


  1. Thank you for another useful and informative post, and for clearly defining copy and line edits. That distinction was always a tad murky for me. With my inevitable snark, so much for some self-professed editors touting that their copy editing services do _not_ include fact checking and legal issues...Know your lingo, people!!

    1. Many editors have overlapping skills, so they often define themselves as one type of editor but do more than the job entails--which is way better than having an editor who does less! The assigned editing areas can even vary a bit from publisher to publisher.

      Thanks for stopping by, Momo! :)