From the Beginning (part 3): Knowing the Writing Jargon

As I work on completing my first novel, the one I started back in November for NaNoWriMo, I’m keeping a journal of what I’m doing and learning as I go through this process.

Last week I talked about the difficulty I have providing names and titles, which hasn’t improved.  I still need a name for the planet that’s the setting for my novel.  And yes, I did once again change the title of my writing journal on this blog.   But that’s not the point of this week’s entry.  This week I want to provide some definitions for the jargon and acronyms used in the thousands of resources available for writers.

Since the internet is a procrastinator’s paradise, I spend lots of time there.  Unsurprisingly, thousands of pages full of writing advice lurk out there on the world-wide web, just waiting to snag unsuspecting surfers into a labyrinth of networks and recommendations and exercises and sales pitches and contests.  After all, writers, by definition, write, so why wouldn’t they spend at least some of their time writing about how to write?  Most of these pages are fairly harmless, some are hysterically funny, and many are actually helpful.  But in order to be helped, you need to understand writer jargon.

Yes, like any business, the writing world has its own language.  As my mind struggled to replace BINC, RPL, and flushing with pantsing, BIC, and logline, I decided to make my own Writer’s Dictionary.  Below you’ll find the definition of some key writerly words/acronyms along with a sentence so you can see the word in use.

Pantsing:  writing without an outline; writing “by the seat of one’s pants.”   Since I’ve basically been pantsing my way through life, I’m not surprised to find myself on the pantsing side of the pantsing vs outlining debate.

Side note:  Lately I’ve realized that, just like in life, sometimes you need a little structure and planning when writing, so I’ve gone back to my draft and am now writing an outline.  Sort of an outline.  Anyway, since I’m now a hybrid, I need to decide whether to say I’m “pouting” or “pining.”  Seriously, though, I’ve learned that we all need some way to keep track of what’s happening in the story, and an outline is a great way to find gaps and problems.

WIP:  Work in progress;  generally refers to one’s primary writing focus, not the assorted side projects one works on to avoid the actual WIP.    I’m allowing my WIP time to simmer on the back burner while I enter this fun online writing contest and watch NASA TV to research space flight.

BIC:  Butt in chair; the primary means by which one produces written work.   I’ve got to get BIC for that WIP.

Logline: A one-sentence summary of a TV script.   Since I am not writing a TV script, I do not need to know the definition of a logline.

Query:  Letter an aspiring novelist sends to an agent in which s/he provides a brief plot summary of the novel, proves that s/he possesses writing skills, and persuades the agent to want to read the novel, all in about 250-300 words.    Writing a query letter sounds hard, so I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that yet.

Side note 2:  I actually did write a query letter, or at least the brief plot synopsis part of the query letter and it really is hard.  However, it also really helped me zero in and focus on the key elements of the story I’m telling, which is helping me write my “outline.”  I recommend doing this even before you finish your novel.

MC:  Main character in the novel.   The MC in my WIP is driving me crazy.

HEA:  Happily Ever After; used to indicate that the novel will end happily for the main character(s).   If the WC in my WIP doesn’t start behaving, she will not get her HEA.

Knowing the jargon doesn’t really help much when it comes to writing the novel, but at least I can now navigate my way through the various writing advice sites when I am procrastinating researching my craft.

Any writerly terms you’ve always been curious about?  Any information you need researched?  Because you know I’ll take the time . . .


About notthatCindyCrawford

I like books, music, movies, television, sports, food, travel, learning, laughing and sitting around thinking. This blog is a place for me to have fun writing about the things I love. Let me know how I'm doing.
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2 Responses to From the Beginning (part 3): Knowing the Writing Jargon

  1. Jeff says:

    No writerly terms to add, but I did think it might be helpful to share an alternate definition with you for one of the terms you provided.

    From Urban
    Pantsing – to forcefully remove another person pants as a form of embarrassment; especially sweatpants or other loose fitting pants or shorts.

    Just didn’t want you to get into trouble by talking about how much you had been “pantsing” lately. People might talk.

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