As with all activities, writing fiction involves getting to grips with professional jargon. The following are some of the more common terms you may come across as you learn your craft and market your writing.
POV (Point of View): the eyes through which the events of a story are seen.
MC: The main character in a story.
WIP (Work in progress): the thing you are currently working on.
Simsub (Simultaneous submission): submitting the same piece of work to more than one magazine/publisher at the same time.
Multisub (Multiple submission): sending more than one work to the same magazine/publisher at the same time.
MG (Middle Grade): generally speaking, readers between 8 and 12 years old.
YA (Young Adult): generally speaking, readers between 12 and 18 years old.
MS/MSS: MS means manuscript. MSS is the plural, manuscripts.
GL: Guidelines, describing what a publisher is interested in seeing.
DL: Deadline: the cut off-date for a submission.
Query Letter: A concise (one-page) pitch of an idea to an agent/publisher, to see if they are interested in reading a manuscript.
Bio: Biographical details as supplied to an agent or publisher, including, for example, any previous writing credits.
Slush/Slushpile: A pile, often large, of unsolicited manuscripts sent to a publisher or editor.
Here’s why this matters: because both writing and storytelling comprise, at the most basic level, a series of word choices. Words are the building blocks of what we do. They are the atoms of our elements. They are the eggs in our omelets. They are the shots of liquor in our cocktails. Get it right? Serendipity. Get it wrong? The air turns to arsenic, that cocktail makes you puke, this omelet tastes like balls.
Words are like LEGO bricks: the more we add, the more we define the reality of our playset. “The dog fucked the chicken” tells us something. “The Great Dane fucked the chicken” tells us more. “The Great Dane fucked the bucket of fried chicken on the roof of Old Man Dongweather’s barn, barking with every thrust” goes the distance and defines reality in a host of ways (most of them rather unpleasant). You can over-define. Too many words spoil the soup. Find the balance between clarity, elegance, and evocation.
The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, second edition, edited by Ross Murfin and Supriya M. Ray
(Because 2014 is the Year of the Genre Hop, and genre is important.)
This, in a way, is a table of contents in compensation for the mixed links on the ‘word lists’ tag, although not all of their word lists are on this masterpost - these are just the ones that I’m expecting to use consistently. If you see this, feel free to add your own helpful links. None of these…
No, the Word of the Day isn’t “Discontinuation.” We’re discontinuing the Word of the Day. Our reasons are twofold:
First, it isn’t our content. We’ve never claimed it was our content, but it’s a little nonsensical for us to slap a website’s feature on our blog every day. It’s their feature. For the record, if you want to keep receiving Words of the Day, sign up for the email system on Dictionary.com (left side of the page).
Second, it’s a bit of a nuisance. Molding the Word of the Day into a Tumbl-appropriate format takes some time. Not an absurd amount of time, but it’s time that we could be spending writing articles or answering asks.
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sciamachy \ sahy-AM-uh-kee \, noun:
No, our man walks out of choice, and walks because only on foot can he engage in the sciamachy essential to his trade: fencing with the shadows of hat brims, gun muzzles and arms flung across brickwork by the beams of Kliegs.— Will Self, Walking to Hollywood: Memories of Before the Fall , 2010
It further tends to leave the self in disarray, without an orientation. And it risks remaining wastefully engaged in psychological sciamachy – a struggle with shadows or imaginary enemies.— Eric Sigg, The American T.S. Eliot: A Study of the Early Writings , 1989
malinger \ muh-LING-ger \ , verb:
1. to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk one’s duty, avoid work, etc.
Because he twice slapped battle-stressed soldiers in Sicily who, he thought, were merely malingering, he was denied a major command in the Normandy landings.
— Bernard Knox, “Scorched Earth,” The New York Times, 1999
It is impossible to determine exactly what inspired Mary’s various symptoms, but her own and other family members’ letters suggest that her suffering may have been a combination of hypochondria, conscious histrionics and malingering, and unconscious rebellion against her father.
—Caroline Fraser, God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church, 1999
columbine \KOL-uhm-bahyn, -bin, adjective:
1. dovelike; dove-colored.
2. of a dove.
For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with columbine innocency, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent: his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil …
— Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, 1605
Com forth now with thyne eyen columbyn. / How fairer been thy brestes than is wyn.
— Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Merchant’s Tale,” The Canterbury Tales, 1387–1400
Columbine is derived from the Latin columba meaning “dove.” The columbine flower was so named because of its resemblance to a cluster of doves.