Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Behind the Scenes: a Glossary of Writerly Terms

It makes sense to us.
Of course we writers have our own language and vocab.  Doesn’t everyone?  Sometimes these terms slip into my conversations without me noticing—until my fellow conversationalists give me funny looks.  So you’ll know of what I (or many other writers) am speaking, here’s a partial list:

WIP – Work In Progress.  Whatever it is we’re currently working on, or any of our projects pre-Final Draft.  This especially describes a first draft under edit.  (pronounced Wip, not double-yew-eye-pee.)

MS (MSS) – Manuscript(s).  Sometimes refers to various drafts, but usually used to describe a Final Draft ready to submit.

Sub – (noun) Submission.  A manuscript that has been submitted to an agent/editor for consideration.

On Sub – On Submission, or currently waiting to hear back what the agent/editor thinks of the manuscript. This time period can last from one day to one year.  The author’s emotional state during this time can be one of either extreme nervousness or total forgetfulness.  I’ve had stories on sub that I’ve completely forgotten about until editors got back to me a year or so later.  Whilst on sub, the best thing a writer can do is work on their next project.

R&R – Revise and Resubmit.  Agents use this term whenever they find a project they really love that’s Almost There.  They’ll ask the writer to revise the manuscript (preferably offering suggestions) and to resubmit the manuscript for another consideration.

CP – Critique Partner.  This is a fellow writer who reads your work in various stages and offers detailed feedback for the improvement of your work.  A good CP will give you honest, detailed feedback and pull no punches.  No, it doesn’t hurt as bad as you think, because a good CP does it with love and a mutual desire for your mss’ success.  This is a long-term relationship spanning books and years.

Critter – Critique giver.  Like a Critique Partner, but more casual or informal.  If you sub your MS to a workshop, you will get feedback from critters.  I spent a good ten years on the most excellent  There’s also and a few others.  They’re not hard to find.  You can also find local workshops.

Critic – someone who reviews your published work but doesn’t like it, or pans it unprofessionally.

Reviewer – someone who reviews your published work and either is professional in pointing out its perceived flaws, or who loves it and gives it a good, quotable review.

Beta-reader  –   a reader (not necessarily a writer) who reads a beta-draft (ie, the penultimate draft before the Final Draft) and gives reader-based feedback. 

#@&%$%!! – Your WIP when you’re stuck, when you’ve been editing it too long, when you read someone else’s published book and it’s waaay better than yours, when you read a critic’s review, when your R&R’ed MS is declined, whenever anything goes wrong.  These days happen.

BIC – Butt in Chair.  Essentially, sitting down and getting some work done.  Cranking out draft, editing draft, prepping Final MS to go on sub.

When not completely forgetting what she's sent out, Her Grace uses Sonar to keep track of subs.


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