Weird Words Writers Use

So for my inaugural blog post, I thought I would start by posting a few of the weird words, phrases, and abbreviations that writers use when they talk and write, so those just joining their first writer’s forum don’t feel completely over their heads. If you think of more I missed, please add them in the comment section below, and I will update with new words as I stumble upon them.

*Updated on 5/18/17

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Alpha Reader – A person who you allow to read your work when it is in the rougher stages. Sometimes it is a critique partner, just giving your feed back on a few pages, other times it is someone who reads your full manuscript and gives you their thoughts before you jump in for edits. It is often better if your alpha readers are fellow writers, or at least have some knowledge of the writing world.

ARC – Stands for Advanced Reader Copy.  The publisher will usually give the author a few hard copy books prior to the official release date for the author to give to select readers in advance, as a promotional tool.

Beta Reader – After finishing your manuscript and editing that manuscript based on the notes from your Alpha Readers, your manuscript is now ready to be given to a Beta Reader who will read your polished manuscript and give you their overall comments. While fellow writers can be beta readers, it often works best to make sure your beta reader is a non-writer, avid reader of the genre you are writing.

Critique Partner – This is a fellow writer that you swap short sections of your work-in-progress with for the purpose of giving each other feedback, suggestions, and critiques.

Darlings – Phrases, characters, scenes, or anything else in your story that you have grown to love.

Killing Your Darlings – Cutting out a phrase, character, or scene from your story, despite feeling really attached to it, because you have painfully realized the story works better without it.

MC = Main Character

MS = Manuscript

MG = Middle Grade (this is not a genre like mystery or romance, but rather a sub group within a genre where the stories are usually written for readers ages 8-12, feature main characters in that same approximate age range, and deal with themes appropriate for that age group.)

NaNoWriMo – Stands for National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November, authors strive to write 50,000 words. Those wanting to take on the challenge can sign up on NaNoWriMo.org.

Purple or Purple Prose – If something is described as “purple” in the literary world, it means it comes across as overly flowery and showy, as something that is ornate just for the sake of being ornate.

Save the Cat = A phrase referring to a heroic or kind action preformed by a character in order to have readers like that character more. The phrase comes from the  book “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder that authors of all kinds (not just screenwriters) often recommend.

Story Bible – A collection of outlines, setting descriptions, character profiles, research, background information, and any other pre-writing documents used to plan your story.

WIP = Work in Progress. Whether you are brainstorming additional plot points, outlining it, writing your first draft, or editing, if you have an idea for a story you are working on at all, you can call it your WIP.

YA = Young adult (this is not a genre like mystery or romance, but rather a sub group within a genre where the stories are usually written for readers ages 13-18, feature main characters in that same approximate age range, and deal with themes appropriate for that age group.)

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