33 Writing Terms You Should Know

By Simon Kewin

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.

Beta Reader: A secondary reader (after the writer) who checks a work with a view to spotting mistakes or suggesting improvements.

Copy Editor: Someone who edits a manuscript for grammatical mistakes as well as spotting plot inconsistencies etc.

Proof Reader: A person who checks that the proof of a work (the version ready for printing) matches the original manuscript.

NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month – actually fairly international these days. Participants attempt to write a complete novel in one month (November).

The following are the definitions of the lengths of short stories, novels etc. employed by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Others may use different definitions.

Short Story: A work under 7,500 words

Novelette: A work of between 7,500 and 17,500 words

Novella: A work of between 17,500 and 40,000 words

Novel: A work of 40,000 words or more

Flash Fiction: Very short fiction. Definitions vary, but less than 1,000 words and can be as short as 100 words or even less.

Twitter Fiction : Fiction short enough to fit into a Tweet, i.e. up to 140 characters long.

Finally, the following are some of the abbreviations you may come across to describe the various genres of fiction:

SF: Science Fiction (or Speculative Fiction).

HSF: Hard Science Fiction

SSF: Soft Science Fiction

F: Fantasy

EF: Epic/High Fantasy

DF: Dark Fantasy

UF: Urban Fantasy

MR: Magical Realism

H: Horror

GH: Gothic Horror

Reference links:

Science Fiction Writers of America

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

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5 Responses to “33 Writing Terms You Should Know”

  • Precise Edit

    Good list, Simon. Thanks for the reminders. Two more to add to your list, which I’ll let others define: “editor,” “edit.”

  • Teddy C.D.

    Thank you for this, Simon. I have a question though (for anyone):
    If I’m sending unsolicited manuscripts, stories, or poems to a publication such as a magazine, how much introductory information do I need to present?
    For example, on the websites of some magazines are little comment boxes and attachment links where you can submit you work unsolicited. However, I am not sure what to say in the comment box… Any thoughts please?

  • mailav

    Very nice and helpful information has been given in this article. I like the way you explain the things. Keep posting. Thanks.

  • vinay

    love to read all the terminologies related to fiction writing i’ll going to start writing soon, thanks fro your cordial support.

  • Frederiko Aguilar / Outskirts press

    I appreciate your effort and time in sharing your knowledge with all writers. The terminologies you’ve written are hanging on my wall. I’m working on my second novel and I’m always learning something new. I keep your website on shortcut. Thanks.
    Author

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