If you’re new (or even not so new) to the world of writing, you may have discovered that us writerly folks have our own jargon. Even if you’re not a writer, if you’re an avid reader you’ve probably associated with enough writers (and/or literary critics) to have heard some odd terms being tossed about. So I thought I’d help you out with this small starter list of writerly words and abbreviations. This is by no means a comprehensive glossary – I’ve just tried to pick some of the most common or weird-sounding terms.
This stands for Work in Progress. A short story in its first draft or a novel in its third draft is a WIP if it’s unpublished and the author is still working on it.
MC stands for Main Character. There are a lot of other terms to define character types (like protagonist, anti-hero) and one of these may or may not be the main character. But if you’re reading about a writer or a book and you see “MC,” it just means Main Character.
Mary Sue (or Gary Stu)
This is a character that is “too perfect.” A Mary Sue character is often super-model beautiful, multi-talented and excels at everything without trying hard, is loved by everyone, and makes few or no mistakes. A Mary Sue (or Gary Stu for a male character) frequently is an idealized version of the author, and the story can read like a contrived excuse to showcase the author’s perfect fantasies. Continue reading
Someone asked me recently about where a writer should draw the line between explaining something in painstaking detail versus just glossing over a topic and letting the reader try to figure it out on their own. It’s a complex question, really, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.
What was really interesting, though, was that right on the heels of this question, I had an experience in my critique group that not only did NOT answer that question, but highlighted how there truly isn’t a right or wrong answer.
First off, let me say that I absolutely love all of my critique partners, and our times together are full of valuable feedback, learning experiences, and lots of fun. One of the elements that makes a good critique group, I think, is having a diverse group of writers who all have different writing styles, favorite genres, and writing experiences. Continue reading
Lately I’ve realized something in my reading and writing habits: I like happy endings. This is not a new realization, really, but I started thinking about it recently in a new and deeper way.
As a kid, I loved Disney movies and similar stories, where everything was tied up in a neat little bow and they all lived happily ever after. I didn’t like feeling sad, and so I sought out happy stories with happy endings.
As an adult, I still like happy stories with happy endings—but there’s more to it than that. It’s not as much about everything ending on a perfect tidy note, but more about ending on a strong or redemptive note. Continue reading
For anyone who follows this blog, and/or is wondering what I’ve been up to of late, here it is in a short summary: not writing.
I’ve missed several weeks of blogging here and there over the past few months, and I’m embarrassingly behind on my writing goals for my current dieselpunk series. So it’s more “other shenanigans” rather than writing that I’ve been doing this summer. Continue reading
Writers tend to think in metaphors, and have a penchant for turning non-literary stuff into something literary. And so because of that, a great many non-writing things in life can be held up as useful for the writing life.
I have recently begun taking square dancing lessons (you may laugh if you wish). I live in a small town, and square dancing is a big thing here. And with good reason – it’s a fun, family-friendly activity that people of all ages can do together, and it’s good exercise. I’m really enjoying it, and I’m learning a lot. And, because I’m a writer, I’m applying it to my writing life, too.
Dancing/Writing is not a Solitary Activity
While square dancing requires a minimum of eight people, writing tends to be something that one does all alone. And while it’s true that the act of writing is a solitary venture, getting a publishable book into the world is not. Ideally, a writer has critique partners or beta readers, an editor, perhaps a cover designer, and of course readers. Continue reading
Sometimes you just need a good picture to jolt your creativity or give you some ideas. Whether it’s a landscape, a city scene, a fantastical image, or some little detail that often goes unnoticed, studying pictures can help us bring richness and details into our writing.