A Glossary of Writerly Jargon

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.

WIP

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 A short story in its first draft or a novel in its third draft is a WIP if it’s unpublished and the author is still working on it.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

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

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Beginning at the End

I may offend or confuse some of you pantsers out there, but I’m really becoming a firm believer in knowing the end of your story before you finish. Most any writer who outlines at all probably has at least a vague idea of how the story is going to end – otherwise, what’s the point of the outline?

If you’re a die-hard pantser (one who writes “by the seat of your pants” and never knows what the next scene of your story is going to be about), then keep doing what you’re doing if it’s working for you. And if you’re a hybrid plotter/pantser and it’s working for you, keep that up, too.

I’m not actually trying to change anyone’s mind or writing method in this post – or even give instructions, really. I’ve just made some observations recently about my own writing method, so I thought I’d share. Continue reading

What to Do when You’re Stuck

I wrote a post some time ago about overcoming writer’s block, but this post is a little different. What do you do when want to write, you’ve got plenty of ideas, you’re excited about your WIP, but you just don’t know what to do next?

This is the position I’ve found myself in a lot lately with the historical fiction that I’m writing. What’s got me stuck is figuring out what the next few scenes should be and how to get my characters to the place they need to be by the end. As I was jotting down thoughts, I realized that I have come up with several ways of getting myself past these stuck points – and so I now want to share them with you. Continue reading