Some time ago I wrote a post sharing some writerly jargon: terms that writers use that you may or may not be familiar with. To follow up on that post, here are a few more terms that you’ll likely encounter in the author world:
In Medias Res
Latin for “in the middle of things.” It means to start a scene or a story in the middle of the action. Not necessarily in the middle of a heated battle, but for example, in the middle of a conversation or the middle of some other activity that matters to the story. Stories that begin with the main character waking up, getting out of bed, eating breakfast, and so forth can get things off to a very slow start and you risk boring your reader with unimportant actions.
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 A short story in its first draft or a novel in its third draft is a WIP if it’s unpublished and the author is still working on it.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