Thursday, June 07, 2012


 You have mastered the English language, well, sort of… and you are fluent in three different languages, like me… okay not really. I have a hard enough time with English as a first language. Took four years of German and one of Turkish and remember barely enough to get by.

Then, just when I thought school was over, I had to learn Writernese. What is that you may ask? Simply put… it the language of writers. Writerspeak.


And if you're a writer, you know that writerspeak is often times hard to grasp. Kind of like cyberspeak. IMHO BTW LOL

I thought it would be prudent to take a look at Writernese and see if we can decipher some the meanings behind the words and acronyms to help us speak the language.

Common Writernese Terms and Acronyms. Trying to understand these few aspects of Writernese could be a brief exercise in madness, but it's a start.

EC: External Conflict (oppositions or physical threats to heroine or hero reaching their goals--i.e.: villain, journey, opponent)

IC: Internal Conflict (character's emotional struggles and growth)

GMC: Goals, Motivation, Conflict

Goals-- your character has a goal that he or she needs to reach.
Motivation-- what sends them out to accomplish the goal?
Conflict -- all the trials and thorns thrown in the path of your character to keep him/her from reaching goal. (when established, these set up the premise of a book, the overriding theme)

Climax -- a moment of great intensity that usually brings events to a head and moving toward the conclusion.

Foreshadowing -- adding hints and important information earlier on in the story that tip the reader off to what may come.

Resolution -- can be done on varying levels, like resolving problems in the story. Or resolving the main conflict.

Genre -- the kind of story being written; Gothic, Mystery, Romance, Inspirational, Sci Fi, Women's Fiction, Speculative… etc.

HEA: Happily Ever After (the resolution/ type of ending expected in a Romance novel) Think Fairy Tales. Hello, Prince Charming.

H/H: Hero and Heroine
Protagonist -- the main character
Antagonist -- opposition to protagonist… enemy

MS: Manuscript

WIP: work in progress. Unfinished Manuscript

 POV: Point Of View -- What a character can see or hear. (If it's dark he or she probably can't tell you someone's eye color. If it's behind them they can't give detail.)

1st person POV -- Spoken and told by one character in their viewpoint alone throughout the story. Uses I to lead sentences and so forth.

3rd person POV -- Storytelling told using third person pronouns like he/she. This POV can be Limited or Omniscient.

Limited -- The writer sticks closely to one character's feelings, thoughts and viewpoint, while other characters are added externally.

Omniscient -- The storyteller knows all the views and can bring in several character's point of views for the story. POV purest prefer that one POV is used in one scene to avoid head hopping.

Headhopping -- when the POV bounces back and forth instead of staying in one character's POV

Author Intrusion -- where the author puts in little snippets to explain the story or what may come.

CP: Critique Partner

MRU - Motivational Reaction Unit/ Motivation Response Unit 

Plot: the organization of main events

Story Arc: the continuing unfolding of the story. (This is certain to have highs and lows.)

ARC: Advanced Reader Copy.

Narrative: the telling of fictional or real events

RUE: Resist Urge to Explain. 

Showing vs Telling: 


Example -- Caroline from Shadowed Dreams...
"There are no buts about it, you ought to be sorry," she howled. "Just look what you've done. Do realize how much this dress cost?" Muddy tears filled her eyes. Caroline lifted her arms from the mud, the sleeves, weighted and wet, hung heavy, like muddy flags in the air. She flapped them. "Look at this mess."

Example -- See Jack run. She Jack climb the hill. See Jill join Jack and climb the hill. See how they laugh.

 GUM: Grammar, Usage, Mechanics

Theme: What is the topic of your story? What were you trying to say?

Backstory: Filling in the mystery of your character's past.

Backstory Dump: giving a lot of information about your character that might be better placed throughout the story.

Dialogue: talking, conversation between characters… set off with quotes.

Tags -- he said, she said. Most say not to overuse the tags with fancy words because they can pull a person out of the story, where as he said/ she said seems to disappear. "I don't know where I stand on that. too many he said/she saids begin to drive me bonkers," I declared.

Beats -- action beats to be exact. We communicate with actions. When a person is talking they are also moving. Action beats take away the need to use tags and move the story along with the character's movements. They draw the reader in visually.

Symbolism -- represents a deeper meaning than the words themselves convey.

Epilogue -- the final section of a novel that usually wraps up the tale nice and tidy like. Not all novels have them.

Prologue -- a prologue should reveal significant contributing facts. They can be used to hook a reader. Some would say they should never be used… Not sure I agree.

Euphemism -- word or phrase that stands in for another word or phrase.
    Chronically Challenged
    Economical with the Truth
    Collateral Damage

Imagery -- Vivid descriptive language that appeals to one or more of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).

Metaphor -- a comparison of two things that does not use like or as
    "Life is a journey, travel it well."
(United Airlines)
    "Life is a journey. Enjoy the Ride."

Simile -- a comparison that uses like or as
Like peas in a pod.
As bald as a cue bald

Analogy -- is kind of like Metaphors and Similes, which can be used in an analogy, but an analogy is used to explain and convince.
    "I am to dancing what Roseanne is to singing and Donald Duck to motivational speeches. I am as graceful as a refrigerator falling down a flight of stairs." - Leonard Pitts, "Curse of Rhythm Impairment" Miami Herald, Sep. 28, 2009
    "If you want my final opinion on the mystery of life and all that, I can give it to you in a nutshell. The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination. But the combination is locked up in the safe." Peter De Vries, Let Me Count the Ways
    "Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." - Don Marquis

Cliché -- a trite or overused expression. These are to be avoided like the plague… so they say. I say use them sparingly. Have to… I have a character who loves to use them.
    Birds of a feather flock together
    Kill two birds with one stone
    Two peas in a pod
    Stubborn as a mule
    A submarine with screen doors
    Like pulling chicken's teeth
Well you get the idea.

Zeugma -- is a figure of speech in which two or more parts of a sentence are joined with a single common verb.
    "You are free to execute your laws, and your citizens, as you see fit."
(Star Trek: The Next Generation)
    "Kill the boys and the luggage!"
(Fluellen in William Shakespeare's Henry V)

Plotters -- writers who plot out their story, by outline or use of a certain Methodology (i.e., Snowflake Method, Liquid Story Binder, Open Source Novel Writing Software, Scrivener ) to fill in the blanks and plot out their stories. Some people go to great lengths to plot and boast that they can have a story plotted in a day or a week. Then written the following week.

I am not one of these people. I have tried, to no avail. I fall under the next category

SOTP -- Seat Of The Pants -- writers who use no set formula to write out a story, other than where the ideas or characters take them. They may use a bit of an outline to keep certain thoughts in order. Put up some sticky notes and follow a calendar but not much more.

You can mix the percentages of these writing styles and come of with writers on all levels.

SASE -- Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Important to know when sending in a manuscript. (Yes, even in this computer driven society, sometimes you will send a manuscript via snail mail. Rare but…) Always send an envelope with your information and the proper postage.

Well, we've barely scraped the tip of the Iceberg (oops a Cliché) covering Writernese. Hopefully, it's not as foreign a language as it used to be and I have not led you down the road to insanity. There is so much more, but let this be a starting place on your journey to learn the language.


DebbieLynne said...

What I want to know Tina is how long did it take you to remember all these and write them down?

Tracy Krauss said...

I had not heard of zeugma before.

Tina Pinson said...

Debbie Lynne,

It took a few days to think of things and look up things.

I believe I reached scholar level just hunting...


I think I've forgotten half of what I put down..


Tina Pinson said...


I hadn't either until they shared it on Seekerville.

I've used it, but now I have a name and a new word for scrabble.

June Bryan Belfie said...

Interesting. Eight years ago, I would have been stumpped at 90% of them, but I was pleased I was familiar with nearly all. 'Zeugma' was a new one for me, also.
Thanks for taking the time to share.

Sadie and Sophie said...

I only recently discovered HEA. I read it on one of the loops and had no idea what it meant, so I resorted to Google. Amazing what you can find if you dig. Great post, Tina - I feel info-dumped LOL. If only I could retain it for longer than ... oh look, it's a full moon! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Deborah Dee Harper said...

REALLY terrific post! Thank you :-)

by Pegg Thomas said...

Nice! I knew most of them, but not all. :)

Carrie Fancett Pagels said...

Thanks for this post. I shared it on FB with the MidAtlantic Zone and in general. Great advice for newbies. I know I used to wonder what in the world ppl were talking about. Blessings!

Debbie Lynne and Kathy said...

I thought of one you missed! MRU--motivation/reaction unit. You have to show the event/catalyst before you have the character react, in essence. I'm sure there is more to it than that, but that's the nutshell.

Also, "showing vs telling" always deserves a nod. I love Chekhov's famous quote: “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Tina Pinson said...


there is so much information out there. But it is nice not to be in the complete dark like I was all those years ago.

thanks for stopping by.

Tina Pinson said...

Sadie & Sophie

too funny. I know the post has a lot in it. I thought about making two or three posts out of it, but...

What was I talking about again.

:-) nice to have you visit.

Tina Pinson said...


thank you. appreciate your comment.


Tina Pinson said...


thanks. I didn't know any of them... that's why I had to write it. LOL

And there is so much more to learn. Egads

Tina Pinson said...


thank you so much for sharing the post. I wrote it specifically after hearing people talk about what somethings mean. I know there are so many posts out there, but figured it couldn't hurt to add to the pack.


Tina Pinson said...

Debbie Lynne and Kathy,

Thanks for the reminder about MRU and showing and telling. I had so many other things to add, but figured now one would read the post.

But I went ahead and added something about MRU and Showing and Telling.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I was surprised by how many I actually know!

However, I would add that SOTP writers sometimes just refer to themselves as 'Pantsers'. If one was unaware of the SOTP acronym and its meaning, it could be quiet confusing.


Melissa Jagears said...

I have NEVER heard of "a submarine with screen doors" is there such a thing as a regional cliche, you see, I'd have been impressed with the originality of that phrase.....if I knew what it meant. lol.

So, um, what does it mean?

Melissa Jagears said...

Well, I can guess at it's meaning, but more on how is it used? is it more dumb, or useless, or ineffective