• Yessica Jain

Writing Terms & What They Mean

Trying to understand the writing community can be challenging at first. There are so many abbreviations and terms that writers just throw around. I provided a list of the most common ones and their definitions.


Writing Abbreviations:

  • MC (Main Character): the protagonist of your work

  • OC (Own Character): a character you created and is not derived from another author’s work

  • WC (Word Count): how many words your work has

  • POV (Point-of-View): who is telling your story?

  • WIP (Work-In-Progress): a work you are currently writing, revising, or editing

  • NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month): hundreds of thousands of writers across the world try to write a 50,000 word novel in November

  • LitMags (literary magazines): magazines that publish literature, especially short literary fiction

Categorizing Works:

  • Genre: the style of your book, defined by the main plot (e.g. fantasy, romance, fanfiction)

  • Audience: the age range your book is best suited to. Some examples are listed below.

  • Middle Grade: books intended for readers between eight and twelve years of age

  • Young Adult: books intended for readers between thirteen and eighteen years of age

  • Adult: books intended for adults

Categorizing Authors:

  • Overwriter: someone who typically writes works that are longer than the standard length of works in their genre

  • Underwriter: someone who typically writes works that are shorter than the standard length of works in their genre

  • Planner: someone who outlines their work thoroughly before writing it

  • Plotter: someone who writes their work without any form of outline

  • Plantser: someone who writes their work with a brief outline

People Who Help You:

  • Alpha Readers: your first line of readers, typically your friends or family

  • Beta Readers: people who don’t know you well and comment on large aspects of your work, like plot and characters

  • Sensitivity Readers: people who comment on problems with representation, such as inaccuracies or harmful tropes

  • Editors: people who comment on small aspects of your work, like accuracy and syntax

  • Literary Agent: a person who acts as a go-between between an author and a publisher, helping you get the best publishing deal for your novel

  • Publisher: an organization that publishes works

Parts of a story:

  • Exposition: the introduction

  • Rising Action: everything that leads to the climax

  • Climax: the main event or the turning point in the novel (e.g. the war, the confession, the realization)

  • Falling action: everything after the climax

  • Resolution: how the story ends

  • Plot Twist: a sudden change; something happens that changes how the reader expects the novel to unfold

  • Worldbuilding: especially in speculative fiction genres, authors have to describe the world (or worlds) the story takes place in

Technicalities:

  • Syntax: how a sentence is structured

  • Literary Elements: things a story must have (e.g. plot, characters)

  • Literary Devices: things that change the way you get your point across (e.g. figurative language, syntax)

  • Infodumping: telling the reader a lot of information—necessary or not—at once instead of weaving it in throughout the story

  • Trope: a plot, character, or setting typically seen in books of a genre (e.g. the love triangle, the chosen one)

  • Cliché: a plot, character, or setting seen so often in books of a genre that it is predictable and unexciting

  • Traditional Publishing: getting a novel or other work published by a traditional publisher; this process typically involves an agent

  • Self-Publishing: publishing a novel or other work yourself


Phew! That was a lot. Most of these are easy to remember once you’ve seen them. Knowing what they mean can help you communicate with the writing community, whether you want to talk with a writer friend or understand a blog post.


Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!

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