Writing Community Terminology

Below is a quick list of terms and phrases frequently used by members of the writing community (organized alphabetically).

 

Age group: The intended readership for your manuscript, such as middle grade, young adult, and adult.

Antagonist: The “bad guy” in the story. This is the person preventing your protagonist (the hero) from getting what he/she desires.

AuthorTube: A community on YouTube where creators post writing-related videos. Creators can be published or yet-to-be-published writers.

BookTube: A community on YouTube where creators post book-related videos (such as book reviews, book hauls, and more). These creators don’t have to be writers, though they can be.

Developmental editor: An editor who assesses the plot of the story, character development, etc. This editor is not the same as a copy editor, who edits grammar.

Elevator pitch: A one- to two-sentence pitch that summarizes the cool parts of your book/what makes it unique.

First person perspective: This point of view is when a writer tells the story from a single character’s perspective. The character would refer to him/herself as “I” in the story.

Freelance editor: An editor who is usually unaffiliated with publishing houses and can work with writers to improve their story. Freelance editors are often utilized by self-published authors to prepare their story for publication, but they may also work with a writer who is seeking literary representation.

Genre: This refers to the genre of a book, such as fantasy, thriller, mystery, romance, etc.

Hook: Depending on its use, this word refers to many things. Usually a hook refers to either what is gripping about your story or the first sentence in a query letter that grabs a literary agent’s attention.

Literary agent: People who represent authors seeking traditional publication (vs. self-publication). Literary agents will pitch authors’ manuscripts to editors at publishing houses with the hope of them ultimately purchasing the book/selecting it for publication. Literary agents do not make money until their authors do. They typically make 15% of a writer’s earnings.

Metadata: This refers to the word count, genre, and age groupthree important pieces of information in a query letter to literary agents.

MG: Middle grade (an age group).

MS: This refers to a manuscript, a writer’s unpublished (possibly unedited) book that they’re currently writing/editing/querying.

Novella: A short book (usually between 20,000-50,000 words).

Pantser: A writer who “flies by the seed of their pants.” In other words, a writer who doesn’t plan out their novel, but writes to discover the story.

PB: Picture book (an age group).

Pitch: Similar to an elevator pitch, a pitch is a short description of a writer’s book usually created with the intention of sparking the interest of a literary agent or editor.

Plantser: A plantser is a combination of a plotter and pantser. This writer plans only somewhat when writing a book.

Plot summary (also called a book blurb): The one- to three-paragraph description of a book that reads like a book jacket. The plot summary is usually included in a query letter to a literary agent. Unlike a synopsis, the plot summary acts as a teaser to get the person interested in reading the story and does not reveal the ending. (For more information on plot summaries, click here.)

Plotter: A writer who plans out their book before writing it.

POV: Also called point of view. This is the person who’s narrating a particular chapter or whose perspective the chapter is written from.

Protagonist: The hero of your story.

Query: A one-page cover letter specific to the book publishing industry. A query is sent to literary agents (essentially) to pitch a writer’s manuscript to them in hopes that they will be interested in representing the writer’s work.

Synopsis: A one- to two-page document that summarizes a book. It reveals everything, including the ending. A synopsis is often used in a writer’s submission to a literary agent.

Third person perspective: This point of view is when a writer tells the story from either a single character’s perspective or multiple characters’ perspectives. The character would be referred to as “she” or “he” in the story. For example: Sarah ran toward the closing doors. (Compared to: “I ran toward the closing doors.”)

Twitter pitch contests: Online pitching opportunities hosted on Twitter through select people or groups where writers can pitch their manuscript in a single tweet, using a select hashtag that literary agents and editors will peruse in search of story for their respective lists. (For more information on how to write a Twitter pitch, click here. To view a Twitter pitch contests calendar, click here.)

WIP: Also called work in progress. This refers to a writer’s manuscript they are currently writing/editing.

Word count: The length of writers’ manuscripts are determined by the quantity of words (rather than page number). To learn more about word counts, click here.

Writing sprints: A designated time where writers will write as many words as they can.

YA: Young adult (an age group).

 

This page is inspired by the lovely Lenn Woolston’s YouTube video, The Language of Writers.