Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Writer’s Glossary

In true Wiki style, I encourage you to add your own terms and definitions in the comment section. Together we can build a useful compendium for future generations.


IRONICALLY OBVIOUS: A typo in your manuscript or query letter that can only be caught four minutes after you hit send.

DELUSIONS OF FIRST DRAFT GRANDEUR: The erroneous belief that your first draft is good just the way it is and will not require revision.

SCRIBBLOTOPIA: A time, place, or alternate dimension where you'll finally be able to focus on your writing. Ie., a place that does not, cannot, and shall not ever exist. See associated listings under, UNICORNS and DELICIOUS, NO-CAL CHEESECAKE.

DEAD-DOG EDITS: Those revisions you will only undertake if someone is threatening to shoot your dog. Or not publish your manuscript.

AMBIVALENT VERBOSITY: When you keep changing the same sentence or word back and forth between two options, neither of which you really like.

BITCH SLAP CRITIQUE: When someone unleashes a torrent of snarky comments on a first draft for no reason other than that they’ve mistaken cruelty for honesty.

RED-FACE NOVEL: Your first novel, which, in retrospect, you now realize was embarrassingly awful.

ADVERBIAL CO-DEPENDENCY: An appalling addiction to or reliance upon adverbs. Often found in aforementioned RED-FACE NOVEL. Difficult to treat. Heavy doses of REJECTION have proven effective in many cases, however.

COMPOUND DISBELIEF: The feeling you have when you read a book that got published and you can’t for the life of you understand why. Characterized by one or more of your bones protruding from your skin, generally your skull.

CRITIQUERY: The art of acting like a pretentious jackass in a writer’s workshop or similar setting. Eg., by talking down to others using concepts or terms picked up that one semester spent in art school or otherwise behaving in a superior, tiresome way.

THREAD TROLL: That guy who pops up on certain writer’s forum threads who -- in response to expressions of frustration -- feels the need to tell you to either grow up or give up, and if you don’t like it, too bad. That’s publishing for you.

EDITORIAL EMESIS: The point you reach during revisions when you simply cannot look at your manuscript for one more goddamned second without puking.

TONGUE TRANSPLANT CANDIDATE: A person who’s bitten his tongue one too many times in response to someone’s drunken cocktail party assertion that they, too, having been thinking about writing a novel. Especially someone who writes for young people and who hears how much “easier” that is than writing for adults.

SLOWER THAN A CONSTIPATED GLACIER: The rate at which space-time passes while you’re waiting to hear back from agents or editors about the status of your project.

MAGICAL EFFING JACKRABBIT: An idea that you chase and chase, thinking it will lead you somewhere fantastic, but instead it only leads you down a dark hole full of spiders, worms, and voles.

NARRATIVE TARPIT: Where your plot gets stuck and eventually dies, leaving behind its bones for future paleontologists to study.

REJECTION: All you have ever known.

HYPE JOCKEY: A person who gallops to undeservedly good sales on the back of a horse called Overly-Hyped.

GOING DOWN WITH THE HYPE SHIP: What happens to an author when his/her book sinks under ruinous reviews because readers are ultimately disappointed that the book wasn’t the next Twilight, like the cover blurb claimed it was.

PULLING UP A SEAT TO THE CARDIAC SMORGASBORD: When you are eating your heart out about someone else’s agent, book deal, sales figures, movie option. A continuous state for most writers. See cross-listing under, NORMAL.

THE NEXT BIG THING: Probably not you.