Writing Terms

When I first started this journey, more experienced writers often used terms or abbreviations that I didn’t know. So, for all you new writers and non writers, here is a list of common jargon writers might use.

  • query – the letter we send to agents/publishers begging them to like our novel. Kind of like a cover letter when applying for a job, but focussed on our novel, not us. Sometimes accompanied by a synopsis and sample chapters. Agents can receive up to 200 queries a week.
  • query trenches – what writers call it when they’re querying agents/publishers. By jingo we get battered and bruised in the process
  • synopsis – the outline of our novel from beginning to end. Longer than a blurb and often giving away all the spoilers.
  • pitch – can be verbal when you have an agent/publisher in front of you for a short time and you sum up your novel in a sentence or two. Or written and slightly longer, that goes into your query letter.
  • partial/partial request – when an agent/publisher requests to see more of your writing on the back of your query. Can vary, but often 50pp.
  • full/full request – when an agent/publisher requests to see the full MS, usually on the back of your sample chapters/pages. The stats vary on requests (both partials and fulls, but I have read that agents request less than 1% of the queries they get)
  • The Call – every writer’s dream. When an agent/publisher schedules a call to discuss representation. (again stats vary, but I’ve read less than 1% of fulls requested get an offer, so less than 1% of less than 1%)
  • WIP – work in progress
  • MS – manuscript
  • MC – main character in your MS
  • WC – word count. We ‘measure’ our MSs in words, not pages
  • pp – pages
  • POV – Point of View – whose point of view the story is being told from
  • CP/critique partner – another writer with whom you share your work and the two of you offer feedback and suggestions for improvement.
  • beta reader – someone who’s opinion you trust, who reads your MS and offers feedback and criticism. Someone you trust will tell you the truth.

Hopefully this helps. If there’s something missing let me know and I’ll add it.

S 🙂


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