A Primer on Writers’ Acronyms

Acronyms in Scrabble lettersWelcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and find some interesting tidbit. Having just returned from a writers’ conference (DFWCon), I thought this would be a good time to talk about writing acronyms.

My first year at a writers’ conference, I had no idea what POV, RWA, and plenty of other abbreviations were. Like other occupations, writers have their own language of sorts, and it takes time and exposure to learn what these acronyms mean. Here’s a primer. (Terms are listed in alphabetical order for reference.)

ARC – Advanced Reading Copy. This is a proof run–the “dress rehearsal,” so to speak–of a printed book. Authors and editors use this copy to perform one last check for errors. Sometimes, authors will use ARCs as their giveaway copies in contests before the official release of the book.

BICHOK – Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. The way manuscripts get written. Most of us can’t wait for the Muse to tap us on the head with a fairy wand. We just sit and write until the magic appears. This is also abbreviated at times to simply BIC, or butt in chair.

GMC – Goal-Motivation-Conflict. One of the building blocks of story structure. Scenes are made up of a character’s goal, their motivation, and the resulting conflict when that goal is not so easily attained.

HEA – Happy Ever After. Romance novels in particular talk about the HEA, which is the  happy-ever-after ending readers anticipate, but it can apply to most other genres.

MC – Main Character. Also called the Protagonist.

MG – Middle Grade. The genre for tweens, or ages 8-12.

MS – Manuscript. Any unpublished writing project.

NA – New Adult. A relatively new genre of books aimed at those transitioning to adulthood, or 18-26 year olds. (Source: Cally Jackson Writes)

OED – Oxford English Dictionary. This isn’t really a writer’s acronym, but anyone whose business is words should know this abbreviation for the definitive dictionary of the English language.

POD – Print on Demand. A newer way of printing a book only when a buyer purchases the hard copy. For instance, CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) is a POD supplier.

POV – Point of View. This is the perspective from which a story is told. Whether the prose is written in first person or third person, there is a lens through which the whole story or each scene is told. That’s the point of view.

SF – Science Fiction. The science-fiction genre. You may also see SF/F, which simply means Science Fiction/Fantasy.

TBR – To Be Read. Writers and readers both refer to the books they plan to read as their TBR pile (or stack, or queue, or tower, as the case may be).

WIP – Work in Progress. Whether it’s a short story, screenplay, novel, or whatever that you are writing or editing, that’s your WIP, or work in progress.

YA – Young Adult. The genre for teens, with the target audience of 12-18 years old.

Groups you might have seen:

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writers’ Month. NaNoWriMo is officially November, but there are other events throughout the year including Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. Participating writers pledge to write 50,000 words in a month (essentially a novel) and get encouragement and accountability to complete the task.

ROW or ROW80 – Round of Words in 80 DaysKait Nolan started this “writing challenge that knows you have a life.” There are four rounds each year, lasting 80 days each, of course. Writers set their own goals and support one another in reaching them. The individuality and flexibility of goals are wonderful features of this approach.

RWA – Romance Writers of America. One of the most popular writers’ groups, with regional chapters just about everywhere. RWA has long had a reputation of educating and encouraging writers from various genres, not just romance. They also hold a national convention each year and host the nice-work-if-you-can-get-it RITA awards.

WANA – We Are Not Alone. This is an online community of writers that has coalesced around Kristen Lamb‘s WANA books and courses. You can check out the WANA International website or connect with members through the #MyWANA hashtag on Twitter. The main thing to remember is that it’s not self-promotion or spam, but rather community.

There are plenty of other acronyms, but these seem to be the most common. If you hear another acronym and you don’t know what it means, just ask. No one will exclaim, “Unbelievable! She can’t be a writer if she doesn’t know what ___ means!” Every writer had some time in his/her past that he/she didn’t know what that meant. 

What other acronyms have you heard? What would you add to the list?