Basic Writers’ Vocab

A month into online writing workshops, I quickly learned that publishing-oriented writers have an entirely different lingo than online fiction writers. Much to my chagrin, that mostly means lots of acronyms. I can’t remember most acronyms for the life of me, so I’m assuming that some of you can’t either.

So here’s the deal: As I bumble along into this “Publishing World” bonanza, I’m going to share with you all the new acronyms and terminology I have to learn. Feel free to bookmark this page. I’ll be adding to it as I go.

Some of the vocab may be general-use, but since I’m writing Fantasy-Romance, some of it may have that bent. I’m sure I’m biased in many other ways too. 😉

Age Categories

  • MG | Middle-Grade (ages 8-12)
    Focus: Friendships, school
  • YA | Young Adult (teenagers; ages 13-18)
    Focus: Emotion, growing into oneself, relationships (peer pressure, dating), butting heads with parent/guardian authority figures; often puberty as a catalyst
  • NA | New Adult (20s; ages 18-26)
    Focus: Self-discovery, experimentation, venturing out into the world, feeling out independence; characters are often in college and/or holding a job or job-searching
  • Adult (ages 30+)
    Focus: Life changes, achievements; often focused on achieving the goal of a more settled, stable, or favorable lifestyle

Genres & Categories

  • PN | Paranormal
    Anything with supernatural aspects, though this term normally implies some sort of romantic involvement to distinguish it from Urban Fantasy.
  • PNR | Paranormal Romance
    A Romance involving a not-so-human person, or supernatural elements. Usually takes place in the real world.
  • UF | Urban Fantasy
    Fantasy or supernatural elements exist within the real world; romance is not the main plot.
  • Rom | Romance
    The ups and downs of a relationship between equally-important main characters makes up the plot arc of the story. Must end in a HEA or HFN. (HEA is generally preferred, so most sequels revolve around alternate characters from the same world as the first couple.)
  • Erotic Romance
    A Romance driven by sexual character development. Sex scenes cannot be removed from the story, because the story would fall apart.
  • Erotica
    A shorter story (possibly a novella), focusing on sex or sexual progression. Romance does not have to be present.
  • Monster Erotica
    An erotica wherein the focusing on sex with a nonhuman, possibly even a non-humanoid creature (i.e. something that isn’t even mostly human).
  • shifter
    A story (typically Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, or Erotica) which references or focuses on creatures that can shift between more than one physical form. Most commonly shifters are take on the form of a human and the form of a particular animal. Most common pop-culture example: werewolves.


  • opener; opening
    Translation: The beginning or first lines of the story
  • inciting incident
    The event that initially “gets the ball rolling,” and effectively starts off the story. Generally expected to occur within the first couple pages of a novel.
  • GMC | goal, motivation, & conflict
    Translation: What the main character wants, why, and the struggle to get it
  • HFN | Happy For Now
    Translation: The story ends with the main character(s) having achieved at least one goal (or sub-goal), but there are still more issues to deal with in the next book. In a romance, this means the lovebirds are together and happy, but there is no guarantee it will be permanent.
  • HEA | Happily Ever After
    Translation: The story ends with the main character(s) happy, having achieved their goal. In a romance, this means the characters have gotten together, are happy with their relationship, and will stay together.


  • cause célèbre
    Translation: A controversial issue that the public (in the real world) is currently debating, which may turn up in a story
  • comps | comparables (contemporaries)
    Translation: Others writers whose style or stories are similar to one’s own
  • CP | critique partner
    A safe, trusted outside party to whom a writer can send their current WIP for constructive criticism.
  • MC | main character
  • MS | manuscript
    Translation: The pages of the story you’ve written





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s