Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Industry Lingo Explained

In my last post, we discussed support among writers – a great thing, all around. In fact, it’s my favorite thing about being a writer. Sure there are all kinds of writers, but I’ve seen an awful lot of people in the publishing industry reach out to help others up the rungs, with everything from recommendations, to advice, to real support. One of the reasons that we’re so supportive is likely because the rest of the world, the nooooormal people (yes, you have to say it with a whiney ‘o’ sound, otherwise it’s not snarky enough), yeah, well, they don’t get it.

So here is my small attempt to educate the non-writers out there... and amuse the rest of us.

Industry lingo explained:

WIP: Work In Progress, otherwise known as, “I’m writing, I swear! No, I’m absolutely not puttering around the internet wasting time...”

Revisions: A manic period of writerly improvement where one wavers back and forth between adoration at the brilliance of their novel and wondering how the hell they managed to spew such drivel... usually broken up by periods of raucous laughter and anguished weeping over bullshit changes that likely don’t matter while missing larger mistakes that likely will.

Critique: The act of opening up said novel to an onslaught of criticism on every possible aspect of the writing, story, and even formatting... The better writers seek out the most brutal of critics... they also drink heavily.

Under the Bed Book: A first, second, or even third attempt at writing a novel which is part of the learning process most writers must go through... It would likely be a better idea to burn these tomes because they doth suck... yes, even yours... I know it’s harsh but it wouldn’t be under the bed if it was any good... (Mine sucks too, I’m an equal opportunity trash talker)

Query Letter: One page pitch to ye who holds your fate in their hands that must convey the tone, plot, and that which makes your novel sparkly... wait, not sparkly, that’s been done...what’s the word? Glitter? No, that’s been done badly... fabulousity? Meh... all in 250 words or less.

Rejection: Similar to the type of rejection one gets after using cheesy pick up lines at a bar, except it takes about a year of your life to write a novel, sometimes years... cheesy pick up lines can usually be thought up in the time it takes to use the bathroom, which is where I’m convinced they’re invented... Oh, and most agents won’t track down query writers to toss a drink in their face, though that might make for more fun.

Agent: The greatest of all writer’s advocates... except when they reject you... scratch that, it’s okay when they reject you, unless they showed massive interest and then sent back your first page with a big, red, “No Thanks”, but otherwise we loves them... unless they never reply....

Landing an Agent: Reason for happy dances and celebration and even major “Squeeeeee’s” (unless Stephen is around, for he loathes the squeee). Despite non-writer assumptions, this is preceded by many revisions, much research, and at least fifty bouts of pounding one’s head off keyboard, desk or hand...

Proper Response to hearing an aspiring author landed an agent: Squee or some variation of congratulations.

Improper response to hearing an aspiring author landed an agent: “So, when will you be published?” (Which is only allowable if, when you get a promotion, I’m allowed to ask when you’ll make it to an important position, like CEO... yeah, I thought so)

***Additional Definitions:

Synopsis: Turning a 400 page book into a 1 page summary. Shoot me now. Courtesy of Michelle Hickman

I thought about going farther, like “Landing a Contract”, but I think everyone gets that. How about you guys? Are there aspects to writing that you wish non-writers understood? Got any snarky definitions for me?


Realmcovet said...

This is effing hilarious!!! Did you get embued with the power of non-squeeing SP???

I heart your dark side Merry. Go with it.

Michelle H. said...

Nice list! But you forgot Synopsis - turning a 400page book into a 1page summary. Please shoot me now.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Realm,

Glad you liked it - I was in a funny sarcastic mood... and once you start with these kinds of silly definitions, they just flow.

Hi Michelle,

I loooove that!!! I'm going to add it to the blog list.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm pretty sure you've covered them all here, Merry, and you've done a fine job too. But I wish you hadn't exploded my fantasies about my under-the-bed books. Now how will I keep my bed from collapsing?

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mary,

Okay, you're right - under the bed books are perfectly acceptable as door stops and to prop up furniture :-)

You know, I've heard of some authors who have resurrected Under the Bed Books... I think I read in an interview that Jerry Spinelli's Eggs was an under the bed book that he revised after his wife suggested it was really good. There was also a story about a Stephen King short story, but I don't remember which one now.

And my word verification:
Uphoper - indeed!

Ello said...

I like the shoot me now addition. Very important term for an aspiring writer to understand.

Although I would have added hell after query letter myself...

Erica Orloff said...

LOL! I loved this Merry!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Ell,

Damn, I forgot all about Query Hell... okay, I didn't forget, I think I'm blocking it out purposely :-)

Hi Erica,

Glad you liked it!