Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Language of Writers

All my life I’ve had a love affair with language. As a toddler, it didn’t take me long to learn that I could captivate my daddy’s attention with my words. I can still recall the smell of the vinyl bus seats, warmed by the sun, mixing with the scent of diesel fumes as I learned to speak pig Latin as a grade-school child. In a move only hormone-charged, immature junior high students understand, my friend Brittany and I concocted a language of our own. A sort of hybrid between talking backward and pig Latin, no one else could understand it. We found this hilarious or tragic depending on the day. In high school I embarked on a two year journey into the German language because I adored the umlauts and throaty rumbles—and because it was required to go on the three week trip to Germany.

Nearly two decades have passed since I sat in Mr. Schwartz’s German II class, but I’m still not done learning languages. Last February, I entered the world of writing. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that writing has its own language. Maybe you are new to the journey of writing or maybe you have been in the business for years but just never had the guts to ask someone what all these words, phrases and abbreviations mean. If that is you, let me try to help you out.

Wrinkles In Production? Wincing In Pain? No, WIP means your Work In Progress or the story/article you are currently writing. Don’t let its name fool you—you won’t be whipping it out any time soon, but rather sweating over it for possibly years to come.

Before my life as a writer, this meant a dreaded, crippling disease. So let’s see…Meaningless Scribbles? No, this is the grown-up name of your WIP. After all the blood, sweat, and tears, your WIP will become your finished ManuScript.

This has nothing to do with Joan of or Noah and should not be confused with your character's arc. This is what happens to your MS after it is accepted for publication. Your publishing house will want others to read your book and say nice things about it, so they will give them an Advanced Reader’s Copy or ARC.

Uh-oh. A four-letter word. Maybe… Book On Teton Yetis? Or…Book of Talented Yodelers? (You know Amish fiction is hot.) Let’s see…Bought Out the…no, we are not going there. No, this stands for Book of the Year and if your WIP grows up to be a MS then graduates to an ARC, you can enter it and hopefully win the ACFW Book of the Year contest for published books.

These are merely a sampling. If you are a new writer like I am, we have a long way to go. I still need to get my brand (ouch!) and learn to make my bed with one-sheets.

Nikki Studebaker Barcus


  1. I'm still grinning about you all making up your own language. Two of my children and my DH are very, very verbal and could probably do just that!

  2. Very funny. My favorite came from a computer tech when a customer brought in a computer for repair. There was nothing wrong with it...except the user. I laughed when he told her it was an ID ten T problem, which was written as;ID10T (or idiot). :)

  3. Hi, Nikki! Great post! I loved it. You are a funny gal. :-) Are you taking Dr. H's fiction class? I'm still working on my WIP! Miss seeing you in class every week.

  4. Fun! We need a good glossary on this blog!

  5. Oh that made me laugh. Nikki, thanks for helping me become part of the abbreviation "in" crowd :)