Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lookie! A secret decoder ring!

I'm sure it's been done somewhere else on the web, but so many folks said that THEY hadn't heard of a phrase or an expression that I used in my post on Writerese in Jumping Over Jargon. So here is your very own Secret Decoder Ring to divine the short-hand we romance writers use.

BICHOK - Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard (the only way to ever type THE END)

MC - Main character (Could or could not be a squint-eyed game show host -- but he has to have the proper GMC and backstory to pull it off.)

GMC - Goals, Motivation and Conflict. What does your character want out of life, why does he want it, and who's the bear with the flashlight in his way?

HEA - Happily Ever After -- because, dadgummit, we don't always get that in real life, but we're the boss of this world.

HFN - Happy For Now -- because we want the fairy tale, but we're pragmatic.

Backstory - what happened before Chapter One, i.e., the Hero's dog died, his house burned down and he got fired for doing the right thing. Then he meets the heroine, and bam, does life EVER get complicated.

RUE - Resist The Urge To Explain -- in which we remember we don't have to tell ALL about how the Hero's dog died.

Show, don't tell -- in which we remember to have our hero turn a vivid green, his eyes go red, and his muscles suddenly split his jeans and shirt off rather than have him mumble, "I am so angry. I am so angry. You wouldn't like me when I get angry."

Synop - Short for synopsis, an instrument of torture designed by agents and editors in a rarely publicized secret meeting as a method to separate the wheat from the chaff. They define it as a short (1-2 pp) or medium (5-8 pp) or long (10-25 pp) summary of your book. No pressure.

Partial - the first three chaps and a synop.

Chap - Chapter. B/c by this time, you're too tired to type it all out.

BM or BBM - contrary to popular belief, nothing to do with bathrooms or diapers, but instead the Big Black Moment where the boy royally screws up and loses the girl or the girl royally screws up and loses the boy. All hope is gone. Hankies are required.

H/h - shorthand for Hero and heroine, or the boy and the girl in "boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back." I know. We romance writers are secretly sexist, because everybody knows that heroine should get the BIG H.

TSTL - Too Stupid To Live - a modifier used to describe the dumb thing the h does because you REALLY need her alone in the basement for the serial killer to attack her so that the H can come and rescue her b/c this is how they get over their BBM. (The H and the h. Not the serial killer. After the H gets hold of him, Mr. Serial Killer is having a totally different kind of BM.)

Organic to the Plot - which means that if you've created an h who is a prima donna ballerina in your romantic suspense, then she better be using some of those emboités and fouetté turns and grand jetés to take down the bad guy, not suddenly develop a black belt in karate.

All rightie, then, what have I missed? What abbreviations/terms/jargon should I add to the list?


Mia said...

I have to admit, I'd never heard of TSTL or HFN before. That's the fun (OK, and sometimes frustrating) part of learning, because the more knowledge you gain, the more you realize you don't really know that much.

Hm, you could add WIP and CP to the list.

Paul C said...

'RUE - Resist The Urge To Explain -- in which we remember we don't have to tell ALL about how the Hero's dog died.' Love this acronym. Thanks. I also like the skill of precis. Say something in 1/3 the length if you have the chance. Spare the reader some grief.

Linda G. said...

Thanks for the lexicon! I knew most of them already, but had a good chuckle at TSTL. ;)

Anonymous said...

Eight, EIGHT, of them I didn't know until your origial post the other day! Oy.

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

Well, I knew SOME of these, but not all of them. There are a couple of others floating around that I keep meaning to ask someone WOE do they MEAN? But I can't remember any of them now of course!

Thanks for the decoder ring... now where's my sugary cereal?

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...
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Tawna Fenske said...

Fabulous list! I'll admit, RUE was a new one to me, and all of them were wildly confusing when I first started out.

Nice job!

Karla Nellenbach said...

Ha! I thought I knew all the abbreviations but sadly I only knew about half...and I fancied myself a writer. lol :)

Also, I gave you an award over on my blog :)

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

Most of these were new to me. But I write nonfiction. Can I use that as my excuse? ;)

Cynthia Reese said...

Mia, I SHOULD add WIP and CP -- see how jargon permeates the brain and makes one think she is the center of the universe?

Paul C, thanks! And yes, an unnecessary word or sentence or paragraph or, God forbid, plot line, is about as useful as a third hand.

Linda G, I think that one stuck with me because I'd pulled it so much -- both in real life and in my many MSs!

Posey, no beating yourself up about this. It's not the abbreviations that are the important part -- it's the principles behind it, and somehow I think you have a good handle on this!

Rebecca, you remember 'em and come right back to me ... and your sugary cereal grand prize is chocolate cheerios -- amazing, isn't it, that even Cheerios can be so corrupted?!

Tawna, you and me both -- I remember scratching my head trying to figure out the H and h, wondering if it were a typo.

Thanks for the award, Karla! I am determined to catch up on my blog reading, b/c I always learn something new!

Elizabeth, you DO get a pass -- well, everyone gets a pass, because I got a pass -- but you especially. I'll bet there's jargon in the non-fiction world that we fiction writers wouldn't have a clue about.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm sorry, did you say something? I'm drooling over that picture of the decoder ring. MAN that is cool! :)

p.s. BBM is the only one I didn't know, and hadn't even heard of the Big Black Moment part. Hmm...

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Thank you! I haven't heard of some of these, or I have and didn't know what in the world they were talking about. Now I know. :)

Sheila said...
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Sheila said...

RUE-I MUST remember this. Thanks for posting these for everyone. This newbie thanks you! Must remeber...don't explain...

Colleen Thompson said...

Loved these (especially RUE, which I haven't heard but makes great sense.)

I would also add POV, for point of view, and one we use in my critique group: NQ, for "not quite." That's when a line needs a little smoothing or attention. :)

Thanks for sharing. I'll be linking this post!

TJ Bennett said...

Don't forget "MEGO." I can't remember where I heard it first, but it stands for "Mine Eyes Glaze Over," referring to the point where the reader starts to lose interest because the writer has put in the boring bits, and the writer better RUE (which I hadn't heard before but am definitely going to steal) everything that the reader is smart enough to get on her own.

Great list!


wordsareforwriting said...

This is a great post Cynthia!

prashant said...

the more you realize you don't really know that much.
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