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Glossary

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L

Lead: The first paragraph of a manuscript. This is where the “hook” (to grab the reader’s attention) should be.

Lead Time: The time between getting the query or article and the publication of the article. Vital for seasonal articles and stories.

Limerick: A light, humorous style of fixed form poetry, usually of five lines and a subject matter which is silly.

Logline: One sentence description of a screenplay or TV script.

Loop Writing: A type of writing that helps you develop your thinking. Stories, dialogues, prejudices, etc are written that take off from a word, phrase, or paragraph in some informal writing. Later you think about how you can use this loop writing to discover another point of view by bringing in relevant personal experiences.

Lyric: A brief poem that expresses the personal emotions and thoughts of a single speaker, not necessarily of the poet.

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M

Manuscript: Author’s copy of a novel, non-fiction writing, article, or screenplay.

Massmarket: A paperback book smaller in trim size than trade paperback, usually with a different cover illustration than the hardcover edition, and considerably cheaper.

Metaphor: A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, without using the word like or as. For example – Life is a brief candle. (Macbeth)

Meter: A recurring rhythmic pattern of stresses and unstressed syllables in a poem.

Motif: A recurring object, concept, or structure in a work of literature. A motif may also be two contrasting elements in a work, such as good and evil.

Myth: A story that attempts to explain events in nature by referring to supernatural causes, like gods and deities. Usually passed on from generation to generation. 

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N

Narrative: A collection of events that tells a story, which may be true or not, placed in a particular order.

Newbie: A new writer.

Novel: A work of fiction consisting of 45,000 words or more.

Novella/Novelette: Short works of fiction consisting of between 7,500 and 40,000 words.

Nut Graf: In journalism, the paragraph that contains the main point of the story.

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O

Ode: A lengthy lyric poem that often expresses lofty emotions in a dignified style.

On Acceptance: When payment is given to the writer after the editor accepts the finished nonfiction article.

On Publication: When payment is given to the writer when the piece is published.

On Spec: When the editor is not obligated to publish the piece as the writer was not officially assigned to write it.

Onomatopoeia: The use of words that resemble the sound they denote. For example – hiss or buzz.

Outline: A point form or list of short sentences that describe the action or major ideas in a written work.

Over-the-transom: Unsolicited materials submitted to editors.

Overview: A brief description of a novel or non-fiction book intended to introduce the work to a publisher.

Oxymoron: A phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings. For example – original copy.

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P

PB: Abbreviation for Picture Book.

POD: Abbreviation for Print On Demand – publishing a book or books as they are demanded.

Pace: The speed or rhythm with which a story is told.

Palindrome: A word or phrase that means the same when read in either direction. For example – ‘mom’, or ‘Ma handed Edna ham’.

Parable: A brief and often simple narrative that illustrates a moral or religious lesson.

Paradox: A statement that initially appears to be contradictory but then, on closer inspection, turns out to make sense.

Paraphrase: A prose restatement of the central ideas of a poem, in your own language.

Parody: A humorous imitation of another, usually serious, work.

Payment: What an editor pays a writer for his work.

Permission: A fee paid by anyone who wants to reprint part of a book for uses like - excerpts of the book appearing in an anthology; teachers reproducing all or part of the story for class use; or another writer using more than 50 words from the book in a published article. The publisher handles permissions for the author, and splits the proceeds. 

Persona: In literature, the persona is the narrator, or the storyteller, of a literary work created by the author.

Personification: A form of writing where human characteristics are attributed to non-human things.

Plagiarism: Presenting another author’s works or words as your own.

Plot: The main events of a story.

Point of View: The angle from which the writer writes a piece, particularly in fiction.

Prefix: An auxiliary syllable that attaches to the beginning of a root word to change the meaning of the word. For example: marital, premarital.

Premise: The question or problem that is the basic idea of a story.

Proofreading: Close reading of the work to look for mistakes in language use.

Proposal: Summary of a proposed book, usually non-fiction.

Prosody: The overall metrical structure of a poem.

Protagonist: The main character or hero of a story whose actions and goal drive the plot forwards.

Pseudonym: An alias used by a writer desiring not to use his or her real name. Also known as “pen name”.

Public Domain: Any material that can be freely used by the public, and does not come under the protection of a copyright, trademark, or patent.

Pun: A play on words that relies on a word’s having more than one meaning or sounding like another word.

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Q

Quatrain: A four-line stanza. Quatrains are the most common stanzaic form in the English language, having various meters and rhyme schemes.

Query: A one page letter pitching an article or a book idea to an editor. It usually consists of a catchy introduction, a bit of background on the topic, and a synopsis of the writer’s credits.

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