The Scribendi.com Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

A posteriori:
can only be determined through observation (observation first, argument follows).
A priori:
relies upon deductive reasoning by first making a general statement that should logically be true, and then applying the argument to a specific instance.
Abolitionist Literature:
propaganda written in the nineteenth century to condemn slaveholders and promote the release of slaves and the abolishment of slavery.
About the Author:
several paragraphs to one page describing relevant information about the author. It is used for books, book proposals, articles, and web sites and is written in the third person.
Abstract Diction:
used to describe qualities of something that cannot be acknowledged with the five senses; describing something as pleasant instead of yellow.
Abstract Noun:
an abstract noun refers to something that cannot be touched, such as an idea.
Abstract Noun:
an abstract noun refers to something that cannot be touched, such as an idea.
Abstract Verb:
referring to multidirectional motion; not unidirectional, suggesting repeated or a series of actions (i.e., I went back and forth from the store).
Acatalecti:
a normal line of poetry, displaying the expected number of syllables in each line.
Acronym:
a word formed from the first letter of each word in a phrase, i.e., USA (United States of America).
Acrostic:
a saying or sentence in which the first letter of each word will help you remember the order of things or how to spell a word (e.g., Never eat sour watermelons = north, east, south, west).
Act:
the division of a play; acts are then divided into scenes.
Adjective:
an adjective is a word that modifies a noun or pronoun by describing, refining, or qualifying it (e.g., the red flower or the large boat).
Adjective Clauses:
describes a noun (i.e., the winter snow that fell in our yard).
Advance:
(1) money given to an author before a book is published, which is usually calculated based on estimated book sales or (2) when a magazine publisher pays for an article before the article is published instead of paying upon publication.
Adventure Novel:
any novel that prioritizes exciting events and fast paced actions over character development or theme.
Adverb:
an adverb is a word that modifies a verb by describing, refining, or qualifying it (e.g., he walked silently).
Adverb Clause:
expands on, tells more about a verb (i.e., you can eat (verb) some cake if you bake it for 45 minutes).
Afterword:
part of a book’s back matter detailing how the book came to be and how ideas for the book were developed.
Agent:
a professional representative who markets creative works to publishing houses. Reputable agents charge a commission (a fee collected only when they sell the creative work) rather than charging up-front representation fees.
Agreement:
when grammatical number, gender, case, mood, or tense agree in separate parts of a sentence.
All Rights:
when a publication owns the worldwide rights to all media types of a work.
Allegory:
a narrative technique in which characters represent things or abstract concepts in order to convey a message or teach a lesson. An allegory is usually used to teach moral, ethical, or religious lessons, but can also be used for satiric or political purposes.
Alliteration:
a series of words in a sentence all beginning with the same sound (e.g., Cassie casually caressed the carefree cat)
Allusion:
references other characters, places, and events throughout history; these are taken from other pieces of writing in order to clarify or summarize ideas.   
Alter Ego:
when a character is used as a thinly disguised representation of the creator of the work.
Ambiance :
the feelings/mood derived from a scene.
Ambiguity :
when more than one interpretation can be drawn from a word, sentence, or action.
Americanism:
a phrase/saying that is characteristic of people from the United States.
Analogue :
a story that contains characters, situations, or settings that are similar to those in a different story, perhaps inspired by the other story.
Analogy:
a comparison showing like parts of two contrasting things that is used to explain or illustrate a concept.
Anaphora:
several consecutive sentences starting with the same group of words (e.g., "I will not give up. I will not fail. I will prevail.").
Anecdote:
a short account of an amusing or interesting event used to clarify abstract points; it's usually combined with other material, such as an essay or argument.
Antagonist:
the main character in works of fiction who comes into conflict with the protagonist (hero or heroine). In some stories, the antagonist could be a thing or situation (a monster, a storm, a flood, etc.).
Anthology:
a collection of short stories written by various authors that is compiled in one publication.
Antonyms:
opposites (e.g., stop versus go, bad versus good).
Articles:
determiners that indicate the specificity of a noun phrase. English language articles are a, an, and the.
Aside:
a speech/monologue meant for the audience to hear but not the other characters in the story; increases the audience's awareness of what is happening in the plot.
Assignment:
an article an editor or publisher has commissioned a writer to create.
Assonance:
repeating vowel sounds in words that end differently but are close to each other; often used for emphasis.
Attachments:
(1) files that are attached to an e-mail message or (2) additional items such as photos, charts, or tables attached to a manuscript (usually found in nonfiction).
Autobiography:
a history of a person's life written or told by that person.
Auxiliary Verb:
decides the mood or tense of another verb (i.e., it may snow next week).

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B

Back Matter:
back matter is any section that appears after the central story (e.g., index, afterword, glossary, etc.).
Backlist:
list of books published before the current publishing year but is still in print.
Ballad:
a folk song created and repeated orally.
Beast Fable :
a story that uses speaking animal characters to teach a moral or social lesson.
Beat:
a one-count in speech, music, action, or poetry.
Bibliography:
a bibliography is a list of books, magazines, web sites, and other resources one consults in the process of writing a book, article, or paper.
Bilabial:
a sound that requires both the upper and lower lip to pronounce (i.e., /p/, /b/, or /m/ ).
Bimonthly:
every two months.
Bio, Bionote:
a very short description of a writer in the third person that usually accompanies articles.
Biography:
a written account of another person's life.
Biweekly:
every two weeks.
Blank Verse:
poetry that doesn't necessarily have to rhyme.
Blocking Agent:
something placed in a plot to prevent two potential lovers from being together.
Body of Paragraph:
the supporting or detail sentences that help explain or support a topic sentence.
Boilerplate:
a standard publishing contract, with no changes or alterations made by the writer or agent. A boilerplate should be considered a starting point only; changes will usually be made.
Book Review:
a book review is a summary of a book, usually including a critique of the work.
Boustrophedon:
a style of writing where the text is read alternately from left to right on odd numbered lines and then read right to left in even numbered lines.
Brainstorming:
collecting of ideas about a subject.
Burlesque:
work that ridicules a topic and treats something as if it were trivial, i.e., works of parody.
Business Letter:
a formal letter to give or get information or to discuss a problem.
Byline:
a printed line accompanying a news story, article, or the like giving the author's name.
Byronic Hero:
a romanticized character that is the antihero and is very wicked and attractive with a bad reputation.

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C

Canon:
work that is considered by professionals/authoritative figures to be most important to follow/study.
Cantenative Verb:
a verb that can be used to make a chain or link with another verb(s) (i.e., my teacher seems to believe exams should be cumulative).
Caption:
a brief summary or description of a picture, graph, table, or diagram.
Caption:
a brief one to three sentence description given in reference to an image.
Category Fiction:
general term used to denote commercial fiction that falls into genre categories, such as science fiction, mystery, romance, etc.
Causative Verb:
a verb that can be used to show that something or someone helped to do something (i.e., enable, force, help).
Character:
a character is featured in a story, they are used as a medium to communicate/interact with a reader; he or she is given specific attitudes, looks, names, etc. in order to direct a storyline.
Character Sketch:
a character sketch is a short description of a character’s unique characteristics.
Clause:
a string of words different from a phrase in that there has to be a subject and a predicate; structured around finite and nonfinite verbs.
Clich:
an expression that has been overused.
Climax:
the moment of greatest intensity in a work of fiction.
Clip(s):
published samples of writing an author can submit with queries (sometimes called tearsheets).
Closet Drama:
a play written to be read instead of acted out in a performance.
Closing Sentence:
the summary or concluding sentence at the end of a paragraph.
Collective Noun:
a collective noun is used to describe a group of things (e.g., a flock of seagulls or a colony of ants).
Colophon:
the final section of back matter that provides details about the printing and publishing of a book.
Column Inch:
a measurement of text in a newspaper or magazine that is one column wide and one inch long.
Comma Splice:
the use of a comma to join two independent clauses.
Common Noun:
common nouns are used to describe people, places, or things, but do not refer to a single person, place, or thing (e.g., city, teacher, and country).
Compound Noun:
a compound noun combines two words to create a new phrase or word (e.g., wallpaper and science fiction).
Compound Sentence:
two or more sentences joined together using the words and, but, or or.
Concrete Noun:
a concrete noun refers to something that can be touched (e.g., table, Neil, and pear).
Connotation:
an implication that goes beyond the integral meaning of a word.
Consonant Blend:
when two or more consonants are combined together at the beginning of a word, such as br, pr, or fl.
Consonants:
all the letters in the alphabet, except for a, e, i, o, and u.
Copular Verb:
a verb that links the subject to the compliment, also known as a linking verb.
Copyediting:
checking for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word use.
Copyright:
an author's ownership of his or her works.
Countable Noun:
a countable noun can be modified by a numeral and has a singular and plural form (e.g., this is an apple in your lunch; there are apples in your lunch).
Couplet:
two rhyming lines in poetry that share the same rhythm. 
Cover Letter:
a cover letter is a letter written to provide a prospective employer with information about your skills, interests, and experience.
Creative Nonfiction:
nonfiction written in the first person (using "I" as the narrator).
Credits:
a list of publications by an author.
CV:
curriculum vitae, which is a brief biographical résumé of one's career and training.

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D

Dead Metaphor:
a metaphor that has lost its original meaning through overuse (e.g., the seeds of doubt, I didn’t catch his name).
Deadline:
when an assignment must be completed and turned in.
Demonstrative Pronoun:
a pronouns used to point out something, but it can stand alone without the noun it describes.
Denotation:
the precise/actual meaning of a word outside of the feelings it evokes.
Denouement:
the outcome of a plot; it reveals the answers to secrets/misunderstandings in the plot, usually after the climax.
Dependant Clause:
a clause that depends on another group of words; i.e., You can eat some cake now if you stay for the party.
Descriptive Paragraph:
a paragraph that describes a person, place, feeling, or idea.
Dialogue:
when the characters in a story are speaking to one another, usually denoted by quotation marks.
Dialogue:
the conversation held between two characters in most types of literature.
Didactic:
writing that has been written to inform/instruct.
Distributive Pronoun:
refers to part of the whole, one of the group.
Double Entendre:
a phrase that can be interpreted in two different ways, one being innocent and the other usually sexual.
Double-Entry Journal:
a journal with a left column for quotes and ideas and a right column for writing responses to items on the left, such as implications, exaggerations, etc.
Draft:
a piece of writing that undergoes editing, proofreading, and restructuring; a second or third draft.
Dramatic Monologue:
implemented when a character is revealing his/her most personal/emotional thoughts, which are otherwise hidden from the story’s dialogue.
Dummy:
hand-drawn mock-up of what a page will look like in print.
Dynamic Verb:
a dynamic verb specifies an action or process (i.e., I bought a coffee).

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E

E-zine:
a magazine published online or via e-mail.
Edit:
to review a piece of writing in order to mark and correct grammatical, spelling, and other errors. The editing process often includes critiquing the content in addition to the mechanics of language usage. Scribendi.com offers editing services here.
Editing:
the process of reviewing a piece of writing and making corrections. See Edit.
Editor:
a skilled professional commissioned to check a work for grammar, spelling, and typographical errors as well as problems with content. Scribendi.com offers editing services here.
Editorial:
an article that is typically short and expresses an opinion or point of view. It is often, but not always, written by a member of the publication's staff.
Electronic Submission:
a manuscript submitted by electronic means, such as by e-mail or on an electronic medium such as computer disks.
Elegy :
a poem written to mourn someone who is dead or gone in some sense.
Em dash:
a dash the width of the letter m that is used to separate two phrases that are informationally but not grammatically related. It is often used to set off asides or remarks that otherwise would be parenthetical.
Embargo:
in journalism, this is a prohibition against publishing information released to reporters until a specific date. Announcements of scientific breakthroughs or discoveries are quite often embargoed until a specific date to ensure that all news outlets release the story on the same day.
Emotion Verb:
expresses emotion (e.g., to love or to hate).
En dash:
a dash the width of the letter n that is generally used to indicate numerical ranges.
Environmental Writing:
writing that focuses on nature or on humanity's relationship with nature.
Epic:
a narrative poem based on serious events that are important to a culture or a nation.
Epilogue:
the concluding chapter that usually provides some sort of closure. It immediately follows the main text of a book.
Epistle:
a poem written to a friend or family member; similar to a kind of "letter" in verse.
Epistolary Novel:
any novel that is written in the form of a series of letters; it allows for switching between the viewpoints of multiple characters during a narrative.
Erotema:
when a writer incorporates a rhetorical question to the reader.
Essay:
an essay is a group of paragraphs presenting facts and analysis about one main idea.
Euphemism:
a phrase used in place of something disagreeable or upsetting (e.g., passed on instead of died).
Euphemism:
softening the blow by using a mild or gentle phrase instead of a blunt or painful one (i.e., He passed away versus He's dead)
Euphony:
flowing, smoothly readable language.
Executive Summary:
a short document that summarizes a longer report, proposal, or group of related reports in such a way that readers can quickly become acquainted with a large body of material.
Expository Paragraph:
a paragraph that gives information about a topic or steps to explain how to do something.
Extro:
see Outro.

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F

Fair Use:
reproduction of short excerpts from a copyrighted work, usually for educational or review purposes.
Fantasy:
a story that contains some elements or events that could not happen in the real world, like magic or fantastic monsters, etc.
Fees:
the amount of money paid to authors for their writing. Different types of writing projects may require different kinds of fees. Some writers charge by the word or by the hour; some negotiate a single, flat fee. For magazine writing, most writers get paid by the word.
Figurative:
does not mean exactly what it states but instead requires the reader to make his/her own association from the comparison.
Finite Verb:
a verb that is modified and reveals either person, tense, or number.
First Electronic Rights:
the right to publish a piece of writing electronically for the first time. Once First Electronic Rights have been assigned for a given work, the work cannot be published in another electronic medium. However, the author can still sell reprint rights to the piece.
First North American Rights:
the rights in Canada, the United States, and Mexico to the medium a piece of writing was published in. The author can publish the piece elsewhere in the world and may also be able to sell reprint rights.
First Print Rights:
the rights anywhere in the world to a piece of writing in print.
Flash Fiction:
a piece of fiction 500 words or less.
Flashback:
when a relevant past event is brought up in the current time of the story through, for example, a narration or dream.
Flat Fee:
a lump sum payment to an author/editor.
Follow-up:
a polite letter inquiring about the status of an earlier query or manuscript submission.
Formatting:
the manner in which a piece of writing is prepared and presented.
Free Verse:
a verse with irregular rhythm and no rhyme; an open form of poetry.
Freewriting:
writing without being concerned about specific details in structure, grammar, etc.
Front Matter:
front matter refers to the sections that appear before the central story (e.g., dedication, introduction, prologue, etc.).
Frontlist:
books being published in the current year.

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G

Galleys:
the initial typeset form of a manuscript and are sent to an author for review before the manuscript is printed or sold commercially. This is what the reviewer reads as well.
Genre:
a category of fiction, such as romance, mystery, or science fiction.
Gerund:
a non-infinite verb that ends in "ing"; it can be the subject or indirect object of the verb, or the object of finite, on-finite, or persuasive verbs.
Ghostwriter:
a writer who is paid to write an article or book for someone, but who usually does not receive a byline or credit for the work. A celebrity might hire a ghostwriter and then sell the book under his or her own name.
Go-ahead:
a positive response to a query letter that assigns an article to you.
Gothic:
a style of writing used to express stories of horror or despair that were popular in the late 18th/early 19th century.
Grammar:
refers to the rules of a language.
Graphic Organizer:
a way to visually organize thoughts before starting to write. Examples include charts, diagrams, and timelines.
Guidelines:
the instructions for submitting work to a publication for consideration.
Gutter:
the blank space or inner margin from the printing area to the binding.

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H

Haiku:
a three-line, 17-syllable poem.
Hallel:
a hymn of praise that incorporates the term Hallelujah at the beginning.
Hard Cover:
this type of book has a cardboard front, back, and spine.
High Comedy:
humour characterized by witty banter and sophisticated dialogue.
High Concept:
a story that is commercially valuable, unique, and can be easily summed up in a minimal number of sentences.
Historical Fiction:
fiction set in the past and can be of any genre.
Homily :
a sermon read before a group in order to give them spiritual or moral insight.
Homographs:
words of identical spelling but are pronounced differently and/or have different meanings (e.g., close: close your eyes; too close to home).
Homonyms:
words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings (e.g., baby, meaning an infant and baby, meaning to coddle). Homonyms are also referred to as homophones.
Hook:
a narrative trick in the lead paragraph or first page of a work that grabs readers’ attention and entices them to keep reading.
How-to:
an article, giving step-by-step information or directions about how to make or do something.
Hyperbole:
deliberate exaggeration. The short form is hype.

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I

Imagery:
the images collected and used in a written work to add to the ambiance.
Imprint:
a division within a publishing house that deals with a specific category of books.
Indefinite Pronoun:
an indefinite pronoun is used to refer to a person or thing but there is no indication of who/what that person/thing is.
Independent Clause:
can stand on its own, and does not need any other groups of words, e.g., Home is where the heart is.
Index:
an alphabetical list of terms indicating where they can be found in a text.
Intensive Pronoun:
an intensive pronoun is used for emphasis; it is an appositive of a noun or pronoun.
Interrogative Pronoun:
Interrogative pronouns are like relative pronouns but are used when asking a question, e.g.,who are you with? whose socks are those?
Interview:
a kind of meeting in which one or more persons question, consult, or evaluate another person.
Intransitive Verb:
a verb that does not reference an object (e.g., to sleep).
Invoice:
a record of payment due that is given to an accounting department.
IRC:
an abbreviation for International Reply Coupons, which are used in place of stamps on a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) included with a query or manuscript sent to a foreign country.

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J

Journal:
a diary or record of events, feelings, and thoughts, usually recorded by date. Some writing guides recommend keeping a journal to develop the habit of writing every day.

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K

Kerning:
the process of adjusting white spacing in a proportional font.
Kicker:
a sudden, surprising turn of events or ending—a twist.
Kill Fee:
payment given to an author if a magazine cannot or will not use an article assigned to the author.

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L

Lead:
the first paragraph of a manuscript. In a story or article, the lead includes the hook intended to capture readers’ attention.
Lead Time:
the time between when an editor receives a query letter or article and the publication date of that article. The lead time is vital for seasonal articles and stories.
Leading:
the distance from baseline to baseline between lines of printed text.
Logline:
one-sentence description of a screenplay or TV script.
Lower Case:
small letters of the alphabet as distinct from capitals (e.g., a, b, c).

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M

Manuscript:
author's copy of a novel, nonfiction book, screenplay, or article.
Market Research:
information assembled for nonfiction books to show a publisher there is a need for the proposed book.
Markets:
a listing of publications or publishing houses that buy manuscripts.
MD&A:
an abbreviation for Management’s Discussion and Analysis, a section of an annual report that provides an overview of a corporation’s operations and financial position that includes any special or unusual circumstances that may have affected the financial results.
Metaphor:
language that indicates a similarity between two different things without the use of the words like or as, for example, "the moon was a ghostly galleon." See simile.
Meter:
in poetry, this is the rhythm or pattern of syllables.
Mixed Metaphor:
two common metaphors are mixed up to form a new, but not necessarily correct metaphor.
Moral:
the lesson that can be learned from a story.
Myth:
a story that attempts to explain events in nature and often refers to supernatural causes, such as deities, gods, or spirits.

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N

Narrative Paragraph:
a paragraph that tells a story.
Narrator:
the person or character who tells and explains a story.
Newspaper Byline:
the name of the person who wrote a newspaper story.
Noun:
a noun is a word used to name a person, place, thing, or idea.  
Novel:
a work of fiction usually consisting of 45,000 words or more.
Novella:
a work of fiction usually consisting of between 7,500 and 40,000 words.
Nut Graf:
in journalism, this is the paragraph that contains the point of the story.

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O

Observation:
language that describes the behavior or physical characteristics of a person, place, thing, or event—what something looks, sounds, smells, tastes, and/or feels like.
On Acceptance:
the author receives payment only after the editor accepts a finished nonfiction article.
On Publication:
the author receives payment only when a piece is published.
On Spec:
a writer submits a piece speculatively; the editor is not obligated to publish the piece.
Onomatopoeia:
words that imitate, sound like, or evoke their own meaning (e.g., hiss).
Outline:
a point form list of short sentences that describe the action or major ideas in a written work.
Outro:
the conclusion of a piece, more common in music than books.
Over the transom:
unsolicited materials submitted to editors, alluding to the idea of tossing something through the small window above a door, known as a transom.
Overview:
a one- or two-page description of a novel or nonfiction book intended to introduce the work to a publisher.
Oxymoron:
a phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings, often used to make a joke.

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P

Palindrome:
a word or phrase that means the same thing when read in either direction, e.g., mom or Ma handed Edna ham.
Paragraph:
a group of sentences that discuss one main subject. There are four basic types of paragraphs: 1) descriptive, 2) narrative, 3) persuasive, and 4) expository.
Payment:
what an editor agrees to pay an author for their work. Print publications use two major types of payment: on acceptance, where the author receives payment as soon as the work is accepted for publication and on publication, where the author receives payment only after the work sees print.
PB:
an abbreviation for picture book.
Personal Essay/Narrative:
an essay written in the first person and is usually about the author's life.
Personification:
human characteristics attributed to something that isn't human.
Persuasive Paragraph:
a paragraph that states an opinion and tries to convince readers to adopt the same opinion.
Pica:
printer's measure of type, equal to 12 points, used to measure columns and photos.
Plagiarism:
plagiarism means presenting another author's works, words, or ideas as one's own.
Play:
a story told mostly through dialogue between characters.
Plot:
a plot refers to the main events of a story.
POD:
abbreviation for print-on-demand, the printing of a book or books only after a copy has been sold, rather than large print runs. POD is more cost efficient for publishers, although currently POD is mainly for self-publishing.
Poem:
a group of words written in a pattern.
Point of View (POV):
the perspective from which a story is told and can be first person (I), second person (you), or third person (he, she, or they).
Postscript:
comes from the Latin term post scriptum, meaning written after and is a concluding statement.
Prefix:
an auxiliary syllable that attaches to the beginning of a root word to change the meaning of the word. For example, pre (before) attached to marital (relating to marriage) becomes premarital, meaning before marriage.
Prologue:
a prologue is an introduction, including background information, to a story and is meant to grab readers’ attention.
Proofreading:
the close reading of a work to look for and correct mistakes in language use. Scribendi.com offers proofreading services here.
Proper Noun:
a proper noun represents a specific person, place, or thing (e.g., England, Tom, and Washington).
Proposal:
a summary of a proposed book—usually nonfiction—used to sell the book to a publisher or editor.
Public Domain:
any material that can be freely used by the public and is not protected by a copyright, trademark, or patent.

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Q

Query Letter:
a query letter is a letter to introduce a short story, completed article, novel, nonfiction book manuscript, or a resume. It should preferably be no more than one page in length and is used to pitch a creative work to an editor or publisher.

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R

Record of Submission:
a formal record of where and when an author has sent article or manuscript submissions. It can be hand written on note cards or in a document or journal, or kept electronically in a word processing file or spreadsheet program such as MS Excel.
Rejection Slip:
a letter from an editor indicating the publisher is not interested in an author's submitted work.
Reprints:
previously published articles made available for publication in other magazines or journals.
Revising:
making changes that improve writing.
RFP:
request for proposal, an invitation for suppliers—often through a bidding process—to submit a proposal regarding a specific commodity or service.
Rights:
legal information about who retains control over all the various ways in which a creative work may be reproduced, used, or applied. Most editors buy only specific rights at any given time; these should be clearly outlined in the contract.
Rough Draft:
the first organized version of a document or other work.
Royalties:
a percentage of the cover price paid to an author for every copy of the author's book sold by a publisher.
Run-on Sentence:
a written sequence of two or more main clauses that are not separated by a period or semicolon or joined by a conjunction.

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S

Sans Serif:
a short line at the end of the main strokes of a character.
SASE:
abbreviation for self-addressed stamped envelope, which is usually sent with a query or manuscript so the recipient can mail back a reply or return the manuscript.
Sci-Fi:
abbreviation for science fiction.
Self-publishing:
a branch of publishing in which the author publishes his or her own work and is most commonly done using print-on-demand technology.
Sentence Fragment:
a sentence that is missing the subject, verb, or both.
Serial:
a publication that appears periodically, such as a magazine or newspaper.
Serif:
a smaller line used to finish off a main stroke of a letter.
Short Short:
a short short is fiction under 1,000 words.
Short Story:
a short story is a fiction under 10,000 words.
Sidebar:
in nonfiction, a sidebar is extra information, hints, or tips appearing in a separate box or bar attached to the main body.
Simile:
compares two different things using the words like or as. For example, "his eyes were like blazing coals."
Simultaneous Submission:
the practice of submitting the same query or manuscript to many editors at once.
Slant:
the bias or angle with which the author presents the information. Three different authors writing about the same information (for example, child nutrition statistics) could have three different slants.
Slug Line:
(1) a line in a screenplay describing a new scene or (2) the identifying tag for a story in a newspaper or magazine.
Slush pile:
term for unsolicited manuscripts received by a publisher or editor. See Over the transom.
Sonnet:
a 14-line poem with a rigid structure and rhyming scheme. Shakespeare wrote many (154) sonnets.
Speculative Fiction:
fiction that extrapolates from some phenomenon or theory and postulates "What if?"
Spin-off:
a spin-off is a new product developed from an original product. In a TV show, a popular supporting character in one series might be given the starring role in a separate series (e.g., Joey was a spin-off of Friends).
Stanza:
a group of lines in a poem that form a metrical or thematic unit.
Stet:
a proofreading mark used by proofreaders and editors to instruct the typesetter or writer to disregard a change the editor or proofreader previously marked.
Subject:
the main topic of a piece of writing. There can be a subject in a sentence, paragraph, essay, or book.
Submission Guidelines:
the guidelines provided by publications that explain how to submit queries or completed manuscripts for consideration.
Suffix:
an auxiliary syllable that attaches to the end of a base or root word to change the meaning of the word. For example, arian (one who does) attached to discipline (direction or control) gives disciplinarian—one who exerts control or gives direction.
Summary:
a short description of the main ideas in a work.
Synonyms:
words that have approximately the same meaning, e.g., happy and glad.
Synopsis:
an abbreviated description of a book or manuscript sent to a publisher. The synopsis covers all the main points of the work.

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T

Tearsheet:
a sample of an author's published work that consists of a page 'torn' from a magazine or a newspaper, or more commonly, a photocopy of the article. See clip(s).
Terms:
the deal made regarding the publication of a particular work. Terms include types of rights purchased, a payment schedule, expected date of publication, etc.
Topic Sentence:
the sentence, usually at the beginning of a paragraph, that includes the main idea of the paragraph.
Trade Journals:
specialized publications for a particular occupation or industry.

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U

Uncountable Noun:
an uncountable noun refers to a noun that cannot be divided into separate entities (e.g., love, news, and power).
Unsolicited Manuscript:
an article, story, or book that a publication did not request.
Upper Case:
capital letters of the alphabet, as distinct from lower case (e.g., A,B,C).

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V

Vanity Publishing::
a form of publishing in which the author pays a publisher to publish his or her work.
Verb:
a verb is the word in a sentence that indicates action.
Voice:
in writing, voice is the style, tone, and method an author uses in composing a work.
Vowels:
the letters a, e, i, o, and u. Sometimes the letter y is considered a vowel. These letters represent a speech sound created by the free passage of breath through the mouth.

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W

Widows and Orphans:
in publishing, a widow is the last line of a paragraph printed alone at the top of a page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph printed alone at the bottom of a page. These generally aren't desirable.
Withdrawal Letter:
a letter to a publication or publishing house withdrawing a manuscript from consideration.
Word Count:
the estimated number of words in a manuscript. Most word processing programs will calculate this automatically. For example, in MS Word/Office, go to the Tools menu and select Word Count. To estimate the word count by hand, multiply the number of pages by the number of words per page. For double-spaced documents, assume about 295 words per page. For single-spaced documents, assume approximately 400 words per page. See our technical FAQ and online word count tool.
Wordiness:
wordiness occurs when a writer uses too many words or unnecessarily complex or abstract words.
Work for Hire:
a job where the writer is commissioned to write a piece, but does not receive a byline and does not retain rights to the work.
Writer's Block:
writer's block is the inability to start writing for some period of time. It can take many forms: an inability to come up with good ideas to start a story, an inability to start writing a new work, or extreme dissatisfaction with all efforts at writing.
Writer's Guidelines:
the guidelines provided by a publication that explain how to submit queries or completed manuscripts for consideration. They are also known as submission guidelines.

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X

Xerox:
to making a copy using a xerographic copier.

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Y

YA:
abbreviation for young adult (ages 13–22).
YW:
abbreviation for young writer (ages 12–22).

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