With the advent of texting and other forms of social messaging, users are bombarded with abbreviations and/or acronyms: those pertinent or impertinent clusters made from letters of the words to which they are referring. Some we get easily, like WTH? (what the heck?) and LOL (laugh out loud). Others seem more indecipherable.
I used to spend a bunch of time on soap opera website discussion boards. (Shoot me, I loved my stories until they got canceled – grumble, grumble, sigh.) I recall new posters would often express frustration with the two letter abbreviations the regular posters would use to indicate a character’s real name. And once they figured out Cady McClain was CM, they’d have to discern to which CM the poster was referring because, yes, there existed more than one actor on that same soap with those same initials. Argh! Using context usually helped, but if both CMs were involved in the same scene or story, it could get confusing.
Posters use abbreviations to make their posts more streamlined and to exhibit their familiarity with a subject. The down side is people who are new to the discussion often feel overwhelmed or disenfranchised when they read something so many people seem to know, yet the newer poster doesn’t understand. That left-out feeling is no fun and sometimes leaves the new poster walking away, scratching her head and reaching for the bottle. (Wine, diet Pepsi, water, take your pick.) My suggestion: once you’ve had that sip, ask. Most discussion boards welcome questions, and, often, even lurkers come out of the shadows to lend a hand.
Never be afraid to ask for clarification in life. It makes the novice sound interested, not dumb. You can ask right in the thread or even Google the initials. With a tad of patience and a question mark, you can do wonders!
As a writer, I use abbreviations to discuss writing all the time. One that seems to crop up regularly is POV which stands for point of view. Point of view refers to how the story is written/told.
GMC is another popular abbreviation for writers, and it doesn’t refer to the car in your driveway. Goals, Motivation and Conflict refer to why the story is written. (Debra Dixon literally wrote the book on this one.) What are the characters’ goals? What do they want? What motivates the character? Why do they want it? What are the characters’ conflicts? What stands in their way, prevents them from achieving those goals? Writers typically know this information before they start to write, and readers figure it out along the way.
HEA is my personal favorite. It stands for Happily Ever After – the anticipated ending of any romance story. How you get there as a romance writer is up to you, but the happy outcome is what romance readers are expecting and deserve.
And if you are a writer, you undoubtedly have an MIP or a WIP – manuscript in progress or a work in progress. When you have finished writing the book, you have a completed MS – manuscript, and if you manage to get that MS published, you’ll hand out ARC to lucky readers. Advanced Reader’s Copies are what teachers often get when a publisher wants them to adopt a book for their classroom.
Writers use many abbreviations, but these several seem to pop up again and again. It can feel daunting when faced with new language, but common abbreviations are a big part of any established discourse community. And shortcuts work if everyone knows the lingo.
Can you think of any abbreviations you’d like to share or ask about (with writing or otherwise)? I’d love to see them.
Have a great week readers and writers!