Abbreviations in Writing – WTH?

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!


-Ann Montclair

About Ann Montclair

I'm Ann Montclair, and I write historical and contemporary romantic fiction. In any age, love triumphs.
This entry was posted in Another Word From Ann... and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Abbreviations in Writing – WTH?

  1. Great post Ann! Welcome aboard. I drive my kids crazy when I start making up my own.

  2. Hi, Ann! Excellent debut post. I also use abbreviations, and my daughter and I often make up silly ones of our own that we keep just between the two of us. :) My fave of ours is ROFLSHIPMP (rolling on floor laughing so hard I peed my pants).


  3. AM Bishop says:


    My Friday blog tag team partner, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I like using acronyms and I’m very conscious to explain their definition when I’m writing but you reminded me to not use acronyms when I’m speaking. :( (I’ll try.)

    Hey, Donna — I have a great acronym I’ve been using for a little while. It’s cracks me up because only a few of my friends have caught on. (I’m sure after this comment all of them will.) When someone is getting on my nerves and I want to end the conversation on a good note, I say sweetly, with a thick pretend Spanish accent, ‘Okay Pita, I get it.’ Pita or P.I.T.A. = Pain In The A$$.
    Do you know some of my friends believing it’s was a term of endearment? Too funny!

    I have a feeling my group will be creating a new acronym just to get back at me. Ugh! This weekend should be interesting.

    FWIW (For What It’s Worth),


  4. Helen Jones says:

    great post Ann. And it’s great to meet a fellow soaps fan. I’ve been watching mine since college and actually tell people it’s for research purposes. seriously. everything moves so slowly you can actually see character development! besides, they do a great job with romance. oh well, WTH.

  5. Jamie Brazil says:

    I was smiling all the way through your post. After my first RWA meeting I ran home confused and Googled “GMC” and “HEA”… and BTW, the plural of MS is MSS

  6. B.J. Scott says:

    Great Post Ann. Glad to have you with us and look forward to the release of your book!

  7. Excellent post. Far too many times we writers assume other writers know what we’re talking about when we spout this stuff!

  8. Paula Lee says:

    Loved your post, Ann. One of my favorites is a heroine that’s TSTL (too stupid to live).
    And everytime I see HEA, my mind bounces first to Home Economics Association, which is from way back in college!

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