Extract from McCallum’s Writing Glossary

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McCallums Writing Glossary
McCallums Writing Glossary


A3: see paper sizes.

A4: see paper sizes.

A5: see paper sizes.

AA: abbr of author’s alteration.

Abbr: see abbreviation.

Abbreviation (abbr abbr): n a short form of a word.

Abridgement: n the shortening of a work, often done by cutting out descriptive passages and, possibly, minor characters(1). (Old French: ‘shorten’.)

Abstract: n a synopsis of a piece of non-fiction writing. (Latin: ‘drawn out’.)

AC: abbr of author’s correction.

Academic publishing: n the production of books and journals for further education.

Accent: n a mark placed above or below a letter to show how it should be pronounced. (Latin: ‘like a song’.)

Acceptance: n an offer from an editor to publish submitted work; a few markets(1) offer payment on acceptance but most pay after (sometimes long after) publication(1).

Acknowledgements: n intimations of thanks for help received from individuals and/or other publications(2).

Acquisitions/acquiring editor: see under editor.

Acrobat: see Adobe Acrobat Reader..

Acronym: n a word formed from the initial letters or syllables of other words, eg RADAR (radio detection and ranging).

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Acrostic: n a short verse form in which the first letters of the lines – or, rarely, the last letters – when read consecutively, form a word or a letter pattern (ABC etc). (Greek: ‘end of verse-lines’.)

Act: n a division of a play or an opera, often sub-divided into scenes.

Action tag: n a mini-characterisation; eg ‘the old man shuffled across the road’.

Active Server Pages (abbr ASP): n technology that lets web designers place scripts(2) inside a web page, those scripts being activated by the web server before the page is sent to the user.

Active voice: n the use of verbs that ‘make things happen’; eg ‘Tom chased Jerry’ is active and thus stronger than ‘Jerry was chased by Tom’. See also passive voice.

Adage: n a proverb or saying. (Latin: ‘saying’.)

Adaptation: n conversion of an existing work into a different form for another medium; eg a novel into a play.

Addendum: n 1. material printed separately at the beginning and/or end of a book, supplementary to the main content. 2. additional copy attached to a manuscript page to be taken in where indicated on that page.

Adhesive binding: see perfect binding.

Adjective: n a word preceding a noun to qualify its meaning, eg ‘big’, ‘small’, ‘pretty’, ‘ugly’.

Adjudicator: n a person who acts as a judge in a competition in one of the arts.

Adobe Acrobat reader: n software which allows you to read downloaded files.

Adoption: n a book recommended for use in schools, colleges or universities.

ADSL: see Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line.

Adult fiction: n fiction which might be sexually explicit.

Advance: n money paid to an author in advance of publication(1) on account of royalties on future book sales. Under the usual terms the publisher will retain the author’s royalty until the advance is paid off, after which the author receives his or her agreed share of the profits; usually paid in instalments, part when the contract is signed, part on delivery of an acceptable manuscript, and possibly part on publication. An advance is not normally subject to repayment even if the book does not sell well enough to reimburse the publisher.

Advance copy: n a copy of a book, possibly in page proof form, sent out to reviewers and publishers’ representatives before publication(1) in the hope of generating advance publicity and/or orders.

Advance Information sheet ( abbr AI sheet): n publicity document giving sales and marketing information about a book, issued by the publisher before publication(1).

Advance order: n a sales order obtained by a publisher before publication(1), on the strength of a book’s title(1), subject, cover and/or its author’s reputation.

Adventure: n a genre of fiction in which action is more important than characters(1) or theme.

Adverb: n a word which modifies the meaning of a verb; eg ‘suddenly’, ‘quietly’.

Advertisement: n publicity that is paid for.

Advertorial: n text(1) in a magazine which is not written by staff but by an advertiser; the words ‘advertising feature’ usually appear at the top of the page.

Advice column: n a regular feature offering advice about readers’(1) problems.

Adware: n software that tracks your web use and delivers advertisements relevant to your interests direct to your e-mail address.

Aesthetics: n the philosophical study of the nature of beauty. (Greek: ‘things perceptible to the senses’.)

Affectation: n a false or pretentious style of writing, unsuitable for its subject and/or its readership. (Latin: ‘aspiration’.)

Afterword: n 1. material about a work or its author added after the main text(1). 2. a concluding section by a work’s author.

Age banding: n a guide to the reading age to which a publisher considers a book best suited; sometimes printed on the covers of children’s books. (Disliked by many authors and library services, who feel it might discourage buyers and readers(1).)

Agent: see literary agent.

Aggregator: see news aggregator.

Agony column: n a regular magazine feature offering advice on (usually emotional) problems.

Agreement: see contract.

AI sheet: see Advance Information sheet.

AIDA: Attention, Desire, Interest, Action; a mantra for writing sales copy.

Air: n the white space on a printed page.

Airport edition: n a paperback edition of a new book which might be on sale at airports before its official publication date.

AKA: n acronym for ‘also known as’.

Alazon: n a stock character(1) in Greek comedy, a self-deceiving boastful impostor. See also eiron.

Alexandrine: n in poetry, a line of six iambic feet; so-called because some early French poems about Alexander the Great were written in this metre.

Alignment: n the accurate levelling of characters(2)and words in a line of text(1).

All rights: n the right to publish, broadcast, adapt or exploit a work in any form. See also rights and copyright.

Allegory: n a narrative which not only makes complete sense in its own action, characters(1)and setting(2) but also has a symbolic significance. (Greek: ‘speaking otherwise’.)

Alley: n white space between two columns(1) of text(1).

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