Writers Technical Terms

Abbess, phone home

Antag: antagonist, the forces arrayed to thwart the protagonist; the opposition, often brought down to individual persons. If Dracula is the protagonist, then Van Helsing is the antagonist; If Van Helsing is the protag, then the count is the antag.

“As You Know Bob”

Backstory: anything that happened before the story opened, usually something you now have to tell the reader about. Bathos: “depths;” when your attempts to wring the readers’ emotions have gone over the rail, so that they look ludicrous or repugnant. Bathos is bad, except in humor, when you are going for the ridiculous.

Bogus Alternatives
Brand Name Fever
“Burly Detective” Syndrome
Card Tricks in the Dark
Deus ex Machina or God-in-the-Box

The Dreadful Scene: a scene where a couple of people do nothing except discuss what they already know for the benefit of the reader; an extremely clumsy way to give backstory.

The Edges of Ideas

Eye emoting: a formerly popular but false means of allowing a character to transmit its thoughts by what seems to be a billboard in the irises. As in “his/her eyes flashed with fury” or “told the tale of years of cold bitterness.” Not without LED’s or speakers installed, they don’t. If you write honestly, inventing your own images based on what you yourself have seen, rather than re-using some other writer’s writing, you shouldn’t fall into this.

Eyeball Kick
False Interiorization
The Grubby Apartment Story
Hand Waving
“I’ve suffered for my Art” Better known as the research infodump.

The Jar of Tang

Pathos: “feeling” when you are playing a scene for the emotional content. Especially used for the sad, pitiable, gloomy, tragic, and other bummers, but can be used for others. Pathos is not a bad thing, well-handled; when it goes too far, it is called bathos, always a stink word.

Plot Coupons

Protag: protagonist, the person the story is about. Not always the POV character or narrator, but frequently so. POV: Point Of View. The apparent observer of the scene, the character through whom the writer is working. POV Shift: changing viewpoint characters, which can be done well or clumsily. Of itself, POV shift is not a crime, only a technique.

Pushbutton Words
Reinventing the Wheel
“Said” Bookism
Space Western
Squid in the Mouth
Telling not Showing
Tom Swifty
Used Furniture
White Room Syndrome

“willing suspension of disbelief”: a phrase coined by Coleridge for the act by which a reader enters into a fictional world or setting. They know this is fiction, but for the time being they will suspend their disbelief and let on they believe what is being told them. Only then can they experience all the emotional or intellectual thrills of fiction, by identifying with the characters. In return, the writer is supposed to give them a good time without insulting their intelligence. Anything the writer does that jars or breaks the willing suspension of disbelief is a foul in the game, a bit of bad work. Temporary belief is hard enough in our genre: if clumsy construction makes it too much harder, the reader will leave.

WIP: Work In Progress

You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit