Terminology of the Writing Life
by Gloria T. Delamar
SASE/Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope:
the SASE is the working rule. The writer must carry the burden of marketing;
thus, the editor must be provided with SASE for the return of manuscripts.
Some writers are telling editors to "just dump" the manuscript and return
an enclosed card, but several editors say they "regard this as evidence
that the writer doesn't care all that much about his/her work." You decide
what you want to do.
SIMULTANEOUS (or multiple) SUBMISSION:
identical material sent to more than one editor at the same time. Once
taboo, the practice is becoming more accepted, though many editors want
to be informed if the manuscript is being submitted to others as well as
CIRCULATION AREA (or non-competing markets):
newspapers will accept non-exclusive pieces knowing the identical work
may run elsewhere, where their own publication is not available, provided
the writer has assured them (usually placed on the manuscript just above
the number of words) that the the submission is "exclusive to your circulation
area." A nationally-distributed paper would want an exclusive submission.
Non-competing markets of another kind are religious publications where
similar material can appear without danger of encountering overlapping
circulation from another denomination.
any article, nonfiction book, short story, novel, play, poem, etc.
submitted by the writer without the invitation of the editor/publisher.
Publishers also refer to these as "over the transom" and "slushpile" manuscripts.
If an editor responds to a query saying the writer may send the suggested
piece, the manuscript is solicited, not unsolicited.
essentially, a sales-pitch to the editor which suggests the idea, makes
a brief comment about the intended approach, and may include a brief reference
to the writer's credentials for writing it. Queries can be used to pitch
article ideas, nonfiction books, or novels (not for short stories or poems).
Query letters are best kept to one page, at the most two; they may be single
considerably longer than a query letter, a book proposal might include
the basic information about the book's concept, its organization, a chapter
by chapter outline or summary, possibly a cast of characters (fiction),
the author's qualifications for writing on the subject and/or tearsheets
(nonfiction) and from one to three sample chapters.
TEARSHEET (or clipping):
a sample of the writer's "published" writing "torn" from the magazine
or newspaper where it appeared. Today, it is more apt to be a photocopy
of the piece. Tearsheets might be sent because an editor requested them,
or the writer might send tearsheets on a subject the writer has already
written about but wants to enlarge upon in either article or book form.
contains material related to the main article that works better as
a boxed "aside" (though some appear following the end of an article). Material
in the sidebar might include anything from how-to-get-there- and/or-costs
for travel pieces, graphs or charts, statistics, historical notes, and
information that adds to or clarifies something mentioned in the article,
to pieces written (sometimes by a writer other than the one who wrote the
main article) that is related, but somewhat afield from the main points
of the main article.
works that deal with facts, opinions, etc., or about real events and
real people told exactly "as is." This would include articles, opeds, either
humorous or thoughtful essays, how-to pieces, interviews, news accounts,
and biographies based only on known events and discussions.
a relatively new term for a work about real people and real events
that is written as fiction. What makes faction is that though the real
people and events are identified, the dialogue and even minor action and
motivation are fictionalized (made up by the author); the roman au clef
(or novel with a key) is about real people and real events with a thin
disguise of the real people (usually famous).
stories (whether short or novel length) that are created from the imagination
of the writer; these can be purely imaginary or may be "inspired" by real
events or real people, but are not truly based on such. The writer has
added events and circumstances that make the real incident that sparked
the idea work better as a "story."
generally, straightforward fiction that uses conventional techniques
to tell the story.
generally, fiction that can be labeled readily, such as romance, gothic,
fantasy, science fiction, mystery, suspense, western, erotica, etc.
a novel in which the entire story is told in the form of letters; though
usually utilizing letters to and from the protagonist, the letters of other
characters also might be included.
the structure or framework of fiction; the plot is built on a sequence
of actions and interactions that ultimately move through a series of events
that progress through the conflict to a climax and end with a resolution.
the point the writer wishes to make; it is the underlying philosophy
of the story. It should NOT be a heavy-handed "message."
FRONT MATTER [book]:
everything that appears before the actual text. This always includes
the title page and copyright information page, usually a table of contents,
and may include a frontispiece, list of illustrations, list of tables,
list of abbreviations, dedication, preface or foreword, acknowledgments,
and introduction. The front matter page numbers are set in lower-case Roman
BACK MATTER [book]:
everything that appears after the actual text. This may include all
or some of the following: appendices, footnotes, bibliography, glossary,
pieces geared to particular seasons or holidays. Monthly magazines
may work from four months to a year ahead; weekly magazines tend to work
three to six months ahead; newspapers usually require less lead time. If
a publication has not published its lead time preference in any of the
standard writers' market listings, the writer might check with the publication.
the original typed or computer printed manuscript. Many writers prefer
to send photocopies and keep the ribbon copy in case the piece is rejected
and gets dog-eared. Also, chapters sent as samples are usually photocopied
for consideration in order to keep the original intact and pristine. Some
book publishers will request the ribbon copy at the time of signing a book
- © Gloria T. Delamar