Never Go Naked to Scrabble: Authorial Words Containing “BIC”

nakedFor the past month I’ve been adrift, Unboxeders, and I don’t care for the feeling.

I’ve been a morning mist without a lake to blanket, a hummingbird without a fragrant flower from which to sip.*

Everyone needs a sense of purpose. We deserve a life of meaning, thrive when engaged in useful work.

All this explains why I’m deeply grateful to have rediscovered a mission I took up last fall: arming you for your next tournament of Strip Scrabble so that if you lose, it won’t be out of incompetence but from the fervent desire to be the one removing your clothes. (e.g. Your opposition’s nose and chest hair is threatening to merge with his unibrow.)

To that end, do you recall a while back when a reader invited me to explain the meaning of the acronym WIP? Remember how I expanded that definition to include a few Scrabble-worthy derivatives, such as wipiphany and pussy-wipped? Remember how you ran with the meme and upstaged me in the comment section? (Especially you, Vaughn Roycroft and Twist Nanobeans. Your twin treachery is emblazoned on mine brain. *shakes fist*)

Well, what better use can there be of a Monday morning than to give BIC the same treatment?

Are you ready?

BIC—often followed by HOK, this is shorthand for “butt in chair, hands on keyboard”, which is meant to describe an attentive, pragmatic, and productive attitude toward writing. Unfortunately, one can assume the position but still suffer, as illustrated by the next entry…

asyllabic—totally literary constipation; can’t write a word.

bicker—a writing session spent mostly arguing with self.
e.g. “Man, this scene is presumptuous and dull.”
“So write in a ham sandwich.”
“I don’t care for pork.”
“ Everything’s livelier when there’s a ham sandwich in play.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be Jewish?”

pubic—writing a sex scene; when the hands dancing over the keyboard are dusted with coarse, dark, curly hair.

amoebic—the kids are at the sitter’s, you took the day off work and have a boatload of creative ideas. Now cue the rumblings  from yesterday’s chicken dinner, eaten at the dodgy restaurant.

Arabic—subset of xenophobic if perpetually writing thrillers in which all bad guys are terrorists from the Middle East.

bicarbonate—writing a piece with a bubbly, effervescent tone.

iambic—when writing anything to do with Shakespeare, including mash-ups. (Hamlet and the Hulk; To Have and Have Knot’s Landing; Much Ado about Snooki)

acerbic—when motivated to write by harsh internal dialog. (e.g. You’re the losingest loser who ever lost. Any fool could have written a thousand good words by now. Well? Why aren’t you typing? If you were professional, you’d feel energized by my speech.)

aerobic–you’ve read the stats on the so-called Sitting Disease, so you work at a treadmill desk or religiously use a timer to take calisthenic breaks. Now your writing sessions are measured not only by wordcount, but by reps performed and miles walked.

phobic—when one is so apprehensive about writing a passage, they bounce in and out of their chair like a coke-addled flea; WIP involves aspects of Vietnamese culture, especially a tasty soup.

cubicle—stealth-writing session conducted when “technically” one should be “working” for one’s “employer.”

bicaudal—when your critique group universally spurns your book’s ending, necessitating a total rewrite.

bicycles—when one has two manuscripts on the go and rotates through them on an equal basis.

Albicore—story has fishy origins—i.e. fan fiction destined for publication.

bicuspid—when one’s writing about a toothsome hero; when the work session is a grind.

cannabic—chocolate- and munchie-fueled writing session that is now legal in two states; to grow high on your own words, hit publish, and come to your senses the following day.

cherubic—writing about children too adorable for words.

bicentennial—many of Jan’s writing sessions, so-named because it can feel like it takes two-hundred freaking years to go from idea to competent execution.

hydrophobic—refusal to allow a beverage anywhere near one’s work station. Usually preceded by a costly laptop repair.

coxcombical—session spent working on a piece which will be vanity published.

trisyllabic—writing a lot of contemporary female teenager dialog.
e.g. “Oh. My. God.”
“Worst. Night. Ever.”
Or, said in admiring tones, “You’re. So. Sick.”

Last but not least, an oft-underestimated form of writing which has the ability to sneak under the radar of a hypercritical Internal Editor…

microbic—spell of daily writing which is so minute it doesn’t seem to have any potential, yet—when multiplied over the course of weeks, months, and years—can create a decent output, a proud author, and alter the trajectory of a reader’s life.

Unboxeders, have I overlooked any BIC-containing words? Please feel free to add to the lexicon.

*Edited from an earlier version because found to be offensive, rather than satiric. Sorry for the misfire, folks.


About Jan O'Hara

Jan O'Hara left her writing dreams behind for years to practice family medicine, but has found her way back to the world of fiction. Currently the voice of the Unpublished Writer here at Writer Unboxed, she hopes one day soon to become unqualified for the position.


  1. says

    In the UK BIC is an acronym standing for “Book Industry Communication”: our equivalent of BISAC. But of course that justification wouldn’t stand up in a game of scrabble (strip or conventional) as acronyms are disqualified.
    But all writers should be interested in and supportive of the work done by BIC and BISAC – because selling books would be a much harder without the work they’ve put into promoting data standards in the book industry supply chain.
    So can be grateful for that next time you lay bicuadal on a scrabble board and want to spit nails. Someone’s out there fighting your corner…

  2. says

    Very funny, Jan. Here are a few more:

    Bicameral-the urge to watch Congressional proceedings on C-Span when you are supposed to be writing.

    Cherubic-an uncontrollable desire to populate you stories with cute little angels.

    Claustrophobic-the habit of going outside for a walk to escape the confining walls of your writing work space

    I could go, but I better stop.

  3. Lillian Duggan says

    “a newscaster stranded in sweeps month without the promise of a schoolyard shooting”

    You lost me there. Way over the line.

    • says

      Despite knowing that I’d written and uploaded this almost a week ago, I have to admit I was cringing when I turned on this morning’s news. Humor relies on context, and I’d have to agree this is a bit of a misfire this morning. (Though you might not appreciate my brand on any given day. ;) Understood.)

      My thoughts are with those in Washington.

  4. says

    Hilarious, Jan! You made me blush with the trisyllabic – GUILTY! Shame on me.

    The dark, coarse, curly haired hands on keyboard made me spit my coffee (wiping keyboard, still laughing).

    • says

      There’s a discussion on the WU FB page about how teenagers and twenty-year-olds rarely use text-speak, whereas us older folk do. I wonder if this would be true of my trisyllabic generalization. I know I’m guilty!

  5. says

    Well, I hope no geliophobic writers read this (those who fear a laugh inducing piece of writing). My wife can attest to the fact that I am not one (she was in an adjacent room while I read, and in trisyllabic fashions said, “What on earth is So. Damn. Funny,” in response to my lol-ing).

    Thanks for the shout-out (although I apologize for the circumstance). I suppose in order to avoid being rude, I’ll offer to flick my bic (yes, I know you don’t condone smoking related humor, Doc). Ahem – here we go:

    Agoraphobic: Writing a scene you fear for the other coffeehouse patrons to catch a glimpse of on your screen, forcing you to write at home.

    Bicuspid: Writing two characters who are closely connected, and yet pointedly curse one another.

    Bicep-tual: It’s writing a think-piece, with clever and yet well-toned and sleeveless characters.

    Thanks for the laughs, Boss! All so clever, but I think my favorite is the back-and-forth example for bicker.

  6. says

    How can you not have seen bicycle – as in the vehicle you need to escape your writing and clear your head?

    And bisciotti – for your morning caffeine?

  7. Lynn says

    “… without the promise of a schoolyard shooting”? This is not only “too close to the bone” on the same day as a mass shooting, it is not funny on any day, ever. Please think of another situation to mine for any future posts listed under “Humor.” After reading that sentence, none of the rest of this post struck me as funny.

  8. thinkpiece says

    Love this piece, but I do not love the “like a newscaster without a schoolyard shooting” analogy.

    Kinda harsh, with respect.

  9. says

    Jan does not need my help, but I need to chime in here. No one intentionally sets out to hurt others – at least most people don’t. Jan had no way of knowing about this morning’s shooting when this article was written.

    People in the medical field think differently from the rest. We have to – or we could never do our jobs. Most of us develop a shield from the awful things that go on with the human body – horrible burn victims, shootings, cancer, strokes amputations, etc. Off the wall humor is part of this shield. Sayings such as “crispy critter” and “bought the farm” are a part of the private vocabulary in hospitals. I couldn’t begin to type dozens of reports every night without insulating myself from it.

    I’m sure Jan did not mean to be flippant or callous with her remark.

    I DO understand how some are very sensitive to certain things. I’m that way about mental illness. It has taken me years and years to be able to withstand comments about the mentally ill or “schizos” as some are fond of calling people like my son.

    There but for the grace of God go I….

    I did turn on the news and am sickened once again at the depravity of human nature. God bless the Navy Yard an their people.

    • says

      What is your background, Marilyn?

      Thank you for your understanding.

      While I’m upset that I hurt people–and you’re absolutely right about black humor being used as a means of coping with tragedy–I’m always determined to unpack lessons from challenges.

      For me, I’ll take away that I need to have an American beta reader for my dark humor. Because despite being a relatively informed Canadian, and that I did not mean to disrespect people’s pain but rather satirize those who would add to it–ironic, given that I was known for my compassion and empathy in my practice–I’m clearly not understanding the visceral pain facing my American friends over this subject.

      A good lesson for me, and perhaps one that will spare others from future misunderstanding if they write for a different culture than they live.

      Anyway, I appreciate your input.

      • says

        Jan, I’ve been a medical transcriptionist/editor for 20+ years. I’ve worked for both small and large facilities over the years, scribing a variety of specialties.

        The burn units and the psych units always hit me the hardest. Burn victims are so tortured and so helpless. Psych patients have fractured brains, some of which cannot be repaired, as you well know.

        I currently work at home for a large hospital in Joliet, IL and do mostly VR editing.

  10. says

    The RuBICon is crossed: that’s it, you’re in the zone, the words are flowing from your fingers. It is too late to stop writing.

    RuBIC’s cube: the sort of labyrinthine plot that takes ages to figure out. Of course, there are some clever buggers who can make up complex plots in seconds.

    Choccie BICcies: writing fuel for those times you’re still figuring out a RuBIC’s cube.

    AeroBICise: the sort of writing that leaves you pink, sweaty and short of breath y the time you’re done typing. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what genre this is (although tastes may differ).

    TechnophoBIC: for writing with pen and paper. The writing equivalent of acoustic guitars.

    HerBICide: the sort of intense bouts of writing that cause you to neglect houseplants.

    CuBICle: where bored, daydreaming office workers think through their WIPs whilst staring at a computer screen.

  11. says

    Verbicide: the dulling of a great verb’s effect by using it too many times in your WIP.

    That one actually is a word; I’m making up the next one, though.

    Adverbicide: going through your ms. in the editing process, removing the majority of the adverbs.

    Oh, I love these posts — this is one funny community of people.

    • says

      If we’re a funny community, that’s due in part to people like yourself. Well done, Natalie. Isn’t is Stephen King who promotes the slaughter of adverbs? I imagine he’d love your term!

  12. Cal Rogers says

    Protastinate: Perfecting the arrangement of your sock drawer, or any non-writing activity you do, to avoid telling your protagonist’s story.

  13. Jeanne Kisacky says

    A fun post! I would add Ice Cubic — when you are too cheap to turn the heat on, because it’s only going to be 30 for one night, so the only warm room in the house is the office with the space heater. I don’t resemble this at all . . .

    • says

      Haha! I love it, Jeanne, though I can’t say I’ve lived the idea. When winter heads our way, we can go as low as -40; central heating isn’t really an option.

  14. says


    I forgot how witty you were. Practically a female Wilde, if such a creature exists. This was delightful in every way. Sorry it took me a few days to read it. I chuckled all the way through.

    These are mainly for you; I’ll probably be one of the last commenters, but I hope you get a laugh as well:

    bichon-frensi: butt in chair, exhausting yourself playing tug-o-war and fetch with your dog—accidentally using your rolled up manuscript. Now you need a nap.

    bicarbohydrate: butt in chair, with a promise to write after finishing two large pieces of chocolate cake due to the manuscript fiasco. Then another nap.

    bicoastal: butt in chair, roasting hops for your micro brewery (this one makes you think). Getting drunk for the manuscript mess-up.

    bi-curious: butt in chair, staring off into space, wondering…chicken breasts or bratwurst for dinner?

    Have a great day!

    • says

      Oh, Michael, I definitely got a laugh. These are inspired! I particularly liked the first and the last. Well done, you! Wish more people could see this.

      As for coming late, that’s never a problem. I have to do so myself or I’d never write. I appreciate the literary comparison. Gosh.

  15. Kali Marie says

    I see someone did chose bicoastal – but for an alternate: when you are writing/plotting and you find that you would like to have both A & B happen next, but they are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum and take the story in vastly different directions