GIVEAWAY: I am very excited to again give away a free book to a random commenter. The winner can choose either CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM or the 2013 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS. Commenters must live in the US/Canada; comment within one week to win. Good luck!
UPDATE: Kim won. Thanks for all who participated.
Working for Writer’s Digest Books, I come across a lot of literary terms — both the common and uncommon. Because it’s healthy for writers of all levels to be familiar with terms they may come across in articles, conversations and contracts, here are some literary terms defined for your enjoyment.
Boiler plate contract (also know as a “standard contract”) – (n.) This term usually refers to an agreed starting contract between a literary agent and publisher. If Agent X sells a book to Putnam, for example, their next deal with Putnam will likely have the same royalty rates and subright splits as the first deal.
Denouement – (n.) French for an untying. The denouement of a novel or story follows the climax; it represents the unraveling pf the complexities of a plot, and the clarifying of the story’s details and misunderstandings.
Galley – (n.) A bound version of just the text of the book (or article, if writing for magazines). There is little to no illustration and the cover is a solid color with release data printed on the cover. Used for the same purposes as ARCs (advanced reader copies).
Kill fee – (n.) A fee paid to a writer who has worked on an assignment that, for some reason, is not published. For example, you’re contracted to write an article for a magazine and you turn it in. The article itself is satisfactory. But then the editor calls you and says they are changing the focus of the upcoming issue and they can’t use your article as part of the package anymore. They have no more need for it, so they pay you a kill fee (a percentage of the original promised price — usually 25–50%) and all rights to the article revert back to you. Your best bet is to try and sell it elsewhere.
Logline – (n.) A one-line summary of your story. For example: “A treasure hunter searches for a fabled artifact in the Himalayas.”
Narrative nonfiction – Nonfiction that uses the devices of fiction. You’re telling a true story, but using things such as character development, dialogue and cliffhangers. Think about it like the movie Apollo 13. The whole story is true, but it’s told in a dramatic fashion, like a fictional story would be. Oft-cited examples of narrative nonfiction include The Perfect Storm, Seabiscuit, In Cold Blood and The Right Stuff.