Viable Paradise Glossary

Here are some useful writerly terms that we picked up from Viable Paradise. You may recognize some of them.

Waxing the cat: A phrase describing the writer proclivity to procrastinate, as in “After I’ve waxed the cat, I’ll start this story.” Usually waxing the cat is followed by cleaning the toilet with a toothbrush, organizing your spoon collection, and a variety of household chores in a cyclical procession until it is once again time to wax the cat. Note the low word count that results.

As you know, Bob…: Expository prose inserted in a particularly obvious fashion, derived from the old 50s SF rhetorical device of explaining your theory to another scientist named Bob. My favorite variation on this theme was two supernatural beings expositing to one another, or “As you know, Zeus…”

Adverb Killing: Hunting down and ruthlessly destroying adverbs in your fiction.

Shiny Soup: Also known as a beautiful mess. A story which has gemlike nuggets, but is a bit muddled in its intent.

Whorelord: A particularly strong writer at Viable Paradise XIII wrote a great story with too many characters. One was a prostitute who had risen to warlord status, or, as Laura Mixon coined the term, the whorelord. It turned out that this character was the author’s favorite, and this became the nickname for the rewrite (which will be beautiful, and nothing like this makes it sound.) That said, Scalzi said that Whorelord would be published by Baen, and the author herself adopted a pseudonym for it: Curry McCarnage.

I hope others remember snappy conversation and add to the list. Well, gotta go wax the cat.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

3 thoughts on “Viable Paradise Glossary”

  1. “…, as you do” – usually said after some completely off the wall action. Like, “So, I went down to the beach to fend off the squidly hordes, as you do…”

    I have a little sketch of the “Whorelord” cover. Once I have time to get a comp together (hopefully before Xmas), I’m definitely posting it.

  2. I have had this phrase in my head: Adverb Stacking. I am re-reading a series by a well-to-do science fiction writer who places two adverbs together at the end of a sentence fairly regularly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.