3 Tips for Writing Jargon



Law enforcement officer? Low Earth Orbit? Logistics and Engineering Operations?

Have you ever been confused when someone drops an acronym into conversation? What about a technical term or phrase?

When using the jargon (special or technical terms used in a particular occupation) we are familiar with, we often forget how confusing and unclear it can be. Add in the possible additional meanings for acronyms, and you have the perfect recipe for making a reader or character say, “Huh? What?”

1. Explain yourself and your jargon

If your exposition or characters are using jargon that will be pertinent to the plotline or your story world mechanics, explain what the terms mean. Don’t leave your reader in the dark, trying to guess what your acronyms and terminology mean.

2. Create characters that do use jargon

People are familiar with jargon. Every occupation we ever have develops a jargon. Think about the terminology, acronyms, and coded language you used even when you were a student. When creating realistic characters and dialogue, jargon does have a place in our lexicons.

Also, there are always a few people who enjoy using jargon to a) sound like they know what they are doing b) feel superior when you have to ask them what they mean or c) when they are that heavily into a technical field and they do not realize that it’s confusing for the rest of us.

Feel free to write those characters because they are realistic.

3. Make fun of jargon

When the technical terms or acronyms could possibly be confusing to readers (and other characters), have a character point it out! When character A starts throwing acronyms around like a heavyweight, have character B interrupt and point out at least one other thing the acronym could mean.

For Example:

Character A: I have an IEP now. My 504 was upgraded after the last round of testing.

Character B: You have an International Exchange Program? Wow! Where are you headed? Or did you mean Independent Energy Producer. I need to get one of those; are you selling, and can I get a discount?

(In this case, the IEP would actually refer to an Individualized Education Plan, but only those in the education system would know that.)

So go ahead! Use jargon! But remember to 1) explain yourself and your jargon, 2) create realistic characters that do indeed use jargon, and 3) make fun of the jargon.

And for fun, please enjoy the following about teaching jargon:

Teaching Language

By Julianne Turner

Published in the Clayton State University Cygnet Literary Magazine in 2015

Students walk into

a flipped classroom.

A warm-up and a hook followed by

cooperative learning activities.

The administration says:

Try something technologically interactive.

Collaborative discussions monitored by teacher-facilitators

This is, after all, a student-centered classroom.

Take a deep breath of gratitude.

Your planning period has arrived!

Hold on! First address

2,000 emails and fill out parent-guardian contact logs.

Run to departmental and grade-level meetings.

Grade, create formative and summative assessments, repeat.

And the lesson plans!

Plans must be aligned with the Standards,

Backed by best-practices and research.

Differentiate! Modify for 504s and IEPs!

Address all learning styles.

Provide positive feedback.

It is Chrismahanakwanziaka – scratch that –

Is it winter break yet?

In the meantime, pass me the English-to-Teacher dictionary.

2 thoughts on “3 Tips for Writing Jargon

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