On Writing  

Writers’ Terms
(or how to talk like a writer)


ARC – Advanced Reading Copy –

this is the finished for the gallery that is often printed and circulated to reviewers and books stores to help promote pre-release sales

Alpha Hero –

heroes that was very strong, opinionated, down right arrogant!

Back Story —

events that occurred before the start of the book.

Beta Hero —

this hero is a kinder, gentler hero; often had problems of some sort that have scared his relationships

Category Romance —

romance written within a set of parameters that establish a set style for tone, page length, sensuality level, and the requisite happy ending. Harlequin and Silhouette Romances are good examples

Characterization —

character traits and actions that define the people in a novel.

Conflict —

the barrier that prevents the hero and heroine from falling in love early on in a novel. Internal conflict refers to emotional issues within the protagonists, such as fear of commitment, abandonment, failure of past relationships, etc. External conflict refers to "outside" barriers that block the path to love, such as feuding families, misunderstandings, prior romantic commitments, etc.

Copy Editor —

person responsible for correcting errors within a manuscript, such as grammar, spelling, and consistency, querying the editor and author with problems to solve, and preparing a style sheet of names, places, etc.

Critique — (manuscript critique)

an editorial assessment of a manuscript. It includes an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the story, including pacing, writing style, voice, internal and external conflict, characterization, and romance. As each critique is personal, one critique may focus more on pacing, while another critique may focus more on characterization. A manuscript critique can be used as a learning tool by an author looking to hone his or her writing skills.

Dialogue —

words or conversation spoken by the characters that advance the plot.

Editor —

person responsible for acquiring manuscripts for publication and aiding the author to revise and shape them to suit the publishing house's needs.

Font —

the style of type used in a manuscript. For example, Times New Roman or Arial or Courier. Publishers prefer you use Times New Romance or Courier or Dark Courier.

Full Manuscript —

the novel as it appears on 8½ x 11 paper, typed or printed from a computer. The full manuscript refers to the entire novel, from start to end, as opposed to a partial manuscript, which is just a selection of chapters.

Galley —

the typeset manuscript, appearing as it will when the book is ultimately printed, before the pages are cropped to book-size and bound. The term comes from the long strips of paper on which such text was formerly set.

Gamma Hero –

This is the darkest of male heroes (See Author Anne Stuart’s heroes for perfect example of Gamma Heroes.

Hero —

the main male protagonist in a romance novel, these can be Alpha, Beta or Gamma males

Heroine —

the main female protagonist in a romance novel.

Hook —

the sentence, paragraph or theme that draws, and holds, the reader's attention. It should begin the novel.

House Style Guide — (a.k.a. Style Guide)

) a definitive manual created by a publishing house outlining specific style choices (i.e. grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.) so that consistency will be maintained throughout all publications.

Line Edit —

high-level editing that helps to shape the book by focusing on things such as plot, tone, pacing, characterization, development of romance, etc. (as opposed to copyediting, which focuses on smaller, line-by-line issues such as grammar, consistency, and style).

Mainstream Romance —

a romance novel written outside the confines of category romance parameters. Some differences may include the tone, voice, point-of-view, etc. This is usually a longer-length novel of 100,000 words or more.

Manuscript —

the novel as it appears on 8½ x 11 paper, typed or printed from a computer.

Narrative —

words that are not part of dialogue. For example, descriptions, thoughts, actions, and setup.

Outline —

see Synopsis.

Pacing —

the progression of the novel's timeline: how fast or slow the action of the story moves along.

Partial manuscript —

the novel as it appears on 8½ x 11 paper, typed or printed from a computer. Partial manuscript refers to a selection of chapters (such as the first three), as opposed to the entire manuscript.

Plot —

the main action of a novel.

Point-of-View —

which character's or characters' eyes the main action of the story is seen through. A story told in the first person is narrated by "I"; in the third person, the narrator is outside the story and tells about "he" or "she."

Proofreading — (a.k.a. Proofing)

the final stage of editing the manuscript that takes place in-house after copyediting. Proofreaders check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that have been missed, as well as for errors in cover copy, ad copy, running heads, and pagination.

Query letter —

a letter addressed to an editor that inquires about a publishing program's policy for receiving manuscripts, or a letter to an editor that accompanies a manuscript (partial or full) and synopsis for review by the addressed editor.

Running Heads —

the copy at the top of each page that details the title of the book or chapter and author name.

Series Romance —

see Category Romance.

Setting —

the time and place of the action of a novel. For example, 1812 Regency London, or contemporary Western, Medieval Scotland.

Slush Pile —

unsolicited manuscripts sent to editors.

Style Guide —

see House Style Guide.

Synopsis —

a condensed summary of the entire novel from start to finish.

Time Line —

the chronological sequence of events in the story. Although the events of the story don't have to be told in chronological order, it is important to be sure that events occur in their chronological order. For example, a story can begin when the hero is 30 and flashback to when he was 18, but if the hero's parents died when he was 23, remember that his parents were alive during the flashback.

Tone —

the style or manner in which the story is written. For example, humorous or dramatic.

Voice —

the author's use of language, which creates a unique tone particular to her story.

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