Romance novels have been getting big publicity recently, especially as print publishers jump on the erotica bandwagon. However, like any sub-culture, romance has its own jargon. So to discuss romance intelligently, which this column aims to do, one needs to talk the talk. Welcome to Romance 101.
First, romance incorporates a panorama of genres from the traditional Mills&Boon to novels with strong romantic elements. While sub-genres like historical, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, and multi-cultural are, I trust, self-explanatory, there are others that may require elaboration.
Category (or series): standard term for novels published under a label instead of by author. Harlequin and Mills&Boon novels are categories.
Chick-Lit – a cousin to, and more flexible than, romance. Often focus on women entering the professional world for the first time.
Erotica – novels in which the heroine explores wider sexual landscapes than in traditional romance.
GLBT –include gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or trans-gendered main characters.
Inspirational – novels that celebrate traditional faith-based values.
Non-category – standard term for novels released under the author’s name.
Paranormal –one or both main characters are non-human. Normally set in a contemporary world.
Romantica – like erotica, has strong sexual content, but more emphasis on romantic plot.
Having a basic understanding of the sheer scope of romance is an excellent start, however, to really join a romance conversation, you’ll need some slang.
Alpha male/female: characters that are strong, smart, and independent. The current trend is to include one or more alpha characters.
DIK – Desert Island Keeper, a book worth holding on to.
To Glom: to buy up an author’s complete backlist after reading (and presumably enjoying) one novel.
Purple prose – overly descriptive writing that uses euphemisms and flowery language. Often used in sex scenes. (alt: purply, purplish)
Romancelandia – that mythical, magical place where rakes can be reformed, thieves, pirates, and kidnappers are really good deep-down, and love truly conquers all.
TSTL – Too stupid to live. Refers to a character (normally heroine) who continually acts in a brainless manner.
Wall-thumper – a novel so bad that the reader feels compelled to launch it across the room and have it thud satisfactorily against the opposite wall.
You are now equipped to start your own romance conversations. Go forth and flaunt your new grasp of the subtleties and nuances of this most elusive of languages. Romancelandia await