A brief glossary for novice novelists

stepbackHere are a few of the words I’ve had to look up since I started taking my novel writing seriously. Most of them are not romance-genre specific. All of them were new to me.

Beta reader: I’ve been seeking beta readers for Farewell to Kindness, and one of the people I asked said ‘what’s that?’ A beta reader is kindly soul who agrees to read your 3rd, 4th, or 5th draft (the one you think is just about finished) and give you a reader’s honest opinion. A beta reader is not doing a proofread or a copy edit. They’re reacting to the story as a reader would.

Category or series titles: A short romance novel (55,000 words) published within a clearly delineated line with a distinct identity, which may involve similar settings, characters, time periods, levels of sensuality, or types of conflict. Publishers of these lines include Harlequin/Mills & Boon.

Indie publisher: Indie is short for independent – a person who decides to go it alone and self-publish.

Novel: A work of 40,000 words or more

Novella: A work of between 17,500 and 40,000 words

Novelette: A work of between 7,500 and 17,500 words

Pantster: Writers are apparently either planners or pantsters. Planners plot everything in advance. Pantsters write by the seat of their pants, finding out what’s happening as they go along. I do extensive planning in advance, and go into the book with a clear idea about the characters and what is going to happen. Then the story takes over and I shoot off in a completely different direction. I rewrite my plans constantly as I go, each day finishing the day’s work by writing the story line for the next day. Then my characters surprise me again the next day and I have to do it over. Am I a planner or a pantster?

Planner: see pantster

POD: Print on Demand – using digital printing techniques to print copies of a book one at a time, as they are ordered. While not as economical per copy as traditional printing for large print runs, POD makes it possible to provide small numbers of books and save on warehousing space and print overruns.

POV: Point of view – the perspective from which the story is written. In my novel, I’ve used third-person limited, where I’m inside the head of a particular character during a scene, but cannot write about anything that character doesn’t know or sense.

Series: A group of books with connecting themes, characters, or both.

Series titles: see Category or series

Short Story: A work under 7,500 words

Single-title: A romance novel that is not published as part of a category line. They are typically longer than category novels (100,000 to 120,000 words), which means the writer has room to develop subplots and secondary characters.

Step-back: the picture on the inside of the cover – a tradition in romance novels that is making a comeback. The two together are called two-image covers.

If you have more, please add them in the comments. My lunch hour is over, and I’m back to work.

The Slang for Writers I found is more about writing and plot development terms, so not relevant to this post. Good to read, though. Consider it a bonus.

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