Alpha: A strong, dominant, and take charge kind of character.
Advanced reader copy (ARC): A free book sent to a reviewer before being published.
Antagonist: The character who comes into conflict with the protagonist, creating an obstacle or multiple obstacles for them. It can also be a thing or situation such as a monster, a storm, etc.
Backlist: Books which have already been published by an author or publisher.
Backstory: The history and past of a character that affects his or her actions in a story.
Beat: A point of action that advances the plot of a story.
Beat sheet: A tool a writer can use to help plan and sequence a story.
Beta: A character who is secure in their personality and doesn’t feel the need to dominate their partner.
Beta reader: An early reader who gives feedback to an author on their unpublished work.
Black moment: The point of a story when all hope seems lost for the protagonist.
Book boyfriend: The fictional hero you want for yourself.
Category romance: A short romance novel (around 55k words) categorized by tropes and heat level by a publisher's line.
Catnip: A trope that a reader always wants to read more of.
Cinnamon roll: A male character who is considered to be sweet, in touch with his feelings, and there for his partner emotionally.
Climax: The highest point of drama and tension in a story.
Comp: A comparison title used to give agents, editors, or readers an idea what the book is like.
Conflict: The struggle, disagreement, or a difference between opposing forces that is at the center of a story, either externally or internally.
Core conflict: The major problem or issue at the center of a story.
Critique partner (CP): A writer with whom another writer shares and critiques work on a regular basis.
Exposition: Narrative intended solely to convey information to the reader.
External conflict: The struggle between a person and an outside force in a story. It can be divided into three types: character vs. character, character vs. nature, and character vs. society.
Female/female (F/F): A subgenre featuring two female leads.
Filter words: The specific words used to create narrative distance in the point-of-view character.
Flashback: A scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point in a story, often to provide backstory.
Foreshadowing: The act of suggesting something will happen in the story.
Freestyler: A writer who writes out of chronological order and arranges the book afterward.
Genre: A category or novel type, such as romance, mystery, or fantasy.
Goal: What a character wants.
Happily ever after (HEA): A story ending with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending, usually with the couple engaged or married.
Happy for now (HFN): A story ending with the couple together and happy.
Head-hopping: This is when an author suddenly changes the viewpoint character within a single scene.
Heat level: This refers to how much sex or passion there is in a romance story. It ranges from sweet romance, where pretty much everything happens behind closed doors, to erotica, where everything is shown.
Hero: The male main character in a traditional romance story.
Heroine: The female main character in a traditional romance story.
Hook: An element that grabs the reader and makes them want to read on.
Inciting moment: The moment that triggers the core conflict of the story and draws the protagonist in the plot.
Instalove: When one or both love interests immediately falls for the other without an emotional struggle.
Internal conflict: The struggle within a character in a story.
Logline: A one-sentence description of a story.
Male/male (M/M): A subgenre featuring two male leads.
Market: The demographic traits of the target audience for a story, such as adult or young adult.
May-December romance: A relationship spanning a large age gap.
Meet-cute: The first meeting of the two main characters.
Narrative distance: The distance between the reader and the point-of-view character.
Narrative drive: The sense that the plot is moving forward.
Narrator: The person or character who tells and explains the story.
New adult: A category of fiction featuring main characters between 18 and 30 years of age.
Novella: Typically between 17,000 and 40,000 words, a story with a fully developed theme that is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel.
Outline: The structured overview of how a story will unfold.
Pacing: The speed of a story, or how quickly it moves.
Pantser: A writer who writes without a plan, i.e. by the seat of their pants.
Paranormal romance (PNR): A subgenre featuring supernatural elements.
Plot: The direction of a story’s main events and incidents and how they relate to one another.
Plotter: A writer who plans out a story before they start writing.
Point of view (POV): The perspective from which a story is told or narrated. Options include first person (I/me), second person (you), and third person (he/she).
Premise: The general description of the story.
Protagonist: The main character in a story.
Query letter: A one-page letter used to describe a story when submitting a manuscript to an agent or editor.
Regency romance: A subgenre set during the period of British regency (the early 19th century) that has its own plot and stylistic conventions.
Resolution: The point in a story when an answer or solution is found to the conflict or problem.
Scene: An individual moment in a story.
Sequel: A second book that continues where the first book left off.
Series: Multiple books using the same characters and/or world.
Setting: The time, place, and conditions in which a story takes place.
Short story: A story that has a fully developed theme but is significantly shorter than a novel.
Show don’t tell: A writing technique in which a story and characters are experienced through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author’s exposition, summarization, and description.
Slow burn: A relationship that takes a while to get going.
Stakes: What consequences the protagonist will face if they fail to reach their goal.
Stand-alone: A novel that contains one complete story in one book.
Sweet romance: A feel-good romance without sex.
Syntax: The arrangement of words and phrases in creating sentences.
Tension: The sense of something about to happen that keeps readers reading.
Theme: The main idea or underlying meaning of a story.
Tone: The attitude of the writer toward the subject or audience, generally conveyed through the choice of words.
Trilogy: A story told over the course of three books.
Trope: A familiar and common plot device used in storytelling.
Word count: The number of words contained in a story.
Work in progress (WIP): An unfinished story that is still being added to or developed.
Young adult: A category of fiction featuring main characters between 12 and 18 years of age.