8 Words Which Should Be Banned From Romance Novels

I just finished reading “Bite Me if You Can” by Lynsey Sands and it made me appreciate the fact that my upcoming book is not a vampire romance novel. (It also made me feel smug to find a typo in it, even though it was published by Avon Books.)

And it made me realize that there’s at least eight words in the English language which should be banned from romance novels (or any novel, for that matter), except under specific circumstances. They are:

  1. Molten. The only thing that should be molten is lava and metals being poured into molds. And maybe the cheese on a pizza straight out of the oven.
  2. Chiseled. The only permissible use of this word is if your character is a sculptor.
  3. Marble. This is should only appear when describing countertops, antique furniture, and statutes (which a sculptor is allowed to chisel).
  4. Velvet. The only thing which should be velvet is fabric. The night sky, skin, and naughty bits are right out.
  5. Locked. This is what you do with a door, not what you do with your eyes, hands, or legs-around-a-waist.
  6. Bucked. This is what horses do when they’re trying to throw their riders—although I might allow an exception for describing someone learning to drive a stick shift (I made my old Festiva buck on more than one occasion). But lovers should never do this.
  7. Purred. Cats do this, but people don’t. Unless they’re imitating cats.
  8. Wolfish. A wolf may look wolfish. And maybe a domesticated dog, like a husky, or one that’s gone feral. But not people.

The book wasn’t awful; I liked the characters well enough to keep reading, and the plot was decent (although it was fairly obvious where it was going). But it’s not something I’m likely to read again because it will probably get worse with the re-reading.

Are there any other words you see abused in genre fiction? I will say the letters z and x are abused in fantasy.



7 comments on “8 Words Which Should Be Banned From Romance Novels

  1. “Limpid” always kills me. I know it can legitimately be used in the context of describing someone’s eyes (“unclouded; clear” – dictionary.com), but it’s still way over-used in romance novels.

  2. Keri Peardon says:

    Orbs. Got to add “orbs” to the list.

    Maybe I should make this a page so I can keep it updated.

  3. Wallace says:

    Two words I’ve always found no use for: moist and panties. I just don’t like thre sound of them.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Well, it can be kind of hard to ban moist, since so many things can legitimately be moist–cakes, the ground, eyes. It’s a more elegant way to say “damp.” Although I’m not sure that I care for it in a romantic context.

      I’d have to argue with you over panties, though. That’s a Southern word. Other women may have underclothes, undergarments, foundation garments, knickers, or underpants (I *hate* the word underpants), but Southern women have panties. Brits get their knickers in a twist, and Southerners get their panties in a wad, but I have no idea what other people do. Getting your underpants in a twist just doesn’t work for me.

      • Wallace says:

        Strange, I never thought of panties as a particularly Southern word. I’ve heard it used in TV and movies before and just thought it was the female diminutive of the male word pants. Here in the US we use pants for the outer garment and underpants for the inner garment, but in the UK pants is always the undergarment and trousers is the outer garment, so panties would just be the feminized version of pants. Or so I’ve always thought. At least I’ve never heard of men wearing panties except in a cross dressing way.

        I doubt I have any UK readers, but I’ve always used the word underpants to make it clear that it’s the inner garmet I’m refering to and not the ambiguous “pants” that can be taken to mean different things depending on which side of the Atlantic one lives on. Saying a character walked out wearing only their pants is acceptable in the US, not so much in the UK. And don’t get me started about UK men wearing jumpers…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s