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:
- 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.
- Chiseled. The only permissible use of this word is if your character is a sculptor.
- Marble. This is should only appear when describing countertops, antique furniture, and statutes (which a sculptor is allowed to chisel).
- Velvet. The only thing which should be velvet is fabric. The night sky, skin, and naughty bits are right out.
- Locked. This is what you do with a door, not what you do with your eyes, hands, or legs-around-a-waist.
- 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.
- Purred. Cats do this, but people don’t. Unless they’re imitating cats.
- 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.