There are so many terrible and serious things going on in the world. I’m in the midst of researching and writing about a few of them. While I’m making sure I do those topics justice, I thought I would take a week to share some information, definitions and lingo regarding fiction books. I receive a surprising number of questions about things contained in this article, and although I email everybody back eventually, I think this could be helpful.
Remember that even though some of the devastating things in the headlines are heartbreaking and tragic, it’s absolutely acceptable to find refuge for a couple of hours in a book. Books can broaden our minds and increased our knowledge about humanity in very unexpected ways sometimes. Today I’m writing about fiction, but you can also escape into fascinating nonfiction, such as poetry, biographies, history and essays
Primary fiction classifications
Romance: Romance is consistently one of the best-selling genres. Contemporary and paranormal romances seem especially popular right now.
Contemporary/realistic fiction: There are issue-driven books, drama filled family sagas, lighthearted stories and romantic comedies.
Science fiction/fantasy: In the past year many readers have wanted to escape current events. What better way to do that than to get swept up in a tale that escapes reality?
Historical: These can span absolutely any time period. Some are incredibly historically accurate, and others are definitely … not. Personally, I’ve noticed a bit of a trend toward more modernized dialogue even when the book is in a setting that’s otherwise historically accurate.
Paranormal: There are lots of stories about vampires, ghosts, and time travelers, but now shifters seem to be everywhere.
Suspense/thriller: Action-filled, or mysterious and intellectually driven, these types of novels let readers solve puzzles.
Choosing a book
No matter the type of book, there are some terms that are somewhat universally applicable in book blurbs, book descriptions, category descriptions, titles, and other ways of categorizing or promoting stories. What seems obvious to one person may be it’s the furthest thing from clear to somebody else. I’ve put together a list of acronyms, descriptions and extremely brief explanations that might help. I’ve tried to categorize them somewhat.
As a consumer, you should really pay attention to the category in which a book is listed. If it indicates some type of action that you find offensive, it isn’t fair to buy it and criticize the author for that aspect of the book later, especially if you write a review. It can be very good to go outside your comfort zone when you read, but it’s good to be aware of what choice you’re making.
There are dedicated categories specifically for LGBTQ+ books. However, many of these stories are also in mainstream categories. If you’re familiar with relationship pairing designations, you won’t be taken by surprise. Why is that important? Here’s one example – if a particular type of sexual interaction bothers you and you buy a book containing that type of storyline, despite the book description or a publisher warning having listed it appropriately, it’s not fair to review the author or book negatively for having that type of content.
I think I should take a moment to point out that we are fortunate to live in a society where all different types of books are published. Not every book I read or review is of a type that fits my personal preferences. I can still be fair and evaluate it based on the plot, the characters, and other aspects of the story.
Relationship terms and definitions
OTP: One True Pairing. Think of this as being that couple of main characters that you’ll root for forever.
NOTP: (Pronounced No-TP) The opposite of an OTP. You don’t want this couple to be together.
BROTP/Bromance: A close friendship between guys.
Ship: If you ship a couple, it means that you want them to get together
HEA: Happily Ever After
Abbreviations of Pairings
MF – Male/Female
MM – Male/Male
MMM – Male menage (a + sign might mean more men)
FF – Female/Female
FFF – Female menage (a + sign might mean more women)
MMF – Male/Male/Female (the men do each other as well as the woman)
MFM – Male/Female/Male (the men only do the woman, not each other)
MFMM (or MFMM+) – One Alpha male gets the woman, but other males in the menage who only do the woman, not each other.
MMMF (or MMM+F) – The guys do each other and the woman.
RH – Reverse Harem – a menage with one woman and multiple men.
Key acronyms and descriptions
Clean – Contains very limited or no description of sexual activity between characters.
Steamy – Contains explicit descriptions of sexual activity between characters.
IR – Interracial
BWWM – Black Woman with a White Man
WWBM – White Woman with a Black Man
Curvy girl – the lead female character wears ‘plus’ size clothing.
HFN – Happy-For-Now, meaning the lead characters end up happy for the immediate future.
HEA – Happily-Ever-After (self-explanatory)
Dub Con – Dubious Consent. Seen most often in historical, paranormal, and sci-fi, sometimes in mafia stories. Heroine is “taken” and forced into a sexual encounter. It can be brutal from start to finish, or she may end up giving some type of reluctant consent.
MPreg – Male pregnancy. Since men can’t get pregnant, this is found in paranormal/sci-fi.
Book Boyfriend/Girlfriend: The fictional boy (or girl) you wish could be yours in real life.
Insta-love/Insta-lust: The experience found frequently in books when the couple meets and instantly fall in love or in lust.
Love Triangle: A main character can’t decide between two romantic partners. Sometimes this quandary encompasses multiple books.
OMYM/OWYM: Older man, younger woman/Older woman, younger man
Age Gap: An age difference of at least 10 years between the main characters.
Reading Emotion Terms
The Feels: This means that the book made you feel a lot of emotion. Saying that a book gave you “all the feels” is a big compliment.
Book Hangover: When a book leaves you feeling emotionally drained.
Reading Slump: Feeling uninspired to read. This can also refer to you read a string of underwhelming books or post a bunch of unimaginative posts.
Free-Range Reader: Person who picks a book based on their mood at the moment.
TBR: To-Be-Read. The books that you plan to read. Frequently refers to assigning a book this designation on Goodreads.
DNF: Did not finish. This refers to a book you started to read but couldn’t get all the way through it.
RTC: Review to come. Typically posted if you give a book a rating but haven’t had time to write a full review yet.
Binge-Read: Reading all (or many) of the books in a series in a row.
Spoiler: Anything in your review that reveals important details from a book.
TSTL: (Too stupid to live) A hero or heroine who keeps making incredibly bad decisions. He or she may even almost get killed, but still doesn’t learn from their mistakes.
Cliffie: A cliffhanger. When the book ends in the middle of a dramatic moment and you have to wait till the next book to find out what happens. A book description sometimes warns you to expect this.
YMMV: This stands for Your Mileage May Vary. Usually, that means that a reviewer is acknowledging his or her opinion about something in a book might be different from your own.
Character and plot terms
MC: Main character
POV: Point of View is the perspective from which the book is told.
Dual POV: different chapters in the book are told from the perspectives of each of the main characters.
POC . Person of Color or People of Color
BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
Daphne: A female character who has to be rescued all the time. This is a reference to Daphne from Scooby Doo.
Manwhore: A male character who will have sex with almost anyone who fits their preferred gender criteria.
Twist: An unexpected event in a book—typically one that changes the direction of the plot or characters dramatically.
Info-Dump: When the author gives you lots of background information or a story all at once though either narration or dialogue.
PB: Picture book.
MC: The story or at least one of the main characters is connected to a motorcycle club.
MG: Middle Grade (typically geared toward ages 8-12).
YA: Young Adult books are geared toward high school-aged readers, or features main characters in that age range.
NA: New Adult books are geared toward an audience that prefers college age or just out of college main characters in that age range.
Bully: In these stories, one of the main characters is a high school or college bully, who typically undergoes some type of redemption before the end of the book.
SF/F: Sci-Fi or Fantasy.
PNR: Paranormal Romance
Shifters: at least one main character is a shifter – a person who can transform into some type of nonhuman creature.
Secret Baby or Surprise Pregnancy: A self-explanatory source of angst filled storylines.
Military: There are books about every type of military main character imaginable. These include veterans, members of all branches of the service, main characters disabled during their service, special OPS, and so forth.
UF: Urban Fantasy.
Contemp: This is an abbreviation for Contemporary Fiction.
Age Play: This frequently refers to a lead character who consciously acts younger than their chronological age.
D/s: Refers to a relationship between a dominant and a submissive.
DD/lg: Refers to a relationship between a Daddy Dom and a Little Girl, who is actually an adult woman who wants to sometimes be treated as a child.
ARC/Galley/Uncorrected Proof/eARC/DRC: These are all terms that refer to an Advanced Reader’s Copy, which is an unfinalized copy of the book provided to reviewers before the publication date.
Physical Copy: Hardcover or paperback version of the book, not an ebook.
Finished Copy/FC: The book in its final, published form.
New Release: A book released recently, usually in the current year.
Backlist: A book that was released before the current calendar year.
Self-Published: Published by the author.
Traditionally Published: Published by one of the major publishing houses.
Indie/Small-Press: Published by a small independent publisher.
ISBN: International Standard Book Number. A unique number that identifies a published book.
MS: Manuscript – the book that’s written or typed by the author.
WIP: Work In Progress is a book the author is currently working on.
Blurb: Synopsis that you find on the back of the book, and on websites like Amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub.
Street Teams: Bloggers and/or readers who promote an author or a series.
TTT: Top Ten Tuesday – A different bookish top ten list every week.
CWW: Can’t Wait Wednesday – An upcoming book the poster is looking forward to.
Teaser Tuesday: A teaser sentence from a book you’re reading.
Western Wednesday: A cowboy, rancher, or rodeo themed post.
Wet Wednesday: A post in some way involving water and an attractive person.
Thirsty Thursday: A post featuring an attractive man – a ‘thirst trap.’
Sizzling Saturday or Sizzling Sunday: A post featuring an attractive man or woman shared on the particular day of the week.
Blog Hop/Giveaway Hop: Participants “hop” from blog to blog visiting linked wposts.
Buddy Read/Readalong: Two or more people read a book at the same time so they can discuss it as they go.
Reading Challenge: A challenge to read a certain number of books that meet a certain criteria,g or to accomplish some type of blogging task.
Social media book tours
Blog Tour: An organized publicity tour for a book. Multiple bloggers post about the book on their blogs/social media within a defined date range.
Spotlight: Gives basic information about the book such as cover, description, release date, author information, purchase links.
Guest Post: Book author writes a short guest post about a topic relevant to the book.
Interview: An interview with the author.
Excerpt: A book except for a blogger to share or post on social media.
Review: Blogger posts their review.
Cover Reveal: An organized reveal of the cover for an upcoming book where it’s featured on blogs and in social media.
Book Blitz: This type of tour typically includes a giveaway and lots of spotlight posts on the same day or over just a few days.
Social Media Blitz: A tour organized to be featured on social media.
Abbreviations and terms related to books and social media
BB: Bookbub, a book review and promotion site
NG: NetGalley, a site that provides digital review copies
GR: Goodreads, a site where you can read and post reviews, plus more book related information
BookTube: Bookish vlogs (video blogs) posted to YouTube.
Bookstagram: Instagram feeds that are dedicated to pictures of books.
Blogosphere: The blogging community as a whole.
Book Blogosphere: The community of book bloggers.
Shelfie: A blend of “shelf” and “selfie” and is a picture of your bookshelves.
Book Spine Poetry: A poem from the titles of your books, shown using a pictures of books stacked up to display the poem.
Fan Fiction: Fans of a book, television show or movie write and share their own stories based on the original characters.
Slash Fiction: A type of fan fiction where two same-sex characters are paired together.
#ownvoices: The Twitter hashtag that was created to promote books written about marginalized groups of people that are written by authors who belong to those groups. Basically promotes diverse books being written by diverse authors.
Listicle: A piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list (such as Top Ten Tuesday).
1-click or Auto-buy Author: An author that you love so much that you will get every single one of their books, no matter what it is.
Is there anything book related that you don’t quite understand? Let me know and I’ll try to define it for you or explain it. As the special gift this week I’m going to offer free e-books to a few readers who sent me the title of something they found in my reviews that they’d like to read, or came up with on their own. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what books interest you.