CATEGORY BUZZ WORDS
© 2002, Carol
There I sat, with my heart in my
throat, trying to string together a coherent sentence. The Harlequin
editor politely waited. Somehow, I blurted out a gush of words. The
editor first frowned, then smiled. "Oh, you have a repressed memory
Stunned, I paused, waved my hands
palm up, and said, "Exactly."
Moral to my less then stellar
interview: if you're writing a category, next time you pitch your manuscript
either live or by query, try using as your opening hook the category
shorthand--its buzz words. If your story is about a sexy cop who finds a
secret baby, say so. If you have a unique twist to one of the category
themes, incorporate it into your opening hook, such as former cop, now a cowboy,
finds a baby on his doorstep and enters into a marriage of convenience with an
I posed the question about buzz
words on the Cata-romance list, and below are the results (a big thank you to
Silhouette® Romance author Roxann Delaney!) along with others I culled from
back cover blurbs.
arranged, lost, found, adopted, biological, inherited, borrowed, secret,
Single parents: struggling
unwed mothers, clueless divorced dads, surrogate, blended families.
Pregnant heroines: stranger,
estranged husband or ex as the guilty culprit.
Cowboys & western
settings: think taming.
Amnesia/repressed memory: Is
s/he married, a criminal, parent, missing groom/bride, presumed dead? Did
s/he kill someone?
Twins: so different/so alike,
identical, fraternal, triplets, switched identities, mistaken identities.
Weddings & brides:
marriages of convenience, fake fiancées, mail order brides, virgin
brides/grooms, runaway brides/grooms, green-card, royal, shot gun, jilted,
on the rocks, terms of the will, fight for child custody, by mistake, stop
Reunion: estranged, lost,
thwarted, divorced lovers.
Boss/secretary: or any other
combination where will he ever notice her as a woman?
Favorite sexy 'occupations':
doctor, cop, attorney, cowboy, small-town sheriff, FBI agent, secret agent,
charming criminal with a heart of gold, bodyguard, journalist, fugitive,
former military, mysterious man.
Bad boy/bad girl: think a
challenge to tame, think misunderstood.
Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Pygmalion, Ugly Duckling.
Fairy tales/myths: Sleeping
Beauty, Snow White, Taming of the Shrew.
May/December, wrong/right side of the tracks, star-crossed, mentor/protégé,
virgin/rogue, best friends/lovers, opposing occupations [arsonist/fire
investigator], she's the boss/he's not, rolling stone/homemaker,
country/city, hermit/socialite, gambler/conservative.