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Romance Writer's Phrase Book (Perigee Book) Paperback – March 21, 1984

4.2 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Romance Writer's Phrase Book (Perigee Book)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's difficult to give much credibility to a book that late-night talk-show hosts read from in order to titillate their audiences, an indignity that has been endured by The Romance Writers' Phrasebook. But this slim volume, which lists more than 3,000 descriptive phrases, is actually a useful resource, and not only to romance writers. Any writer looking for a picturesque way of describing a character, demonstrating action, or revealing emotion will benefit from the advice of authors Jean Kent and Candace Shelton.

Well-organized and arranged for quick reference, The Romance Writers' Phrasebook is divided into easy to search categories such as "Physical Description," "Body Movements," "Facial Expressions," "Emotion," and "Colors." Because it was originally published in 1984, many of the descriptive phrases have long since become cliché and exact usage should be avoided. The phrasebook is most useful as a source of inspiration and ideas for helping writers develop their own descriptive style.

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Product Details

  • Series: Perigee Book
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee (March 21, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399510028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399510021
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Don't give it as a gift. Really. This book is beyond insulting to a writer. But, is it useful? You better believe it! It's especially useful when your brain has just cramped up from writer's block; or, when you need just the right hue of green for the hero's eyes and all you can think of is "glittery mold". Save yourself from insult and be sure to buy this book before someone thinks it a kindness to buy it for you.
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Format: Paperback
Take a little bit from column A, add it to column B... continue on, and before you know it, you have your very own romance novel! Well, it doesn't quite write itself, and this book doesn't exactly give you everything you need--but where's the fun in writing if you take it all from somewhere else? Sometimes I felt like I was cheating--sneaking a look at the answers before writing something myself. But this isn't cheating. It's inspiration, a nudge in the direction you want to go. It's a companion book, but not something you can't live without.
It is exactly what it claims to be--a romance phrase book. It covers looks, feelings, facial expressions, voices, and, of course, sex. This last category I found the most lacking. The sex is the most important part of a romance novel--it's why most people read the books. I felt that the phrases used here were a bit... reserved. They skirted around the lovemaking and didn't get around to the nitty-gritty of it. We get phrases like "love flowed in her like warm honey" and "gusts of desire shook her," but not much that actually gets down to describing the act of intercourse. I guess this is what I have to come up with on my own.
Something I was hoping to find in a book like this is more words for anatomy. There is a section on physical appearance--both male and female--but they're the shortest sections in the book. Again, I found this book a little reserved. Where are the euphemisms for that certain part of the male anatomy? There are plenty of words to use, but it's difficult to know which to use when... and this book helps none at all with that. Again, this is one of the most important parts of a romance novel.
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Format: Paperback
I've owned this book for many, many years and it's to the point where the cover and pages are dog-eared and the spine fell apart so I had to tape it to make it last longer. So when I read the reader comments below, I had to post a different take on this book.

Yes, the book was written back in the 80sm so yes, the verbiage and trends in "how" you say things has changed. Any reference books can become out of date. However, the overall message and purpose of the book seems to have been overlooked. The Romance Writers' Phrase Book is a guide that's meant to inspire an author and get a writer to understand the importance and the role of the "descriptive tag/phrase" when it comes to the overall art of writing as a whole.

Romance fiction in particular relies a great deal on emotion and internal conflict. Neglecting the little details, those descriptive phrases, can make or break a story. When I open this book, I'm not looking for a word-for-word phrasing I can simply cut and paste into my manuscript. Romance writing (heck, any writing) is never that simple or that formulaic. For me, the phrase book is a good starting point when I'm stumped on a gesture or where to start on how I want to describe an action or a particular emotion.

The Romance Writers' Phrase Book has everything from describing facial features like eyes, noses, lips, and foreheads to common actions like sitting, standing, and shrugging. It covers positive gestures like smiling, to negative gestures, expanding the basic frown to include visual cues like the eyebrows and eyes. The book covers a wide range of "emotion" tags/phrases as well.
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Format: Paperback
Oh, but this book is awful! Its authors have taken all the very worst, most revolting, most overused phrases found in romance books (those same hackneyed phrases that make romance book editors swear they'll scream if they have to read them one more time) and organised them into one tome, all in neat little chapters. This book is like a tombstone on the grave of creative writing, and my advice to any aspiring romance writers is to follow your heart and your head in your writing, not the sickeningly bad examples shown in this book. Frankly, while this book's terminology is supposed to be rather sexy and sensual in content, it is actually only about as much of a turn on as getting a pap smear. In fact, I've read tractor magazines that were hotter and spicier than this.

And yet, in spite of all that, this book is nonetheless still quite a fun read, so long as you don't take it too seriously. Honestly, most of the phrases listed in it are downright hilarious! Read them out with your friends while you're drinking margheritas. Test how long you can keep a straight face before you have to laugh at how ridiculous they are.

My advice to you is that if you want a good laugh, then go ahead and purchase this book. However, if you're looking to buy it because you need advice on how to write a good, original romance book and be taken seriously as an author, then look elsewhere. Elizabeth Benedict's book, 'The Joy of Writing Sex' is an excellent alternative. Or try a simple, old fashioned thesaurus. I'm sure Amazon sells them.
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