Rinda and I have chatted heavily the past few days, planning out the last action scenes for Shatter… and something occurred to me with this book.
I’m not going to tell you her response. You’re just going to have to read the book when it comes out (and don’t worry, we’ll have details on that soon). But I’m a sneaky plotter. I plan out the big things such as plot twists and turns as well as careful character development. But I am also very careful about how words are used and when. No. 1 on my list, particularly when I’m working on a romance book, is Love. When do you use love … as in the big “I love you.” The first use of the “L” word should be a big deal. The characters should work hard to get to that moment, whether its physically, emotionally or both.
I’ll admit that I give a big Squee! when two characters finally say those three wonderful words. You just rejoice because you feel like those are hard-won words. Whether to use the “L” word was an enormous internal debate when I was working on Shiver. The first rule is that you have to stay true to the characters. Would these characters say this here and now? Have they earned it? Is it too easy? Are they ready?
As a reader, nothing frustrates me more than when the words are used too early, such as those instances where two people have known each other for less than 24 hours, have enjoyed some wild monkey sex and then … blah. The words come tumbling out. They didn’t earn those words! There have been a few exceptions of some really well-written books that I could allow slide with the early use of the “L” word, but for me, I’d rather wait. And yes… the “L” word is so worth waiting for.
Since I’ve started working on Unbreakable Bonds with Rinda, the word “baby” has become a keyword for me. It’s what I think of as a turning-point word. In m/f romance, I can’t say that I paid much attention to the word, but it takes on a slightly different shade/tone when I moved to m/m fiction. There’s a tenderness when baby is whispered by an alpha that has gotten lost or just blunted in m/f romance. There’s a wide opening of vulnerability and trust that suddenly appears on the page. If used correctly, that first use of “baby” can be a sign post in a novel, marking that shift in a relationship from purely physical to a much deeper, emotional bond.
Go look at the first use of baby in Shiver. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
See that!!! Yeah, that “baby” was placed there on the third round of revisions and I have to admit that I did a little dance when it happened.
And that’s not the only keyword hidden within Shiver.
Did you know there is one word — not baby — that Lucas only uses with Andrei? Yep. It’s an incredibly common word, but it is a clear insight into the kind of person Lucas is and what Andrei means to him.
I can’t wait for you to see all the magic we’ve woven into Shatter. There are going to be specials hints for you to discover there too.