Thursday, March 28, 2013

Endearments: Hiya, Honey

What endearments do your characters use for their loved ones?

Think carefully before writing, because what works in real life may not work in a book. All the men you know may call their partner “babe” or “baby”. Just as you might have four friends all named Sarah. In real life it’s easy to keep the four Sarahs or "babes" separate, but in a book, or even in a series, having more than one character with the same name can lead to readers getting confused, needing to flip backward and forward in the text and ground themselves in the story again. This is not what you, as an author, are looking for. If you get three heroes meeting in a car on a stake-out, all referring to their special person as babe, it doesn’t work.

Also remember your book will be read internationally. Not all endearments work cross culturally. “Ma petite chou” is quite common in French-speaking areas, but for those not used to it, who look up a translation and discover “chou” means “cabbage”, it may be off-putting. Not everyone thinks cabbage is cute and delightful.

Also, it’s not necessary for the hero to call the heroine, “darling” in every second sentence. That becomes heavy and labored, worse than if he used her given name so often. In normal conversation the endearment might be used a couple of times but not in every second line. Dialogue tags can slow down a story. If it’s obvious who says what, they can be eliminated.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


Anonymous said...

I find it hard to make up terms of endearment that aren't necessarily English/from earth, but still sound endearing and natural (unfortunate for poor 'cabbage'!).

I thought 'my precious' would work, until I read the dialogue out loud and it sounded like Gollum had snuck in. I'm going with 'treasure/my treasure' for that particular character at the moment.

Thanks for another great post!


Helen Woodall: Freelance Editing said...

Exactly right Deborah. It's really hard to have it sound realistic. Well done on "treasure".