As I was reading through my new release, Honor Thy Father, Episode Two (now available on Amazon, HINT, HINT), I realized that I had done the same thing I find a lot of other authors doing—overusing favorite words or phrases. I have read a number of novels recently in which the characters are constantly glancing, grimacing, or wincing. It’s easy enough to reuse favorite words or phrases, as it takes months (or longer) to write a book, and by the time you’re on chapter twelve, you’ve forgotten how your characters did something in chapter three. Then you come up with that perfect word or phrase for that scene, not realizing you’ve said the same thing in several other chapters. You don’t realize you’ve done it until you read the book in its entirety and discover the same tired phrases repeated over and over throughout the book.
Although Honor Thy Father is not a romance novel, a lot of the characters in my book kissed passionately. I winced and grimaced every time I glanced at this repeated verb and adverb.
“I need another way to say ‘kissed passionately,’” I told Hubby.
“Necked?” he suggested.
I rolled my eyes.
“Come on, I’m serious,” I said.
“Smooched? Made out?”
“You’re no help,” I grumbled. “We’re not talking high school, here.”
I realized it was up to me, the writer, to try to switch things up a bit. So I looked up different words to describe “passionately.” I came up with “excitable, emotional, zealous, impulsive, impetuous, ardent, fervent, warm, enthusiastic, earnest, burning, violent.” With few exceptions, I’m not sure many of those words could be substituted to convey the meaning of a passionate kiss. Somehow, “he kissed her violently” just doesn’t quite cut it. Nor does, “he kissed her enthusiastically,” or “he kissed her earnestly.” None of those words contain the meaning I wanted to express for a . . . well, passionate kiss. Kissing violently sounds downright creepy. Kissing enthusiastically or earnestly sounds like the guy really doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s giving it his best shot. “He kissed her excitably,” sounds like he’s a puppy. “Impulsive and impetuous” sound like he didn’t really mean to kiss her in the first place, but he got carried away. “He kissed her burningly?” He must have some hot lips. I suppose I could substitute “fervently” or “ardently,” but those words sound rather stuffy and archaic and like I’m trying to avoid saying “passionately” again.
With no real good alternatives, I guess my characters are going to have to continue to kiss passionately when they’re really into each other or just go through the motions of a cold peck on the lips with no real feeling so as not to overdo the passion. Which is worse? Heck, I don’t know. I don’t write romance novels. How do romance novelists manage to convey this activity without becoming overly graphic or repetitive? I guess I’ll just have to read more romance novels.
This whole dilemma has me passionately wincing and grimacing.