15 May 2010


Caveat: I don't mean any disrespect to either the author or her work, so I apologise in advance if I cause offence - it is not my intention to do so.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Evolution • noun 1 the process by which different kinds of living organism are believed to have developed, especially by natural selection. 2 gradual development. 3 the giving off of a gaseous product or of heat. 4 a pattern of movements or manoeuvres.

When Charles Darwin first published On the Origin of Species in 1859, I don't think he considered that I might apply his theories of evolution to writing. (Yes, I am going somewhere with this...aren't I always? *grin*)

Distinguished members of the jury, I am currently reading Lover Mine, the eighth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series by JR Ward. I would like to present Exhibit A, an excerpt from Dark Lover, the first book in the BDB series:
If it had been anyone else, Wrath would have used his favorite pair of words, fuck and off. As far as he was concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male face down and not breathing.
But Darius was almost a friend. Or would have been one, if Wrath had let him get close.
As Wrath stood up, he closed his eyes. Hatred washed through him, directed into the center of his own chest. He despised himself for walking away, but he just wasn't the kind of male who could help some poor half-breed through such a painful and dangerous time. Gentleness, mercy, they were not in his make up.
And Exhibit B, an excerpt from Lover Mine (without spoilers):
His knees weakened and he went down like a stone through still water, collapsing by the side of the mattress. Burying his face into the softness, he drew her to him, her fragrance lingering like a memory, at once tangible and elusive.
The writing has the same feel, yes? And now, honourable members of the jury, I give you Exhibit C, also from Lover Mine (without spoilers):
Blay slipped a hand into his leather jacket and felt around for his pack of Dunhill reads. Man, nothing made him jones for a smoke more than Qhuinn's love life.
And clearly he'd be lighting up another couple coffin nails tonight...
And Exhibit D:
Naturally Qhuinn just had to open his pie hole.
I could continue, but I believe the evidence thus provided speaks for itself. Overall (and yes I'm generalizing madly here), the style (is that the right word?) of writing and language utilized has evolved as the BDB series has progressed. Do you, the jury, believe this to be the case? (Please note that I'm not on my soap box about whether this evolution is for the better or otherwise, but just trying to confirm that it isn't just me and that others have also noticed said evolution.) And, have you noticed such an evolution with any other series?


  1. She's actually using sentences... it makes for a nice change.

    I did find that Lover Mine read differently. Are you enjoying it?

  2. This is a really interesting post. I always felt like JRW got more slangy and male the closer to character thought she got. You know? Like, in the same book, she would do character thought with slang, but description more properly, and in a more feminine way. But maybe it's happening more in later books. More ease and looseness with the mentality of the brothers. It does make sense that it would creep in more. Is that what you're noticing, do you think?

    I haven't read the last few, so I have no opinion on this case, but I do believe writers evolve with a series, settle into a rhythm. I love that you did a post on it!!

  3. LOL at Mariana's comment - I hadn't thought about the complete sentences (and I've returned Lover Mine to the library, so I can't check), but that would be evolution of a sort.

  4. I am a weak, weak, sick, addicted person...

    After resisting successfully for over a year, I finally gave in (I blame amazon--a newly released hardcover for under ten bucks is pretty damned impossible for me to resist... so I got Lover Mine and also Lover Avenged in paperback. Rats.)

    Anyway, back on topic: I stopped reading after Lover Enshrined, but by then what I had noticed was something that Magdalen put nicely into words in a comment over at Book Thingo: in Ward's world things are what they are until it's inconvenient for her, then they change.

    So Ward writes herself into a corner--Zsadist is a sociopath! Sociopaths can't love... but she when writes a book for him, suddenly he's just a very conflicted guy.

    Rehvenge is a sociopath... hold on, he isn't, he's fallen for Ehlena (or however it's spelled) and will not live happily ever after with her.

    *deep breath*

    So, in other words, I can't tell you whether Ward's writing has evolved at all, but I know that you can see changes in many writers' voices through the years. My guess is that, as with everything else, writers get more comfortable with their own process the more they write, and in the better/more talented writers, this translates into better characterization, smoother transitions, etc.

  5. So is this a good evolution in your opinion, Orannia?

  6. Mariana - LOL! Sentences are all good. I am finding Lover Mine (LM) different from Lover Avenged (LA) - it's definitely not the 'almost hit the wall' book LA was. And yes, I'm enjoying it so far - I just adore Blay!

    Carolyn - that's such good insight. Yes! I've definitely noticed the character thought has that slang feel, whereas in early books it didn't. My thought is the early books were pulled back, and the character thought now is more organic to JR Ward (although I could be wrong). Saying that, with LM, although the slang (and product placement) are present, in dialogue and character thought, they are toned down compared with LA. LM definitely works for me better than LA. And like anything we do, writing evolves. But with books, we can see that. I'm useless at picking it up, but my best friend has commented that she can see an evolution in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series.

    azteclady - nope, not weak. Human! *grin* I borrowed LM from the library, so if you're weak so am I. I will confess that this was my make or break book. If LM was as hard to read as LA was I was going to go cold turkey on the series. And great insight IMHO WRT a writer becoming more comfortable with the writing process. Hmmm. I still think that the books we are seeing now may reflect JR Ward's writing style more versus the earlier books. I'm not very good at the analysis though. LM definitely has a better flow (for me) than LA.

    Chris - LOL! It maybe scary to want complete sentences, but I do :)

    heidenkind - put me on the spot why don't you? *grin* Ummm, if you'd asked me after LA I would have said no...the slang and product placement in that book drove me abso(lutely) nuts. In LM...it's been toned down. Still there, but...muted to some extent. I'm actually wondering if the slang etc. is more the author's style and the earlier books were pulled back (if that makes sense). And the numerous storylines in LM aren't driving me as nuts either, although there are definitely some (Blay) I would rather follow that others (Lash).

  7. azteclady - I forgot to say, thank you for the link. Am off to see what Magdalen wrote :)

  8. "I had noticed was something that Magdalen put nicely into words in a comment over at Book Thingo: in Ward's world things are what they are until it's inconvenient for her, then they change."

    This is exactly how I feel, Azteclady. Thank you for sharing what Magdalen had said. I think I find this aspect probably the most frustrating about the series. Makes for interesting twists, but still...

    CJ's point about the way the author has become more comfortable writing about the brothers (at least I hope that's the point :) ) is also fascinating. To me, there has been a marked changed in the way she has written both the female and male characters. I actually relate more to the male characters more now whereas initially it was the women and the you don't seem to get as much insight about the women anymore.

    Has anyone else noticed that or is that just me??

  9. Eeek sorry for all the mistakes in that comment. I blame the lack of morning coffee.

  10. Hmm, good point, Kris - definitely lots more about the men. And Xhex was definitely a more masculine than feminine female character.

  11. This post reminded me of a discussion about No Souvenirs by KA Mitchell in someone's blog (sorry, can't remember who); but the gist of it was all the medical jargon used by Jae Sun Kim. Some didn't like it, but it resonated with how the character "thought" and expressed himself. It wouldn't be how a normal person would think and speak, but it was true to that particular character.

    I think that like everyone said, JR Ward's verse is changing, maybe it's more character driven than anything else.

  12. Kris - I think I need to mull over what both you and azteclady have said. I obviously have left my head somewhere because I'm trying to think of examples and failing miserably :) And you raise a good point about the characters...although my brain has gone on strike for that too ;( I do agree we have far less insight into the female characters.

    Chris - Xhex is definitely more masculine..I like that, but she does seem to be coping with everything thrown at her almost too well...

    Mariana - character driven is all good IMO, but the plot shouldn't suffer... And good point WRT the language the character using reflecting his/her personality.

  13. I would think for the most part, one hopes there's an evolution to an author's writing. It doesn't always play out well (as in the case with Laurell Hamilton), but usually it means experience and each subsequent book getting better (as in the case of Jim Butcher or Ilona Andrews).

    Kris is spot on about the increasing lack of female insight/connection in the more recent books. That frustrated me quite a bit with LA. And, don't even get me started on Mary! Xhex, at least (because she's already of the BDB world) has had a chance to be better developed.

    I'm really looking forward to LM. I'm up to #20 on the holds queue. I'll get it eventually!

  14. GRRR! My comment just got eaten. For some reason the page keeps drifting!

    I would think for the most part, one hopes there's an evolution to an author's writing.

    Yes. And I agree with your comment on LKH - could I go so far as to say her writing has devolved compared with her earlier books?

    And (in the light of a new day) I think I get Kris' point. While the BDB books have a female POV, they don't truly delve into what the character is thinking or feeling, and so the reader can't connect/relate to them as well as they do with the male characters. Yes?

    And I've had a thought. Is it just me or are the BDB 'collecting' talents. I mean, they needed a doctor - enter Jane. They needed a consellor - enter Mary. They needed a social service - enter Marissa. They needed female vampires to supply blood - enter the Chosen. It's just very....I don't know, forced?

  15. re: LKH - Oh FUCK YEAH. UGH. Once upon a time, there were plots and I cared what happened to the characters. :)

    Oh, I like this veri: tomatoss. Tomato toss!