Terms of Endearment

“Hi, honey. How was your day?”

“I’ll always love you, sweetheart.”

“Oh, baby, I love it when you do that to me.”

I’m sure you and those you know have used one or maybe all of these phrases, or some variation of them. Don’t lie. 😉 I’m guilty of the same thing. It’s not a bad thing. It’s really one of the nicest perks of being in a stable, long-lasting relationship, when you cease needing to use each other’s actual names.

As the recipient, you might feel a mix of emotions on hearing one of these nicknames. Maybe pleasure, maybe a welling of love, and maybe even a little embarrassment. As the one bestowing the nickname, it might feel a little silly at first, or embarrassing on your part as well. After a time though, you respond as easily to that endearment as you would to your name.

When I write a story, one of the most common editorial mistakes I make is using someone’s name too much. It’s a common error with many writers, I’m sure. It’s also an easy tool to fall back on when holding a conversation between characters. You insert their name at the beginning or end of a question or phrase, and voila! The speaker is identified. The problem comes when you use it too often. When you speak with someone in real life, you might call their name to get their attention but after that, you don’t use their name again, right? Imagine if your conversation with your neighbour went something like this:

“Hey, Jim, I noticed you cut that small section of the lawn there.”

“Sure did, Henry. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Of course not. Thanks for helping out, Jim.”

“No problem, Henry. I know you and Maria have been busy.”

“Let me tell you, Jim, I haven’t slept in days.”

“Anytime you need some help, let me know, Henry.”

Ok, so maybe this is an exaggeration but it’s still a common error in many books and stories I’ve read over the years.

That’s an easy enough mistake to get around. Take out the names, except for at the very beginning or end of the conversation, just as you would while speaking with someone.

As a write, we give our lead characters terms of endearment to use with each other. Somehow, I manage to use these names more often without overusing them as I demonstrated with the real names above. I’m not saying I still don’t make the mistake occasionally, but for some reason, it’s easier to spot the use of the cutesie name, and therefore, correct it.

My point today isn’t to discuss another of my foibles as an author though. 🙂 I wanted to ask about terms of endearment and how they are used in writing romance when compared with real life.

I’ve mentioned before how my “Ice” stories allow me a lot of room to be over-the-top romantic. It’s fun sometimes and challenging always to find a balance between something plausible and ridiculous. I like to think I strike the right balance in those stories and that includes my usage of sweet nicknames.

I’ve only used a few, in reality, which I’ve realized as I’ve gone back through my stories a bit. In “The Ice-Breaker,” Alex takes to calling Kaitlyn ‘gorgeous’ fairly early on in their relationship. Not that she seems to mind. What woman would? In “Uncovering the Ice,” Sean spends much of the story calling Vanessa ‘sweetheart,’ a common endearment for sure. Something about the way he uses it seems less than sweet though, wouldn’t you agree? 😉 Of course, in the beginning, she had a different name for him as well. Gold stars to those who can tell me what it was. I wonder, do you think I ever went too far with some of the pet names between my characters?

In real life, I’ve been called different names by different people. Sweetheart, beautiful, baby, darlin’, honey and pumpkin to name a few. I won’t specify who calls me what but there is something special about having a nickname like that, even more so when it’s from someone who means it. Someone who really thinks you’re beautiful, or that you have a sweet heart or that you’re sweet as honey. I hope when I use those endearments in a story, those are the feelings I’m conveying, and not the ones of embarrassment or awkwardness.

I’ll leave you today thinking about what sort of names you use for your loved ones and how they make you feel. Hopefully, you enjoy being the recipient as much as the giver, as with all things. 😉

Take care and happy reading.



Filed under Writing

5 responses to “Terms of Endearment

  1. I thought women did not enjoy endearments as much as they used to enjoy them?


    • Miriam

      Well, I for one don’t appreciate it when the store clerk or the nurse at the doctor’s office calls me ‘hon’ or ‘honey’ …. but if I’m having a conversation with a special someone and I say, “do you mean to say xxx’ and he responds, ‘No, love, that’s not what I meant.” … well, that I like. 🙂

  2. Lady Falcon

    “Dear Dedicated Psychopath” is how Vanessa opens her email response to Sean’s first email to her. But, I cheated. I have the purchased the story and looked it up really quick. 🙂

    As to endearments from strangers or customers who come to my teller window at the bank. Hun, Darlin’, Sweetie, Babe, Sweetheart; well, it comes quite a bit and it was interesting to get used to it but, I live in ‘The South’ and its kinda the norm here. I don’t mind it, never really did, was just surprised by it at first. I think its sweet when the good ole’ country boys and sometimes the sweet country grandmas call me by a nickname. To me it’s the same as when a guy holds the door for me…I have no problem with it. It doesn’t not make me feel incompetent or less of an adult because I didn’t have to touch the door. There you have it – I am not a feminist.

    If you can’t already tell I love nicknames. I have several for my hubby and my children. Depending on my mood or what the person has done or is doing the name changes..lol. Although, recently our 8 yr old girl informed us we were not allowed to use most of them in public anymore. *giggling* I can’t decide whether to still use them or not. I probably won’t. But, its fun teasing her about using them. Since she has gotten a really good grasp of sarcasm and she has her daddy’s wit sometimes I get put in my place very lovingly. I also enjoy this…seeing her intelligence in action. I am so proud to see her being able to have comebacks…by the time I think of what I should have said its a day later and pointless to say it. And I have gotten off post except maybe to say I love the banter and conversation between characters. When done right it makes me feel like I am right there with them listening. I think nicknames are an integral part of that feeling.

  3. Amanda

    Who is saying the endearment and where I am at the time determine whether I like it or not. (another reason women can be so hard to figure out.) Before kids it was babe or hun. Just not in front of or parents. Now I’m just mommy, even my parents call me that in front of the kids. Not that it’s bad being mommy. But on he iff chance hubby uses my name I get chills, in good way. I hear it so rarely now it’s like I get a little bit of me back from this new identity I’ve assumed

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