Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Those wonderful "d'oh!" and "ah ha!" moments

So I've finished SON OF THE SHADOWS by Juliet Marillier and I enjoyed it. Not quite as much as the first book, DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST, but yes, as per Daughter's remarks, definitely an interesting hero.

There was also what I'd call a classic "d'oh!" moment on the part of the strong, reticent hero. Here it is:

"'Your kind are all the same. Catch a man in your net, draw him in, deprive him of his will and his judgment. It happens so subtly he is lost before he ever recognizes the danger. Then others are dragged in after him, and the pattern of darkness stretches wider and wider so that even the innocent have no escape." He stopped abruptly, clearly regretting his words."

In other words, d'oh!

I love those moments because they signal one of the first changes in the relationship between the hero and heroine. He's let his guard down enough to reveal something he prefers to keep to himself, either because of shame or pride or the fear that revealing such information weakens him. The strong, silent types I write have a horror of appearing weak, in any way, shape or form.

This also serves as a warning signal to the hero -- that woman is dangerous because she makes me drop my guard and reveal things. I'd better steer clear of her, no matter how interesting or sexy she may be.

For the heroine, such revelations trigger an "ah ha!" moment, because they're a window on what really makes the hero tick -- what's behind the strong silentness. She may pretend she doesn't care, but she'll never think of him in quite the same way again. She won't be able to completely dismiss him as an arrogant jerk.

On a deeper level, such revelations, whether conscious or not, are a form of intimacy, the beginning of a bond of trust. And whether they'll admit it or not, both realize that, and that their relationship has, therefore, changed. It's also one of the first indications that this relationship is going to be different from any others that may have preceded it.

It's also the sort of small step that if left out, causes readers to be mystified if the hero and heroine suddenly proclaim their love. The smaller stones lay the foundation for that profound emotional relationship, and if they're missing, it can seem as if the profession of love comes out of nowhere.

I tend to use this dynamic with the heroes having the "d'oh" moment and the heroines thinking "ah ha!", but there's no reason it couldn't work the other way around.

Either way, I just love those moments. In fact, I love 'em so much, I'll have more than one sometimes.

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