Linguistic Analysis Of Author J.R. Ward
Professor Michelle Bonczek
ENG 550 Studies in English Language
February 19, 2017
Linguistic Analysis: J.R. Ward
J.R. Ward has skyrocketed to the top of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors list with her one of a kind Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series. Taking a close look at three of her highly-rated titles from this series, Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, and Lover Unbound, it becomes clear that Ward is a connoisseur with words. Ward creates an entirely new species of vampire, including their very own Heaven and Hell, and does so in such a masterful way that she has readers chomping at the bit waiting for every new installment in the series to be released. J.R. Ward’s use of language and literary techniques bring to life the world of the Brothers’ and create characters who are each so complex and different that readers can tell them apart simply by the word choices used in their thoughts and speech. Ward creates a completely unique and complex world of characters through her use of word formation, syntax, connotation, and flashbacks to develop characters who are incredibly entertaining. She does this while also gaining the emotional interest of her readers and having them become invested in the lives of each individual Brother. Ward’s incredible use of the English language has made for a highly entertaining series with book releases that are still as highly anticipated as ever despite already being fifteen books long. Through the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Ward has cemented her place as one of the best paranormal romance writers of our time and many generations to come.
People who speak the English language are continuously forming new words, and this is no different for authors writing in the English language. J.R. Ward takes this to a completely new level in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. She has created so many new words that each book has a dictionary in the front to explain the meaning of the words to readers who might not pick up on it through the context clues. The use of these new words she has created ads to the unique world she has created in these books. She might be writing about vampires, which has been done for many years, but no one does vampires like J.R. Ward. Some of the words she has created are clearly derived from common English terms such as the term for mom/mother which is mahmen(mom-en), while others are more complicated such as hellren, which is how a mated male vampire is described versus the human word husband. Ward also using more common word formation in the Brotherhood series, especially when creating realistic dialogue. In dialogue she often uses a type of word formation known as clipping where she shortens words that are already in existence without changing their meaning, (Kosur). “Love’em or hate’em, by blood or by heart, family was a kind of oxygen. Necessary for the living” (Lover at Last 463). Here Ward uses fore-clipping when she takes the word them and removes the ”th” using only “em” but the meaning does not change. In another example of dialogue from Lover at Last, Ward using back-clipping with the word doctor removing the “tor” from the word and leaving only “doc”. “Until Doc Jane said dryly, ‘Annnnd this is why they say the female of the species is more dangerous than the male’” (247). Through the use of clipping she has creating more realistic dialogue and inner dialogue for the characters. Using speech in this way also adds to the uniqueness of each character, and makes them more relatable to the readers.
Ward continues her use of linguistic skill in her BDB works through her use of syntax to create individual characters who stand out to the readers. Syntax is “the set of descriptive rules for how words can combine into phrases, phrases into clauses, and clauses into sentences” (Curzan 164). Her use of language and syntax makes each character so unique that one can tell them apart simply by “listening” to what they say and how they say it. Despite being older than any living human, Vishous, (V), in Lover Unbound has a proclivity for rap and this influences his speech. It is also a trademark of sorts for V to end his sentences with the word “true”. This is usually used at the end of a question which is of a rhetorical nature. V’s speech also includes a lot of symbolism. We can see this unique syntax from Vishous in Lover Unbound, when he discussed the pregnancy of a female vampire with his Brother, Rhage, “‘Ah…that’s Phury’s why, then, true? Anything happens to that female or the young inside her and we’re going to have to deal with both of them like you read about’” (212). Not only can those who have read the series tell this is Vishous by his use of true at the end of a question that he clearly does not need an answer to, but the way he says “like you read about” when referring to how out of control and hard to deal with two other Brothers would react if the female in question lost her life trying to have the child.
Connotation is another linguistic device used by Ward to make the BDB series more intriguing for her readers. According to Curzan and Adams in How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction, connotative meaning is based on other factors like speaker experience, intention, context, and shared cultural understanding. The imagery Ward creates with her written words paints a lavish picture for readers even when the simplest thing might be happening in the moment. In Lover Revealed we can see Ward’s creative use of words as Butch reflects on Marissa’s beauty and the fact that no other woman can measure up to her.
“Sucking back his Lag, he thought of Marissa and pictured her hip=length blond hair. Her pale skin. Her light blue eyes. Her fangs.
Yeah, no blondes for him. He couldn't’t go even remotely sexual with the pale-haired types.
Ah, hell, screw the Clairol chart. It wasn’t like any woman in this club or on the face of the planet could come close to Marissa. She had been pure in the manner of a crystal, refracting the light, and life around her improved, enlivened, colored with her grace.
Shit. He was such a sap” (Lover Revealed 16).
Here Ward uses Butch’s inner monologue to show us a man in love. You can see him sitting in a bar all alone throwing back drinks and pining for the woman who stole his heart. Surrounded by beautiful women, Butch barely even looks up to see them because all he sees anymore is Marissa. Using words like ”pure” and saying she improves life around her evokes emotions so powerful the reader knows Butch has met the woman who will become his world.
One great way for any author to lure in the readers and make them love a character is through flashbacks. J.R. Ward uses this technique with Zsadist in the BDB book, Lover Awakened. Flashbacks occur when the author “moves the audience from the present moment to a scene in the past. Oftentimes, flashbacks are abrupt interjections that serve to further explain a story or character with background information and memories” (Literary Terms). It is Ward’s use of flashbacks that has made Zsadist one of the most beloved members of the BDB for her female readers. Zsadist is described as dark, and ruthless; the scariest and most unhinged of all of the Brotherhood and his has a huge scar on his face to prove it. However, through flashbacks Ward paints a different image of Zsadist. One that explains his past and the horrors he somehow managed to survive as a blood slave, and despite his ruthlessness deep down his heart is still good. It is his past torment and pain and his ability to rise above all of it for his Brothers and Bella that makes him such a great character.
The slave lost his breath. He’d known of the male she’d kept locked up, for he’d brought food to the cell. Sometimes, as he’d left the tray with the guards, he’d heard strange sounds coming out from behind the heavy door…
His fear must have registered on the Mistress, because she leaned over him, getting close enough so he could smell her perfumed skin. She laughed, softly, as if she had taken a taste of his fright and the dish had pleased her.
“In truth, I cannot wait to have you.” As she turned to leave, she glared at the blacksmith. “Mind what I said or I shall have you sent unto the dawn. Not one misstep with that needle. His skin is far too perfect to mar.”
The tattooing was finished soon thereafter, and the blacksmith took the one candle with him, leaving the slave tied down on the table in the darkness.
He shook from despair and horror as his new station became real. He was now the lowest of the low, kept alive solely to feed another…and only the Virgin knew what else awaited him, (Lover Awakened 51).
Here Zsadist’s flashback reveals his past as a blood slave, something that has clearly shaped the man he has become. The man who keeps everyone at a distance, especially women, and who has become such a violent part of the Brotherhood’s team in fighting the vampires’ enemies.
Throughout the Black Dagger Brotherhood series including Lover Awakened, Lover Revealed, and Lover Unbound, J.R. Ward demonstrates her many creative talents, not only through the story she tells but her unique use of literary devices and the English language. She creates a complex and unique world that gives a completely new take on vampires and the world they live in. Through the use of literary techniques like word formation, syntax, connotation, and flashbacks Ward gives her readers stories that bring their imaginations to life while pulling at their every emotion. Ward skills with words make her not just an author of one of the best-selling series of our time, but a true artist. Because of this, her Black Dagger Brotherhood series will undoubtedly continue to be loved by readers for years to come.
Curzan, Anne, and Michael Adams. How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction. 3rd ed., Pearson Education Inc., 2012
"Flashback: Definition and Examples." Literary Terms. N.p., 04 July 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2017. <http://literaryterms.net/flashback/>.
Gontsarova, Julia. “Neologisms In Modern English: Study of Word-Formation Processes.” Tartu University Narva College Division of Foreign Languages, 2013. Web. 27 Jan 2017
Kosur, Heather Marie. "Forming New Words: Compounds, Clipped Words and Blends in English." Bright Hub Education. Ed. Tricia Goss. N.p., 17 Oct. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2017
"Texas Gateway." View Resource: Analyze How Author's Style and Syntax Support Meaning (English I Reading) | Texas Gateway. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.
Ward, J.R. Lover Awakened. Penguin Group Inc., 2006.
Ward, J.R. Lover Revealed. Penguin Group Inc., 2007.
Ward, J.R. Lover Unbound. Penguin Group Inc., 2007.