What puts the TM in TMI?
Here’s another Tuesday topic Vagabond Lindsey suggested a while back.
In my second book, Surrender of a Siren, there’s a scene where the hero, Gray, fesses up to a slew of misdeeds in an effort to discourage imprudent affection on the heroine’s part. You know, he’s your typical bad-boy hero–plenty of pleasure-seeking and profit-seeking in his past. So part of this confession involves his sexual history. Which is considerable.
When I originally wrote the scene, I had him estimate the number of his lovers. I wanted it to be a reasonably shocking number, because his entire purpose in saying it was to shock the heroine. He’s not bragging, he’s not proud of it. He’s rather squicked by his own pattern of behavior.
However, my CPs, in their infinite wisdom, counseled against actual quantification. We argued it back and forth, but I eventually came around to their side. They thought a number might be too effective in squicking not only the heroine, but the readers, and they wouldn’t be able to get past it and fall in love with the hero. So I revised the scene to make it more vague, along the lines of “a lot”. (BTW, when I read this chapter on Ervin’s blog, it seemed to confirm that I’d made the right call.)
But then I keep thinking of that scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral, where Andie MacDowell’s character rattles off the details of all her thirty-some lovers over lunch with Hugh Grant. The scene is funny and actually endearing in a way, and it’s a nice change from the usual in that the woman’s far out-played the man. What do you think, does the scene make her character more or less likeable? What’s the tally’s effect on dear, sweet Charlie (Hugh Grant)?
While I think I made the right call for this book, I reserve the right to attempt something like that scene in the future. Perhaps with a heroine instead of the hero…
What do you think about disclosure of sexual histories, in fiction or real life? Do you want to hear about every partner your S.O. has ever had, or would you rather just get the vague estimate? Perhaps blissful ignorance is best?
Obviously, modern concern about STDs puts a whole new spin on the discussion. Not that they didn’t have STDs in the Regency – I do make a mention of that in SOAS, too.