Okay, we’re going to dial it down a bit this TMI Tuesday – I mean, after last week, any sex topic would be a bit anticlimactic. (Groan, I know. Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

My WIP, Goddess of Beauty, takes place mainly during a month-long ocean voyage in the early 1800s. I find myself wondering how much of my heroine’s daily activities I should sketch for the reader, and what I should leave to the imagination. Do I go into the details of bathing (what little she would have done)? The privy? And it’s a month-long voyage, which means a certain monthly event must take place – do I mention that?

Time-travel books often handle this well – because you have a modern character, viewing the historical world through our eyes. So of course, issues of hygiene and comfort are of increased importance. But would a character in a straight historical consciously think about those things?

What’s your threshold, in historicals, for TMI? Do you like the “authenticity” when the author includes early-morning visits to the chamber pot? Or do you prefer a hero with perfect pecs and no discernible bladder? Any bodily functions you have absolutely NO desire to see described in print?

And I apologize in advance, but I’m uber-busy today with meetings and work – so I’ll be a bit of an absentee blogger.

18 comments to “TMI Tuesday – Process of Elimination”

  1. India Carolina
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 12:21 am · Link

    I always wonder about these little things, so I would be glad to read them in GOB. And I’m not above throwing a bit of TMI into my own stories if it is called for. For instance I have a scene where the hero awakens with an early morning condition which prevents him from urinating. TMI?

  2. Kelly Krysten
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 4:04 am · Link

    It all sounds interesting to me. I like all those little historical quirks that flesh out a story.

  3. Maggie Robinson
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 6:19 am · Link

    I have said it before elsewhere. I always get a kick out of first-thing-in-the-morning-sex (sorry, I know we’re not supposed to talk about that this week) when I know that’s not my first need when I awaken. And I like to brush my teeth, too.

  4. terrio
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 6:20 am · Link

    I think dropping in slight mentions is a good idea. You don’t want the reader going “Where the heck do they pee?” I think I’ve read where the heroine has to discreetly wait for the hero to leave the room to releave herself or something like that. Maybe even just mention someone dumping the chamber pots over the side and the heroine sees them do it.

    Lindsey Sands did it in a medieval because they were travelling and the hero had to escort the heroine off into the words to do her business. It actually ended up being the set up for a lot of the humorous scenes in the book.

    I have no idea about how to handle Aunt Flo. That’s a tough one.

  5. Alice Audrey
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 7:17 am · Link

    I’m having the same kind of problem with a Fantasy I wrote. It begins with the heroine’s flow because that allows me to explain a bunch of things about her, but I keep thinking I’m not going to get away with it.


  6. Tessa Dare
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 7:47 am · Link

    India, erections are never TMI! They are Very Important I.

    Kelly, I agree – I usually like reading about those little details, too. I’m just not sure if everyone else does!

    Maggie – it’s not forbidden to talk about sex! I just couldn’t think of a sexy topic to top last week’s. But dental hygiene – yeah, that’s another good one. I mean, the reality is, these people would have been dirty and smelly and gross. Sometimes, I think the less said, the better, so we can at least imagine they’re not.

    AA- Fantasy flow sounds cool! Can it be rainbow-colored and shimmery?

  7. Lindsey
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 8:21 am · Link

    ROFL at “rainbow-colored and shimmery”!!!

    I’m a pretty goal-oriented reader who’s not much for side-trips away from the plot – and even I think this sounds cool. But maybe that’s just because I’m pretty sure Tessa Dare + bathroom situations = comedic awesomeness.

    I think it sounds fun & interesting because you rarely see stuff like this when it isn’t about a plot point – heroines only seem to get their periods to learn they’re not pregnant or to prevent them from having sex with the hero. And didn’t you just tell me that GOB was all about “color?” 😉

  8. Sara Lindsey
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 9:12 am · Link

    I love historical details like that!

    And in my fantasy, flow (as we know it) does not exist…

  9. ERiCA
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 9:44 am · Link

    In The Raven Prince, hero wakes up before heroine and heads outside to do his thang and returns indoors before she wakes up. This didn’t bother me, per se, but I remember wondering why it was included. #2 on the other hand… I could go my whole life without reading about that.

    Agree with Tessa re: erections being VII. =)

  10. Ericka Scott
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 9:50 am · Link

    I think small mentions of it deepen the characterization and make the reader more grounded in the timeframe. . .that being said, more than small mentions of it, unless it’s to advance the plot, probably don’t belong in the story.

  11. Lady Leigh
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 10:33 am · Link

    It seems when historicals refer to #1 it is often during a long carriage ride or something. Never #2. OMG- that would be funny, though. Could you imagine?

    I did consider this in my WIP- they never go to the bathroom. Not once. It was just never important to the plot.

    And yes- I do wonder about those morning sex scenes. Don’t they have to pee? Doesn’t their breath smell? At least they could stop and have a sip of water or something. Or just not kiss. LOL.

    As for Aunt Flo- I’m all for it as long as it is useful to the plot. Like they were going to have sex but she stopped him because Flo was in town.

  12. CM
    · May 22nd, 2007 at 4:39 pm · Link

    I am perfectly comfortable having my main characters never once need to go to the bathroom. Actually, when the gowns became extremely onerous (e.g. five or six petticoats, corsets, drawers, that you had to be poured into) girls used to not drink for hours before balls because there was no way TO go to the bathroom.

    Personally, I’m quite happy to let the matter go without mention.

  13. Sara Dennis
    · May 23rd, 2007 at 12:06 am · Link

    I don’t really need to know about toilet matters, in the woods or otherwise. I think it’d distract from the story unless it’s there for comedy, like she has to go and he won’t leave the room.

    I guess I’m sort of boring in that I really don’t think about hygiene matters unless it’s plot important. If it is, include it, but if not, I don’t miss it.

    … my verification is dcnfrt. Dancing fart? I suppose that happened too.

  14. India Carolina
    · May 23rd, 2007 at 9:54 am · Link

    Regarding Sara’s comment. I suppose I must be the bodily function gal. From Twist of Fate :

    Gwen peered inside the bag and counted ten tacos, a tostada, and a burrito. Thank goodness the windows were down.

    My CP Leigh’s innocent comment in the margins: “Why?”

  15. Tessa Dare
    · May 23rd, 2007 at 11:21 am · Link

    Thanks for your comments, everyone!

    LOL, India – maybe it’s the doctor in you; bodily functions are just everyday talk. And the characters are doctors, too – so why should it be different for them?

    CM, Sara – I agree, really – I would never put in anything like that unless it had some purpose for the story. In GOTH, there’s no mention whatsoever. The only reason I’m contemplating small mentions for GOB is because the heroine is completely out of her element and without a lot of comforts she’s used to.

    Although Lindsey – there will NOT be any ‘potty-humor’ scenes in GOB. Although, she’s already thrown up on him. That’s as gross as it gets.

    Anyone still checking this trail … any problems with barf in romance novels? I mean, she has a good reason – seasickness.

  16. Kelly Krysten
    · May 23rd, 2007 at 1:28 pm · Link

    Casting up one’s accounts is perfectly acceptable,to me, in a romance novel. Well, just so long as the vomit itself isn’t given a great detailed description.lol.

  17. Sara Dennis
    · May 24th, 2007 at 12:01 am · Link

    I’m fairly sure I’ve read seasickness in other books. As stated, as long as you’re not giving color or content details, I’m sure you’re fine.

  18. terrio
    · May 24th, 2007 at 10:32 am · Link

    That poor heroine in A Rogues Return (Beverly) suffered horribly with seasickness. And I think flo might have been mentioned too. Dang my faulty memory banks.

    Casting okay. Description not okay.

    And I love the windows down line. It has just the right amount of subtlety. LOL!