Pop quiz: What do these things have in common?

Latin conjugations
Cranial Nerves
Millipedes and other creepy-crawlies
Snow and other things that are cold
Multiples of seven

No, they’re not the categories on Jeopardy tonight. They’re all mental cold showers – the topics that heroes in either my or my CPs’ books think about when they’re trying not to think about ravishing the heroine.

Now, I love to write and read these little bits, where the hero is heroically reining in his desire by reciting the Gettysburg Address backwards or whatnot…they’re actually great ways to work in characterization and backstory. But I’m wondering, do guys really do this stuff in real life? Do girls? How do your favorite heroes (in RL, your own books, or others’) divert their attention?

13 comments to “Diversions”

  1. Kelly Krysten
    · March 18th, 2008 at 3:09 am · Link

    I really don’t think guys in real life rein in their desires.lol. j/k. They prolly do something similar I’d imagine. I don’t know what diversion technique I prefer in literature. I know I don’t like it when heroes divert desire onto another woman than the heroine.

  2. Tiffany Kenzie
    · March 18th, 2008 at 5:10 am · Link

    Hmmm…sex is always on my brain, therefore always on my characters brains. nothing wrong with that…thinking and acting are different. And as for thoughts on geometry, well it would go something like this… look at that ruler, see the shape–yes, see the half moon thingy over there–yes… now put them together. 😉 see sex is always on the brain.

  3. Marnee Jo
    · March 18th, 2008 at 5:44 am · Link

    I know a guy who thinks of baseball when he’s trying to relax. LOL!!

    And I like hearing about stuff like that. Particularly if it’s a little on the silly side.

    This IS a good place to put in characterization. *Marnee, opening note file and pondering millipedes and such other nonsensical things*

  4. Lindsey
    · March 18th, 2008 at 8:35 am · Link

    I could have aced that quiz from Latin conjugations alone. That’s one thing (of many!) from GOTH that really stuck with me. I could not, however, ace the Jeopardy! category.

    Tallie’s Knight has an awesome scene of the heroine admitting she uses multiplication tables. I love that book. I agree it’s a fun characterization point. I’ve definitely noticed contemps that don’t reach beyond the stereotypical, but your examples show just how much fun there is to be had.

  5. Anonymous
    · March 18th, 2008 at 12:46 pm · Link

    What do all the above words have in common.
    All of the above could be easily diverted by song.
    Music is (imo) the greatest diversion for all people in history.
    Music began with the drums of Africa/South America,than came
    the mandolin,the flute, the piano, the songs of slaves, jazz, etc.

    Who doesn’t get diverted by music, Tessa?

    Sing Tessa Sing

  6. Alice Audrey
    · March 18th, 2008 at 4:30 pm · Link

    I asked Mr. Al once what he did to – ah-hem – pace himself, using this sort of example. He said he did do something, but refused to say what. Since I’ve always been far more interested in getting him revved, I didn’t press.

  7. Elyssa Papa
    · March 18th, 2008 at 5:33 pm · Link

    I think I narrowed down which hero does what.

    You ever have one of those moments when you’re like okay, I’m not going to think about sex and then everything you see, read, or hear takes on a totally different meaning?

    Can’t think off the top of my head of too mnay contemporary heroes who try to think of something else but fail… god, my memory is totally failing right now in this subject. *hanging head in shame*

  8. Anonymous
    · March 18th, 2008 at 6:57 pm · Link

    I use baseball to sort of uh, pace myself. The funny thing about it is, it still comes down to the bat and the ball.

  9. Tessa Dare
    · March 18th, 2008 at 7:26 pm · Link

    So, at least two votes for baseball… how interesting. What do guys think about baseball, precisely? Statistics? Fantasy teams? I mean, it’s certainly not the most boring sport available – wouldn’t golf or curling or racketball or something work better?

    Maybe I need to have a Regency guy thinking about cricket.

    AA – I bet Mr. Al’s listing his English monarchs. 🙂

    But yeah, Kelly – I’m kind of with you – I don’t think guys really try to stop thinking about it in RL!

    I find music extremely distracting, anon. In all situations. I love it, don’t get me wrong – but when it’s playing I have a tendency to listen to music and zone out everything else…

  10. terrio
    · March 19th, 2008 at 8:44 am · Link

    I heard somewhere about guys thinking about french fries but can’t remember where or why. And I don’t think it would be golf. That’s putting the ball in the hole. You see the problem.

    I have a hard enough time staying in the moment, I dare not think about anything else. Though, in a past life, I made mental grocery lists, planned my wardrobe for the week and contemplated the meaning of life waiting for him to give up. LOL!

  11. Santa
    · March 20th, 2008 at 11:14 am · Link

    Funny you should ask this. I just polished a scene in SM with Jake and his friend Steve are talking about this very topic. Steve, a investor, says that on the rare occasion he needs to redirect his thoughts he states calculating futures in the stock market. It redirects blood flow to the brain and the thought of making more money releases those pent up endorphins.

  12. Tessa Dare
    · March 20th, 2008 at 9:56 pm · Link

    LOL, Terri – wandering minds are the worst, aren’t they? I have that issue, too – just in life, in general. That’s the best part about being a professional writer, is being able to excuse my dazed expressions and inattentiveness by saying, “Oh, I’m a writer, we’re like that.”

    Santa, I love it – now that’s some great characterization, stocks releasing endorphins. 🙂

  13. Gillian Layne
    · March 22nd, 2008 at 1:25 pm · Link


    Just read the RWA article. Excellent! I adore fanfic myself; my daughter and I found a reality of Harry Potter that we agreed with, even more than JK’s. High quality fanfic is every bit as good as published works.

    Congratulations on a great article!