I Have Boobs and Other Cases of Too Much Information


by Stephanie Beck

I have boobs. They are quite nice and most days I really like them. I even enjoy sharing them with my husband more than occasionally. But at the moment, I’m nearly six months pregnant and most days I want to carry a fly swatter just in case anyone gets too close to my super-sensitive girls.
Now that you know way too much about me, I’d like to segue into my topic: Too Much Information.
In romance, the idea of too much information is so varied that I have run across several different opinions on the matter. Some readers and editors find it charming when the characters are very human, warts and dragon breath and all. Others gasp and cringe just at the mention of the leading lady menstruating, yet don’t question why the leading man doesn’t wash his hands after some invasive exploring. So, what is the verdict?
 
For me, I like my characters to be human enough to identify with. I want them to look at the partner they love and enjoy sexually and say “Sorry dear, not tonight.” Not all the time—oh no no—but I think once in a while it does everyone good to show that level of reality. It puts the character and reader on equal footing they could both chuckle over were they to meet at a coffee shop sometime. I find that charming and engaging. I don’t mind if my leading lady does have sore boobs and asks her fella to be creative. In moderation, all those things are positive if they fit the characters and storyline. 

Now, do I want to hear about my filthy leading man who hasn’t shaved in weeks, has four zits on his nose and three on his back? Nope, I don’t think so. The stories that thrive on suspense and running and never include showers, but still add sex don’t need the bleh details in my opinion. I can stretch my mind to think they both smell like roses after three days on the run and that her skin really is silky smooth even if she hasn’t shaved. That suspended reality has a very real place in romance as well.
I think there can be a happy balance between real life and what we’d like real life to be. We love our mates for whom they are, stinky socks and all, but maybe our heroes can have magically sweet smelling feet when the situation calls for it.
I suppose the difference is what flaws in being human we can find charming and which ones are just unforgivably dirty or taboo and how those fit within any storyline. Where do you draw the line? 

~ Stephanie Beck 
www.stephaniebeck.net 

Steph will be giving away a copy of her new release, Cross Stitch and Brimstone, to one LUCKY commenter. So leave a comment!!

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October 22, 2010 at 6:55 AM

Hi Stephanie,
That was a really great post. I truly believe it depends on the story and the characters as to what is too much information.

October 22, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Great post. I am with Margaret. I think it really depends on the story. Now if one of the main characters has gas - I don't want to know ever in any situation. But if he smells of a hard days work and she leads him to the shower - that's a whole different ballgame. Great points.

October 22, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Thanks Margaret! It was a fun post to put together. And I'm with you, Becca, I think in romance land we can do without flatulance :)

October 22, 2010 at 5:08 PM

I like the characters to be real... But not to real, If u follow my drift. Farts, bad breath, periods, touching, ect ok... not washing hands after the touching and well peeing. OH AND THE PIMPLES EWWW!

I say Its really up to the person whos reading what is good and whats not.

October 22, 2010 at 6:05 PM

I can relate to quirky characters more than perfect ones but... I read romance novels to escape and reading about periods, pimples, and B.O. just draws me out of the story.

October 22, 2010 at 6:12 PM

I recently stranded my romantic couple...and they ended up making love...I thought about toothbrushes and showers and all that stuff while I was writing but then went, meh, they're in the moment. Making love was far more interesting than trying to figure out how to get out of their predicament. TMI is driven by the story but every story can use some discretion IMO.

Best wishes to you and your hubby on the baby, Steph. I didn't know you were expecting. Hope all goes well.

October 22, 2010 at 7:04 PM

The element of suspended reality is very real and some stories thrive on it. If I'm reading a really suspensful story, showers and all that stuff just doesn't fit.

But for that adorable, couple building scene, nudging elbows while brushing their teeth can be pretty darn cute.

Thanks for the congrats, Margie :) We're very excited!!

October 22, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Hey lady left a message earlier I guess it never posted... guess I did something wrong lol..

Great blog and no worries we can be Sisters in TMI together :)

October 23, 2010 at 9:32 AM

hahah Dominique! so you've gotten the 'are you sure you want that in there' talk before? I've come to agree on a few things, but I really think I can find the cute in certain situations. Not all, I'll leave the pimples and ick to other genres (YA and horror come to mind)

October 23, 2010 at 9:45 AM

I like a story that is real..something I can identify with...but then you mentioned the pimples and I did say "Eww!".

I think it does depend on the character too...my MC in A Bitch Named Karma is VERY blunt...that's just how she is and she says what's on her mind. And it's first person so you gets lots of internal dialog too.

Great post! :)

October 23, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Great post Steph. Speaking from an editorial standpoint, that is one of the things I think about. I don't want a comment about an STD in the middle of a love scene! Don't ask... But it's a balance we authors try so hard to achieve, showing our characters in full 3-D and yet, to best advantage.

October 29, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Hey All
There was a prize attached to this blog. After some nifty name out of hat pulling, Sondrae Bennett won. Sondrae, please email at stephaniebeckauthor@gmail.com so I can get you your prize. Thanks everyone for the fantastic feeback!!

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