On epic fantasy and bodily functions

Dear Potential Future Readers:

So I’m working on this Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel. If it ever sees the light of publishing day, then you, dear epic fantasy fan, will possibly read it. And several of you are going to raise certain complaints. I would like to preemptively address one of them now:

No, it’s not that my female characters never menstruate. It’s just that their menstrual cycle is not relevant to the story*. And while you may not see my characters answering the call of nature, it’s not that they don’t have to. They urinate. They have bowel movements. Again, it’s just that those things generally don’t contribute to the advancement of the story*, and so I don’t include them.

Trust me, dear reader, if I ever find that a depiction of defecation, urination, or menstruation would serve to advance plot or character, enhance my setting, or otherwise serve the story, I will not hesitate to describe it. In fact, such things have showed up in my short fiction when relevant. But as far My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel goes, please just assume that my characters take care of their business off-page. I mean, when your first draft clocks in at 118,000 words, the poo really has to earn its place on the page.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go use the bathroom.


*To clarify, when I talk about relevance to the story or advancement of story, I’m not talking about plot alone. If a woman’s menstruation or the way a person goes to the bathroom tells me something about a character’s personality or the world or the setting, then I consider that relevant, something that advances the story by adding to my understanding of the world and the characters. But showing someone going to the bathroom simply to establish that they sometimes have to go to the bathroom, not so much.

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