So, I have a group of main characters, and the current viewpoint character is going to introduce a... very well-endowed character. How do I write this so that I get the point across that she's that way, but not making it sound overly lewd or off-putting?
The crucial question, which will help you figure out how to write this, is: why is this detail important. And that question has two angles:
- Why is it important to your story?
- Why is it important to your viewpoint character, at the specific point you want to get the information across?
These two questions can have the same answer (e.g. "the friend is sick and tired of people hitting on her and commenting on her breasts" might be both a story point, and something that's on your POV character's mind). But they also might have different answers (e.g. it'll be important because some other character is going to tease her for it later on; but that means you need to lay the ground for it now, when everything's fine).
I'm assuming you've got (1), why it's important to your story, well-covered -- or you probably wouldn't be asking.
Whereas (2) can definitely be tricky -- because, yeah, there aren't many ways to tactfully reflect upon somebody else's breasts.
There a still a myriad of ways to solve this, though! Here are a few -- and, since the ultimate solution will be weaving this into your scene in your POV's voice, which one works well depends a lot on what you've already got and want!
- To heck with tact. Your POV character, or their friend, might be the cheerfully blunt sort -- and make joking reference to the character's breast size. This depends on the character voice being right for that sort of brashness. But, this can definitely work. And there's no shortage of people who really do use humor and bluntness, and prefer that over just not being able to talk about their bodies, about how they feel and are perceived, etc.
- Being tactful is precisely why it's important. Your POV's experience of being with this friend, definitely involves politely ignoring her breasts. And your POV would maybe never say this out loud, but they're definitely thinking about how not to be rude, not staring, keeping an eye out for creeps or just rude people...
- Let someone else bring it up. Literally anybody in the scene, or even mentioned in the scene, can have a quick-but-informative reaction. Maybe somebody catcalls her on the street, which she calmly ignores. Maybe she talks about a best friend as being "somebody I can go buy bras with." Maybe she has a funny story about how she has two dating profiles -- one with a picture showing her face, another where you can see she's got big breasts. It doesn't have to be the POV character calling attention to it -- anybody can, as long as the POV character is a witness.
- Straightforward physical description. You can definitely just say "She has big breasts", like "She has big eyes"; the trick is not to make that detail feel like lewd or sexual interest. Avoid sexually-loaded phrases, like "well-endowed." Having big breasts shouldn't be an "oh my god" thing; shouldn't be a shock; shouldn't be sexy (unless, of course, one of those is what you're shooting for). If you can disassociate breasts from being purely sexual, you can notice physical detail or description that isn't sexual -- stay away from comparisons to "humonguous ripe cantaloupes," and look more for stuff like how a large-breasted woman is comfortable sitting at a table, or whether she prefers T-shirts over finding well-tailored fits.
There are certainly more options than this, but these should give you a sense of some of the possibilities, and how to approach the issue in general.
introduce a... very well-endowed character. How do I write this so that I get the point across that she's that way, but not making it sound overly lewd or off-putting?
I thought it was cute reading you describe it in just that way. Talk around it, politely and awkwardly. It's funny because it's about someone's embarrassment. Make the MC the butt of the joke instead of her body.
Portray the emotions of your viewpoint character.
In general, when using a limited viewpoint you should only be describing the details that your viewpoint character notices. And how you describe a detail should depend on how they notice it.
Is your viewpoint character jealous? Is she sympathetic? Amazed? How comfortable is she with direct descriptions, or would she use euphemisms? Why is she noticing them? Let your viewpoint character's thoughts and feelings set the tone of the description.
You provide very little detail, more would help.
I've had a girlfriend who barely fit into DD, and used it mostly because bras in E are rare. Her main thoughts about her breasts during ordinary daily life were not erotic, but practical. These things are heavy, can cause back pain, many clothes will be a very tight fit and/or simply uncomfortable. You can't comfortably lie on your belly for longer times, etc. etc.
If you have a possibility of introducing the character through the disadvantages of large breast size, you can much more easily bring the point across without lewdness.
I'm thinking of two factors to keep in mind:
1) consider the reasons why you need to describe those details. How do they enrich the scene? What do they tell about the characters involved? and so on. By doing so, you will make sure that every word you'll choose will be fit to the scene.
2) consider the characters involved: who they are, what do they usually think, what are their emotions. Did they ever see such a woman? Is it the first time? Are they someone who usually stare a woman's body or not? and so on. By doing this, you will make sure that the description is apt to the character and not to just yourself, or the reader.
I believe these two approaches will help you to make your scene sound "real": after that, you won't have to worry about sounding lewd, or gross, or etc.
I hope this helps :)
If you want to be truly neutral about these things, just say 'She had notably large breasts' and leave it at that. However, plenty of other users have brought up an excellent way to do this while also sprinkling in characterisation: Make the reaction dependent on the observer.
For example, I'm writing a novel, and there's a girl who (at only sixteen) is developed enough to look in her twenties, and while this isn't strictly about breasts, it is about development in areas that one could consider lewd. Anyhow, let's see how different characters respond to her unusual looks:
Her younger half-sister of twelve: Irritated and envious that she got to 'look like an adult' at a young age, implies she's been adult-looking for her age since around thirteen, focuses more on how 'perfect' and 'annoying' it makes her.
Her neglectful, hedonistic, overly sexual mother: Boasts that her daughter's got 'the best of both her parents' and that she's surprised she hasn't got a boyfriend yet; after all, she gave birth to her at her age!
A perverse, young, arrogant dark elven man who prizes youthful women: Unambiguously rates her a 'ten' and pressures his friend to agree with him to 'back his tastes up'. Says in no uncertain terms that he'd be willing to ignore the numbers for her and gets extremely indignant whenever she pays attention to a man that isn't him, even if it's not romantically.
A professional, somewhat socially awkward man with an academic job: Is overall unnerved by her, as she not only looks older than her age, but acts it, meaning she's competent enough to essentially be an adult. As such, he treats her like one (and even makes a point of negotiating with her rather than her incompetent mother).
The girl herself (perhaps the most important): She often expresses that she's overwhelmed with the pressure that her looks give her and the attention it attracts, but she's not above using them to her advantage from time to time. Laments not being able to be a child sometimes.
Just like how various men and woman react differently to an obvious bulge on a man's crotch, various people will respond to big breasts/mature looks/strange heights/muscular builds in different ways.
Just approach your characters as people rather than a list of prominent traits, and it'll work out.
the current viewpoint character is going to introduce a... very well-endowed character
This sounds like first person (the internal narration of the viewpoint character to the reader) or third person favoring the viewpoint character's perspective.
How the viewpoint character states their observation does help define their character, and their internal attitude/voice. (Which can be very different than their external voice, as a character trait.) The fact that the viewpoint character even thinks this is worth mentioning says something about them, but what exactly it says depends a lot on how their narration spins it. The central question is why the viewpoint character thinks this is worth noting, and how they express themselves. There are a lot of possibilities (and some examples):
Bland, Clipped description of the other character, listing that as one of their features, along with their eyes, hair, clothing, etc. (And you can work in more subtle references to bust size as part of describing clothing, or just the way the character moves around during a scene, rather than frontloading it in an initial description.)
Focus on the other character's own experience (shared with the viewpoint character): "We had to shop through halfway through the mall before we found a large enough bra." "She's always complaining about backaches from those things."
Focus on the previously observed reactions of others to the character: "Guys are always hitting on her, staring at her chest the whole time."
Focus on the reaction of the viewpoint character to the previously observed reactions of others: "It's pretty obvious all the guys who come on to her are just after her sizeable breasts. Creeps." (Alternatively - "Can't blame them - those are pretty impressive." Or any other potential line showing a particular attitude toward those assets.)
Go for the hilarity: "I'm pretty sure her boobs generate their own gravitational field - they're just that big!" "Her largest assets are on her chest." (Oddly, humor usually defuses lewdity for these sort of descriptions.)
Give an anecdote illustrating the size: "I've seen her put her breasts on a desk and use them as a pillow when she falls asleep in class."
Hit the comparison note: "Those are way bigger than mine. I don't even want to think about what they're doing to her back." (Or the usual light novel jokes about being jealous of cup sizes, or wondering about drinking milk or whatever.) Doesn't seem like the tone you're looking for, though.
Go full Regency/Edwardian, and describe her as having a "healthy, or even generous figure, particularly around the chest."
Hit such a ridiculous description it's more ridiculous than sexy. Full Lovecraft Purple Prose about "heaving bosoms barely restrained by a low-cut blouse and a jacket whose button protested like an angry monk nailing theses to a church door." Only certain viewpoint characters can pull this off.
Just don't bother describing that feature at all unless it's relevant, and let some other character either react to, comment about, or describe them for the viewpoint character at a later point. (If the viewpoint character doesn't have a reason to / think they're worth calling out herself.)
Euphemisms are very equivocal in all cases - they could be used because the viewpoint character is embarrassed about the topic in general, or because 'well endowed' 'bombshell figure' 'DDs', 'they are pretty large', 'those things', etc. sounds better in their head than clinically describing 'the feature in question'.
Some of these are better ideas than others, but the focus here should always be on how and why the viewpoint character thinks about this feature of the other character, not necessarily on the feature itself.
Third person (favoring the viewpoint character):
- Third person narrators get a lot more leeway (even if they 'favor' the perspective of the viewpoint character) to just give a flat description, without the fact that the viewpoint character even explicitly notices this feature entering into the discussion.
I was reading this question because I needed a way to describe, uh, boobs as well, and since I’m a really careful person, I did it in the most subtle way I could. Hope this helps you or anyone else looking for the answer—
Next to him, a girl teetered nervously on her toes, looking like she hadn’t eaten a proper meal in months, but her thin fingers were continuously pulling up her too-small top, pulling her buttonless jacket closed. Many girls like the ones I’d seen passing through the pubs of Laverrene might’ve intended it to be that way, but the way her clever turquoise eyes darted around made me purse my lips in disgust. On this journey alone, I’d seen too much of the lewdness of men. Far too much.
I feel the subtlest way to describe intimate body parts like this is to describe how it affects the clothes they wear, their posture and the objects/people they are around. I’ve also seen that humour is somehow a good way to defuse this sense of lewdness, so yeah.
How do I write this so that I get the point across that she's that way, but not making it sound overly lewd or off-putting?
Make it funny.
Since your viewpoint character is a woman, the best way to do this without being off-putting is to (depending on her own physique and personality) have her express "boob envy". Since you don't want it to be off-putting, go for the subtle approach: have her take one look at the other woman and then glance down at her own, more modest bust.