1

This is a highly embarrassing question that my friend asked me one day and I was caught unprepared.

She was like, "You're writing in a boy's perspective, right?"

I said, "Yeah. What wrong with it?"

Then her eyes widened. "What if your character went into the restroom?!"

I still didn't understand the problem until she was like: "You never been in the boy's restroom before, how do you know what it like inside?"

And I was like, "I'm going to avoid describing the restroom by typing 'I went to the restroom then went out.' There! Issue solved." But she kinda went psyched about the topic. So that why I'm typing this question for her.

How do authors describe the inside of private inside when they never been in before?

2
  • How many books have you (or your friend) read where a character going to the restroom is described in detail (or at all)? – DM_with_secrets Apr 21 at 19:57
  • Let me point out that there are at least two aspects for your question. One is "how does it look inside" (and that's what you are literally asking), and the other is "how does it feel inside". Often the former question can be easily researched, but the latter one can be more difficult. – Alexander Apr 22 at 16:42
6

You will almost never need to describe a character's bodily functions in a book.

In the vast majority of cases while writing - and in the Young Adult (YA) genre in particular, which is very iffy on describing such things - you won't need to ever describe restroom visits or other character bodily functions in any amount of detail. So don't worry about it. I can't remember the last time I read a book where a character's bathroom habits were laid out in excruciating detail, beyond just them briefly visiting the washroom to exit the scene for a few minutes.

Saying "he ducked out to the restroom" or "he went to the bathroom" and leaving it at that is perfectly fine, if for whatever reason your character needs to do that during a scene. (And if he doesn't need to, then don't include it!) You don't need to describe every single aspect of your character's life in minute detail, I promise.

However, if for whatever reason, you absolutely need to describe a visit to the bathroom in your book...

Keep it clean. The character ducks into a stall, leaves, and washes their hands at the sink. Simple as that. Nobody needs any more detail than that.

2

The other answers have focused on this specific question, but there's a good general answer to how to write about things of which you don't --or can't --have firsthand knowledge.

Research!

  • A lot of writers have gone out of their way to secure firsthand knowledge of things they wouldn't otherwise know. "Hi, I'm a writer, and this is important to my story. Can I have a guided tour of the boys' bathroom?"

  • If that's not possible, try interviewing some primary sources --"Hey buddy, what's it like to use a urinal? What do you guys talk about in there? Are there any unspoken rules you have to follow?"

  • If that's not possible, hit up the library, or the internet --very cautiously, in this case! --and see if you can find fictional or non-fictional accounts of the thing you're interested in.

If it's important to your story, it's worth putting the time and effort in, it can make your story feel more real, and prevent easy mistakes that might pull a reader out of the narrative.

With that said, this is your story. Don't let your friend's obsession with bathrooms derail it.

0

Foreign territory:

What country are we talking about? If this is a fictitious place, YOU as the author control reality. If there are cultural reasons to have it be strange or different, then make it so, and make it up. If it's historic, there may not have been a restroom, but THAT would be a history SE question (so do your period homework before asking).

In the USA, at least, they are 95% identical. If you've seen a unisex bathroom, use that as an example. Women's typically has more stalls in place of urinals. You can google urinals if you really want to, and see the various styles. Sometimes there are dividers, but not often. Occasionally, there is a long trough (in sports stadiums, for example). There will be lots of searchable images. Generally, men's bathrooms are either the same overall (except for urinals) or simpler. Most of us have at some point cleaned restrooms, been dragged in as children (if you remember that far back) or just seen the other gender's restrooms when they were open for cleaning. I can't speak for other countries, but if you're really curious, ASK someone from wherever what it's like. After the weird looks, tell them you're an author trying to accurately portray a setting, and unless there are serious taboos, they'll tell you.

Most of the time, it isn't relevant. As fun as potty humor can be (and I work in a hospital lab testing EVERYTHING, so the bad jokes are pretty thick), there is rarely a call for it unless a scene happens in a bathroom. It is rare that a reader wants that level of detail.

  • PS your friend may be ripping on you for fun. enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.