I had a problem with my character generator. It was facial hair. Specifically: How to get it to assign to the appropriate gender. The background for the generator doesn’t seem to be particularly complex, certainly manipulating the various syntax blocks is straightforward. I imagine I’m overlooking various things, but I don’t have to learn C++ to get what I want out of it. Or something entirely more simple… C++ would probably be massive overkill for a random generator.
But back to the point: From my *very* layman’s grasp of coding, some dabbling here and there way back when with game design that never went anywhere, what I basically needed was an ‘if function’. As in: ‘if male, assign facial hair options’. I had genders lumped together so it was just picking between the two and that worked up until I needed to rope things to specific options like this. After quite some time I had only half got it working. My solution gave me the male output, but it would also try and assign facial hair to the female category, too. That would be interesting to do as a very small percentage chance, but we’re dealing with every single generated female. So I made it pass over them. It did, to an extent. It left the descriptions with ‘She.’ at the end, where it couldn’t get anything to fill in for the category of facial hair.
So I thought I needed something to take up the blank space. A physical female characteristic. Bingo. So after some deliberation I bit the bullet and went off to write some random breast generator syntax to slot in. Long story short, I was, again, only half successful. It had options for both genders, but got confused about which to assign to which, since the way I laid it out couldn’t specify anything. I went away, drank some coffee and eventually struck on an idea. I came back and rewrote the generator syntax to work in a new way, in order for it to mimic a very simplistic ‘if function’. It works. Men can have facial hair, women can have breasts. Simple.
I was on the fence about adding breast-specific descriptions into this generator. It wasn’t on the cards initially. Technically, I could even take the breasts out now, but having come this far I may as well leave them in for the mean time. However, this whole episode proved to be far more interesting than anticipated.
I want to be at least partially objective with this. It turns out that it’s surprisingly difficult to be objective where tits are concerned. Adjectives are so loaded with weight in the context of breasts. My immediate question is whether that’s my personal wellspring of depravity, or just my personal cultural background? For instance, If I went to a far flung rain forest, African tribe, nudist colony, or something similar, where bare breasted women are commonplace, would they still get the same connotations from my randomly generated descriptions? On the surface, any and all of the words that I threw in that list are neutral on their own, but in context they take on different meanings and significance.
My general approach is to cover as much surface area without straying towards any particular tone or image. At the same time I want to allow room for the generator to come up with a tone or feel that is naturally concocted by one or more adjectives. So on the one hand you get your average woman, on another you get a horrifying hag, and on yet another you get your stock Amazonian sex goddess. It’s all in what the combination of visuals put in your head.
This part of the joy of being a writer and the kind of sad bastard who actually enjoys fucking around with words, random generators, and things like this: I get to research anything, including tits, and it’s all legitimate. I’m probably on a number of lists by now, but until it interferes with my life I probably won’t care.
The main problem is describing breasts without being lascivious or perverse. I’m not going for that, it’s weird. I do find that a lot of the language used to describe breasts does fall into the problem of leaving me looking like this slimy caricature man-child who can’t quite get over the fact that mammaries exist, and can’t manage to describe them without finding something inherently sexual in the process. The result is that every description of a female thereafter becomes loaded with sexual connotation and they in turn become caricatures. I was only trying to write some basic descriptions! I found that people trying to describe breasts are almost universally positive in tone. If they’re not the next best thing to the holy grail, they’re akin to the holy grail defiled. There isn’t that much middle ground.
Question: How do you describe an average pair of tits? By proxy, you don’t. There’s no need to describe nondescript things. If something’s average you just don’t mention it. Describing things as ‘average’ basically means you’ve put a sentence in that you should not have. However, when dealing with random generation, two problems arise: You leave out the majority of breasts in the world, and that in turn weights everything towards either end of the spectrum and there’s not a run of the mill rack in sight! I noticed a lot of adjectives are for large breasts. What of small? Medium? There’s about five adjectives for large tits for every one describing a solid handful. There’s a thousand and one words for small, but they don’t quite fit the topic of breasts: ‘trifling’, ‘diminutive’, ‘inconsequential’, even ‘tiny’ seems problematic. But for the ‘large’, ‘huge’, ‘buxom’, there is a bountiful selection of adjectives. So much of it also seems to be dependent on overall body context, which doesn’t work well for generators. A ‘boyish’ build is a good example. Unless specified, you probably wouldn’t expect that to be accompanied by ‘with a rack to write home about!’ You probably shouldn’t write that anyway.
Do they need to be described in any case? In general: No. Outside of specific context, you don’t need it. In the case of my generator, sort of: I needed an alternative to facial hair to avoid having random ‘She.’ in my descriptions where the generator couldn’t supply facial hair for females (discriminatory, I know), and it seemed like the best alternative. Now that my syntax has been redesigned I could remove it, but for the moment I’ll let it be. Anyway, regardless of gender and sexuality, people notice and enjoy boobs. Sorry, that’s the best alternative answer I’ve got. Suck it. Or them. I’d like reiterate the point that if you’re writing a novel or general prose, that involves descriptions of people who happen to have two X chromosomes, every woman you come across doesn’t need to lead with her nipples.
Speaking of which: Nipples and cleavage. Deliberately left them out. While they are natural objective facts of reality, it didn’t seem necessary to describe them. Strange, because I’ve put pretty much every other bit of the human body in, regardless of significance. Down to specifying individual fingers and toes. I even had internal organs left in there, until earlier today, from the general list I’d written up ages ago and slotted in. So some people had ‘staunch’ lungs and ‘oblong’ lower intestines. I thought it might work as an amusing quirk, but in the end it just seemed out of place. Yes, I’m that kind of lunatic. Cleavage comes in naturally via context – you can fill in the gap, so to speak. Nipples seemed to indicate specific context: either general nakedness or sexual situations, potentially niche scenarios like breastfeeding, but again I wasn’t looking for a specific context to slot these people into and that seemed to rope them into one. Women: You’re either mothers, not wearing clothes for miscellaneous reasons, or fucking something. No exceptions. Admittedly, this is all pretty damn pathetic. Again, is that just me and my socio-cultural context? Does all of this pondering about tits indicate some kind of psychological repression or regression? I don’t consider myself to view women as walking fuck holes or find myself putting the humble breast on the towering pedestal that it seems to have found itself (themselves?) on. But the fact that this repeatedly returns to the subject of the sexualisation of an otherwise mundane biological collection of tissues, fats, and glands, suggests that something’s going on. Whether that’s personal or on a broader scale is up for debate.
Speaking of which, it’s no surprise that a lot of my research led me towards erotic fiction and romance, etc. One theme I noticed for breast-related adjectives seemed to be skin colour. That was not something I’d considered before this morning. Given that I’m randomly generating skin tone, too, I can’t use them, but I found the trend interesting. I noticed ‘creamy’, ‘pink tipped’, ‘rosy’ etc. came up a good number of times across various lists. I don’t know about you, but I picture white breasts in association with those adjectives. I didn’t find many, if any, that seemed specifically for non-Caucasian skin tones. Is there a similar set of adjective to describe brown or black breasts? If not, why not?
Missing breasts. Slightly heavier territory, potentially ruffling some feathers here and there, but I don’t mind pushing buttons. In the interest of accounting for all variables, I included missing breasts. Either single or both. I wasn’t specifically intending to draw attention to things like mastectomies, war crime, or anything in a similar vien: That’s for the person viewing the description to decide. Whether it’s in bad taste is up for debate, I suppose, but it seems like a reasonable thing to include. Women don’t cease to be women for lack of breasts.
The other elephant in the room, that any writer worth half a thimble full of salt is wondering now is: Simile and metaphor would make these descriptions easier, or at least more varied. Why not use them? I’ll get to it. I did think about it, and I’ve for plans. I’ve not included the syntax for metaphor or simile in any of the parts yet. It’s all fairly dry and specific. Until I get all the basic parts of this generator in place, I’m keeping things pretty simple. Other than that, there’s omission options. I’m still not amazed with the adjective list for boobs, if I’m honest. It’s certainly not all over-glorified or sexually pre-disposed crap, but it could be fleshed out.
This wasn’t the way I expected Saturday morning to go… From a quick answer to a problem with facial hair, this part of the generator has thrown up some interesting thoughts and observations.