Monday, January 04, 2010

Do Some House Cleaning?

I admit, I don’t like to clean house. Oh, I keep up with the clothes washing, but that’s about all I do consistently. I’ll put off cleaning bathrooms and floors until even I admit it has to be done.

And so it came to be that yesterday, I swept, mopped and waxed the downstairs. Bleh. But it was well overdue.

As I’m waxing and internally moaning about my back hurting, I got to thinking about writing. I tried to remember if I’d ever had a character clean house. Other than maybe picking up clothes from the living room, I don’t think I have. I then wondered if that’s because my characters have too much to do to worry about dirty floors or if it’s because I so dislike cleaning house.

Do you have characters do chores that you dislike? Is your protagonist a loner and rarely has anyone over for whom they’d feel the need to clean up? Do you have a character who’s a neat-freak and has a squeaky clean house? How much does s/he charge for sweeping, mopping and waxing a downstairs area? How about bathrooms?
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33 comments:

  1. Helen, I keep my house fairly clean, but my husband does the dusting - I hate dusting!

    I've actually had several charactes who were either clean freaks or slovenly. And brief descriptions of cleaning have indeed appeared in my books.

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  2. I don't think it occurs to me to add this to my writing, because I don't do it! Maybe this is a flaw as a writer. Thanks for pointing it out! I think we have discussed this before, but sometimes it is hard to see outside your own life experience. Another reminder to look through someone else's eyes! Thanks, Helen. Oh, and I should probably clean my house...Naah. My husband will do it.

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

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  3. I’ve had characters do minor household chores, but no major cleaning. It might be fun to create a clean freak type of character in case some of their cleaning passion might be passed along to me.

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  4. No characters spend a lot of time cleaning house in any of my books. In Killer Career, I even mention that the main character doesn't have enough time to clean house.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com
    http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com

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  5. My characters have maid service! Too funny...I just realized that. Cleaning isn't my favorite thing, either. I get a cleaning service over every couple of months and just fill in the gaps with my own lackadaisical housework.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  6. I don't think I've ever had a character clean! That would be a fun scene to play with.

    Once when I was pregnant I had a cleaning service come in. That was heaven, because I hate to clean.

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  7. My character - much like me - hates doing housework, but will do it in order to avoid other things... like going to the gym!

    Other than mentions of that sort, I have very few references to housekeeping of any sort (other than making meals and brewing coffee).

    I think I may try to work in some more chores in my next book. They give a bit of verisimilitude.

    Cheers, Jill
    www.jilledmondson.com

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  8. I hate to clean, too. None of my characters clean. I've had one wash sheets, one do dishes, and one pick up after a break-in. That's about it. Maybe I should try it. Do you think I'd learn to like it? Nah!

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  9. I think the only chores I've had my characters do are hastily making beds or washing some dishes. Of course, they are usually between the ages of 14 and 18 but they are usually running from trolls and evil wizards. That doesn't leave much time for cleaning :)

    Happy Monday,
    Jen

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  10. I want to be a character in a book with no housecleaning!

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  11. Oh gee, Helen. Thanks for the reminder, lol! Oh, I keep my house clean and fairly clutter free. But boy, I have some major cleaning to do now. Especially with everyone home so much this past month. My office looks like a small cyclone went through it. So that's on the agenda. blech.

    I have a few household chores in my stories. I'm thinking that most readers want to forget about icky things like cleaning and work when they read a romance, so I've not seen a lot of stuff like that in the books I've read. Ah, escapism, ain't it grand?

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  12. This is the joy about writing a mystery taking place in a manor house during the 1930s. Staff. There is a plethora of housemaids, cooks, footmen, etc. to deal with the housekeeping tasks.

    I hate cleaning too. Hate it. However, I hate having a messy house. Dilemmas ensue.

    Elspeth

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  13. Funny you should mention this! In my next project, the heroine is a stay-at-home mom who's a little obsessed with appearing perfect. She does A LOT of cleaning. And in two previous works, the heroines were servants doing a lot of cooking and cleaning.

    Talk about escapism--if my husband didn't sweep & mop, it would never get done!

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  14. Well, I have to admit I have a housecleaner. It started because I was injured. But it was such a gift to myself to free up that time and not have to get down on hands and knees and hurt my back with the vacuum cleaner. Oh, whom am I kidding? I'm just spoiled!
    Karen

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  15. My female cop is quite house proud and she does clean by times. She and some others clean when they get anxious just like me - how odd???!!

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  16. My protagonist has a house cleaner, doesn't like clutter, and although appreciates history and tradition prefers new stuff.

    Stephen Tremp

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  17. It would appear very few of us actually like to clean house. I'm thinking I'll write a character who does. Perhaps that will ease my guilt over dusty shelves in reality.

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  18. Must have been something in the air yesterday, Helen. I, too, did some major cleaning after putting away all the holiday decorations.

    I have never thought about whether I have characters do chores that I hate. I do know I have intentionally had them be really messy as part of their character. (Which is not a reflection on me, honest.) I have also had characters go on a cleaning binge as an emotional release to some traumatic event. That is so common to so many women, it seemed appropriate to have a character do that.

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  19. I've had my characters do minor chores but some of them have servants and some are constantly on the move and camp outside. The cleaning is pretty easy under the trees.

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  20. Joan Rivers said, "Don't cook. Don't clean. No man will ever make love to a woman because she's waxed the linoleum."

    I have the same attitude toward cutting the grass. It hasn't improved my sex life a bit.

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  21. An excellent reminder, Helen, to "root" our characters in a "real" world. I hate it when a character in a book does something/lives like no one ever would. (My pet peeve, romances where the heroine goes through tremendous trauma and ends up without a hair out of place.)

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  22. I would love to be a romance heroine, Conda. My hair is always out of place.

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  23. In my current ms, my two mcs share the cooking and cleaning chores - part of bargain when they become partners. I am not a fan of housework, so I now find it funny that I even considered it :)

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  24. Interesting - I've had my characters do laundry and cook but never really gave it much thought. They've never scubbed a bathroom. I guess some part of my brain thinks that would make for boring reading.

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  25. Mine cooks. Loves to cook like me. She cleans, too, but doesn't talk about it. It's a job to get through so she can move on to the good stuff. I guess that's also like me.

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  26. Spent the morning (and half the afternoon) catching up on housecleaning. My current protagonist is young enough to leave it to Mum, but my last one didn't like cleaning any more than I do.

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  27. Since the majority of us seem to dislike housecleaning, it's probably not a good idea to have our characters delve too much into cleaning since the readers may get bored.

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  28. Good point Helen.

    I have one scene where my protagonist waxes the floor, but it is fun as his Aunt makes it a game.

    For me, it isn't fun to clean. I hired someone when I was pregnant and haven't let her go since.

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  29. I hate household chores as well. But I admit I tend to concentrate too much on the romance in my novels.

    Really Angelic

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  30. The housework issue DID come up in 'Meddlers In Time'

    It was sorted by rescuing the servants from a 1870 house fire and transporting them about 135 years and 250 light years to look after a nice, modern mansion.

    (cleaning robots would have been too easy and are impersonal)

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  31. To quote a well-know authority on the subject, Bleh.

    Daily, ordinary tasks, no, I don't think I have. Cooking and doing dishes, yes. But it wouldn't take much to spread a bed, etc. I'll keep that in mind.

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  32. Mark don't be so sure about that. My husband is his sexiest when he's washing the dishes (a task I pathologically abhor).

    As for my characters doing housework- I try to leave all boring stuff out. I'd like to keep the few readers I have.

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  33. Unless it's relevant to the plot, or helps define the characters personality (think Monk) I generally don't spend time detailing mundane chores. I've written gardening scenes and shopping, but so far no one's ever cleaned a toilet (in my stories, that is!).
    ~jon

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