Do you know the term for somebody doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? No. It’s not an insane person, though that’s a good guess. Albert Einstein was pretty clever, but he didn’t read romances (well, as far as I know), so he couldn’t possibly know the true answer to that question.
Know it yet? Here’s another clue…the '80s romance heroine was usually this.
Yup! You got it. The TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) heroine.
Pretty much everybody has come across one of these heroines. They’re hard to miss if you read old school romances because Romancelandia was so littered with them that a hero couldn’t trip without falling
into onto one. She’s pretty prevalent in romantic suspense (and one of the reasons I don’t read much RS anymore.)
A TSTL heroine does stupid things. She just can’t seem to help it. Like the dumb females in horror movies who always go the wrong way, a TSTL heroine follows the tradition of unthinking idiocy. She’ll run away from the hero and into a nest of bad guys. During a rescue attempt she’ll force the hero to pause in the middle of gunfire for a cross examination of his heart. And she won’t be drugged, like in Knight and Day, which makes that scenario funny.
She can be counted on to give the hero a laugh or two or twenty for all her silly female ways. In short, a TSTL heroine is the reason for patronizing heroes and keeps them fully employed by having them look after her for the rest of her life as she’s a permanent, can’t-possibly-do-anything for-herself, damsel in distress.
How to tell you’ve crossed a TSTL heroine:
1. Are you gritting your teeth?
2. Are you tempted to chuck the book at the wall?
3. Are you ready to give up less than halfway through the book?
4. Are you rolling your eyes for the umpteenth time?
5. Are you only reading the book now because of the hero?
6. Are you mentally telling the heroine what to do?
7. Are you berating each and every bonehead move?
8. Are you regretting the heroine opened her mouth to speak?
9. Are you no longer trying to connect to the heroine and just pushing through the book?
10. Are you wishing you had the time back you put into reading it?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, congratulations, you have indeed met a TSTL heroine.
The TSTL heroines are just asking to get killed by villains or from wild animals when they get lost. They’re running off to confront villains as soon as they figure out their identity or going off to check on the creepy noises or running off into the woods for some pretty flowers without telling anybody where they’re going or trying to sneak up on the hero/villain without a plan other than to say “AHA!” when they get caught. What normal sane woman would do any of those things? Sometimes forwarding the plot asks for too heavy a price. Any heroine with common sense would go to the authorities, call for help, hide anywhere but behind a skinny tree near the bad guys, and not inhale the scent of the pretty flowers she picked if they made her sneeze.
Is all lost for the TSTL heroine? Nah. If she could learn from her mistakes we might actually like her.
Keira Gillett reviews romance of all genres at Love Romance Passion. She loves marriage of convenience plots and angst ridden breakups that ultimately end up in gooey happily ever afters. You can also find her on Twitter.