Everly Ryan

Historical Romance Author

The “too stupid to live” Romance Heroine

Debra GlassComment
In romance writing, the acronym TSTL is bandied about, most often in considering the motivation for the heroine’s character. It’s the heroine who does things no sane human being would do. We’re all acquainted with such characters, namely from B horror flicks.
  • The heroine who goes unarmed into a room in a house roped off with police tape after hearing a suspicious noise (everybody knows criminals always return to the scene of the crime)
  • The character who walks outside to see why the dog has suddenly stopped barking (Uh… your pit bull has stopped barking. That’s not a good sign)
In romance, writing believable, solid heroines is hard, but it is all important so that the author can take the reader on a journey through insurmountable odds to find her happily ever after in the end. Savvy readers don’t fall for dumb characters who plunge headlong into even dumber situations. In literature as in life, TSTL characters don’t find happy endings.
Writing TSTL characters is lazy writing. It’s basing the heroine’s actions on coincidence to make the plot work rather than letting the character’s motivation drive the story. Romance readers want heroines that they’d like to be. They want them to make sense and to be smart. The aforementioned TSTL characters are more likely to end up on a gurney wearing a toe tag rather than in the arms of a real hero.
For more on creating believable character motivation, check out Debra Dixon’s book, GMC, http://www.amazon.com/GMC-Motivation-Conflict-Building-Fiction/dp/0965437108
And to read a seriously strong heroine who knows what she wants, check out my Civil War historical romance, Rebel Rose.
They say she’s a Rebel spy…
Widow, Rosalie O’Kelley, is not above using her feminine wiles to secure much needed supplies for her fellow townspeople. But when Union Colonel Eric Skaarsberg is put in charge, Rose’s usual tactics fail miserably. In exchange for supplies, she comes to a scandalous arrangement with him. She agrees to become his willing plaything—to fulfill his every physical need…eagerly and without hesitation.
Eric Skaarsberg is duty bound to ferret out the spy who has been leaking information to the Confederates. All evidence points to the passionate belle who readily responds to every touch and taste he metes out to her. One by one, he strips away Rose’s secrets, but Eric is not satisfied with owning the she-Rebel’s luscious body. At any cost, he must uncover her vulnerable and perilous past—even if it means the destruction of them both.