Too Stupid to Live?
Most romance writers are familiar with the description of a heroine as "too stupid to live." You know, the gal who has been stalked three-quarters of the way through the book and still opens her front door on a dark and stormy night when she hears a noise on her porch. But there has to be some willingness on the part of readers (and movie-goers) to suspend their disbelief. If everyone in books acted responsibly and sanely, there would be no good stories to tell! If Cinderella had told her Fairy Godmother she was nuts if she thought she was going to get into a coach that was a pumpkin a few seconds before, in glass slippers no less, Cin never would have met her Prince. If Scarlett had stayed home like any other sensible woman in her widow's weeds instead of going to that dance in Atlanta, she never would have caught Rhett's attention. Questionable choices don't just exist between the pages of a book either. If Anne Boleyn hadn't fallen in love with a king already married to a Catholic queen...well, we all know what happened there.


The fact is, many women (and men) may not be "too stupid to live," but they oftentimes make decisions that aren't based on any logic or concern for their own safety. In my December Harlequin Intrigue, The Stranger and I, the heroine accepts a ride from another American tourist in Mexico...and it leads to a world of pain (it also leads to one hot hero). Before I sold the book, someone told me that this was unbelievable. A woman would never accept a ride from a stranger in a foreign country. Oh really? When I was in my early twenties, my cousin and I drove around Europe and routinely picked up hitchhikers, and most of them weren't even Americans (there were a couple of cute Frenchmen though). Too stupid to live? Maybe, but we were young, eager to soak up foreign cultures (try to keep your minds out of the gutter here), and invincible.


So have you ever done anything that would have some editor or agent out there deeming you "too stupid to live"?
8 Responses
  1. On the contrary, I often think heroines are unbeliveable when they know exactly what to do and how to do it in a situation they've never been in before. It irks me that heroines aren't allowed to make stupid mistakes. We all make them and learn from them, so would all the critics please cut those heroines some slack!


  2. You're absolutely right, Carol! The phrase "Too Stupid To Live" is used too liberally these days. Mistakes are in our nature and help us learn and grow. I know I've made them. If my heroines were anything like me, they'd ALL be TSTL :)


  3. Anonymous Says:

    Carol, what a great blog topic! I was involved in one TSTL incident that still haunts me. My girlfriend and I were coming home from a club at about 2a.m. when her car ran out of gas. We coasted off an exit and into a gas station that was closed!!! This was not a good area of town that we ended up in. There was a notorious "projects" area directly behind the gas station. Two men pulled up in a clunker of a car, looking like they might routinely rob places for a living. (This was before cell phones were popular, mind you.) We decided it was safer to GET IN THE CAR with those men than to walk to the nearest payphone or gas station. Thank God, these were two good samaritans who drove us for gas and brought us back to her car safely. In a book, we would have been too stupid to live. In real life, we got lucky. Very lucky!

    Wendi Darlin


  4. Lynne, I agree. Sometimes heroines in books are too perfect to believe. I imagine it's because we're thinking out all the angles for them before they make a move. Wish I had an author to do that for me in real life!

    Amber, I love imperfect heroines who make mistakes. I can identify with them a lot easier than with the perfect ones.

    Wow, Wendi, what a story! You must have had a good reason to get into that car with those guys. Sometimes we just work from instinct.


  5. Anonymous Says:

    Okay, at first I was thinking I hate those heroines, but then I started to think back to the stuff I actually did in my twenties: hitchhiked during a snow storm with a friend, we needed to get back to campus and were freezing! Hey snowstorms can come up fast in the Rockies... that's my story, and the list goes on....

    I guess those things are not the things I think of as too stupid to live. Making mistakes even though the reader can see that Sir Henry is the evil villian doesn't make the heroine stupid, but when the author makes the heroine conveniently lose any touch with reality, "You know, the gal who has been stalked three-quarters of the way through the book and still opens her front door on a dark and stormy night when she hears a noise on her porch," well then I have a problem. At least make her hear a baby crying--something any of us would open the door for--lost cat, whining puppy that she's rescued several times for the neighbors, land shark, anything except she heard a noise and was too stupid to be afraid.

    Mistakes, I've made a few.... Fortunately, I was lucky enough to live through them, and hopefully the heroine will be that lucky, too! Maria Seager


  6. Nicole North Says:

    Interesting post Carol! I'm sure I have done stupid things, I just can't think of any at the moment... beyond driving too fast when I was a teenager or driving into parts of the city I shouldn't have just to look around. (Nothing bad ever happened, thank goodness.) Also dating certain guys was beyond stupid. LOL As for stories, I can buy almost anything a character does, so long as it is properly motivated.


  7. ShawnaMoore Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. ShawnaMoore Says:

    Hi, Carol!

    Have to agree with Lynne M. on this topic. I like seeing/reading heroines who make mistakes and learn from them. Otherwise they come across as too perfect and unrealistic.

    Shawna


  • Defended by a Highland Renegade

    Defended by a Highland Renegade
    Vonda Sinclair, 12/1/16

    In the Court of Love and Loss

    In the Court of Love and Loss
    Jenna Ives 11/15/16

    A Very Jaguar Christmas

    A Very Jaguar Christmas
    Terry Spear 10/4/16

    Choose Me

    Choose Me
    Natasha Moore 9/24/16

    Taken by a Navy SEAL

    Taken by a Navy SEAL
    Carly Carson 9/5/2016

    Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply

    Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply
    Terry Spear 5/3/16

    Conqueror Vanquished

    Conqueror Vanquished
    Leigh Court, 4/26/16

    The Viking's Highland Lass

    The Viking's Highland Lass
    Terry Spear 4/4/16

    SEAL Wolf In Too Deep

    SEAL Wolf In Too Deep
    Terry Spear 2/2/16

    Covert Cougar Christmas

    Covert Cougar Christmas
    Terry Spear 12/18/15

    Her Royal Mistake

    Her Royal Mistake
    Natasha Moore 8/20/15

    Her Royal Rendezvous

    Her Royal Rendezvous
    Natasha Moore, 10/5/14

    The Cottage Next Door

    The Cottage Next Door
    Natasha Moore, 9/16/14

    Playing For Real

    Playing For Real
    Natasha Moore, 2/4/14