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Too Stupid to Live

Marilynn Byerly

Readers of romance use the term "too stupid to live" (TSTL) to describe a character, usually the heroine, who does incredibly dumb things to further the plot.

These characters are equivalent to the scantily clad bimbo in a horror movie who leaves a perfectly good locked house to wander around outside bellowing, "Is anyone there?"

Of course, the really stupid or lazy person is the author who didn't bother to create a logical plot.

You're not sure if the heroine is too stupid to live? Here are some examples.

A heroine may be too stupid to live if she

  • Doesn't change her lock or improve security after a serial killer breaks in her home and leaves a threatening note. Nor does she consider staying elsewhere.
  • Sends her guards home after the so-far inept police decide they have captured the serial killer.
  • The heroine gets hot for the hero and does something about it when the bad guys are near.
  • The trained assassin is sneaking up on her professional bodyguard so the heroine, with no fighting training, attacks him herself rather than yelling a warning.
  • The "Full Moon Killer" is savaging locals. The creepy guy next door reeks of Nair, wears flea colors, and buys large boxes of Milk Bones although he doesn't own a dog, but the heroine isn't suspicious because "werewolves don't exist."
  • The heroine has an entire troop of bad guys after her, but she doesn't call in reinforcements, seek help from the police, or tell the hero she's in trouble.
  • She has the only copy of some incriminating documents, and she doesn't make copies, or put them in a safety deposit box in her bank. Instead, she leaves them in her apartment.
  • The heroine's blind date drinks really red Bloody Marys, has a bad overbite, and stares at her jugular vein instead of her large boobs, but she isn't suspicious because "vampires don't exist."
  • The bad guy asks her to meet him to exchange the documents for the hero, and she goes without back up or a weapon.
  • Bad guys are after the heroine so she picks high heels instead of running shoes because she'd rather die than be unfashionable.
  • The heroine starts a verbal battle with the hero while they are trying to sneak up on the bad guys.


Copyright 2008 by Marilynn Byerly


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