Sunday, January 27, 2008

The New TSTL Heroine

There is a phrase in romance writing & reading…the TSTL heroine. Too Stupid To Live. She’s the heroine who, despite having no training and no experience, won’t stay hidden while bad guys are shooting at her and the hero because she doesn’t want to be “left behind”. Irritating enough but now, I think the meaning of TSTL needs to change to…Too Slutty To Live.

Being an erotic romance author I understand the desire and need to get to the sex quickly but can we please not forget the basics of writing a good story…like goal, motivation and conflict? When did it become completely acceptable for our heroine to just randomly have sex with a guy because she’s horny or bored?

It’s like we don’t believe any woman would—or should—say “no” to sex with a good looking guy. Is this heroic behavior?

And not to be sexist, I believe guys are slutty when they behave like this too.

The prevailing theory about romance readers is that they want to fall in love with the hero and be friends with heroine.

I recently read a short story where the hero performs a dubious rescue for the heroine and then within minutes of meeting each other, they have sex. To the point that, as they are getting naked, she has to ask him his name. Huh? This is just sex and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, I want a romance around the tale.

I don’t believe the couple (trio?) need to be “in love” before they sleep together, but as a reader I want there to be some connection beyond “I’m horny and you’re hot”. I want a story, a romance, along with the hot sex.

I used to read romance novels, finish the book and think “it was good but it could have had more sex”. Then I discovered erotic romance novels and I’d found what I was looking for (in books, at least). The story was still a romance with a lot of hot sex. More and more I’m reading stories filled with hot sex but I have little interest in the characters or the story. I want to like and cheer for the heroes and heroines.

So, cheers to the authors who keep bringing us characters who not only have hot sex but who we can like and admire when we’re all sweaty and exhausted lying in the afterglow.


LizeeS said...

Let me be the first to applaud you -- with a standing ovation. There absolutely is indeed a Too Slutty to Live line that goes beyond "heat level." I'd love to see all romance authors stand up for the integrity of their stories. Calling the non-plots you're talking about "just for fun" or justifying them as simply "candy" -- is quickly blurring the line so much it only gives fuel to critics who say erotica is just legitimized women's porn. Since there are many "out there" who are working hard to prove romance and erotica are completely NOT about porn, here's to keeping safe our interesting, likeable, meaningful heroines.
Liz S.

Julianne said...

I agree with you totally...the story needs to have hot sex AND be well-rounded, which is probably why I own every one of your books! Thank you for your comments; I hope others listen.

Lynn LaFleur said...

Great post, Tielle, and so true. I love erotic romance. I read it and I write it. But I've read several books lately where I scratch my head and say,"Huh? Here's the sex, but where's the romance?"

New authors, especially, tend to forget the romance. I've noticed that from the recent contest entries I've read. I want more to my story than sex. Sex is great, but let me fall in love with the hero. Let me truly like the heroine. Let me FEEL the romance.

There's nothing better than a happy ending.