Monday, February 25, 2013

Misc. Monday: Top Eight Most Annoying Traits in a Romance Heroine

Throughout the month I've talked a lot about the positive aspects of romance--why we read it, what makes it fantastic, and who does it the best. But those of us who love it know that it has it's negative quirks too. Yeah, there are some awesome heroines out there--beautiful, brilliant, awesome women that we relate to and admire. But then, there are the ditzes, the bitches, the whiny little babies that challenge our faith in humanity and ruin perfectly good books. So let's take today to make fun of them, shall we?

No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark, #3)#8: She Doesn't Believe In Love

The nonbeliever can be found at her very important and all consuming high intensity job, or in her one bedroom apartment with her TV and her cat. I put her low on the list because, in some cases, the non-believer heroine can be a good trope. In most cases, though, it's a tired out concept. She's stubbornly jaded and refuses to believe in the possibility of an emotional connection with another person. This is fine early in a story, but makes her come off as a bitch if she's still clinging to her disbelief after the hero displays obvious feelings for her. Even at that point, there are still ways that a good author can make the story work, but most of the time this conflict feels forced.

Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4)#7: She's a Martyred Virgin

The martyred virgin can be found hiding in the stacks at her local library, and she'll be identifiable by her ultra conservative clothes and her awkwardness around me. I'm not making fun of virgin heroines in general, just the ones who make it a freaking plot point. The one's for whom it defines them and sits at the center of all insecurities. "Woe is me, I will never experience sexual fulfillment or true love. Woe!" What frustrates me about the martyred virgin is her belief that all of her problems will be fixed if she can just fin a man to pop her cherry, and worse, when that encounter actually does fix everything for her. A couple orgasms and suddenly she's happy, confident, more sure of herself. Insecure virgin turned wanton love machine is a trope that makes me laugh every time, and so it's impossible for me to find it sexy.

The Downfall of a Good Girl#6: She's a Paragon of Virtue

She can be found at all of the charity events and all of the fundraisers and all of bedsides of all of the dieing people. She's a pediatrician who's hobby is rescuing stray kittens and building homes for poor people. She's kind to everyone, and everyone likes her, and if she has any flaw at all it's being too damn nice. She always says and does the right thing. My God, she is boring. She is boring and she is irritating and she is impossible to relate to. Normal people have flaws and make mistakes, especially when they're falling in love. Flaws and mistakes are what make heroines accessible to the reader. A sexy dark side never hurts.

A Night of Scandal#5: She's Insecure

She can be found peering into a mirror and describing herself in her head, using adjectives like "mousey" and "plain". She doesn't know she's beautiful! Our culture apparently finds a certain degree of modesty in women to be an attractive quality, while vanity of any kind is vilified. So it's no surprise that authors like the heroine who can't see her own beauty, and maybe even thinks she's ugly. Her character arc usually involves seeing herself in a new light through the hero's eyes, because of course he sees her as beautiful. Sometimes (God help me) she gets  makeover. I'm sure some readers love a makeover story, and I'm sure some readers love the insecure heroine in general. For me, though, this character arc is as shallow as it is warn out, and I don't care for it.

Angel's Rest (Eternity Springs, #1) #4: She's a Doormat

She can be found laying passively on the ground while the villain, or in some cases the hero, sucks the life out of her--either literally or figuratively. Or both. She's not just submissive, she's passive to the point of being useless. While her spinelessness can sometimes be mistaken for self-sacrifice, she actually just lacks enough personality to find a hands-on way to deal with her problems. She sets feminism back a hundred years every time she let's the other characters dictate what happens in her life, and that generally pisses off readers such as myself. The only good thing is that the doormat redeemed stories, in which our passive heroine grows a spine throughout the course of the story, are surprisingly empowering when written correctly.

The Selection (The Selection, #1)#3 She's Indecisive

She can be found in between two hot guys, who both mysteriously want her, and she's secretly enjoying the hell out of it, and not in the sexy erotic threesome sense. The indecisive heroine doesn't know what she wants or who she wants, and she's going to make everyone miserable because of it. She doesn't know if she wants to live in the country or the city, if she wants a high-powered job or a quiet life at home, if she likes cats or dogs, if she prefers chocolate or vanilla....The indecisive heroine is irritating because she has know idea who she is, and she's all caught up in the drama of deciding, and that drama is one long "mefest" for her. The indecisive heroine can only be redeemed if she comes to her senses and apologizes for her self focus, but she almost never does.

Tris & Izzie#2 She's Dumb as Shit

She can be found in dark alley ways running after the villain without a weapon. She leaps to stupid conclusions and causes many a Big Mis with her shoddy communication skills. The dumb heroine lacks perception and foresight, and in the worst cases she lacks basic common sense. Stupidity among heroines is intolerable, because it's almost impossible to like and relate to someone that can't see what's right in front of them. It's one of the worst devises that authors use to make conflicts, and it almost always kills the story for me.

Twilight (Twilight, #1)#1 She's Not Actually a Character

She can be found doing whatever authors think the everyday woman would like to do, and she does it with such an astounding lack of personality  that we forget she's even there. The Blank Slate Heroine kind of deserves her own post, because her existence is a literal epidemic, especially in the YA world. She tops the list because she's not just an affront to heroines, she's an insult to the reader. The idea that we just want to project ourselves into an avatar and live out a fantasy implies that we are mindless escapists. It implies that we are unable to empathize with heroines that are not just like us, and so the heroine can't have a pronounce personality, or readers won't like her and therefor won't like the book. Authors, I beg you, give the reader more credit than that. Give your heroine a life of her own. Give her opinions, give her needs, give her imperfection. Take some risks when you create your heroines. Because no trait--dumb, insecure, naive--is as irritating as a heroine entirely without traits.

1 comment:

  1. These are priceless. And true. I can bear with #8 or #5 (because I am, to a point), but the rest drive me up the wall. Especially heroines who are Too Stupid to Live.

    Thanks for posting this!


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