Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heroine No-nos

Ten Things Your Romance Novel Heroine Should Never Do
(if you want to win a RITA)

Buy the condoms in advance and carry them in her purse and slap one in the hero's hand as soon as they step into the bedroom.

Once the romance heroine has wrestled for a couple hundred pages over the dilemma of whether or not to have sex with the hero, a discreet amount of condoms may magically appear in the drawer of her night table. The presence of these pre-purchased condoms must be explained as a joke gift from the heroine's older divorced sister or the younger girls at the office who want her to start dating before she becomes a dried up old spinster. Please do not have the heroine actually handle the condoms, either.

Go to the bathroom in front of the reader.

Romance heroines only visit the bathroom offstage where they cannot be seen or heard, and only once or at the most twice during the novel. The act must not be referred to by the heroine as peeing or urinating; the heroine never discusses her bathroom functions out loud but is permitted to think about it momentarily as something nice and ladylike, such as "relieving her needs." Heroines do not have bowel movements. At. All. And while the heroine must never be observed in the act or flushing afterward, she must never, ever, ever forget to flush.

Have sex with another woman.

Romance heroines are 100% hetero. When the heroine encounters a lesbian, she must not realize that the other woman is homosexual until the lesbian volunteers this information (which every lesbian in romance fiction must do, preferably during the first five minutes of meeting the heroine.) After that the heroine should be polite and kind but distant, just so it's clear she's not "that way" and the lesbian doesn't get the wrong idea, which of course all lesbians are prone to do around beautiful heterosexual women.

Have sex with the antagonist.

Unless he's her hateful and infertile former husband, with whom sex should be just a horrible memory, the only person the romance heroine has sex with is the hero. The antagonist may attempt to force her to have sex with him, but this must be stopped by the hero before it goes too far. Also, the heroine must never, ever consider the antagonist handsome or sexually attractive, even if he is -- there always has to be something about him that sets off her inner villain radar and makes her shudder whenever he is near or looks at her.

Kill an animal.

Animals are sacred, only behave according to their nature, and must be protected from death in romance novels at all times. The romance heroine may take in and rescue as many animals as she likes, but she must never cause harm to any animal at all ever ever ever. Even an animal that is rabid and attacking the heroine has its reasons and should be caught by the hero and taken offstage to an animal control officer to be dealt with humanely where the reader can't see.

Not have an orgasm with the hero.

All romance heroines have orgasms with their heroes every time they have sex, preferably of the multiple variety, and absolutely the best she's ever had, or would have had if she had ever had sex with anyone else (other than a hateful and infertile former husband, who was also a lousy selfish underendowed lover and never lasted more than two minutes.)

Refuse to procreate.

Once she has a ring on her finger, the romance heroine must bear her hero's children. If she's had past fertility issues, they are only a terrible lie told to her by her hateful and infertile former husband to hide the fact that the problem was his. On the latter, she must find out the lie only when the hero gets her pregnant, preferably the first time they have sex. A heroine never adopts children or takes in foster children, but she must instantly fall in love with the very young children of a tragically widowed hero; said children will also love the heroine on first sight and insist on calling her "Mama."

Shave her head.

Romance heroines must have a thick, luxurious head of hair of an extraordinary 100% natural color with no silver or white strands whatsoever. A heroine is not allowed to make use of wigs, hair pieces or hair extensions, and she must never dye her hair unless she is on the run for her life from her hateful and infertile former husband who wants her dead, and then the dye should be only a temp that she can wash out later when the hero rescues her from danger. The only time a heroine is allowed to lose her hair is during chemo (which of course must instantly and completely cure her cancer) and then only if it grows back exactly as it was or better in two weeks or as she's discharged from the hospital, whichever comes first.

Swear when she's angry.

A romance heroine does not use swear words. In fact, simply hearing swear words must shock the heroine and make her feel faint or nauseated. When she is angry, a heroine may stamp her foot, toss her head, lift her chin or become flushed (the body movements are important because all decent romance heroines are rendered incoherent or speechless by anger.)

Treat gay men like every other man.

Gay men make excellent substitutes for the romance heroine's absent girlfriends, or may serve as quirky neighbors, last-minute shopping partners, over-the-phone fashion advisors, and in a pinch great platonic dates for parties, but they must be laughed at, joked with and never taken seriously by the heroine, who must save her respect for, you know, real men.

This post was brought to you by: The Committee to Clean Up Romance Novels, Force Out Those Awful Erotica Writers, and Restore Our Beloved Genre to Its Former Pristine Glory, Not Counting All Those 70's and 80's Books We Don't Approve of Anymore and Pretend We Never Read, RWA chapter #907654


  1. Guess I may never win a RITA, all my characters swear...

  2. I think I love you.
    (but I'm not gonna have sex with you unless you bring the condoms and promise never to go to the bathroom in front of me.)

  3. Awesome! I was going to say damn awesome, but then I remembered heroines don't swear, but I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants...oops. I'd not make a good heroine, I guess. No, I like real life heroines, the ones that don't always have an orgasm, but that the hero's cool with that also.

  4. ...a hateful and infertile former husband, who was also a lousy selfish underendowed lover and never lasted more than two minutes.

    (Hurrying back to one of wips--must shave off a minute...).

    L.M.A.O. :)

  5. Anonymous1:17 AM

    The heroine in my current WIP swears on occasion (though not as much as the hero who is so potty-mouthed I have to reign him in sometimes), has a gay brother and brother-in-law (my gays have relationships - shock, horror) whom she treats just like she would a straight relative and is seen going to the bathroom repeatedly, once even in order to - gasp - throw up. She does sleep with the antagonist, though since he's her ex-boyfriend I guess she can be excused, but gladly does refrain from sleeping with the lesbian neighbour (who isn't interested anyway). At least, the hero buys the condoms. I think.

    Guess I can forget that RITA now, though I would settle for getting the thing published first.

  6. oh oh oh and don't forget that she must throw a hissy fit because the hero has killed a bad guy, someone who would have not batted an eye about killing and/or raping her. I just HATE those kinds of heroines. The hero saves her life she should do a little happy dance, spit on the body and be all over the hero like warts on a toad.

    Just my opinion...
    thanks for the laughs!

  7. LOLOL. I love it. And you know, you're right!

  8. Now I want to go write a story where the heroine does all of those things!

    Nice list. :)

    1. hahahaha! Love this article.
      @margaret: that is exactly what I thought after reading this post. But anyhow, if all heroine are exactly like this, the story or plot would be so predictable and boring. lol

    CATSAEBWDAOAAPWNR just hate sites like the Smart Bitches, where Old Skool romances are frequently discussed. I can hang out for days reminiscing about reading Woodiwiss and Lindsey in junior high.

    Just read a short erotica from Freya's Bower the other day. Very hot BDSM involving a married woman meeting an online lover for one night of RL sex. When they first get to the hotel room, he asks if she needs to use the restroom. I thought - that's very damn thoughtful of a guy who's about to tie you up and stick things in you. I'd like to think heroes behave that way in real life.

  10. Is it just me or does that sound like a super boring romance to anyone else?

    Is it wrong to prefer heroines with a bit of... gusto?

  11. Ha!
    Wonderful. Thank you.

  12. Anonymous6:55 AM

    This is hilarious. I think it would be a good idea to add that heroines never get their periods on stage, especially when a long chase across the wilderness is coming up, a ball, a picnic with the hero, a fitting with a dressmaker or an encounter with the hero which requires a bit of lustful groping.

    It wouldn't do to have the heroine pick up the nearest object and brain the hero with it.


  13. ROFL! I've already decided that I'll NEVER win a Rita!

  14. Laura, I bet she never suffers from PMS, either. No bad hair, oily skin, being in a depressed or hissy mood for no reason; and if she ever gets a headache, the hero can kiss it better.

    And she would never make snarky remarks about a coworker or the SiL in a chatroom. ;)

  15. In case it's a historical, she didn't even pick the hateful and infertile former husband herself, but only married him to save her father's failing fortune or some other noble reason.

  16. *looks at January and March releases* I'm guessing heroines who kill the bad guys are worse than ones who swear when angry. Right, I'll be saving that Rita entry fee.

  17. I thought only teenage girls stamped their foot and tossed their hair when they were angry...and only in really bad B movies.
    I have to admit it does give the heroine a touch of class not to hear a string of "sailor language"


  18. Thank goodness, I never recieved my copy of Da Rulz to writing RITA-worthy romance.

    Although, it makes for good bathroom reading (and the resulting guffaws would cover up the flushing and other unmentionable sounds.)

  19. Yes, Gabriele C, you are right, kill 'em herself and not have second thought about it. lol I am working on two dif story lines and I think I will add at least three from this list to each one. Now, which three should it be....

  20. OMG, I spit out my juice. Thanks for the laugh!

  21. Not only am I incapable of writing one of those heroines I can't be one in real life either. Although I'd like to have the hair.

  22. LMBO! Thanks for making my Saturday morning.
    Is there an active erotica writers group?

  23. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Wait, Romances are supposed to have a heroine? Dammit, I knew I was forgetting something ...

  24. "Not have an orgasm with the hero."

    This is why Jennifer Crusie will never make it as a writer. Her heroine in "Faking It" has bad sex with the hero. Also I think there's some cursing.

    No lesbian action, however. I would have been on the lookout for that.

  25. Anonymous2:53 PM

    Uh oh. The heroine of my latest novel doesn't hold back on the F word when she needs to express herself.

    I'm doomed.

  26. well I"m screwed. I did 1, 3, 5, and 6--but I might have counted wrong. And the *cough* heroine in my current wip does #2...a lot.

  27. I think my gals have about a hundred strikes against them.

    I'd like to add: The heroine must never attempt to make love in a canoe.

    Or wear granny underpants.

  28. The heroine can't have morning breath, either, even if she's hung over or sick.

    Wonderfully funny and too true.

  29. But if she breaks most, if not all, of the above rules does this mean it will be on the NY Times Best Seller list?

  30. Love this!

    Now I'm off to rewrite so I can get that Rita - wait - I'm not a member of RWA!


    Maybe next book. (G)

  31. I broke two of those rules in my last chapter. Good thing I'm not writing romance. How is she supposed to chug half a case of Budweiser and not go to the bathroom?

  32. Anonymous5:48 AM

    Margaret said...

    Now I want to go write a story where the heroine does all of those things!

    I had the exact same thought! I want to print this out and use it to break every rule for my next book. *laugh*

  33. Sorry showing my complete ignorance her. But who is Rita? I thought you were talking about Cinderalla! Who happily wears those awful glass slippers and doesnt break them!!
    Has given me ideas for my heroine.

  34. I'm screwed.

    My heroines could strip the hide of a trucker with the way they talk. One ever started her period while making out with the hero. And still another, the poor tart, she has teeth in her vag.

    I should just give up. :)

  35. Replies
    1. Yes. That's why it's labeled as humor.


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