Too Stupid To Live

Posted on April 11, 2011


**PLEASE NOTE: This blog is written from the POV of an AUTHOR so whatever I say is from a WRITING/NOVEL standpoint and not referencing the human population that may indeed be TSTL…**

How many of us have heard this term? Writers generally abbreviate it TSTL. What’s it mean? Usually this term applies to the heroine. Basically this person is inept, whiny, clueless, lazy, complaining, lacking any social graces…

I have had one of my heroines be labeled TSTL—which really is upsetting…and recently one of my friends and a fellow author was told her latest heroine was TSTL. It made me think huh…do the ones who say this about our characters KNOW what the term means?

What is Too Stupid To Live? A character–usually a heroine who is whiny, unable to make up their mind, clueless, inept, lacking in social skills…

What is an example of Too Stupid To Live?

In my opinion a heroine such as Catherine from Wuthering Heights is TSTL. I have tried to read the novel, I’ve tried to watch the movie. I despised Catherine so strongly I could NEVER get past the first few chapters.

I had serious doubts that a heroine as pathetic as Catherine could be a modern-day heroine….HA! Was I WRONG. While writing this blog post I hade a HUGE light bulb moment.

See if you can follow the turns of my thought patterns here.

Catherine is a whiny, inept, self-centered, bubble head. She tells Heathcliffe: “I love you! I love you! I’ll always Love you” and in a few short breaths “I despise you!”

She tells Edgar: “I love you! I love you! I love you!” and in another half-minute “I hate you!”

There is a contemporary series of novels and successful movies where the heroine is equally TSTL. I absolutely HATE HER! I mean she makes me want to reach through the pages and SLAP the CRAP out of her. She’s graceless, she’s whiny, she’s pathetic and she vacillates between one or the other of the heroes. I can’t have HIM so I’ll take YOU but I actually LOVE HIM.

See where the lightbulb came in? It’s as if the author took Wuthering Heights modernized the story, added a few paranormal twists and molded it.

Has the fact that the heroine was TSTL driven me away from the contemporary novels/movies? Surprisingly NO. See with this movie/book while I despise the heroine, I happen to LOVE one of the heroes. I adore him and his background. I love how the author tossed these elements into a blender and came out with this creative result.

Are there things I’d change? DEFINITELY! I’d make the heroine less of a blubbering idiot. I’d make her stronger, more self-assured and less of a whiny little brat who needs to have her arse kicked.

I’d also have made MASSIVE changes to the end result. But that’s because my preferences run one direction as opposed to the other. Have I read EVERY book in the series? You BETCHA! I read the entire series in less than 6 days. Have I seen every movie? DANG RIGHT I HAVE! As a matter of fact my daughter and I share custody of the DVDs…LOL

Why can I swallow the imperfections of the TSTL heroine in this case when I couldn’t choke down Catherine and Wuthering Heights? Because unlike Wuthering Heights, there are some fascinating secondary characters and story lines that I can’t resist.

Are there changes I’d have made? Yep. Catherine would not have been such a spoiled faithless wretch. And just because she had to be a vicious harpy, was that any reason for Heathcliffe to turn out to be such a Monster…sorry, I digress…

I would never have thought the modern reader would clamor for and root for such a pathetic TSTL heroine but I was wrong. Don’t believe me? Go shopping. Look at the merchandise that litters everything from the clothing aisle to the snack/storage aisles. From the School Supplies alley to the beach supplies section.

But here’s something else I acknowledge: Deeming a character TSTL is as subjective as a review. TSTL is in the eye of the beholder.

And hey! If my characters are TSTL, at least they’re in some pretty fair company…

Huggles til next time!