First off, thanks to Mary for inviting me back again to this great blog to hang out today. I’m talking about something we see in a lot of movies and books.
Most romance writers know that TSTL means a hero/heroine that is “Too Stupid To Live.” (Think about the stupid people in the Scream movies who go outside at midnight or down to the basement when they hear a noise, knowing there is a killer on the loose. I was surprised to find out it is not a common acronym with other genre writers, especially those who don’t belong to RWA (Romance Writers of America).
I decided that would make a great topic, so I’ll start with a story TCTH (too close to home). A few years ago, I was on a Caribbean cruise with my hubby, son and daughter-in-law. We had signed up for the excursions at the beginning of the week for each of the ports, and I was looking forward to them, especially the cave-exploring one in Belize. That was before clumsy me broke her baby toe and couldn’t go since it involved a lot of walking over rough terrain. So, I sent them on their way that day and decided to go ashore and check out the shopping.
The ship anchored out at sea, and we had to be shuttled to shore in smaller boats. There were two, long, storage-shed-looking units surrounded by a chain-link fence. In a matter of a few minutes, I had walked through both of them and was unimpressed. Being the shopper that I am, I wanted more. So, I walked to the edge of the fence where a policeman sat at the gate and many Belizean vendors (??) called out to me. I almost paid a guy $20 for a tour of the city in his limo, by myself, I might add. And then I decided I should stay close and shop since my toe had started to hurt.
I stepped outside the security of the gate and asked where I could find a souvenir shop. One young man appeared by my side and pointed to a little store about two hundred yards away. I headed that way with him right behind me, joined by a second young man. For some reason, I didn’t hear the Jaws music in my head (Da dump! Da dump!) I was hell bent on spending money since I had missed out on the excursion.
The little shop was a bust, and as I walked out the door, one of the boys said there was a really great shop in the alley. By now, I could hear the little voices in my head shouting “Get out of the water. Can’t you hear the music??” Suddenly frightened, I turned toward the cop and the safety of the fence and headed that way. One of the young men grabbed my arm and tried to persuade me to go to the alley with him. When I refused, he said he would be my bodyguard and not let bad things happen to me. Yeah, right! By this time, my smarter self had taken over my brain, and all I wanted to do was get back inside that fence. So, I handed each one ten dollars and made my way as fast as I could to the gate.
Back on the ship I was still shaking To this day, there is no doubt in my mind I would have been robbed or murdered or both. It was really a very stupid thing to do since we had been warned by the cruise staff to be careful.
So, for a few minutes, I became that heroine TSTL. Playing devil’s advocate here, I once heard Donald Maass say to think about what your character would absolutely not do and make him do it. But I don’t think he had stupidity in mind. I can’t tell you how many contest entries I’ve judged where I’ve had to take points off because of this. If you wouldn’t do it, why make your characters do it?
Oh wait, I forgot. I did do it! Does that make me stupid? Absolutely. For those brief minutes when I put myself in harm’s way, I was stupid. Fortunately, it only cost me twenty bucks. In today’s world we have to be on guard constantly for people who have no regard for our safety, especially in foreign countries.
But hold the phone. In those steps to the basement, or in my heroine’s case her walk under the bleachers, think about this. What if your heroine knew her child was down there and needed her? All of a sudden, not only is she not stupid, she’s a hero, igniting every maternal instinct in our bodies. Think about those TV shows where a man straps a bomb on his back because some terrorist has his family or where a bank manager robs his own bank, knowing his child will be killed if he doesn’t. Matter of fact, my sequel to my ghost story has a similar plot.
Moral of the story - it isn’t always black and white with the stupid thing. And you know what? I think that’s just what “The Donald” had in mind.
So, now I’m anxious to hear any stories you have about TV shows, your own writing, or your personal experiences where for a brief time, you transformed into someone TSTL. Two lucky commenters will receive a free download of MORTAL DECEPTION. Here’s the trailer from MD. Check out my website www.lizlipperman.com for information on how to download it. For the entire month of October, it will be offered at $.99 as a promo tool for LIVER LET DIE, my cozy that released last week.
A mix of deceit and lies rocks the world of a dying child, an ex-cop on a mission to clear her dead husband's name and an anesthesiologist who desperately wants out of a loveless marriage. To save her nephew's life, the young widow seduces the doctor accused of murdering his wife. But even as she collects evidence that proves he's the killer, she can't stop her heart from falling for him. Until the game turns DEADLY...
(I promise this was properly formatted. Blogger doesn't like me tonight.)
Before the night ended, she would be in bed with a total stranger.
Taking a deep breath Dani Perez walked toward the hotel bar, her red stilettos clattering like a Riverdance audition on the black marble floor.
What the hell are you looking at? she wanted to scream when the desk clerk glanced up with a knowing smile. But she knew exactly why he was looking. The stupid dress damn-near showed the cheeks of her ass.
Dani smiled, thinking when she got home, she’d have to make a big deposit in Abby’s pickle jar decorated with commodes. Her daughter called her creation the “potty-mouth jar”. Since Christmas, Dani had to pay up every time she cursed. She and Abby were saving for their dream vacation, and at the rate she was going, Hawaii wasn’t an unrealistic destination. Hell, the F word alone was worth a whopping twenty bucks.
Dani wasn’t proud of the way she talked, but old habits die hard. Five years on the Cimarron Police Force riding with Jerry Spigoretti had added a variety of colorful words to her vocabulary. She’d thought when she left the job last year, she’d clean up her language, but working with Harry Fielding, another hard-nosed, ex-cop-turned-PI, hadn’t helped. On a good day, she was able to keep it under control.
Today wasn’t a good day.
She stopped in front of the door, a sudden rush of apprehension overwhelming her as she struggled to keep a falling ringlet of hair out of her eyes. Silently, she cursed her twin. Her usual ponytail would have been so much easier, but Nikki had insisted on pulling her unmanageable hair up and curling it around her face--said it was sexy. How freakin’ sexy would it be if she landed on her barely-covered tush because she couldn’t see?
The huge purse they’d picked out felt like it was full of rocks, but she needed one this size to hold the equipment she would use. She jerked it higher on her shoulder, glancing back to see if the clerk was still watching.
He was. She fought the urge to flip him off.
Breathe, chica. A lot is riding on tonight.
The minute she opened the door, her eyes widened, a reaction to the darkened room, lit only by the neon signs behind the bar and the candles on the ten or so tables strategically placed around the room. Even in this light, she could see the entire bar area, praying he’d be there, petrified he was. She’d counted on him being a creature of habit and doing the exact same thing he’d done every Thursday for the five weeks she’d tailed him.
Dr. Nathan Randall didn’t disappoint her. He was alone as usual, at the far end of the bar, mindlessly twirling a glass on the counter. The lump in her throat threatened to cut off her breathing while she watched him put down the drink and rub his forehead, probably unaware he did that often. She didn’t have to see his searing blue eyes to know they were squinted in deep thought, an image she’d captured on film many times.
She hated what she had to do to him.
Eyes finally adjusted to the dark, Dani chose a table far enough to be out of sight from where he sat but close enough for observation. She attempted to sit down gracefully without compromising her dignity in the skin tight dress, but it was a losing battle. She reached behind and tugged at the hem of the red jersey number as it rode up her thighs.
She was sure she had given everyone a peek all the way up her legs to the thong panties she was dying to pull out of her butt. She didn’t get the whole thong panties thing. Number one, they’d cost eight dollars on sale. Who pays eight dollars for panties that barely had enough material to qualify as a G-string?
And damn! Who wants to walk around with a constant wedgie?
She plopped the heavy purse on the floor and glanced up to see if anyone had seen her flash. Her eyes connected with a middle-aged man sitting at the corner of the bar, facing her. He lifted his glass and smiled.
She lowered her eyes. The last thing she wanted to do was call any more attention to herself before she was ready. And she needed a whole lot of courage to be ready.
Dani waited until the waitress approached before she looked up again, afraid the guy in the suit might consider any further eye contact an invitation. She’d prided herself on reading people, had actually avoided danger on the job because of that particular skill. Her radar said this guy definitely had the married-but-trolling-for-stray-action look all over his Midwestern face.
“What can I get you?” The flat tone in the waitress’s voice conveyed her disapproval.
Dani didn’t blame her. Hell, she’d disapprove of herself, too, in this outfit that screamed I come with a price.
“What’s the latest drinking rage these days?” she asked, knowing the Corona she craved wouldn’t go with her on-the-prowl persona.
Marcia, according to the nametag on her blouse, looked surprised by the question. “Depends on what you like.”
What does someone whose ass is hanging out of a dress usually drink?
Well, ladies, ask questions and make comments. Liz wants to give away free books!