Insipid Heroine Disgruntlement Syndrome

25 Jul

He Loves Me – He Loves Me Not

I read quite a bit of historical romance. A lot, actually. Or historical novels with a thread of romance, which is my personal favorite genre, but can be harder to find.

One thing is poking me in the eye every time I read it and causing me to define a new condition:

Insipid Heroine Disgruntlement Syndrome {tweet this}

According to Merriam-Webster, insipid means:
1) lacking taste or savor
2) lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate, or challenge


I’m tired of reading romances where the heroine is a walking, quivering, sniveling mass of insecurity regarding the hero. Honestly, at times I just want to tell the guy that he’d be better off without her. Our heroines need to be made of sterner stuff than this. Here’s a very generic example:

Hero has pursued Heroine for a length of time. Heroine has fallen in love with Hero. Hero has shown and/or expressed his return of such sentiments. Then something happens and instantly Heroine decides that Hero never loved her in the first place. Huh?

We need heroines with a little more grit, a little suck-it-up-buttercup. Not another heroine who falls into an emotional slag heap of epic proportions that result in her doing stupid stuff. Neither dithering angst nor low self-esteem are adequate tension in a story. They just aren’t. There must be more. If that’s all the tension there is then the heroine is … insipid.

So what’s the cure for Insipid Heroine Disgruntlement Syndrome? Write heroines who are interesting, stimulating, and challenge the reader. In a word … make sure your novel has a STORY.

Otherwise I’m going to wave the red flag at the hero, shout at him to save himself from the drama queen, and shut the book.

~ Pegg Thomas

Trooper and Pegg cropped




Posted by on July 25, 2016 in Pegg Thomas, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

11 responses to “Insipid Heroine Disgruntlement Syndrome

  1. Linda W. Yezak

    July 25, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Oh, goodness, yes. I’m so sick of women who tear up at the slightest things. What’s worse are the men who tear up easily–something I’m finding more often in my clients’ manuscripts. Make it stop!


    • twinwillowsfarm

      July 25, 2016 at 8:08 am

      I haven’t read any weepy men stories, but the angst-ridden heroines have pushed me over the edge. There *must* to be more to a heroine than massive insecurity. Must.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Candice Sue Patterson

    July 25, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I agree this doesn’t work UNLESS she has a valid reason for her insecurities. For example, I finished reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers last night. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to shake the heroine for acting so stupid, but she had a valid reason for her insecurities which led to her infuriating behavior. So it worked.
    You’re right, Pegg. Let’s skip the petty melodrama. Like you said, give the characters a story. 😊


    • Pegg Thomas

      July 25, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I wouldn’t classify the heroine in “Redeeming Love” as insecure. Her unwillingness to be loved – at all – was the product of an abusive upbringing. She didn’t reject his love because of anything he said or did, she rejected it because love wasn’t something she understood or trusted. That’s what made the story work. Francine Rivers did a fantastic job of humanizing someone who was raised in an almost inhumane atmosphere. Truly an incredible book.


      • Candice Sue Patterson

        July 25, 2016 at 9:32 am

        True but once she came to realize Michael didn’t fit any man she’d ever known and that she loved him, she had insecurities in her worth, her emotions and how she reacted to things like his unconditional love, and her future which caused her to do some infuriating things.


  3. Robin Patchen

    July 25, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I agree with you. Knowing how often you dislike my heroines, I wonder if perhaps I suffer from this malady.


    • Pegg Thomas

      July 25, 2016 at 9:25 am

      No-no-no … not even close. Yours I read AND review, so you’re not in this league at all. Not even the heroines I wanted to slap silly in several scenes. 😉


  4. jerichakingston

    July 25, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Thankfully there are great authors with strong female characters these days! But I understand your frustration 🙂


    • Pegg Thomas

      July 26, 2016 at 7:24 am

      Yes, there are! Or even characters who find their strength as part of their growth throughout the story.


  5. Leticia Toraci

    July 26, 2016 at 6:06 am

    I’m tired of insecure and for this reason attacking other women heroine teens too. I think they use that to call for reader empathy perhaps? But it ends up against them.


    • Pegg Thomas

      July 26, 2016 at 7:27 am

      I think you’re probably right, it’s to draw sympathy in the reader, but if that’s to work, the author *must* build the case as to why the heroine is insecure in the first place. That can be done – and done well – but it takes an effort to balance back story with forward movement in the story itself.

      Liked by 1 person


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