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