I was the featured author at a book club last year. Fun - until I realized they expected me to speak for about 20 minutes. I talked about how romance is basically keeping the book industry afloat, and the process of writing a book. Not sure how it came up, but at one point I used the acronym TSTL.
We as writers all know it means too stupid to live - the kiss of death when branded on a character. This roomful of senior ladies LOVED the acronym, and laughed so hard it ground my whole speech to a halt. Why? Because they've all encountered it.
This is what often ruins a romance for me, on two levels. First, because I have no patience with stupidity in real life, so I absolutely can't put up with it in fiction. Very few people are actually stupid. Many, many people are lazy, and don't bother to rub their brain cells together. Drives me nuts. Takes me right out of the story. All I want to do is scream at her - if you'd set a timer, your green beans wouldn't have boiled dry, caught on fire, and burned the house down. Who doesn't set a timer?
The second problem I have with TSTL characters is that they often stem from lazy writers. Often, TSTL feels very much like author intrusion. The author needed the house to burn down, and didn't spend the time to come up with a better, more imaginative and believable cause. We as readers deserve better than that! We demand it - by chucking the book and moving on to a good author with believable, relatable characters. They can still be ditzy, flighty, funny, lackadaisical....but whatever you do, don't make them stupid.