Why Don’t Romance Readers Like Sassy Heroines?

Roadside Pictures, Flickr Creative Commons

Roadside Pictures, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m not crazy about the word “sassy.” It’s best used to describe the best-friend of the leading lady in a rom-com. It’s pretty patronizing in any other context. As it turns out, romance readers aren’t particularly fond of the word either, but for other reasons. According to myRWA “sassy heroines” are tenth on the top 10 list of popular romance tropes. It’s hard to say how many tropes didn’t make it onto the list at all, but I was still sad to see “sassy” ladies were so far down on the list.

“Strong hero/heroine” came in at number six. I assume the “strong hero” part is what people are responding to based on the relative unpopularity of “sassy” heroines. At the top of the list was “friends to lovers” followed by “soulmate/fate.”

Romance novels are, arguably, as escapist as any fantasy novel. So I suppose I can understand why so many readers are responding to the tropes that, sadly, probably don’t resemble their lives. How many readers are out there pining for their soulmate, who obviously isn’t the lump on the couch who won’t pick up his socks? A lot, I would guess. How many are dreaming about being sassier? Not many.

But I don’t know if I can write a female character who isn’t sassy/strong…so you’re just gonna have to deal with it.