Friday, January 17, 2014

5 Ways to Avoid Insta-Love

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Man, am I ready for the weekend. I'm hoping this crud flushes out of my system all the way by Monday. Not sure what you Floridians are cooking up down there, but this is one nasty as hell cold. Yeah, I've had it since my (cold) trip south. Fun, right? Anyway, enough about that! Today I want to give you five quick and dirty tips to avoid portraying insta-love in your novels. Readers generally hate it when there's no buildup to a feeling of all encompassing love. So grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!


  1. Give Your Characters Empathy for One Another. This easy to implement angle gives your characters some reference when they meet again for the first time. In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have a bit of history together. It made the love he had for her more realistic.
  2. They Have so Much in Common. Again, this is rarely revealed when the characters only spend a few days together. You have to solidify the bond over time. But having things to talk about will help you write the story and show your readers how well your two lovers get along.
  3. Make One of Them an Ex. Perhaps one of them dumped another and a number of years have gone by in which each character matured. This builds on the previous relationship. Think about the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Melanie wanted to marry Jake from childhood. It was a great backstory to work in.
  4. He or She was the Best Friend's Best Friend. Maybe your two lovebirds eyed each other over their significant others years ago but kept it friendly. Now, they're single and things are heating up where they couldn't before.
  5. Friends Forever. Often, the best romantic tales begin with the two lovers being friends without realizing how they feel under the surface. Or, maybe one of them does and is afraid to tell the other on the off-chance that person doesn't feel the same way. Hell, there's a reality TV show that's made millions off this exact scenario.

I'm betting you're noticing a trend in the list above.

If not, I'll give you a moment to read it again and see if you can find the common denominator.

...

...

Got it? Yep, that's right, it's always a love that develops over time. Whether past or present, these people don't meet one moment and spend the rest of their lives all googly eyed over one another. While that might be lovely to experience, it rarely happens in the real world (if at all) and you have to be careful of falling into that trap as an author.

Be sure you're figuring out why these two love one another the way they do and you're letting your reader in on the big secret.

By all means, feel free to describe the butterflies, tingly palms, loss of words, and shortness of breath that occur when one is physically attracted to another human. Apply caution and try to remember: That's not love.

Love is complete trust in someone else to not betray your secrets, a great deal of caring about the well being of that person, and faith they won't leave your side when you need them. In other words, it's two people knowing one another inside and out; and adoring each other just the way they are.

That's why it takes time to develop; even in books.

What was your best and worst case of insta-love (either in something you read or something you wrote)? Share with us!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

7 comments:

  1. Readers hate insta-love! It's one of the biggest complaints I see when reading reviews. In some reads I don't mind if love develops quickly in an extreme situation but in contemporary romances, it's a huge turn-off for me. Great post and have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. I see it, too. I thought perhaps I could throw out a few helpful hands for writers and give them a thinking point to start with. Thanks for the compliment and the comment, Heather! :)

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  2. What a good post. I've been trying to explain TRUE love to someone and you said it perfectly in that paragraph next to the end :) So I am going to share it LOL.

    I find insta-love most often in books with younger characters...and honestly, it is setting a standard for relationships that is simply unrealistic and disheartening. Most often times it is passion and lust, not love.

    Also, hope you feel better soon! I was sick and have had a leftover cough for 3 weeks now. No fun!!

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    1. Thank you, Cassandra. I think sometimes we all need a little refresher. You've hit upon another mini topic I'm addressing next week about youth and insta-love. All too often, those younger characters DO believe they're in love because they don't understand the tingles for what they are: physical attraction. While we need the tingles for anything to begin, they aren't solely what adults base the validity of a relationship on (well, responsible adults). YA is going to blur that line almost every time.

      Thanks for the well wishes. Sorry to hear you got it, too. Crossing my fingers it works its way out of us both SOON! :)

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