Tag Archives: romance novels

Insta-Love isn’t Instant

3 Nov

Announcements:

Everyone can expect a cover reveal of Death Before Daylight on November 6th – this also means I will not have a blog post on the 5th. I need an extra day to prep everything, but I hope your excitement will make the wait!

My latest interview and review has been posted on the Book Gannet! I talk about future works, current works, and why I dislike prophecies despite having one in The Timely Death Trilogy. Click the links to check them out!

Insta-Love isn’t Instant

The other night, I was browsing Facebook when a few readers brought up the discussion of insta-love. If you are unfamiliar with the term, “insta-love” is more-or-less love at first sight, and it is becoming widely debated among book blogs, readers, and authors alike. There are even entire lists on Goodreads dedicated to insta-love books. (Funny fact: “Instalove” started as a hashtag on Instagram for new couples. The reason I’m using a dash will make more sense as we continue on.)

Now, I may be sticking my neck out by saying this, but I don’t really think “insta-love” exists. But – please – hear me out.

I think insta-love is sometimes confused with insta-lust and insta-infatuation. Yep. I said that. Just because two characters are interacting, holding hands, kissing, or even sleeping together, does not mean the book is full of insta-love. I would even go so far as to say just because two characters say “I love you” does not mean they are, in fact, in love. How many people do you know that were in a long-term relationship, said, “I love you” a hundred times, and eventually broke up only to say they knew they didn’t love them? How many people get “swept off their feet” or think, “that’s the one” only to later realize that neither were true in the first place.

Before calling it “insta-love”, let’s talk about real life scenarios that happen in books. In fact, I’m going to give three:

Scenario One: (The meet-and-greet love)

Two characters walk into a bar. They meet, hookup, and go on for the rest of the book loving each other. This doesn’t necessarily mean it was insta-love. It just means it started off as insta-lust and turned into love eventually. I feel like this happens often in books – two characters meet quickly but they are not seen as characters that grew over time because they did something that society deems inappropriate for two strangers to do. This happens in various forms, but I think the most common “insta-love” complaint is when two characters immediately open up or lean on one another when they are complete strangers. Why? I know plenty of people who open up to strangers the second they meet someone. In fact, I’m fairly certain there are entire groups of people out there that are more likely to open up to strangers than friends. Trust me. I used to ride the city bus every morning and evening. It happened more than I could ever explain.

insta

Scenario Two: (One-sided love affairs)

A guy is head-over-heels in love with someone who barely cares about him back. One might call it love, but many people label this as infatuation. I think this happens a lot in “insta-love” scenarios – where one character has very intense emotions for another character without it being reciprocated until later on. Think Fifty Shades of Grey. Many people have said it is insta-love, but in reality, he literally pushes her away emotionally for most of the novel until she breaks up with him. That isn’t love. That’s lust, infatuation, and confusion mixed with novel-drama.

Scenario Three: (Love Triangles)

Oh, the all-too common emotional toll in books: love triangles. This is when one character (generally the protagonist) is confused about their love toward two different characters. This might be a personal thing – I can admit that I am not a fan of love triangles – but I cannot fathom calling it “love” when a character cannot pick between two people. To me, that is something else. That is having very strong and caring emotions about two people but not love. (And perhaps having one word in the English language for romantic love is the major problem here.) But I’m aware that this is a personal opinion of love, not necessarily everyone’s opinion, but that brings me to my next point:

In the end, I honestly believe insta-love is based on the readers’ personal preferences of what love means to them, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I want to clarify that I believe there is nothing wrong with mentioning insta-love in a book review, especially if the reasoning is explained for future readers to contemplate. It’s a widely accepted term, after all.

People fall in love differently, at different times, and often with different people or even without knowing who they have fallen for. We’ve all heard of the couple who saw each other from across the room, fell in love at first sight, and seriously stayed together for the rest of their lives. And we’ve met the couples that thought they were those couples until they became heartbroken and separated. Love shifts overtime. It changes and morphs and grows and – unfortunately – dies for many, but love can be a wonderful emotion to read about because it resides in hope and trust. Love is an emotion of acceptance. So why should we judge love at all?

Insta-love or not, love is different for all, and perhaps, that is why it is so beautiful.

~SAT

Writing Tips: Lovers

16 Jun

Writing Tips: Lovers

Read my latest interview by clicking here. I talk about fellow Indie authors who’ve inspired me, Take Me Tomorrow, and so much more!

The protagonist lover characters seem to follow these molds:

  • Gorgeous, mysterious, heart-striken male who cannot communicate his feelings until death is threatening separation, because of some past that has caused him to reject relationships in any form until he falls in love.
  • Stunningly pretty female who doesn’t seem to realize she’s beautiful, therefore causing her to be more desirable despite having no capabilities in regards to physical strength or mental strength. The only appealing part of them is their love and how they can support the male with their love.  

So I wanted to share three basic tips to deepening characters within their relationships, but the basic rule I follow is to show why they are uniquely beautiful in the inside and out to the narrator and to the reader. Let the “beautiful people” stand on their own beauty, let them define what “beauty” means to them, and create a beauty that is 3-D, that is rounded and deeply set inside of the characters’ hearts. This includes their unique features, gestures, speech, and more, but here are three examples:

1. Scars, injuries, birthmarks: 

Physical descriptions can, in fact, have a rounding out effect on a character, but these descriptions go beyond “brown hair and blue eyes.” For any character, scars and birthmarks can show a history written on their skin, but you can show this as an intimate thing between lovers. Maybe a lover is the only who has seen a scar or maybe everyone has seen it but the lover is the only one who knows the true story behind it. These little marks of history can be very telling. Someone may have beautiful eyes, but that time they fell out of a tree and broke their arm trying to save a cat tells about how caring they are of animals and others’ lives. It might even insinuate how they have a lack of fear of heights (or, perhaps, explain why they now do.)

Ex/ In November Snow, Daniel has a huge scar on his back, but no one knows what it is from until much later in the story. Serena isn’t the first to see it, but her curiosity about it showed a deeper concern for his past and health than other characters expressed toward him.

This reminded of Eric and Jessica from The Timely Death Trilogy.

This reminded of Eric and Jessica from The Timely Death Trilogy.

2. Gestures:

How do your loved ones show they love you? Think of the small things–the daily “How are you” can make all the difference. Maybe, in a time of danger, a lover would place a hand on the other to remind them they are present. It’s small, yet it tells so much. It says, “I am here. I am listening, and I’m aware that you are, too. I am here for you.” There is an endless streak of gestures – big and small – that people do to show how much they care, and gestures are a great way to define emotions in a relationship between people.

Ex/ In Seconds Before Sunrise, Eric automatically makes Jessica tea without asking her if she wants some or if she likes it. He already knows she does, but a part of him does this without even thinking about it because it comes naturally to him.

 3. Speech: 

Choose their conversations carefully. It seems to me, in young-adult especially, the characters are undyingly in love, yet they never have a conversation about their feelings, insecurities, and/or questions. They never ask the other what the other is thinking. I’m not saying that your characters necessarily have to do this literally. (Ex/ “Do you love me?”) I get it. There is normally a sense of tension in novels, so discussing love is removed for many reasons, so you don’t have to have a discussion about love, but let the lovers have deeper conversations. (Ex/ life, hobbies, past memories, etc.) Most characters – like people – will talk out loud, and choosing what characters discuss can define relationships early on – it may even define their relationship before they even realize they have one.

Ex/ In Minutes Before Sunset, in their human identities, Eric talks to Jessica without even realizing he is opening up about topics he doesn’t discuss with other people. He doesn’t act like it’s a big deal, but Jessica isn’t sure what to say because she realizes he doesn’t talk about it. On the contrast, Jessica tells Eric how she doesn’t like opening up to people. Ironically, admitting that to him was her way of opening up. She doesn’t admit this to anyone else. But in their shade identities, they both open up fairly quickly. Going back and forth between the two identities, their discussions become the main growing aspect of their relationship.

These are only three places to start, but there are endless possibilities to round out characters and their relationships with one another (lovers or not.) A great question for aspiring writers to contemplate is who their favorite book relationship included and why. Write down a list and figure out how to incorporate unique ways into your own stories.

How do you round out relationships? Who are your favorite lovers? Why? And if you’re feeling extra open, have you ever used real life inspiration for a fictional character’s love interest?

~SAT

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