Instant Love in Stories

Today I’ll be talking about a common trope in many YA novels. (A trope is, by Google definition, a common or overused theme or device.)

Lately I’ve discovered a trope that I often overlooked as a kid, but now it makes my eyes roll. Unless the author purposely makes me roll my eyes, like when that really irritating character has yet again said something irritating to our hero, I should not be rolling my eyes at the story.

This trope is instant love, commonly abbreviated to insta-love, which is basically when two characters–you guessed it–instantly fall in love with each other shortly after meeting or instantly upon meeting. I absolutely hate this in a story, and I didn’t realize it until I had to force my way through a novel because of it. If you enjoyed Romeo and Juliet and Titanic then you might not enjoy this post, because the three-day romance trope, also known as instant love, is exactly what I’m going to be bashing.

If you’ve read through my old posts, you’ll know I’m quite fond of great character development and consider it to be one of my favourite parts of reading a good story. The problem with insta-love is that it (usually) eliminates character development.

Some writers invent two characters with the intent of having them fall in love, but then skip the journey of such an important plot line. To snap your characters together at the hip and have them instantly love each other within hours of meeting is not only unrealistic, but it’s insulting to those characters. You’ve given them a world to thrive in but you’ve robbed them of the character developing journey.

I personally feel deprived of a good plot line when characters fall prey to insta-love. It destroys any realism they held and pulls me out of the story (where I roll my eyes). Characters screaming they’ll do anything to save each other–even to the point of dying–merely fifteen hours after meeting is just ridiculous. Why are they willing to die for this other person? I mean, did they secretly promise them a lifetime supply of cake or puppies or Cadbury chocolate eggs off-page? I just don’t get it. What’s worse is when all the other characters act like this is normal and they’re “so in love”. Yeah, right.

(There are exceptions, of course. Maybe someone is under a spell or knew the other character in another life. As long as it’s written well, it can work.)

Insta-love also gives rise to extremely predictable endings. If the relationship is rushed from start to finish, you know exactly how the story’s going to end. It’s like the older Disney movies featuring romances so conventional it literally takes a frying pan to Flynn Rider’s face to make you forget about ballroom dancing, pretty gowns, and singing fairies that all encircle every princess’s whirlwind romance. I’m not saying Disney has gotten better at insta-love since Tangled, but it’s certainly more enjoyable to watch humourous characters fall in love over long journeys rather than meeting for the first time in a musty attic, where their first kiss beside a cursed spindle means they’re now in love and the girl is marrying a random guy who just conveniently happens to be a prince.

Perhaps I’m being too cynical, but maybe you should get to know a person before declaring your undying love for them?

Happy writing,

Sandra

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