|Photo credit: unclefuz on Flickr|
Without naming names, I'm sure most of you can think of at least one novel you've read in which the characters fell in love far too quickly. Where the relationship evolves from learning each other's names to making out and saying the l-word in the span of a couple chapters or in-story days.
I'm talking about the second of two dangers I mentioned in my recent writing romance well post—insta-love.
There are two major problems with insta-love, namely, it's unrealistic and it cheapens the romance.
Why is it unrealistic? Let's look at everyday life—while there are cases of love at first sight, the truth is that those instances are far from the majority. Relationships take time to build, and that initial excited infatuation often fades over time (this is the difference between a crush and love. Some scientists believe there are three stages to love—and needless to say, the first stage is not true love).
The deeper problem beneath being unrealistic is that your readers may stop to question it—and any moment that your readers stop reading to question something in your book, is a moment that they've been pulled out of the narrative, something that as a writer, you want to avoid at all costs. Love and romance between two characters should feel natural, but if your readers are questioning it, then the romance clearly needs work.
Why do I say that insta-love cheapen the romance? A relationship between your characters should be special. If it truly matters to your characters (and it should if you intend to make them romantic partners), then you need to make it matter to your readers. If the characters fall together instantly, however, then the relationship won't have time to build—not between your characters, and not to your readers, either. Remember, it's not just your characters that have to get used to each other—your readers need to get used to your characters and their relationships as well.
Ultimately, your goal is to make your characters fall in love, yes, but it's also to make your readers fall in love with your characters and the relationship they have.
If you suspect that your characters may have fallen victim to insta-love, then there's a very good chance that they might have (we writers have excellent instincts—we just don't always want to listen to them). To make sure, however, I recommend getting some CPs and beta readers to take a look at your WIP and ask them to look out for insta-love. Like most things in writing, it's much easier to recognize a flaw in someone else's work than it is to recognize it in your own.
Have you ever written or read insta-love? If the former, how did you fix it? If the latter, how did it affect your perception of relationship?