10/03/2014

The Insta-Love Evolution {The Birdie Musings}


Insta-love is in the air and it's an odour that won't seem to dissipate. It's seen in movies, TV shows and, most predominantly, our beloved books. So what is insta-love? Why is it so annoying? And how has it evolved over time?

Urban Dictionary (an obviously super credible source) defines insta-love as people who have just met thinking they are soul-mates and wanting to spend the rest of their lives together. 

Insta-love in books seems to exist as a way for writers to gloss over the getting to know each other stage and skip straight to the 'good stuff'. And by the good stuff, I mean kissing and groping and dramatic declarations of adoration.

The thing a lot of writers don't seem to understand is that the real good stuff is the getting to know each other stage. The character interactions, watching them slowly fall in love and overcome whatever obstacles there may be. It's that journey that makes their story one worth reading, not the copious amount of kissing chapters.


So what else makes insta-love so annoying?

Well, for starters, it's highly unrealistic. If we're reading fiction, of course we want an escape from the world. We want to be pulled into a story. But what we also want is a bit of realism; character dynamics that make sense and keep us engrossed. And nothing pulls me out of a book more than underdeveloped relationships causing my eyes to roll endlessly.

Insta-love is also something that seems to focus highly on appearance. There's hardly a mention of the personality of who the MC is in love with, but instead an obsessive fascination with the shape of their lips or their unruly dark hair or their ridiculous half smile (seriously, does nobody smile with both sides of their mouths anymore?).

There doesn't seem to be adequate character interaction and instead we have a few small exchanges scattered between descriptions of penetrating eyes and cocky smirks.

But how has insta-love evolved over time?

Insta-love now seems to be far less about a first-sight attraction and far more about a sudden way to redeem villains.

At first the MC, usually a female, will despise a villain and then, after some verbal sparring, will begin to describe his soulful eyes and the rigid muscles beneath his shirt and suddenly everything speeds up F1 style.

The intense and quite serious hatred initially shared suddenly becomes an intense and quite serious romance with declarations of love thrown around, despite any past transgressions the villain may have committed. 

In fact, it's as though the villain's good looks completely trample over the main character's common sense. We go from hateful banter, to the MC debating over whether to kiss him - even though, oh, I can't, because he's done such awful things - to them professing their love after a make-out session.

This is something I've seen in more than one book lately, so I'm wondering: is insta-love now becoming the new quick-fix to redeem a previously irredeemable character? Is it evolving into a plot device used less for swoons and more to try and sway a reader's opinion? Or is insta-love still about just getting steamy?

Do you guys detest insta-love in all its forms? Or are you happy to 'skip to the good stuff'?

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart
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23 comments:

  1. Insta-love drives me quite a little bit bonkers. -_- I feel like it's "cheating" in a way, for writers to skip the character-building and just make the characters spend their get-to-know-you-time kissing. That's just weird. Slowly and then all-at-once, that's the romance I like to read (TFIOS quote isn't it?? Dang, I don't even remember! >.<) But I do have to admit that insta-love ISN'T totally unrealistic. I had several friends who had insta-love-crushes on every third boy they saw. We were 13 and all that, but still. It's sloppy and it doesn't last, I think that's more the point, and authors seem to skip that gritty detail. (Not "ALL" authors, of course.)

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    1. Ahh TFiOS, yes! Nicely quoted :D

      I agree an insta-crush can happen, but characters professing their love suddenly just makes me cringe! You would never do that in real life (and if you did the other person would probably get a restraining order, rather than saying 'I love you' back haha)

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  2. Insta-love is in its most noticeable form when it's in a book. In a movie it's easy to see the actors with chemistry and what's believable when you see the way they look at each other. But in a book, we want more than that. We feel cheated when all we get are pictures of their deep, soulful eyes or their rigid muscles, because we're here to find out how the relationship was developed. If we want an ill developed relationship, we'd just watch a movie.

    Lovely article Allie!

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    1. Yeah, I do think insta-love can 'work' on some movies because you're seeing it happen and you can see the chemistry and the romance grow on-screen. Seeing it played out allows you to be more quickly invested than you are in a book romance.

      Oh, man, and now that you mention it I am getting so tired of people's eyes being talked about for chapters and their muscles being stiff and rigid :/

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  3. "The thing a lot of writers don't seem to understand is that the real good stuff is the getting to know each other stage." OMG THIS, ALLIE!!! THIS. I mean.. I love love LOVE kissing scenes, but come on! It's so much more meaningful if you take it slowly. Haha, yes. Insta-love aka the good looking fest where the eyes and curve of the mouth, the dark flop of hair and the ripped abs just sweep you off your feet and this is the guy you will spend the rest of your life with. Or that nice rack and sexy hips? Yeah, gotcha! Yes, like.. first impression and, of course, appearances can be crucial, but then again.. You're willing to spend your life with someone you don't even know and all that in the first 2 days? Wow! Bhahahaaha. Has someone read Unravel Me? :D LOL. I don't think much of that series, to be honest with you. I haven't thought about redemption thanks to insta-love, but this is definitely a new angle and I can see where you're going with this. Great discussion, Allie!

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    1. I love a kissing scene as much as the next person but when that's ALL there is my eyes start rolling. And intense descriptions of people's eyes and abs then BAM they're in love. Never mind not having a proper conversation. Or when they just start dating and then suddenly are willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING to be together :/ fictional characters are actually quite clingy haha ;)

      DO NOT GET ME STARTED ON UNRAVEL ME or any of those books. I just can't even . . . I'll be ranting for days about how that story 'progressed'

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  4. You made so many good points! When I read romance, it's the falling in love part that's fun to watch. I automatically feel cheated if I stumble across a insta-love story because it's such a lazy way of writing. Great post, thanks for sharing! :)

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    1. Exactly! I like to fall in love right alongside the characters, so if that bit is skipped then I just feel like there's no point in me reading because I haven't been made to CARE

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  5. I don't dislike all types of Insta-love, for me it really does depend on the characters themselves, and of course the situation. But, If we at least get to know the characters beforehand and it's not the new guy or the stereotypical bad boy, I guess it just all comes down to connection with you and the characters. But, Insta-love does seem like a way to gloss over things, but I also find it cheating when the characters are already together, because you don't get to see that, either. That one has to be done well, otherwise it's just the same.

    Basically, I can't decide. :(

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    1. I need to feel the connection with the characters and I think insta-love glosses over that and basically just says 'there is a connection. I can't be bothered to show it, but believe me it's there. Pinky promise.'

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  6. I do really hate insta-love when it was done because the author is lazy, but I do try to make myself remember that teenagers do fall in love quickly. So as long as the author connects with real teenage emotion it can work!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

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    1. If there's character development I don't mind people falling in love quickly, because then it's not insta-love, it's just people falling for each other quickly because they're right for each other. There's a difference between quickly and instantly, with no warning / cause. Especially when they hated that same character one chapter ago. I just don't get it! Lol

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  7. I totally agree, the build up is usually is the best part of the romance (plus I love good banter & I'm totally a sucker for the build up in hate-to-love romances), and it makes me sad insta-love just glosses over that ): On the rare occasion, I don't mind insta-love sometimes, but for the most part I'm just not a fan. I think authors are trying to use it to redeem the "jerk", but I think people (or at least me anyways), is usually just annoyed by it because it's not believe.
    Great discussion, Allie!

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    1. Yes, it's all about the good banter and insta-love just completely forgoes that. Which also always means the characters have little to no personality (that we see, anyway).

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  8. I have come to despise insta-love because it just doesn't seem realistic to me at all. And I completely agree that most of the time the relationship seems to be built on nothing more than an attraction to other person. Half the time they are proclaiming they love each other before they have had even one meaningful conversation. It drives me a little crazy and I much prefer slow building romances in fiction.

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    1. That's what annoys me most; people claiming there in love when they've barely spoken!! What IS that?! Slow-burning romances are the best and make their eventual reunion SO much more satisfying

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  9. For me, it really depends on my book, the book and how it is written. I think that each person's definition of instalove are different as well, because I will read reviews of the same book where one says its instalove and the other thinks it develops at a slower pace and loved that it was written that way.

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    1. Oh definitely, some people define insta-love as love at first sight, otherwise when characters suddenly fall in love with no real build-up etc. I kind of think it's a bit of both. Either way, I just want a bit of slow-burn in my romance!

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  10. Instalove, oh instalove. How it annoys me! I think this post is 100% accurate, and I love the way you describe instalove. Like you said, it's just SO UNREALISTIC, and how it's so common in YA books nowadays is a mystery to me.

    As always, brilliant post Allie! Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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    1. I think it's common because it's just a way of being lazy and writing an 'epic romance' without all of the 'boring' introductions. It's such a shame because when a romance is done right and the build-up is perfectly paced, it can be fricken amazing! Insta-love ruins it and makes the book nothing more than a kissing book, without much of a story to support it :(

      (And thank you <3 I'm glad you liked it!)

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  11. Instalove is annoying. In some books it works, but in most books...not so much. It's unrealistic and it's strange. Getting to know each other and flirting is usually the nicest part. But it really depends on the story and the way it's written.

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    1. Especially the witty banter and the timid smiles; I NEED THAT BUILD-UP. If some randomer confessed his love to me after I barely knew him, he'd be getting nothing from me but a restraining order ;)

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  12. Sometimes I can take the unrealistic aspect of it but I have gotten more and more annoyed when characters are so focused on appearance. It's just all they talk about and the repetitiveness of their thoughts just drives me up a wall. The only time that insta love really worked for me was in Scarlet. They didn't spend much time together really, but their romance was so cute =)

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