Monday, May 23, 2016

In Which We Talk (Defend) Instalove

Morning all!

Today begins a sort of series of posts I've been thinking about/planning to write for a long time.

Why didn't I write them sooner you (maybe) ask?

Because I'm lazy.

Anyway, these posts are, well, I don't want to call them rants because I'm going to try not to actually rant (though you will notice that the label I chose is "Rants" so, you know...) but they're going to be posts about things that kind of get my ire up in regards to books and publishing and other things.

So strap in! Because today we're talking instalove.

What the hell is instalove you (maybe) ask?

Well let me tell you!

Instalove is a trope in fiction (especially kidlit) that's like love at first sight. The hero (usually heroine) sees someone (usually a boy) and they fall immediately in love with said character. Sometimes this is their first time being in love, or even in a relationship, and usually this love lasts (in other words, they don't break up at the end.)

So that's instalove in a nutshell.

Lately, though, instalove gets a bit of a bad rap. You will see book bloggers or reviewers who absolutely LOATHE instalove.
Some to the point where they will refuse to touch or read a book that may have instalove or maybe even one star it on principle alone, due to their deep hatred of instalove. And they may hate anyone else who loves a book with instalove and they probably for sure despise the author if their book has instalove.

Perhaps you though this post was going to be an argument against instalove, but AHAH! I you thought so, you are wrong!

This is a post in defense of instalove. Or, if not in defense of instalove, to at least examine misconceptions that the haters put up as reasons to hate instalove. (I mean, it's in the title, too, though, so if you really thought I wasn't going to defend it, then may I suggest you read blog post titles in the future.)

So, first point:

1) Instalove is a very real thing that happens to real people.

Many instalove haters hate it because they think it's unbelievable. And maybe for them it is. There are a ton of people who don't fall in love and marry and live happily every after with a person after the first time they see them.

But there are plenty of people who do, too! You would be amazed! If you ask a room full of kidlit writers how many of them are victims of instalove in their own personal lives, there will be more than two or three of them who will raise their hands.

Just because instalove is not something you have not experienced, does not mean it has not happened to other people, and cannot happen to fictional characters.

2) Confusion about what instalove is

I see a LOT of complaints about instalove in books when it turns out what is actually on the page is a crush.

And crushes, I'm sure you know, ARE A VERY REAL THING.

Please don't read a book where a character sees someone for the first time and is immediately attracted to them and write that book off as having instalove.
I promise you, I'm attracted to strangers all the time, and it's not instalove.

Don't make this mistake.

3) Automatically rejecting a book because of a small trope is a way to miss out on some great books.

I get it. We get tired of the same things over and over again. But to forever swear off it, and hate on something, just because it's been done too much is going too far in the other direction.

Like, I love mac & cheese, but when I've had it too many days in a row, I don't go to social media and say that mac & cheese is the worst food and I will never eat it again and also whoever made this make and cheese is a terrible person and should never, ever cook again and anyone else who likes mac & cheese is just an asshole and also dumb.

No. I take a break from mac & cheese and then return. Or I eat it, but I talk on social media about how my meal was problematic for me, personally, because I've had too much mac & cheese in the past but your experience could be different. And maybe the chef made something that was not to my taste at the moment, but I understand that that is on me and my fickle tastes and maybe I should have ordered something else off the menu instead of mobbing the chef on twitter.

Yeah. So not too ranty, right?

Maybe we can just all calm down about instalove and try to see the story as a whole and why the author chose to include instalove and what might be different if it was gone, etc.

In other words, a little critical thinking can sometimes go a long way towards art appreciation.

Annnnnd now I wish I had mac & cheese (also, I lied. I will never get tired of mac & cheese. NEVER! Me and mac & cheese were instalove, baby. All the way)



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The mac and cheese rant was funny.
Love at first sight - yeah, it happens. I've never experienced it but some people do.
Like you said, just ease back on it for a while rather than ranting about it. It's like people complaining there are too many superhero movies. Well, just don't watch them then!

M.J. Fifield said...

You make such excellent points here. Like Alex, I love that mac & cheese example. I, too, experienced some mac & cheese instalove in my young life, and we've been going strong ever since.

I admit that I did recently rant about instalove on my blog, but it was a specific example in a novel that was poorly done. When it's done well, it doesn't bother me because, like you said, it's a very real thing that happens to real people. I know some of those people, so I can't deny that it's a real thing.

So I don't quest against instalove, or any trope in particular, for that matter. Just bad writing.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...


So many times recently, I've seen books slammed for having instalove when the MC never even uses the word 'love' to describe their relationship. Or ends up dumping said instalover after a few chapters. I've seen complaints of instalove when the relationship was a sideline story in the book and even when the relationship took months to actually get started. It's become a knee-jerk reaction for many reviewers toward any amorous relationship.

I think the message against instalove is a good one: deep and lasting relationships (IRL) take time and we (as humans) shouldn't rush things. But crushes are different. Crushes are awesome. Give me a good strong crush to read about any day!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Based off your blog post it seems the definition for instalove has been twisted. But sometimes writers push a relationship so hard they forget to actually show how it came to be in the first place. I think that's one of the reasons some readers swear off what they perceive as instalove. But that's just poor writing. Nit the genre's fault.

Nicola said...

I'm way behind the times, I think. I've never heard of instalove - there's a new name for everything these days :) Thanks for clearing that one up.

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