Insta-Love

What are your feelings on Love At First Sight?

Usually, I can’t believe in it. If it happens in a story, usually I don’t want to read any more. If the characters already know what they want, before I’ve seen anything of their characters, what’s the point? Why should I care?

I don’t need to know a lot about the characters to find them interesting. Even one tasty fact can give me a handle, such as “wounded veteran of the Napoleonic Wars” or “penniless bluestocking.” But I want the characters to know more than that about each other before they decide they’re in love.

If insta-love happens to one character but not the other, then I’m more interested. That situation gives isntant conflict: he’s fallen in love with her, she doesn’t care he exists, or vice versa. He wants what he can’t have. That makes sense to me, in life as well as in story.

Or one can play with the insta-love. I’ve seen that done well, for example if the heroine is smitten by the hero’s unbelievable good looks, but then he does something obnoxious and she falls out of love with him, only to learn that her father has secretly engaged her to marry the guy…again, the conflict.

It’s the same for me when reading erotica, or even more so. Some readers don’t want to waste time on the, umm, preliminaries when reading erotica. Insta-love (or insta-lust) is a way to get on with the erotic portion of the story. Conflict might well burgeon later, but starting the story with a sex scene can quickly get a reader’s attention, and then the writer can accomplish characterization through her characters’ behavior during the sex scene. That’s tricky, though, and not everyone can pull it off.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the only way I can accept insta-love is if it causes more story problems than it solves.

Related Posts:
How To Make the Mating Instinct Work, by Crystal Jordan.

Why I Love the Marriage of Convenience Plot.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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8 Responses to Insta-Love

  1. Livia Llewellyn says:

    IMO, there are two kind of Sight: the first kind, when you see someone and are instantly sexually attracted to them. But there's a second kind: when you've been with someone for a while, and you suddenly realize you're truly understanding them and who they are, what they mean to you, for the very first time – like a veil has been lifted. To me, that's the real Love at First Sight.

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    Yes, THAT. Good point. In romances, I've often seen the second example in the "best friends" romance, where the characters have known each other for years and THEN fall in love.

  3. Jeannie Lin says:

    I'm okay with Insta-Love. I used to be such a cynic about love at first sight, but I've grown soft-hearted. Now what about paranormals where *sniff* the alpha immediately realizes this woman is his mate, no questions asked?

    I agree it makes for a harder writing task and reading task though. Especially in romance where we love conflict!

  4. Ms Menozzi says:

    Depending on how it's handled, I don't usually have a problem with "Insta-love." Perhaps it's because that's what happened to me in real life?

    I knew I'd marry my husband the moment I met him in person the first time. No bells and whistles or anything like that. Just a quiet certainty and a feeling something like a sledgehammer to my emotional solar plexus. Just a "knowing" and that was enough for me.

    It's really hard to write that well, though. I'll keep trying…

  5. Victoria Janssen says:

    Jeannie, see Crystal's excellent post, linked at the bottom!

    Ms. Menozzi, that is most cool, and I will remember it.

  6. Jeannie Lin says:

    Now, how did I miss that?

    Thanks for the heads up!

  7. janni says:

    > the only way I can accept insta-love
    > is if it causes more story problems
    > than it solves

    Heh. This is how I feel about magic in fiction. Which, one could argue, is roughly the same thing.

  8. Victoria Janssen says:

    LOL, Janni! So true!

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