Tag Archive: insta-love

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Pet Peeves + 5 Fab Fixes for Romance in Books

TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a list created by the book loving crew at The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday is a different topic and everyone is invited to join in the fun. So let’s do this!

Everyone loves romance, even if you don’t specifically read romance novels. No matter what genre you prefer, there is often a romantic subplot skipping through the story. Especially in YA. Teens are preoccupied with finding love. How could they not be with all those new hormones coursing through their bodies? Since YA encompasses every genre imaginable, it should be the best place to find a wide range of romantic scenarios, but too often YA lit falls victim to the tried and true cliche. Here’s a list of the worst offenders and what I would rather see instead…

LoveTriangle-Twilight1. The Love Triangle

What bugs me about love triangles is not their shape, but their composition. The vast majority of these trios are two hot boys vying for the love of one girl, and frankly it’s boring. Why not mix it up and make the heroine choose between a hot boy and a hot girl. Or make the other girl or boy the heroine’s competition for the third person’s love. Or make the fight not about romantic love, but about friend love. Or have the objects of lust not notice the heroine so she has to pursue them without knowing if either even likes her! See? I just gave you way more than one fix for this overused trope, so please stop writing heroine + hot boy + another hot boy.

2. The Heroine with No Girlfriends

Maybe it’s something about writers who were loners as teenagers, but I’m so sick of the shy, nerd girl who isn’t popular and doesn’t have any friends except maybe one (who is always more popular than the heroine), and then this hot guy comes along and shows interest in her and wow! Her whole life changes! Please, this isn’t a low-budget TV show without the funds to give the lead actor more than one friend. This is a book! It doesn’t cost you anything to make the heroine a sociable musician or popular athlete or smart-girl-who’s-not-a-loner. Give her some pals! Give her a life! It’s not only the lonely who are looking for love.

3. The Perfect Boy

Often the heroine’s love interest is good-looking, smart and rich. And oh so mysterious. Plus his eyes are probably blue. Bonus points if he has an accent. I know that romance is supposed to be a fantasy, but I want some realism! Give me characters with a range of looks and talents and economic backgrounds. Make the protagonist fall for someone who is not seemingly perfect, who has faults and makes mistakes and isn’t impossibly tuned into the heroine’s feelings. No one needs to be perfect to be loveable. Trust me.

4. The Innocent Virgin

Things have changed since I was a teenager. The Internet wasn’t good for much in the ‘90s. It took many minutes simply to load a photo. Needless to say, I learned about sex by talking to my friends, listening to rumours, watching movies, and going out with guys. But in the 21st century, information about sex is everywhere! Most pre-teens know more about it than I did in my mid-twenties! That’s not to say they have experience yet, but for better or for worse they have information regarding the act the previous generation did not. So when I read about teen characters who are all innocent and clueless, I can’t help but roll my eyes. It’s just not believable, unless they’ve been held captive in a backwoods cabin with no computer their whole lives. This doesn’t mean your characters can’t be virgins. They can be, just make sure they’re not completely naive regarding the subject.

5. Love Taking Precedence Over Possible Death

I admit that most of the entries in my teen diaries were all about boys, but I was not living in a dystopian wasteland or trying to survive a war or hiding from hungry zombies. Yet I read books with these life-and-death stakes where the romantic leads spend way too much time making moony eyes at each other. Come on! You’re about to get your brains eaten! You would not be thinking about kissing him, you’d be thinking RUN! To fix this, moony eyes and romantic thoughts should only occur when the characters are momentarily safe.

And there’s my list! I’m sure you noticed I didn’t mention Instalove. That’s a pet peeve so big I’ve already written an entire blog post on it – complete with fixes as well. Check it out here.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I would love to read some romances that subvert these overused cliches. If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!


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Love in YA – The Problem with Insta-Love

(“L” is for LOVE in the A to Z Blog Challenge) AtoZBadge-LetterL

If the interwebs are to be believed, YA readers are sick of insta-love – that moment when the heroine sees a cute stranger and decides immediately he’s the one! On Goodreads people have made “No Insta-Love” shelves and there’s even a Listopia “Young Adult Books Without Insta-Love.”

So why is this trope still in so many YA novels? Well, it does have its pros:

  • It’s relatable; teens are prone to falling hard and fast.
  • It’s mysterious; knowing nothing about the love interest leaves lots for the heroine to discover.
  • It’s aspirational; people want to fall in love easily and without doubt.

So what’s wrong with this? Besides the fact that too much of anything gets boring, many would argue insta-love is unrealistic. Love does not happen instantly! But sometimes it does, especially with teenagers. Whether it’s “true love” or not is up for debate. The bigger problem with the prevalence of insta-love is that this one version of romance squeezes out others. In YA there’s a crisis of romantic homogeny that sets a precedent that most people can never live up to.

Personally, I never “got” insta-love, in stories or in real life. Insta-lust, yes, but insta-love, no, and very early on in my dating years I began to wonder if something was wrong with me. Every story I read and romantic comedy I watched made it seem like I’d just know instantly when I met “the one”, and yet it never happened. Rationally, I acknowledged insta-love wasn’t realistic (how can you love someone you don’t even know?), but the trope was so ingrained into my psyche that it was hard to dispel. So whenever I found a story that wasn’t the love-at-first-sight fairy tale, I latched onto it – like the movie 500 DAYS OF SUMMER and THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. Both have characters who fall instantly in love, yet they don’t live happily ever after.

I love these stories because they feel real, and I was disappointed that Disney changed the Sisterhood movie ending to make it happier. In my experience, relationships go down in flames all the time, and living through a heartbreaking situation with a character is impactful because it makes you realize you’re not the only one. Books are cathartic that way.

Humans have a desire to fit in, to feel normal, and to be accepted – especially in love. And because we’re influenced by the narratives around us, we need more varied romances in YA to show that love happens in many ways and there’s no right way to fall in love. So writers, here’s a challenge: come up with as many alternatives to insta-love as possible. I’ll start…

  1. Slow Cooker – where the heroine isn’t sure if she’s falling in love, but as the relationship heats up it becomes clear she is.
  2. Heart Attack – when love sneaks up on the heroine and scares her half to death because she didn’t even know it was there.
  3. Platonic Passion – that guy/gal the heroine swears is just a friend is really more, if she’d give love a chance.
  4. ______________________

What’s on your list? What kinds of romance do you want to see more of in YA novels?


Tomorrow on the A to Z Blog Challenge is Jenn with the letter “M” – Mixing Genres: Career Suicide?

Next Up from Heather… On Monday I have the letter “R” – Reading Overload in the Information Age

Click here for more posts by Heather.


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