In defense of Insta-Love or How long should it be before my MC’s can believably say “I Love you”…
…according to the readership?
Before I get started, I need to make a few things known. I believe in insta-love. My husband and I met some fourteen years ago online through the, then, only major Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game: Everquest. We spent VERY little time together before we knew we were in love. When compared to a couple of the couples in my books, less time than they did, in fact (Bathasar & Teman, I’m lookin’ at you).
Fourteen years later, we’re still together. We’ve had bumps, but nothing unusual for any married couple.
I’m also going to give another caveat. A sentence that has become a mantra to me. I have it printed out and taped to my monitor.
No matter what the readers expect, what other people thing or what the reviewers say, if you try to force something into a story that it doesn’t want, it will show. The story will not work as well. And, in some cases, may fall flat entirely. I’ve been blocked seven ways from Sunday when I tried to make a story work one way and it wanted to go another (Deception is a prime example of that. I hadn’t intended for it to end up polyamory. Nadir and Bathasar decided they fell in love and it would not work until I just gave in and did it).
Lastly, I believe, firmly, in the necessity of saying the words. I spent ten years married to someone who refused to talk to me (unless it was the news or some TV show and certainly NOT about feelings or problems). There’s a reason we’re divorced. The men in my story will fuck up and not say things they need to, but in the end, I like to teach them the importance of communication. So, it’s very likely going to show up, in some form, in every story I put out.
I’m stubborn like that.
Those caveats aside, however, I have to wonder. How soon is too soon for you, as a reader? For other authors? Is there some standard that you like to see? Some general guideline you prefer to go by?
I want to point out here that writing believable human relationship is hard. Partially because, I think, none of us are all that stellar at it. Some of us get it right and those are the things we draw on to make the endings work. Some of us… don’t. And those are the challenges I put my boys through.
But making things work and believably so is, in my not-so-humble opinion, very difficult to do.
I know I sound quite crazy when I talk about my characters. They live in my head. They have attitudes, wishes, hopes, and faults. They can be stubborn about what they want and how they want things to be. And they can be incredibly stupid about things (*coughPatrickcough*). Sometimes, that’s blurting out those three little words before they mean to (Chance). Or not wanting to it to be true at all but are pretty damned helpless to keep it from happening (Teman).
I have, in fact, managed a story where they didn’t say it at all, and still I got called on insta-love. In Celebrating You, Daniel and Jake just meet. They have a meal together, play some chess and sleep together. And in there, they both realize that they could love the other person. Not that they do, but that they could. They say this, in their heads, to their dead husbands, but they never say it out loud to each other. Yet, it was still called insta-love.
So I’d like to know, what constitutes insta-love to you? And what would be “acceptable” time period for someone to fall in love?