Insta-love and building bridges

The bridge at sleepy hollow


H/T to Pearl for giving me a blog topic today!  I sometimes run out of steam when it’s near/around release time because…well, nerves. 😉  FYI, just a reminder, though, there are only a few hours to enter for the ARC of DEEPER THAN NEED.

This is more of a writer/storytelling/craft ramble.

On twitter a little while ago, Pearl asked…

She then went on to tweet that she’s married to a guy that she had that ‘instant’ love thing with…she met him and yeah, she knew right away he was the one. They’ve been together for 13 years, married for ten.

I can relate to that.  While I can’t claim insta-love, I can claim an insta-something.  Ya see, I took one look at my guy and there was just something there.   He was friends with my big brother and I crushed on him, and hard, for close to four years and then I finally blurted out one day… Hey, how come you never come over here to see me… annnnndddd… twenty three years later, we’re still together.  But I don’t claim insta-love, because I met him for the first time when I was 11.  😉 Insta-crush.  Love developed over time.

There was an immediate connection, yes, but if he’d been rude, a jerk, dismissive…or acted the way half my older brother’s friends did (aka…they acted like my brothers), I wouldn’t have felt that draw, I don’t think.  But he was…nice.  Kind.  Sort of shy, at times, but he had a great smile and he didn’t have that attitude a lot of the guys in  my neck of the woods had.  It wasn’t the best of neighborhoods and  the ‘tough guy’ shit doesn’t impress me.

So the foundation for a real connection…love…grew from that first tug.

Leah joined in with:

Using insta-love to establish a connection is absolutely fine…I do it all the time.  It’s a great hook and can make for some fun romances.  You take that instant…Oh, wow…heart-racing, adrenaline rush, what the hell is this feeling and then you build on it.

But you have to build on it.

I think this is where a writer can make or break the ‘insta-love’ …or love at first sight sort of story.

I kind of liken it to a bridge.

Or building one, and the writer is the one doing the building.  That first punch of what the hell with the heart racing and blood pounding, even a burst of arousal that you’ve never felt before…you take and lay it down.  That’s a log over a creek.  Maybe you can walk over it once, or twice.  But it’s not going to hold there for long.  Especially if you live in an area where it rains a lot.  One heavy spring thunderstorm… (aka…the first fight)…and that bridge is gone.

So from there, you take that log and you build on it.  You need supports.  You need to show the reader the love.  The deeper connection.  You can’t tell the reader that the love is there–it’s that whole tell vs. show thing and in stories like insta-love, it’s vital.

Why does the hero/heroine love their partner?  One look doesn’t a love-match make.  You can feel a tug and that tug can very well be that first log–the building of that connection, but from there…what is going on?

What if the guy…or girl…is an asshole?  This doesn’t translate to saying that hero/heroine can’t be the love interest, but if the brooder is the love interest, the reader needs to understand the love connection there, and it’s got to be more than he’s so tortured and I just know my love can change him.  For one…that’s telling.


Insta-love shouldn’t, really, be any different than any other means of establishing attraction.  You’ve got things like the meet-cute, or the friends to lovers, or enemies to lovers…etc, etc.

Maybe the problem is that too many take the love at first sight trope, and then turn it into a short cut.  There’s love, there’s sex, then BAM, automatic HEA…

That’s lazy-storytelling. There is no shortcut if you want to have a good story.


Take that first subtle tug of attraction, when you know s/he/both feel something…(From my book If You Hear Her)

“You’re asking me on a date?”

From the corner of his eye, he could see the bartender listening and not pretending not to. The kid barely looked old enough to be out of college—hell, high school.

Tuning the kid out of his mind, he focused on Lena.

“Yeah, I’m asking you on a date. At least, I’m trying to. It’s been awhile since I’ve asked a woman on a date, so maybe I’m doing it wrong.”

“Well, it’s been awhile since a guy asked me on a date, so maybe I’ve just forgotten how to recognize the clues.” That pretty, wide mouth curled up in a slow smile.

She had to say yes. Because he really, really wanted to kiss that mouth. He wanted to fist his hand in that dark red hair and he wanted to press his face between the slight swell of her breasts and nuzzle the soft skin there.

He was a pretty good judge of people—he knew how to read them. Under most circumstances, at least, and he didn’t think he was reading her wrong.

If he was reading her right, then she was feeling that same, subtle tug that he felt. Banking on that, he reached out and skimmed his fingers down her forearm. “Well, now that we’ve figured out what we’re doing here, maybe we should try it again. I’d like to have dinner…with you. Would you be interested?”

“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had a guy ask me out on a date within five minutes of seeing me.” The smile on her face took on a bitter slant as she absently touched the dark glasses that shielded her eyes. “Usually, within five minutes of seeing me, they are either on the other side of the room or they are trying to cut my food for me.”

Ezra glanced at the lasagna on his plate. “I figure if you can make it, you can cut it just fine on your own. And you haven’t answered me.”

“No. I haven’t. I’m still thinking…hell. Screw it. You know what, Ezra? I’d love to have dinner with you.”

And then you build on it…

Give it supports…

Every time I turn around, he thought…Hell. Maybe this was some sort of sign. He started toward her table, but halfway there, he realized she wasn’t alone.

No, she was sitting at a table with two other people.

A woman, about her age, Ezra figured. She was a looker, too, blond, blue-eyed and tanned. Her blond hair was worn short and sleek. Her eyes rested on his for a few seconds in female appraisal.

Ezra looked at the guy, recognizing him from the other day. He’d been with Lena at the sheriff’s office. Judging by the look in his eye, the man had more than just a casual interest in her.

He glanced at Ezra and then leaned forward, murmured to Lena. Ezra didn’t catch a word, but Lena straightened and turned in his direction as he drew even with the table.

“Morning, Lena.”


A slow smile curled that pretty mouth. She cocked her head. She shifted in her seat, crossed one slender, jeanclad leg over the other. “We’re about done, but you’re welcome to join us. We’re just talking and drinking coffee. Avoiding the rain.”

From the corner of his eye, he saw the look in her friend’s eye.

“There’s plenty of rain to avoid. Are you sure you don’t mind?” he asked.

“Of course not. After all, isn’t that what friends do?” she asked.

Maybe it was his imagination, but he thought her smile was just a tad bit mocking.

He managed not to wince. Friends—shit, that was the last thing he wanted…well, no. Not really. He did want to be friends with her. He just wanted more than that. A lot more.

Wanted, but couldn’t. Needed, even. Hell, he couldn’t quit thinking about her and he had to.

And then build some more…

“I can’t get you out of my head, Lena. You’re everywhere.” He cupped her face in his hands, angling her head back. “Can’t stop thinking about you, not from the first time I saw you.”


Lena’s sex life had been…limited. The last guy she’d been serious with had been Remy—sex with him had been fun, hot, and easy. They had been compatible in bed, but it hadn’t compared to this.

She and Ezra weren’t compatible.

They were damned near combustible.

It went deeper than the heat, though.

He made her laugh.

He made her smile.

Hell, he just made her happy.


“You’ve got that smile on your face again,” he murmured. “Like Sylvester the cat just got a hold of Tweety Bird, once and for all.”

“Do I?” She smirked and sat up, stroking a hand down his chest.

“Yeah. Kind of makes me wonder what you’re thinking about.”

“Nothing…exactly. Just this.” She shrugged, absently circling a finger around his navel.

He jumped and caught her hand. “Quit that.”

A grin tugged at her lips. “Quit what?” Unable to resist, she wiggled around until she was sitting up and raked the nails of her other hand down his side. When he flinched and caught that wrist as well, she started to chuckle. “You’re ticklish.”

She wiggled her hand free and poked him in the side again and he swore, catching her.

She tried to roll away and they ended up wrestling across the bed, laughing and swearing—although most of the swearing came from Ezra every time she managed to get free long enough to poke him in the ribs, under his arms. Even a light touch across his spine was enough.

“Whoever would have thought the big, tough cop would be that ticklish?” she teased as he rolled and pinned her beneath him.

“Brat,” he muttered, stretching her arms over her head and holding her wrists in one hand.

Biting the tip of her tongue, she twined a leg around and managed to stroke her big toe down his instep. He swore again and used his knee to press her thighs apart, pinning her hips against the bed. “Would you quit it!”

That ‘love at first sight’ thing is a lot more believable when people see that while that instant connection was there, they weren’t just blindly riding on it–they were building on it.

“You’ve known me for five weeks, Ezra. Five weeks. And you admitted it yourself not that long ago…you just came through a really, really bad experience,” she said quietly, cupping his face in her hands. “How can you think you love me?”

He laid a hand on her heart. “I think I started to fall in love with you that first night. You blushed when I called you beautiful…and then you shared your food with me. You got so nervous when I asked you for a date and I was scared as hell you would say no.” Smoothing his hand up, he rested it on her neck, used his thumb to angle her chin up. “I started to fall for you that night, Lena. I guess it’s why I backed away…maybe I didn’t think I could handle it.”

“And what makes you think you can handle it now?”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure I can’t. But then again if I wait until I can handle things, then I never would do anything,” he murmured, rubbing his lips against hers. “Things happen when they happen, not when you’re ready for them.”

Of course…this is just my take on it.

But when I’m reading a ‘love at first sight’ book and I end up tossing it aside because it’s falling into that ‘insta-love’ thing where it’s all…’oh, i love you i love you i love you…’ but the writer fails to paint me a good, cohesive picture of that love…there is no bridge, in other words…this usually why.


FYI, the pic is mine.  I took it at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery a few years ago…that’s the Headless Horseman’s Bridge.

3 Replies to “Insta-love and building bridges”

  1. I fell in love with my guy at first sight, or rather, first smile. We had talked on the phone for years via work but had never met. Then one day he came to my office to pick up some parts, I walked out as he walked in, and he smiled at me, and without even knowing who he was I was done. 🙂

Comments are closed.