The Loss of Real Love in Fiction

This is a slightly modified repost. I originally shared my thoughts on this topic about a year ago, but it’s important enough to bring back around. I’m not a love expert (insert Olaf gif here), nor do I claim authority over you as a writer. The following is meant to get people to think and to make changes according to their conclusions. That’s all.

Love has been a core element of fiction since…well, since forever, I guess. It drives and unites characters, it pushes plots forward, it distinguishes good from evil, and it’s an integral part of what makes a story real to us.

Romantic love certainly isn’t the only manifestation of this force, but it is a prevalent one. It’s a trend I don’t foresee readers ever getting tired of because it resonates so much with the human heart.

But genuine love is disappearing from today’s fiction.

A culture that soaks up visual stimulation like a sponge has replaced selfless, sacrificial, protective love with meaningless mind-candy.

Pick up any given book with a love plot or subplot and you’re just about guaranteed to find perfect bodies (featured on the cover to make sure the book sells), personalities characterized by immaturity, and instant-relationship formulas that completely misrepresent what love is.

Writers and readers, have we forgotten what real love between authentic characters looks like?

Genuine love takes time, effort, trust, and truckloads of selflessness. It hurts, forgives, fails, and learns. It starts small and grows into something beautiful despite forces that hammer against it. It has pure intentions and puts the other person’s needs first. It does not rely on physical attraction to keep readers turning pages.

Too many writers stoop to billboard standards, and  we’re stuck with guys whose understanding of love is reduced to I want that hot girl and girls who mindlessly fall for guys who downright abuse them (just to name a few results).

These characters and other similar types set horrible examples for the young people gobbling up the books they’re in. 

What people call love in a lot of today’s fiction is manipulative, selfish, lust-driven, uncontrolled, and thinly veiled by shallow character development. And it never grows past that.

The sad part is that those stories sell. It’s what the market wants. Writers are all too willing to take the easy route, and readers get brainwashed by a culture that thrives on the cheap, the quick, and the easily-obtained.

Unless we as writers seriously consider the messages we send through our stories and make changes accordingly, real love will disappear from fiction, and shelves will be stocked with empty shells of characters grasping for meaningful love in all the wrong places.

My next post will return to my usual lighthearted tone, I promise. In the meantime, have a great day, everyone.

10 thoughts on “The Loss of Real Love in Fiction

  1. I’m actually part of the minority who is sick of seeing romantic love in YA. I feel that a lot of it is very similar and pointless. It’s sad to see that authors who are married are promoting senseless, thoughtless relationships in their books.

    Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. I think (generalizing for a moment) that most mainstream YA simply gets it wrong, and I also am tired of that brand. Personally, I really like a romantic subplot of it’s portrayed healthily…but yeah, those are rare.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. you are right on so much levels.. but we still dream of a fairy tale romance of what we desire for our selves… i can get lost and totally evolved into character when I read these fictional or even watch a romance movie with these perfect guys..

    and we accept reality but still dream of our fantasy..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have gotten to the point that when people recommend a book and say it is “romance” I just laugh. Even in books where the romance is supposed to be a subplot it usually ruins the book for me, and it has ever since I realized that the people who read such stuff actually view the lustful feel good romances in them as love. We know what love looks like. Just because it does not feature two teenage models does mean it is not love, just because it takes work does not mean it is not love. Anything worth having is worth working for and love is no exception. It takes practice and hard work and it is infinitely worth while.


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