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.