Hello and welcome to the first, official Book Snacks Babbles discussion post! I’m so excited to finally have started this new feature here on Book Snacks.
(Although, you can check out the first unofficial BSB post here.) I was planning on starting off this series waaaay earlier (the start of this month, actually) but after continuous changing of discussion topics, it took me quite some time!
Nonetheless, today I have a question that has been festering in my mind for quite some time: What makes a good love triangle? I know there are plenty of readers out there who say they’re sick of love triangles, but really, I think it would be more accurate to say ‘sick of *bad* love triangles’. Because when love triangles are written well, they can be entertaining and even advantageous to a story. So what are the things that makes a good, quality love triangle? Only one way to find out...Get comfy, and let’s babble!
I’m going to start this off by saying: I don’t hate love triangles (although I think most of you must’ve guessed or realized that by now). I actually enjoy them, to be honest. But if they’re written well. The sad part is that they usually aren’t, which is one of the main reasons for the hatred against them from other readers. But there are so many ways authors can make quality love triangles, so many things I wish were in books more often. That’s what I’m going to share today. I don’t claim to be an expert on writing though, these are just personal thoughts and observations, on what should be done to make a quality love triangle:
Make the love interests appealing, interesting and unique.
If you’re going to have a heroine (or hero, but I’ll be going with heroine for the sake of examples) torn between two guys, make it easy for the reader to see why she’s torn between them. And I’m not talking about simply “who’s the hotter one” kind of things. I want to be able to root for one (or both!) of the love interests based on who they are and how they act together with the heroine. I want to see valid reasons for why the heroine is struggling, and one of the first steps to that is to have love interests who I can root for; love interests who are appealing and interesting. (And swoon-worthy, of course.) What do they like to do? What are they like? Focus on the tiny things; that’s how we get to know the love interests the most.
Examples: Will from The Infernal Devices, Chaol from Throne of Glass, Dorian from Throne of Glass, etc.
The love triangle should be more than just choosing between the two love interests.
As in, make sure the main character’s choice is not just a decision between Hot Guy #1 and Hot Guy #2. Doing this not only does nothing to set the love triangle apart from all the other ones out there, it also adds no depth to the characters and basically only proves that the main character is shallow. Although these can sometimes turn out to be fun to read about, to get a unique love triangle it’s better to go the road-less travelled, am I right? Have the main character be conflicted between one guy who reflects who she herself is, and one who brings out the best in her. Make it a choice for the main character, of who she thinks is best for her, in terms of personality, in terms of what she wants her future to be like. There are just so many questions to be considered! Just make it a true choice, not a beauty pageant of superficiality.
Example: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Make sure there’s not too much competition between the love interests.
Some competition is bound to be there, and it can be entertaining to read about (depending on the situation), but since we see it so often in YA, it’s rare that the average YA reader will be over the moon about an overdose of testosterone over a girl. XD A little competition is fine, but if you’re to the point where Guy #1 is about to punch Guy #2 because he was hanging out with the Heroine (who isn’t even Guy #1’s girlfriend)…It gets to be a bit too much, if you know what I mean.
Note: An interesting way I’ve seen this be controlled in other books is making the love interests have a close-knit relationship with eachother. (Like in The Infernal Devices, how Jem and Will are parabatai, more close to eachother than even a sibling connection.) There are of course many ways to handle the competition side of the love triangle, this is just one way that I found I really liked.
Get rid of over-excessive angst.
I’m not saying that the choice should be easy to make, that the main character hardly has to think about who she wants; naturally some confusion, sadness and heartbreak is expected. But I personally do not always enjoy a book where 80, or 90% of the story the main character is in constant angst over who she wants to date when there is (usually) much more going on to think about. Unfortunately this is pretty common in YA, so it would be really great to see a healthier and better way of handling things.
Don’t use a love triangle as an excuse to create unnecessary conflict.
One of the worst things is when a love triangle creates superficial conflict; usually frustrating tension that was caused by a misunderstanding that really does nothing for the plot and is mostly a filler. (Example: guy #1 caught girl hugging/talking to guy #2 and got jealous. Trust me, I’ve actually seen this one before.) Of course, there may be times where the conflict created by the love triangle is required, for perhaps a character’s development or whatnot. And that’s fine, but it’s just important to make sure not to overstep the lines to the point the love triangle just becomes an empty plot device.
So that’s some of my most important ideas on how to make a quality love triangle. After all, it’s all about how the love triangle is written, that determines its value, no? What do you think? Join in the discussion!
- Do you like love triangles, as I do, if they’re well-written?
- What are some of the things you think makes a good love triangle?
- Do you think love triangles are bad, period? Why?
- Which love triangles from books did you like? Which ones did you dislike?
There’s no right or wrong opinion here, I’d love to know your thoughts on love triangles and what you think makes them well-written. Let me know in the comments below!
Until our next babbling discussion,