I need to preface this article by saying I’m not a big romance fan. I’d rather read about dragons than someone falling in love. That being said, I do enjoy a well-written love triangle from time to time. What better time to discuss them than in the month of February?
A few years ago, I got stuck in a rut where it seemed like every novel I picked up had a romantic subplot that relied heavily on a love triangle to drive it forward. There would be little (if any) chemistry between the characters involved and a lot of unexplained angst over nothing.
In order to move a plot forward there must be tension. In order for there to be tension, there must be stakes. If there isn’t any true reason for the characters to be invested in the love triangle, then the reader doesn’t have a reason to be either. It’s one of the most frustrating things to experience when reading a story. The author needs to provide a reason for their characters and audience to care.
The best love triangles I have read are ones where everyone has something to lose. For example, say Character A is in love with Character B and Character C. Character B and Character C are close friends, but both of them are in love with Character A. If Characters A and B end up together, Character C not only has their heart broken, but Character B would be hurting their close friend, and Character A would be hurting someone they still cared for. The same is true if Character C is the one who ends up with Character A.
Everyone has something to lose in this situation, and no matter the outcome, someone will still be hurt. The reader knows this, and that tension drives everything forward, especially if the love triangle is a subplot. That adds tension on top of everything that’s already going on within the main storyline. Throw in some interesting, three-dimensional characters, and the audience is enraptured. The reader must know what happens next. That is a love story worth reading!
What are some of your favorite love triangles?