Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love Triangles


(Caution: Twilight and Hunger Games spoilers ahead!)

Okay, I admit it, I'm a huge fan of love triangles. I know not everybody is, but nothing keeps me turning pages faster than wondering which guy a female mc will choose. I stayed up half the night reading Mockingjay because I absolutely had to know whether Katniss would end up with Peeta or Gale or neither. And I think I might have hunted down Stephenie Meyer and given her a piece of my mind if Bella had chosen Jacob over Edward.

The hard part of a love triangle is that eventually the mc will have to choose just one. And if she truly does love both of them, that's a difficult if not impossible decision to make. As writers, our job is to make that decision believable, which is nearly as impossible. Collins certainly made me believe Katniss could never choose Gale after Prim was killed. And sorry, Jacob, but I always believed Bella loved Edward more.

I'm working out my own mc's resolution to her love triangle right now, and I'm fascinated by how other authors have handled this tricky situation. What do you think of love triangles? And can you think of other examples of love triangles and how the protagonist made his/her decision?

32 comments:

Niki said...

Oh I LOVE love triangles, but only if they turn out the way I want them to. :)

Old Kitty said...

Oooh!!! Wuthering Heights?! Love triangles galore!! LOL!

I think you can't get more conflicted or dramatic than having a love triangle and - for me - a love triangle from the mistress's or rather - the other woman's - pov!!! Ooooh I like very much!

Take care
x

Brian said...

I have enough trouble with 4 sisters!

Faith E. Hough said...

GOOD love triangles are great... I think the key is to make both guys believably attractive (I don't mean just physically, of course) but in different ways.
Good luck with your ms!

Anne Gallagher said...

All three of my books have love triangles in some form or another. I love angst. Totally. Well for my characters. Not me.

Truthfully, I don't think my protagonist ever makes the decision. I think one or the other men does something to turn her off him. and then she kind of ends up with the other by default. Not that that's a bad thing.

I also don't think I could ever write a story that had two fantastic leads. One of them always has to lose and then I'd feel bad.

Arlee Bird said...

I don't like to be a part of a love triangle, but they make interesting material for stories and are used so often. Offhand a story example doesn't come to mind, but I've seen it many times.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Lynn said...

The love triangle in Mockingjay is what kept me reading to the end. Otherwise I may have quit ' cause of all the sad death!

Lydia K said...

I loved the triangle in Pride and Prejudice. That was great!

Trisha said...

The only time I don't like love triangles is if the person chooses the WRONG ONE IN THE END!! :p at least, the wrong one in my opinion. hehe

Bish Denham said...

I tend to ask, why not have both?

Mary Mary said...

They are difficult to write, but when they are done well, a good love triangle usually has its own satisfying ending built into it. I mean, she has to pick one of them, right? I'm trying to think of a good example, perhaps the one from Sophie's Choice, although it's quite evident who Sophie will choose in the end.

Deniz Bevan said...

Interesting! I've never tried writing a love triangle. I wonder what sort of female MC I'd have if I did...

J.L. Campbell said...

Can't say I've had a real competitive love triangle in any of my stories. It was always kind of a no contest with the hero getting the girl.

Lynda R Young said...

I think love triangles work so well in stories because of the heightened tension. I never thought I'd write a story with it (because it can get quite complicated). Then, of course, one unexpectedly cropped up in my latest WIP... lol.

Lynda R Young said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Al said...

MY book has a kind of love triangle :-)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I ADORE Love Trianges!!

Have you read Hex Hall yet by Rachel Hawkins? Her second YA book in the series (Demonglass)created a love triangle. Sooooo good!

DEZMOND said...

why settle just on three? Make a tangle with four, five, six of them :)) The more the merrier, that's why I always say in my naughty moments :)

Ann said...

A good love triangle is what keeps the pages turning. I love a well written love triangle.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm not a big fan of love triangles--although if it's done well and there are other things driving the plot besides the triangle, then they can be interesting to watch as it plays out.

Julie Musil said...

I looooooove a love triangle! I have one of my own in one of my manuscripts. I glazed over part of your post, though, because I haven't yet read Chasing Fire and Mockingjay. I don't want to know what happens.

Jeanne said...

Love triangles are such a great way to develop tension between the characters. However the triangle does not need to be made up of 3 people. It could be a man and woman and her job. Or a man and woman and his job. Or it could be people besides the love interest. Say, a man and his wife and her best friend who is very needy. Or a parent that needs help. Interesting blog.

Stephen Tremp said...

I've toyed with the idea, then went ahead with it for my second and third book. It introduces conflict and can help throw the reader for an unexpected loop.

Talli Roland said...

I HEART love triangles - it's such a great way to set up loads and loads of conflicts. Bring it on!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I don’t want to be involved in one but they are fun to read. ;)

Marcia said...

This is probably "duh," but I love them if they work and throw tomatoes at them if they don't. "Work" means both guys have to be equally plausible and she can't just be being stupid about one of them. I like when each guy represent a path in life the heroine could take, and she's choosing between two viable LIVES, not just guys. As for Katniss choosing Peeta, I think Gale took himself out of the running when he told Peeta something to the effect that Katniss was going to choose whichever one could help her survive, or something like that. I think Gale closed the door on Katniss more than she did on him.

Jemi Fraser said...

As long as the triangle is believable I enjoy them. I do find a lot of them annoying because they're kind of fake or forced. Good ones though are lots of fun! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

On the book that begins with a T, no comment. (Except silent scorn.)

For Hunger Games, I never felt the relationship with Katniss and Gale was flushed out. They had almost no time together in the first two books. What happened near the end of the 3rd was the clincher. But I think she ruined the end between Katniss and Peeta. She didn't let the readers in on the scene when they came together.

After reading too many triangles of late, I'm a little sick of 'em.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Pick Kessler! Wait....I changed my mind...Pick Murphy! Wait....

Nas Dean said...

I love going through the conflicts a love triangle throws on a story. And if the "other" character is a good person also, then I start rooting for him/her and then when they are unsuccessful, I agonise with them!

Michelle Merrill said...

I absolutely love AND hate love triangles. Major love/hate thing. They are great page turners but they can get so frustrating. I wish I could write a good love triangle. I haven't tried it yet, but I can see it coming in one of my novels. Good luck with yours.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh my. I do love me a love triangle, even going back to The Phantom of the Opera.

The reason why New Moon/Eclipse's and the Hunger Games' triangles worked so well (at least for me) is that they were just so plausible. It's not like the mC was being fickle or wishy washy. Edward disappeared, Gale was left behind. Also, the triangle didn't appear in either of those two cases until the end of book one or beginning of book two; so we already have a solid love story in place. I love analyzing love stories!! And oh yeah I am writing a love triangle, but like the two examples above, I'm not trianglulating it until right at the end :) And my next project I'm going to get brave and try a two girl, one guy triangle! It may flop. But when an idea grabs hold of you....

So encouraged to read earlier comments, it sounds like a few people are weary of love triangles, but the majority are still open.