Love triangles, if you haven’t heard of one yet, then you must have been living under a Mountain Dew cap. Love triangles are everywhere. They’re scintillating and tragic odes to the fickle nature of human beings. Who will she choose? An aloof, half-chupacabra prince of the Overworld or an angel-eyed, Samurai boy from the past. Let the drama ensue.
Love triangles are popular, too popular, in today’s day and age. But if they’re so cliche and annoying, why do authors still write them, you may ask. Because, my dear friend, because they are an easy way to add spice to an otherwise bland mixture green and wide-eyed authors cook up. And the ads for love triangles are really good. Here’s a superb example:
Is your world-building limited to this? No worries, if you include a love triangle, your readers will be too worried about the choices the daughter of snowflakes has to make and will forget that the events are unfolding in a Crayon Blahland.
Are your characters flatter than cut out cardboard dolls you used to play with as a kid?
Who cares, as long as they have abs, brooding expressions, and smoldering eyes the color of cerulean sunsets, you’ll be golden.
You forgot what your plot was about?
Why darling, who needs a plot when your indecisive snowflake gets to make out with a chupacabra prince and a samurai.
You see what I mean? Who could ever refuse this. That is not to say all love triangles are epitomes of corny cliches and cheap marketing. They can find a home in your story without overtaking everything else, I promise, but for that to happen, you will have to make sure to never do these three things.
1) Don’t put in a second love interest for purposes unknown to you, the reader, or the universe. In a recent book I read (not saying any names) a love triangle popped out of nowhere like a pimple. One moment, I’m being told the guy is the protagonist’s friend for years, a best friend at that, and a few pages later, he is confessing his love and kissing her as if he is just a random Joe she met two days ago. There was little basis for that and no consequences. The only purpose of that love triangle was to complicate the protagonist’s feelings. But it failed even at that because as soon as the primary love interest sauntered into the room, the existence of the other guy was forgotten. Wait, what other guy?
2) Don’t make the secondary love interest perfect for your protagonist and then have the protagonist pick Mr. or Ms. A**hole over the cinnamon bun because luve. That just doesn’t make sense. I mean who would you pick? Someone who listens to you, supports you, and makes you smile or someone who yells at you, threatens you, and stalks you? People want to see love, not lust. Prove to them that the primary love interest is the better person for the protagonist. Marinate their characters and let the flavors marry. Let the secondary person be a lesson to the main character, like Jane Austen did.
3) And finally, don’t rush things. I’ve said this in my How to Write Believable Romance post and I’ll say it again here, rushing things ruins the magic. If you want the readers to care about the choices your main girl or boy has to make, take the time to show where each decision will lead her or him, on a personal level and in the grander scheme of things. Will choosing the chupacabra prince result in the snowflake girl’s heart breaking because she really loves the samurai? Will choosing the samurai time-traveler result in the destruction of the world as she knows it because the chupacabra prince cannot protect it from the evil forces of world-munching ancients without her love? Oh, the pain, the horror! Don’t make it easy on your darlings and don’t make it boring for your readers. There, I just told you two cardinal sins of writing.
And in addition to the three tips above, don’t forget about the world building, character development, plot furtherment (is that even a word? Who cares, now it is), and good writing, and you, my friend will come to write great things. So go forth bravely and use your newfound knowledge to continue writing odes to the indecisiveness of humans and their endearing tendencies to split everything up into Teams.
On that note, whose team are you on?
#Team Chupacabra Prince or #Team Samurai Timetraveler
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Art from Google.