My Take on the Love Triangle
What fun is a romance story if there isn’t an obstacle the couple has to overcome? A perfectly smooth relationship makes for a boring story. To spice things up and make it interesting, writers often create problems for a couple like going through a difficult tragedy or overcoming serious odds to be together. Another option – a very common theme in young adult literature today – is the Love Triangle. Why is the love triangle so popular? I think there are 3 main reasons.
First, it creates drama and tension in the “main” relationship, which makes the plot more exciting. It adds suspense. Whom will she choose? Will she be able to resist the other one? That tension is irresistible to many readers and drives them to the end where they are finally rewarded with the resolution the author has so craftily led them to wanting, even if they weren’t sure who they would have chosen in the beginning.
Another reason people love love triangles is they allow the reader to get involved in the main character’s life, offering advice like a best friend. We all have our own opinions on which one is better for her, and we like to voice those opinions, even if it’s only in our head or to the characters who can’t hear us…or very blatantly on t-shirts and key chains.
Lastly, we all end up relating to the protagonist of the story to some degree. So, when the protagonist has two guys vying for her attention, we also get to feel what that’s like to an extent. Why do you think shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are so popular? People want to live vicariously through these girls because the thrill and drama of having to choose between two equally awesome guys is appealing. (Obviously, the same is true for guys choosing between two girls.)
Of course, there are different kinds of love triangles. One is the very prominent love triangle where both guys are very much in the picture, and both the main character and the reader have a hard time throughout the novel choosing which one is best. The less “in your face” love triangle is when the “other” boy is only in the picture for a little while or it’s fairly obvious that he’s not really an option. My urban fantasy, Shadow Eyes, has the latter. Without giving too much away, for the majority of the book, it’s fairly clear which one is “the” guy and which one is the “other” guy. Of course, then I throw a curve ball and the reader doesn’t know what the heck to think. But it all becomes clear in the end.
Whatever you think about love triangles, they have a fairly permanent place in popular young adult literature. There are indeed plenty of amazing young adult books without them, but there are plenty with them as well. If love triangles aren’t your thing…well, that’s what back cover blurbs are for.