Somewhere along the line, the love triangle became one of the most hated plot lines in existence. It’s as if such a thing doesn’t happen in real life, but that’s probably part of the problem. Such situations inevitably result in at least one person getting hurt and that’s not counting the people who choose sides. It’s a recipe for heartache and tragedy . . . which is the point of it.
I think love triangles touch on the messy part of romance and it’s in a way that starts with no apologies. It’s like saying ‘only one can win and the other is going to crumble’ and most people don’t really enjoy heartbreak. Especially when it is being caused by the happiness of others. Sadly, a reader will take a side if they don’t despise the storyline outright. So you’ll have people rooting for the one that will lose. To be honest, I think many authors try to counter this issue by making it blatantly obvious who will be together at the end. Yet that never seems to stop the complaints.
Many people call love triangles cliches, but one has to wonder what the alternatives are. If you have an established relationship and want to challenge it then this is one of the easiest ways. Introduce another competitor, make the couple work to stay together, or show that they weren’t strong enough to survive. Many will claim adultery is another challenge that can be used, but isn’t that overdone too? It’s a love triangle as well, so we still keep going back to the basic premise. Two people are interested in the same person who might have feelings for one or both of them. It’s competitive human nature in the arena of romance, which is about as rare as oxygen. Fiction simply amps it up a few notches and brings it to the spotlight. In real life, many people won’t even realize their in the situation or make the connection to something fictional.
Will I ever do a love triangle again in my books? Probably not in the same way that I did Kira/Luke/Sari. They’re part of a longer series that gives me plenty of time to toss the subplot around until the conclusion. It also helps cement parts of their personalities that would otherwise go unnoticed. Then again, I get the feeling that some readers don’t pick up on it at times. Can’t win them all. Shorter series may have some competitions, but it’ll be more of a third party butting into a strong relationship.
One final note on these types of stories: THEY ARE A BALANCING ACT! Seriously, you do want readers to be unsure of the winner for a little bit. Otherwise, the third person seems to have no real purpose beyond a twist that won’t go anywhere. Also, you could always end it with nobody winning. People rarely seem to go in that direction for some reason. Too tragic?