Indie e-Con: “Love Triangles”

Writing Romance is like navigating a rough sea. It’s almost impossible to do it smoothly, or perfectly right, or in such a way that you make everybody happy and nobody sea-sick (or love-sick, as the case may be).

Some people like it sappy. Some like it raw and real. Some like the Forbidden Romance. Some like any story as long as it has romance in it somewhere. Some don’t like it all.

Today, I am going to talk about one small niche in the Romance genre: the Love Triangle. And you will have to forgive any unintentional ranting on my part because…well…I hate the Love Triangle. But I’ll explain why and be sure to tell you how to write a Love Triangle that I CAN enjoy, so don’t despair if you are a writer of tangled triangles.


First, let’s talk about what I don’t like about Love Triangles. I’m going to share some of the most popular move triangles just for kicks and giggles as we go along, so hang in there. Some of you will be groaning along with me, and others will be like, “Aw, I love them.” And that’s okay. No judging here.

Why I don’t like Triangles:

  1. Someone always loses out. Yeah, I’m an empathetic romantic who doesn’t like anybody suffering a broken heart. I want everybody to get their happy ending.
  2. The party who loses out is often painted into a villain just to “justify” their losing out. I’m like, It’s bad enough the poor guy doesn’t get the girl, but we don’t have to make a villain out of him to prove she doesn’t belong with him.triangles-pirates_610
  3. It’s cliche. It’s been done. SO MANY TIMES.
  4. I just don’t get the whole “I can’t choose between these two guys” thing. I mean, is it even POSSIBLE to be kind of in love with two people at once? I don’t think so, not if you’re focused on the heart rather than the physical attraction. You may disagree with me, but love is a choice, and you have to commit to it. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that someone can be so torn between two guys or girls that they don’t know which one they like better. casablanca-love-triangle
  5. If your characters are married…just don’t go there.

NOW. You’re all wondering how this article is going to be helpful and constructive. Hang in there, for me, we are about to get there. Let’s talk about a good Love Triangle, the kind that won’t make Savannah groan in agony and roll her eyes. If you’re a writer thinking about using a Love Triangle, keep some of these ideas in mind for those of us who have a difficult time with them.

  1. Two potential love interests early in the romance. This is a big one. This means, nobody is in love yet. There is no snogging Edward, and then turning around and smooching on Jacob, and then changing our mind and going back…ugh! None of that. We’re talking friendships here. Just normal, healthy relationships that COULD turn into romance. I dig these. But once you start developing a romance, let that poor, superfluous soul slip to the sidelines and accept their defeat gracefully.Edward-Bella-Jacob-twilighters-31600408-500-356
  2. Keep it realistic. Draw on your own life experiences and things you’ve actually witnessed. Most of us don’t have half a dozen guys/girls chasing us around wanting to be our Valentine. So, don’t write that Drop-Dead Gorgeous Heroine with a long line of pining suitors. Give her one or two followers and that’s it. She doesn’t need a harem.
  3. And this is my big one…make your Triangle original. For example, I am writing a story right now that kind of has a triangle. I know, I already told you I hate them, but I love the RIGHT kind of triangle. In my story, I have a girl who has a crush on a boy, but he isn’t interested and never will be. Girl has a life long friend who is sweet, kind of homely, who has been in love with her since they were practically in diapers. She is clueless and has no idea how he feels. So there is no “I kinda like them both,” no “well, let’s see who’s the best kisser,” no “let’s duke it out with our fists and see who can win her.” It’s just a simple crush from a naive girl who needs to grow up, put aside her romantic notions, and realize that the right guy for her might not be the one with all the muscles and the cute dimple but the one who has been there her entire life. And, yes, Sabrina is one of the few Love Triangles that I absolutely adore. I enjoy the remake as much as I do the original.

    So, the moral of today’s little rant is this: if you’re going to use a Triangle, try a fresh approach, something that will make your readers respect and cheer for your characters as they navigate the dangerous waters of romance. We will all love you for it.




8 thoughts on “Indie e-Con: “Love Triangles”

  1. For me, a well-written love triangle is one that represents the MC’s choice between two lifestyles, two facets of herself. One where the attraction isn’t necessarily on the physical, but on the personality. I have a princess, for instance, who has to choose between the “safe” choice of a childhood friend who would allow her to stay in her comfort zone but there are elements of their personalities that she knows will drive them nuts in the long run, and a foreign prince who will take her from home and give her the responsibilities of queen, but they click beautifully.

    Thanks so much for taking part in Indie e-Con!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you that a good love triangle should show the MC’s choice between facets of herself or paths she could take. (And, honestly, even some triangles that annoy me do this reasonably well, like America’s choice in The Selection trilogy or the sorta-triangle with Vin in Well of Ascension.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I completely agree with your “Make your triangle original” point. My problem with love triangles is that most of the popular YA writers seem to write ONE PARTICULAR love triangle and it almost always plays out the same way: the girl has to choose between her Childhood Best Friend and her New and Mysterious attractive guy friend-enemy-person. One of the two is Forbidden; the other is in some way construed as a Betrayal of All She Knew and Loved. One is characterized by boy-next-door niceness and comes from an unpleasant family; the other is Passionate and Angsty, but comes from a nice family. For bonus points: the girl spends the first book attracted to the New and Mysterious guy, then flips back to the Childhood Best Friend for the second book, and then waffles between the two for most of the third book.

    If the YA writers would just put some variety in their love triangles, I’d be more ok with it. I can understand the value, as Kendra said, of the personified choice between paths. I can also understand how one could feel attracted to two people at once. Again, it’s tied up in the choice-between-paths/character facets thing. But most of them follow the exact same formula and it’s very frustrating.

    Aaaaand I apologize for that rant. Thanks for listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brie Donning

    I recently read a story with a reversed love triangle. One guy, two girls. It was a smaller facet of a much larger epic. There was the quirky childhood friend who he’s been in love since they were 8 and 9, and the new mysterious girl who grabbed his attention, and he did his very best to ignore her, because he was already committed. The girls weren’t making is easy for him keep from getting entangled, but he made it through.
    (They agreed to take turns trying to win his affections. Strange girls.)


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