Love Triangles

In any typical romantic story, there is always an obstacle.  We don’t want the couple to get together too quickly, or too easily.  We want them to fight for it (and we get really annoyed when they don’t).

There are many obstacles available for the author that wants to make their couple suffer, but a commonly used one is the Love Triangle.  There can be one major flaw (or wonderful tool, depending on how you want to play it) to the technique; the third wheel.  This is the person who ultimately doesn’t get the girl/guy, and you risk having irritated readers if you make the third wheel too sympathetic.  Of course, there are those authors who like to surprise/irritate/anger their readers, and those authors may make the more obvious choice end up the third wheel.

If you are not one of those torture-loving authors, there are a few ways to resolve the third wheel issue.  For these examples, I am using a triangle with one girl and two guys, but you can flip the genders around any way you want.

First, make the third wheel unlikable.  He can be a cheater, a creep, or just lame.  No matter how you develop him, if he’s a jerk then everyone will root for the couple from the beginning.  This technique works, but it does make your story predictable.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Second, make him a secondary obstacle.  If the third wheel arrives when the couple is already at the stage of being together and then split and then maybe getting back together, the third wheel can be a nice guy.  He can be a friendly ear, or a rebound.  If you’ve built the couple well enough, and made the split caused by something that doesn’t reflect poorly on the couple, then most readers will see the third wheel as a distraction and not another player.

Third, make the third wheel a non-issue.  If the characters think he’s a third wheel, but he really isn’t, you can have the tension without the disappointment at the end.

If none of these appeal, you can always add a fourth player so everyone pairs off in the end.  This can add even more dramatic tension (two triangles, anyone?) but you’d have to play it well to make all your readers happy.

There are lots of examples in movies and books of love triangles.  Some end well; others do not.  It is just one tool in your arsenal as a writer.  Use it wisely.  🙂


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Noble Cause « Butterflies and Dragons
  2. Trackback: False Pretenses « Butterflies and Dragons

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