Sunday, March 25, 2012

Love triangles

The other night on #yalitchat (the Wednesday night Twitter chat about YA), when we were talking about romance in YA, the subject of love triangles came up. When you talk romance in YA nowadays, the subject of love triangles always comes up.

I'm not going to recap the whole discussion. Suffice it to say: some people are sick of them, and some people think they're unrealistic because how many of us had two smoldering-hot guys pining for us and competing for our attention when we were teens? But most people agreed that they're compelling, while pointing out that there are other ways to ramp up romantic tension.

The romantic situations I saw in real life generally looked less like triangles and more like knots. As in: A likes B; but B likes C; and C is using B while secretly wanting to go back to the ex, D; and D is bouncing back and forth between E and F. G thinks they are all too immature, and H likes A but is seeing E when E takes breaks from D. I likes J but is scared to approach; J is involved with K, who wants to end all relationships and be alone for a while. L and M are madly in love, and everyone expects them to marry, and flips back and forth between envying them and wondering whether that much security in a relationship isn't a bit boring. N likes M but knows it's a hopeless cause, so pursues I instead.

But, yanno, that can get a little complicated to write, unless you're doing a series. Or a soap opera.

There are endless variations. Relationships are complicated, and they're not easy, and they often don't work out. I wouldn't tell anyone you can't write a love triangle nowadays, because I don't believe in absolutist rules like that. But I would encourage people to think about the pattern of relationships in the book, and why people are coming together or separating, and how the timing works, and what the best point of view for the story is. Cupid rarely shoots straight, and he's a bit of a prankster, if you ask me!

13 comments:

  1. Yeah I've got one of those alphabet things going on in the WIP I'm working on. People have many different reasons for romance and some of them aren't romantic at all.

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    1. "People have many different reasons ... and some of them aren't romantic"

      Well said!

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  2. HAH! You totally nailed the high school love knots. Two guys pined over me...no...wait...in my teenage dreams, lol! Great post.

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    1. That may be one reason triangles are so popular: wish fulfillment.

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  3. What I remember most is the hot guy getting close to me thinking he'd have a better chance with my gorgeous BFF. ^_^

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    1. Ugh. Yeah, because nothing attracts a girl like using and being rude to her best friend!

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  5. The love story narrative you just described is hilarious. Soap opera creators would love to have your story.

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    1. Sometimes and high school and college, we did start to wonder if our love lives would ever stop seeming like a Shakespearean comedy ...

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  6. It just so happens that I'm planning a post on love triangles later this week! I also think in real life, relationships tend to come with more twists what we find in books. Sometimes I think people like reading about love triangles because they want to put themselves in the shoes of the desired one.

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    1. Also in real life, people tend to be more practical and self-protective. Sometimes in books, the sacrifices characters make, and the length of time for which they will live in an unrequited state, strikes me as a bit unrealistic. Though I'm sure every variation of love can be found in real life.

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  7. Hehe, I enjoyed this post, Jenn! Love triangles can get really old if they aren't done well. If they are thrown together just to add tension, it often feels shallow and predictable. The most interesting thing, however, is that even outside of high school, the same type of drama keeps going. As a teen, I always thought it would end. Hah.

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    1. Yeah, adult life is much more like high school (even middle school) than I expected!
      I guess sometimes people feel like they "have" to have a triangle so they follow that formula, but it's not necessary. If a triangle springs up naturally, fine, but it's not required!

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