As a YA blogger, I spend a lot of time networking with other bloggers, checking out websites, perusing Facebook pages, and of course, scouting upcoming authors. Lately, I’ve seen several bloggers pose a question about whether or not readers actually enjoy love triangles.
Here’s the thing: the love triangle is a delicate, fairly predictable, and beloved trope that can be entirely satisfying and wonderfully written. It’s when the love triangle doesn’t add to the plot or seems like a random filler that things start to go downhill.
The love triangle typically awakens something in the protagonist, is a source of temptation and risk, and yeah, induces all sorts of swoon-worthy feelings. Like in film, the pairings are generally opposites. The good boy/bad boy, jaded musician/nerd, sarcastic yet passionate hottie/ the openly nice and there for her best friend; there are thousands of possible pairings and that’s what makes the love triangle so compelling.
The problem with YA more recently is likely one of repetition and it’s easy to see how the reader can get bored and find the plot predictable. Another issue is when there are far too many love interests and you want to slap the protagonist in the head and say come on, make up your mind already when suddenly the triangle morphs into an octagon.
Readers aren’t looking for a love triangle that feels like a plot line inserted just for the sake of drama. They want some serious build up, internal dialogue, and a transformation in the main character as she/he discovers what sort of love they yearn for.
That being said, when does a love triangle work? There are many answers to this question but the first that comes to mind is a fleeting love triangle. A fleeting love triangle is one where the initial attraction is arbitrary, it’s normally based on physical attraction and then the third member of the trio is introduced and turns the protagonist’s feelings on their axis.
Another triangle I find works well is the sarcastic, mystery boy and the best friend. As long as he’s oozing innuendo, sexual tension, and has hilarious lines, he’s a keeper. The best friend is a great parallel because he’s a source of comfort and stability, as opposed to the uncertainty of the other.
What would I like to see more of? Male POV love triangles. So often in YA, love triangles deal with one girl and two totally different guys. Give me a guy struggling between two girls. Give me a choice that isn’t obvious. I loathe when one of the triangle suitors has so many flaws that it’s a duh moment when you reach the conclusion.
There’s fantastic opportunity for love and laughter through a cleverly crafted love triangle, keep reading, go out and find your perfect triangle, square, or octagon if that’s what calls to you.