Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Much Ado About Love Triangles

Also known as “why am I doing this to myself?”

My WIP The Dreamless City has a love triangle in it. I decided that niggling little detail early on in my original plotting for my steampunk urban fantasy novel in progress. I wanted Nissa to have a romantic secondary plotline, but I didn’t want her to “get the guy” at the end of the first book. In theory, Nissa’s story is going to continue for at least a couple more books, so… as an answer to my conundrum, I decided to mire her in a love triangle and sort it out between Daschel and Reynard over a few books.

When working on a chapter-by-chapter basis, I wanted to be sure that both guys got equal screen time. Even without doing any research, I knew that I didn’t want it to feel one-sided. There’s nothing worse that liking any character and having them evaporate halfway through a story. Doesn’t matter if they are a love interest or the witty sidekick; don’t let me like a character then leave them stranded at the gas station. Ugh!

Doing My Research

I’m working though my outline again, really wanting to get this right. On that note, I decided to read up on some people who have bravely gone (or at least thought deeply about) into the darkness of love triangles before me.

Love Triangles {The Do’s & Don’ts of Writing Romance}
5 Tips to Creating a Love Triangle
The Art of the Love Triangle
Writing 101: Love Triangles
Writing Tip: How to Write a Love Triangle
Fiction Focus – The Love Triangle

Love Triangle Analysis

So after reading through the above blogposts, here are some ideas that I found helpful:

Rabbit 011. All three characters in a love triangle should be equally well developed. Just say no to the two-dimensional cliches.
2. Don’t let your love triangle become predictable, otherwise you have a love pair + a rival.
3. Make the character in the middle likeable, not a Mary Sue.
4. Let readers have a chance to cheer for each love interest. Make them both worthy of the main character’s affection.
5. Don’t leave any loose ends when resolving the love triangle. Readers want to know what happens to the one who was left behind.
6. Decide which love interest will end up with the main character. (Wow, that’s gonna be tough.)
7. The love triangle has to fit within the rest of the storyline. Don’t cram it in like the gloves, umbrella, and flashlight in the glovebox.
8. Consider the logistics of the love triangle. Why aren’t two of the characters together? What keeps them all apart?
9. Use the love triangle to create surprises for the reader. Reveal the love interests to the main character and the readers at the same time.
10. Don’t neglect the rest of the story.

The Great Swampy Middle

Muddling through my spreadsheet, complete with five rainbow-colored plot threads, is a mess.  I lose it somewhere between Big Plot Points two and three.  Herding everything back together in time for the musical finale (no, I’m not serious… unless you like that idea…) is too much to make tidy.  So it is back to the adding, subtracting, and reorganizing of things, hoping that a beautiful phoenix will rise from the ashes.

I think this also counts for my ROW80 post.  I haven’t written any words this week.  I’ve just been moving squares around on my spreadsheet.  Wish me luck to make it to Wednesday!!

3 comments on “Much Ado About Love Triangles

  1. Carrie
    October 29, 2013

    I like there being a bit of a love story, but it’s in the background. That little bit of tension (that has a resolution!) but it doesn’t drag on and on. I like your tips! :)

  2. beautycalyptique
    October 29, 2013

    yes to #3! (twilight, I’m looking at you)

  3. Stella
    October 29, 2013

    Heya, I’m Stella, the author of the Writing Gooder post you featured here- I got a pingback and decided to check it out – thanks a million, firstly! I love seeing that I’ve been at least a little help to people :)

    I actually am writing a serial at the moment as part of a challenge on YWS (WritingGooder’s sister site) and somehow found myself stuck in a love triangle. Which is generally not something I’ve written before- well, no, that’s a lie. But I’ve never written from the CENTRE of a love triangle. And I never thought it was for me. Until I found myself with three characters- my MC and two brothers and a plot where she goes with one brother to rescue another of the brothers. And I suddenly realised I didn’t know which brother it would be better- for both her and the plot- for her to fall for. Truth be told I’m still not sure (the beauty of the serial, letting the audience decide as you go!) But suddenly I realised that love triangles are not the demons that people make them out to be- sometimes, in fiction and in real life, they actually really do happen.

    As far as your tips go, I think those are all amazing and very sensible suggestions. I think the whole point is to make it believable- make us believe that the MC is well and truly stuck between these two other people. The other thing is, I think (though I’m maybe just rambling now), to ask the question why it’s the MC’s decision. Why are the others offering themselves up to them- why haven’t they considered going elsewhere? Like happens to Serena in Gossip Girl (and, in fact, my roommate)- who’s to say that one or both members of the love triangle will decide they’re not worth the effort or that they’d rather be with someone who wants to be with them?

    WOW, sorry for rambling! But thanks for the mention- I’m going to go drift about your blog a little while, so sorry if I necro-comment, that’s just the kind of girl I am!

Comments are closed.

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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