Days 41-43. Unbearable Fiction Fad #1: The Love Triangle

I’m starting a series on this blog. It’s going to be called Unbearable Fiction Fads. Basically, I’m going to complain about what I consider to be overused in today’s books. This will include plot lines, characters, descriptions, etc. You know, whatever is annoying me at the current moment.

I want to make clear that I am not trying to insult anyone’s work in any way.

Yes, I realize it should be a red flag when I have to start my post this way.

But seriously. This is just my opinion. If your story contains any of these features (or even all of them), just ignore me. I’m sure your book will still be wonderful. There is an audience for anything, really. I have faith that you can pull off what so many other writers have poorly executed. I never said I was above being proven wrong, and I have taken part in my own literary clichés as well.

So take a deep breath and please turn off the caps lock.

Unbearable Fiction Fad #1: The Love Triangle

I am a firm believer in art imitating life.

Sometimes in life you’re only liked/loved/lusted by one person at a time. Sometimes in life there isn’t another equally wonderful and heroic stud fighting your affections. Sometimes in life you nab one mild-mannered nice guy/girl, and you’re happy with it. You accept this. You get married, have babies, and buy matching burial plots in the shady part of the cemetery.

So why it that in so many books the author throws in a love triangle? Of course, this is excluding when the love triangle is the main point of your plot. I get that. However, if your protagonist is off fighting demons/witches/ghosts/vampires/other children in the 74th annual Hunger Games, then do you really need to throw a torrid threesome onto their plate? I think they’re busy enough just trying to survive.

As a reader, I find it really distracting.

Oh my god, Katniss! Is this really the time to be thinking about Gale? YOU’RE ABOUT TO GET KILLED BY AN ELEVEN YEAR OLD! You better stab her before she stabs you! Also, Peeta is the obvious choice so I don’t know why we’re having this conversation.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a love story at all, even when your story is mostly action. It’s just that there are PLENTY of issues for a relationship to have without throwing a third party into it. Maybe the boyfriend/girlfriend is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Maybe they’re secretly a serial killer. Maybe they decide they want to have a sex change and start their own show in Vegas.

Get creative! Do something that hasn’t been done numerous times before. I didn’t even have to try that hard to think of those examples. I just had to look in my journal….

All lame jokes aside, just how great do you think your protagonist is? I know we all think our characters are the bee’s knees, but I know for a fact that my main character isn’t going to have a swarm of hot guys wanting to pollinate her. Too far with the bee metaphor? I’m realistic about her. She doesn’t really have time to wage an internal war between two lovers. No, she barely even has time to think of one guy. Anything more will just seem like bragging.

Although my story is not a love story by any means, I’d rather spend my efforts and energy building up a great love story between two people than to have lackluster chemistry between three. I’ve read too many books in which I didn’t care about either of the candidates. As an author, I’m pretty sure you want the reader to care about your characters. You don’t want them spending the entire book thinking KILL THEM BOTH!

Maybe you do, if that’s what you’re going for.

As I said before, I’m not above being proven wrong. If you put enough effort into your love triangle, maybe it will tear me in two as a love triangle is supposed to. Maybe I’ll actually buy one of those “Team so-and-so” t-shirts, and have heated debates with my friends about who really is the protagonists soul mate. It would be a first but then again there’s always a first for everything.

On that note, I wonder how many cliché phrases I used in this post.

Days 41-43 are down. 141 days to go!

P.S. I was going to include the god awful love triangle from Twilight, but if I get started on Twilight I won’t be able to stop. I have to physically restrain myself right now.

So I reached 55 followers, which is a really big deal to me. My ego hasn’t been this inflated in years. I actually have a headache now! Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog. Writing on this blog has been incredibly therapeutic for me. It’s a wonderful way to get all the crazy out so that it doesn’t bleed into my story. Thank you for being a part of that.


15 thoughts on “Days 41-43. Unbearable Fiction Fad #1: The Love Triangle

  1. I’m definitely team Edward. And I actually agree with you, love triangles are lame most of the time. Just off the top off my head, I can only think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as having an engaging love triangle…well to me anyways.

  2. I would argue that while you have a valid point, execution, as always, matters a great deal. In the Time Traveler’s Wife, there’s a love triangle that occurs, but it’s handled much better by the writer. (As I’m typing this, I can hear the cliche’s groaning as I force them to do leg work, but still) Presentation matters. Everything boils down to what you want to show. People tend to have feelings for multiple people, most of us are just too preprogramed to do anything about it. Like reject one.
    In Kitness’s defense though, limited options.

    • I do agree with you, presentation is important. I have read plenty of books where the love triangle is engaging as its supposed to be. In this post, I’m mostly referencing recent books. I feel the love triangle has become a safety net for too many writers. Instead of making it believable, it feels half-assed. I wouldn’t call Clare and Gomez a love triangle. Clare doesn’t really have feelings for Gomez. She just turns to him in a moment of desperation and pain. Though, I see what you are saying.
      I consider the annoying love triangles to be the ones in which the protagonist hums and haws about who to pick in a whiney fashion. I find it especially annoying if it doesn’t seem to fit with the bigger picture of the plot (as in Hunger Games). This, again, is just my opinion.
      Going back to your point, execution matters, I agree completely. I suppose I haven’t been reading very many books where it’s executed well. That’s why I think other writers should use caution.

  3. Great post, terrific topic to take on as well. I want to hear more of your rants on writers, it is refreshing to listen to a younger state the obvious and not get sucked in. Keep up the writing and never stop. A. Dragonblood

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