1. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Love triangle woes

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Lea`Brooks, Dec 16, 2016.

    So I'm starting to become one of those people who hate love triangles. Not just love triangles, but also relationships of convenience. This happens a lot in the YA stories I read. The MC gets thrown into a location, forced into a group of kids her age, only to become interested in not one but two of the people with her. It always irks my nerves for some reason. Partly because it seems these characters were written into the story only to be part of the love triangle (meaning they offer very little substance if the love triangle didn't exist), and partly because it seems unrealistic. If I'm stuck in a group with five people, the chances of me being interested in both guys in that group are slim to none. One, sure. But both? I don't think so.

    But alas... My novel has developed a love triangle. My MC Seren is a ruler of sorts and her Guardian (like a soldier tasked with protecting her from harm), Caius, starts to fall for her, but she doesn't return his affection. Later in the book, she meets charming Prince Levon, and indeed starts to fall for him. He, however, does return her affection and begins traveling with her group of merry men to be nearer to her. This, as you can imagine, throws Caius into a fit of jealousy and hinders his ability to protect Seren properly.

    Now, for me, this not only feels natural (meaning I couldn't change this even if I wanted to -- it's part of the story now), but it also feels different than the traditional love triangle (minus the jealous guy left behind) because Seren isn't falling for the first guy she sees.

    So for the rest of you (especially those of you who hate love triangles or relationships of convenience like I do)... What do you think? Does it seem like it can work or does it feel forced? Is their relationship (dare I say it) too cliche?

    Any opinions appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  2. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    That's me.
    What I don't get is why are love triangles in YA books anyway? How many teens even know what love is?
    Most books/stories/movies lose me when the romance/whatever is introduced. I usually find it is stuck in for sales/more readers.
    Another question- how many teen boys want to read about romance/relationships?
    I feel I am in the minority on this, but feel it is reality.
     
  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

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    You haven't said how old you are, and I'm not asking, but I think that the reason "love" triangles often get written into YA is that they are a fact of young adult life. I can remember numerous times when I was between, say, fifteen and twenty-five that I was one of two guys who were attracted to a young lady who "had a shot", in the sense that both of us had viable non-romantic friendships with the lady in question, not simply yearning from afar. I also remember one time, on a study abroad trip, where I was one of three college guys in a group with nine female students, and true to the trope, two of the girls expressed interest in me. I don't think they would have been as interested if the target pool was wider, but that also fits with the YA style.

    I think it's just art imitating life.
     
  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

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    Ah, sorry, in the teen/YA context, was taking "love" to mean "hormone surges and a shared interest in the music of the Dead Kennedys", nothing much deeper.
     
  5. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    50 in a couple weeks.
    I don't see that as a love triangle at all. I guess the definition has changed. I call that life, competition. To me a love triangle is romantic, between 3 people. A love triangle would be a girl 'being' with you, and 'being' with someone else at the same time.

    Makes more sense.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I guess that's true. I can even remember enjoying the love triangles when I read these books the first time. Or at least some of them. I guess it's safe to say I can't write YA if I hate the way YA functions. :p
     
  7. ginkgo88

    ginkgo88 New Member

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    I think a large part of the prevalence of love triangles in YA is just fantasy/wish fulfillment stuff. There's an assumption that teens will enjoy identifying with (or imagining what it would be like) having two people actively showing attention and interest in them romantically. Perhaps for a certain number of the demographic's members, that may even be the truth of the issue. But I agree that often these 'love triangle' situations feel forced and obnoxious. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily call the prevalence of the 'love triangle' among teens a total fallacy. I recall my high school friends dating each other and swapping dates pretty regularly, although I personally stayed out of it.

    As for the particular situation you described, I wouldn't call it a love triangle at all but I would call it darn creepy that the person falling for her, pursing her, and falling into a jealous rage is her guardian. I don't know the specifics but it gives me all sorts of icky Sansa/Littlefinger vibes.
     
  8. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Oh, whoops! I meant Guardian with a capital G. Like a soldier that follows her and protects her from harm. Not like a parental guardian. lol My bad. :p

    But yes, I agree with the other part. Wish fulfillment is a very real thing in reading.
     
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  9. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    @Lea`Brooks

    Surely deep down you must know your love triangle (at least as described here) sounds as traditional as any.
     
  10. ginkgo88

    ginkgo88 New Member

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    Ahh!! That's entirely different! Way less creepy, and perhaps even opens a whole new avenue to explore concepts of power vs consent since technically, if she's a ruler and he's a solider, I'm assuming she's likely his superior which would make the relationship subject to moral scrutiny right off the bat. Not to mention, depending on her role, couldn't that be fraternization? Again, I don't know much about your setting, but usually things like that in military settings are deeply, deeply frowned upon.
     
  11. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    You've got a point. It all depends on the angle. Girl has two men in love with her, one of which she likes in return. That point of view is tried and imo shallow.

    Proletariat soldier hopelessly in love with a woman above his station who never thinks twice about him and goes on to live happily ever after with her prince? Timeless.
     
  12. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Well, as the MC of your novel myself, I think...I'm joking, I'm joking. But I'm loving those names. ;)

    Not all love triangles deserve hate. Some definitely do. But others are pulled off nicely. I think it all depends on how fleshed out your characters are, and how you write the romance. Characters swooning over other characters when it's a vastly inappropriate time (like, the middle of an emergency situation) can make the whole love triangle seem stupid. By the way, don't a lot of love triangles involve the girl being attracted to both men and just not knowing which insanely hot guy to pick? The way you're choosing to write it does also sound like what is labelled as a "love triangle" but it can also be seen as one romance, and one unrequited love. There are plenty of stories in which this occurs without the "unrequited love" part featuring too heavily and ruining everything. It just makes the relationship between the characters that are involved a little tense and gives you more obstacles to throw in their way.

    What might annoy me slightly is the "Guardian's" reaction. You have to be careful that he doesn't act too immature about all of this - that happens in a lot of love triangles and may be one of the many reasons why lots of people dislike them.
     
  13. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    Maybe I've been conditioned growing up on shows like The X-Files and Xena but explicit expressions of romantic love take all the intrigue out of a relationship for me. I want 6 to 7 seasons of longing looks and vaguely affectionate gestures I can over analyse to within an inch of what might become insanity. But I also want that to be between any given character and every other remaining character.

    Even if you don't intend it that way I'll read it that way.

    Love Triangles. Pah. So pedestrian. Love Pentagrams. The champion of obligatory forced romantic element.
     
  14. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

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    Pathetic two dimensional relationship complications. Love dodecahedrons, lust Klein bottles, that's where it's at.
     
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  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    You play the triangle, huh? :supergrin:
    Triangle.jpg

    On the cereal. Love Triangles are pretty common, and somebody always gets burned in the mix.
    Why not have a polyamorous relationship instead. Then all parties can win. Jealousy crisis
    averted and it would be a change of pace from the old paradigm.
     
  16. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, this is a traditional love triangle.
     
  17. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    I have one too, though it wasn't really my intention. I meant it more as a demonstration of how people change and how those changes affect who they will ultimately be happy with. But, unfortunately, it's a love triangle at the core. Hopefully I can do it well enough that it won't matter. They key is depth, I think. At least I hope!
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    a lot of the time people get burned in polyamourous relationships as well - particularly where one partner is using " I think we should be poly amorours/ we should have an open marriage" as a synonym for "Im incapable of being faithful and I don't really care if you like it or not" - 'the game' by Neil Strauss is a very clear description of polyamourousness not playing out so well
     
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  19. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, I think you guys are right. My love triangle is pretty traditional. I think I was just fooling myself because of how much I hate love triangles, but, like I said, it's part of my story now and I can't lose it.

    But, I might be able to take Ginkgo's suggestion and make a relationship between Seren and Caius frowned upon. I initially had it as a common occurrence for royalty to fall in love with their Guardians, considering they're together all the time. But I could probably make it work the other way. Maybe.. I don't know.
     
  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    He'd be of as lower class being a soldier - so it would be easy to portray it as frowned upon social on her part - you could also play it as unproffesional and thus frowned upon on is side to get ionvolved with a principal

    (alternately it could play that carnal involvement is acceptable but not a serious relationship)
     
  21. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    I think if the love triangle derails the remainder of the story, the love triangle loses it's "traditional" appeal.

    For example, she spends one drunken night with her guardian, and then, when she's clearly romantically involved with the prince, the guardian gets jealous and murders one of them.
     
  22. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    I'm not so sure about the traditional part, but to be honest, I wouldn't worry about it too much in any case. If it feels natural and the kind of thing you are interested in exploring, go for it. The reason I myself don't like love triangles that much is because I get frustrated when characters can't make up their freaking minds.

    Your Guardian character falling for his "ward" seems like a thing that could happen, and sometimes, no matter how much you'd like to spare another person's feelings, you just can't feel the same way about them, so her not reciprocating his feelings seems like the kind of thing that could also happen if that's what you choose. I guess one thing I'd try to avoid is the bad boy - nice guy conundrum (basically she has her fun with the bad boy but eventually chooses the nice guy). To me that feels a little tired.

    As others have suggested, love triangles are quite common in YA probably because it's a wish fulfillment thing. In real life, they are far less fun, even if you feel flattered and wanted, because you will also feel like shit. It's stressful, awkward, and uncomfortable -- or maybe it's just me? But maybe exploring the "dark side" of what's usually portrayed as every girl's (?) fantasy could also be interesting?
     
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  23. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Or he could just mend his broken heart with another girl. Someone prettier than his ward. That'd make her jealous in turn ("I don't understand why! Now that I can't have him, I want him!") and he'd get his sweet "revenge". :p
     
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  24. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    I liked this idea at first, but it doesn't fit Seren's character. She often rebels against the rules, and if she had feelings for Caius, no way would she let other people's opinions of their relationship stand in the way. And since Guardians are considered upper class in my story (since they are the protectors of royalty, which is not a common job), Caius wouldn't really be seen as lower class or below Seren.

    Whoa, that took an unexpected turn. lol

    His feelings for her does derail the story a little bit, but not as extreme as what you suggested. He doesn't like seeing Seren and Levon together, so he starts to distance himself. They drift further and further apart until he basically neglects his duties as her Guardian. She ends up getting attacked and almost killed because he let her go off alone. Afterward, he's so racked with guilt, he tries to resign his position (but Seren doesn't let him).
    Yes, the "bad boy" character has always bothered me too so I was very careful with planning who Caius and Levon are to avoid that. Neither are "bad boys" but neither are perfect either. They're just different from each other. Caius grew up in a strict household and because of this, he was raised to follow the rules and go "by the book," so to speak. He doesn't like taking chances or risks or leaving anything up to fate. While this can be a good thing (because he always wants to be prepared), it's just not who Seren is, and Caius sometimes gets overly harsh with her about it. She's more free-spirited and follows her intuition more than her logic. Levon, being raised as royalty, has the capability to be rule-driven like Caius, but he has more experience thinking outside the box so he's more like Seren than Caius. So Seren and Levon are attracted to each other because they're so similar in that aspect. It does get her in trouble sometimes, so I'm going to be sure to play off of that at some point.

    I do that a little, but not a lot. Levon and Caius argue quite a bit, and at one point, another character even mentions how she thought having two men fight over you is supposed to be glamorous. But I could play it up a little bit more just to emphasize how hard it is on Seren.

    But I think overall, I'll just have to stop worrying about it. It feels very organic for my story, and I fear if I try to mess with it too much, it'll just feel forced or contrived. Guess I just gotta trust myself on this one.
     
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  25. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    While I don't think I'll ever do the "now that I can't have him, I want him" part, I have considered giving him a new love interest in the second book. But who knows? :p
     

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