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Defining the Love Triangle

I’ve found it interesting that in the last few months, I’ve gotten two emails about the not-yet-released Earth & Sky inquiring whether the trilogy will have a love triangle, because the reader doesn’t like them and wants to be prepared. Interesting for a couple reasons:

1. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten asked this question (across the last three and a half years, no one has ever inquired about the Fallen World trilogy on this issue). Which makes me wonder if there’s a growing aversion to love triangles, which obviously become pretty common in YA–especially in trilogies and series, and especially in speculative fiction (paranormal, dystopian, etc.)?

2. It’s made me realize that I’m not entirely sure how to answer the question. Because I’ve become aware that different people define “love triangle” in different ways. I always thought of a love triangle as being where the main character (or, I suppose, any character) is torn between two people who are both interested in him/her, attracted to both and either struggling to decide who s/he wants to be with or struggling with temptation while committed to one. But reading comments from others on books I’ve read, I’ve seen other sorts of romantic situations called “triangles”: when two characters are vying for another’s romantic attention (regardless of that one character’s feelings for either), for example.

So what I’ve been answering, when asked, is that it depends. Certainly the romantic subplots in the Earth & Sky trilogy are less love triangle-like than in the Fallen World trilogy (which I would consider to have only a pretty mild form of triangle as it is). There is no angsting at all about romantic feelings for more than one guy at the same time. But across the trilogy Skylar does become romantically involved with more than one guy at different times. So maybe it could read that way?

Indulge my curiosity, blog readers: What do you consider a love triangle? A character deciding between two romantic options? A character troubled by conflicting romantic feelings? A character who has two different partners? Do only the feelings of the main character count, or do you still see it as a triangle if two people are competing for his/her attentions at the same time even if s/he is only interested in one of them? What about if the main character has feelings for two people, but only one of them reciprocates, so the other isn’t really an option?

I’d love to see the variety of answers this question gets. There obviously is no right one, only different perspectives! :)

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
robinellen
Sep. 22nd, 2014 05:34 pm (UTC)
I'm not a fan of love triangles -- but you're right, the definition does seem to vary. To me, a love triangle is when the main character (male or female) is choosing between two potential love interests. I don't like them because (to me) they make the relationships seem pretty shallow, and I especially hate when the MC is vacillating between them, leading both of them on throughout.

Can it be done well? Yes. For me, in Aprilynne Pike's WINGS series, Tara is technically torn between two boys...however, she's only in love with one of them, and as the series goes on, her feelings begin to change because her character (moving from human to fae) begins to change. It's very subtle and slow, and for me, that works fine. She's never in love with both boys at the same time -- her feelings simply switch from one to the other as her circumstances alter her. (That's kind of how I feel about your World trilogy too -- she's not waffling; she simply changes with her circumstances, which is very realistic, imo.) Carrie Jones does this well, also, in her NEED series.
megancrewe
Sep. 24th, 2014 01:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I feel a lot the same way about most love triangles--it really bothers me when the MC goes back and forth, because that comes off as unfair and unkind to both potential partners. I mean, if the MC was in love with someone who kept going back and forth between MC and some other person, I think that would be portrayed as a bad thing, so it seems odd that it's okay just because it's the MC.

But gradually changing feelings from one to another is a lot different, and I think a pretty normal thing especially for teens. I'm glad it worked in the Fallen World trilogy for you! I was trying very hard to avoid the standard triangle drama. :)
cyn2write
Sep. 23rd, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
I think that love-triangle-hater might have been going around because I could have sworn I got the exact same message on my upcoming book.

My books never have an out-and-out love triangle where the girl is vacillating like a Ping-Pong ball between two love interests because I haven't been able to write a main character like that that I really respect. Well, I guess Fairy Tale did, but there's always extenuating circumstances that make the mc seem less wishy-washy. Like in Fairy Tale her romance with one of the guys was just not going to be possible and wasn't meant to be. In another book, the girl has amnesia so she falls for another guy and then when the other love of her life shows up it's like, whoopsie, and she's in a pickle. It's hard to a respect a main character who finds another love interest when she's already "so hopelessly in love," because it makes you question her maturity, loyalty, ability to love . . . basically everything about her.
megancrewe
Sep. 24th, 2014 01:15 pm (UTC)
I've actually gotten the question from two different people--when I got it the second time, the phrasing was similar enough that I checked, and the previous question was from a different name and email address (and not exactly the same wording). Maybe there's an anti-love-triangle club! ;)

Agreed about being able to respect a character who goes back and forth between two love interests. Wishy-washy is exactly the word for it! I think situations like in FAIRY TALE work because it isn't really that the MC can't decide--it's that the guys are changing, rather drastically, so of course her feelings are going to change. (She actually comes off as pretty admirable for trying so hard to make it work with the first guy despite how much he's changing.) And I'd say amnesia is a reasonable excuse as well, heh.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

My Books


Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014


The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012


The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013


The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014


Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014


Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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