How to Write an Irresistible Love Triangle


Ah, the love triangle. For the romantically inclined, is there anything more enticing, more gut-wrenching? The passion, the torn desires, the often vastly different futures – it’s simply too much! *back of hand to forehead in fainting gesture!*

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What flower would you choose to best represent love?

Okay, I’ll stop. But in all seriousness, a well-written triangle can have your readers not only emotionally invested in the characters and their struggles, but also in you as the writer. After all, love triangles are so easy to mess up that nine times out of ten, we as readers expect to be disappointed when the possibility of a triangle is presented. But a writer who can pull one off to our satisfaction? Gold.

Love triangles are justifiably difficult to write however and they take up a lot of space, both in terms of actual length and plot. For these reasons, they’re usually not a good idea for stand-alone short stories, which is why we generally only see them fully developed within romance, erotica and YA. That’s not to say one won’t work in a ten-page sci-fi mystery…but you’ve got to understand the basics first, and condense and perfect from there.

Let’s assume you’ve given it some thought and decided that a love triangle will enhance your story. Where do you go from there, knowing how many pitfalls lie ahead? Let’s take a look.

 

Setting the Stage

  • Don’t feel confined to the classics. Love triangles are almost always one woman torn between two men, and while this kind of triangle is tried and true, you don’t have to stay here, especially with the growing cultural acceptance for all different walks of life. There’s an audience out there for every variation of the traditional triangle you can think of, and savvy writers take advantage of underserved markets.
  • Independent characters. Develop your main characters really well so that later confrontations don’t boil down to snarky comebacks and muscle flexing. Remember that each individual person is more than just themselves; they are their environment, their family, their determination, their level of privilege, etc. All of these things will play into who they are, what they offer those around them, and what they want.
  • Thier relationships don’t have to start at the same point. This is completely dependent upon your story itself and how you want to structure it, but there doesn’t necessarily need to be a moment when the three of them are face to face with each other and they realize they’re about to be in a triangle. The idea of years of familiarity vs instant chemistry is a solid starting point as well.

 

Triangle Development

  • Utilize the unknown possibilities sparingly and effective. Life is full of questions and blank space that we often have to make decisions around before pushing forward. This could easily translate into a lot of material for your main character to waffle over, but I would recommend condensing these things down to several different, bigger question marks. Try something along the lines of what the MC’s life will look like with each of the potentials, what opportunities the MC will be passing on by choosing one instead of the other or what regrets will s/he have to deal with following a decision.
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    Don’t waffle too much… listen to the coloring book. 

    Don’t waffle too much. Going back and forth between the two options on whim and emotion every other paragraph will encourage readers to think of your main character as shallow and unsure of him/herself. This will be directly followed by a loss of interest. Instead, try focusing on two or three major (and well established) plot points that have him/her leaning more heavily in one direction over the other. This will keep your plot moving as well as give your characters a chance to better figure out what they want.

  • Give readers a chance to love both potentials. You want your readers to be as torn as your main character, and the only way to do that is to showcase both of the other corners as decent, attractive people. Your epic saga will be better if all three are genuinely cool people with goals and lives that just don’t line up well.
  • Don’t have one of the corners go suddenly bad. There’s no quicker way to kill reader interest than having this grand reveal. “Oh, guess what? This one’s actually a jerk! Makes the decision easy, doesn’t it?” This screams, “I couldn’t be bothered to write the real conflicts here!” and everything that follows will be based on the shaky foundation you failed to set.
  • Pay close attention to which ways attraction and affection are running. While letting your MC be in love with both corners at once might be dramatic, there are more subtle ways to build tension. Your MC might only feel for one potential at a time, but both of them might be devoted to her at the same time, giving you the opportunity for some rivalry. Remember too that love has hundreds of different facets, and no two people are going to be in love the same way.

 

Crumbling of the Triangle

Real talk time. When you set up a love triangle, the overwhelming odds of it ending badly are hard to ignore. And I know it’s tempting to have your story be that one in a million happy ending because….well, who doesn’t like happy endings? But be realistic. You can’t create these assertive, determined characters and then have them agree to share the main character as if that’s a solution they can all live with for the rest of their lives. You can’t just kill one of them off either, making the choice easy, if accompanied by a few tears. Something fundamental needs to change, and it needs to be painful, likely to all parties involved.

In all actuality, you’re the only one who can determine the best ending for your love triangle, and it will be dictated by both your characters and the rest of the plot and setting. You as the writer need to have a solid understanding of your main character and what s/he wants. Even if one of the corners is somehow taken from the equation, you still want your main character to be actively choosing their partner. Be true to the ground rules and the expectations you’ve established throughout the story, especially if there’s a fantasy element.

When all else fails, ask yourself this question: Are you readers going to be too busy rolling their eyes to enjoy that contrived happy ending?

BONUS ROUND!

I found this beautiful treat at the bookstore in my local Japanese grocery store, Mitsuwa. What do you guys think it is though?

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Summoning Pt6


You don’t wait to see how the guardsmen react to the gold now lying unclaimed in the dust. They are each working men, and that single coin could feed a family of four or five for a week. What they do with it is of no consequence to you though, and apparently not to the very grateful farmer ushering his old mare to keep pace with Azure’s energetic gant.

“Thank you,” he says when you’re out of earshot of the gate. “I doubt they would have let me go ‘er they broke a few bones. And for a man like me, broken bones means I can’t work, and no money for a healer.”

“Don’t mention it,” you tell him, reigning Azure in so you can assess one last time that he truly is no worse for wear. “You should be fine from here on, just keep your head down.”

The farmer’s pleased grin droops slightly. “But, um. I’m in your debt, lady. Will ya not at least allow me to give ya proper food at me home? Tis but a day’s smooth ride to the northwest.”

 
The road to your family home is due north from here, several days past where his lands would be. It’s not even high noon yet as the two roads are laid out before you. On the one hand is urgent, impending trouble and the other is the old man’s expectation and sense of honor.

8/22/16


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Royal purple morning glory, late summer 2016

Do you guys know what today is? It’s the end of a life chapter. I’ve known it was coming for almost two weeks now, and up until a couple of hours ago, I was approaching it with a mix of excitement and trepidation, trying to enjoy my suddenly finite free time. I was sure that when I got to today, I’d be nervous and jittery and scared, but now that I’m here… everything is okay. Today isn’t my last day of freedom. It’s the final deep breath before a new adventure starts.

Don’t laugh at me, but the reason for my whimsical mood is that I’ve gotten a new job. Without having actually worked it yet, I can’t say with certainty that it will be everything I hope it will be, but from this side looking it, I’m super excited. Finding, accepting and actually wanting this position is more than a career redirect. This is my next step to finding myself again after Eevee. It’s the newest way that I’m going to remind myself daily that I’m not just waiting anymore, I’m living. This job represents a new Whitney, still scarred and bruised, but pushing back to her feet.

I’m not going to change the world. Just my corner of it. But isn’t that how every one of our stories starts? With someone leaving home or coming to town? Don’t ever forget that we’re penning our own stories, every day.❤

What Do You Want?


A mini sunflower about to bloom. Spring 2016

A mini sunflower about to bloom. Spring 2016

One of the more challenging things I’ve dealt with since losing my daughter has been maintaining motivation. Motivation to get up in the morning, to be productive, to be worthy of the love and dedication my husband gives to me every single day. It’s a continual struggle that requires constant vigilance. I have to be hard on myself a lot – one bad day can spiral into a bad week or two, and then getting back to my feet is even harder than it was before. And every time the exhaustion and lack of will are compounded.

A couple of weeks ago, I fell into another slow, depression addled slump. I explained it away, rationalizing that I just needed a few days and then I’d be okay again. My energy would come back, the headaches would stop. But none of that happened, and I finally decided that I can’t be like that anymore.

Every morning now, I write on a new notebook page: WHAT DO I WANT? And then I fill the page with things that I want – big dreams, long-term goals and little, largely unimportant things. These are my motivation, I tell myself every morning. These are my reason to keep breathing.

What do you want?

Something in the Woods (complete)


#instagramstory #shortshort #microfiction

20160630_204744_001editedNo one ever went back that road. There were houses on either end, but it was the places in between people told stories about. They said there was more to that land than strange noises and walking shadows, more than a mere haunting at twilight. There were things in those woods. Even though I drove home that way every night, I’d never seen anything. Until the night I had a flat.

I wasn’t even supposed to be there. I rarely saw that place in full dark, but driving through that night I could see how people got ideas. Stories about things that go bump in the night are easier to tell when there’s dark isolation and no witnesses.

I must have hit a nail, and at a horrible angle. The POP shot through the air, but the woods swallowed the noise. I threw the shifter down to first, yanked on the old parking brake and turned the engine off.

Always be prepared. Isn’t that somebody’s motto? I wasn’t prepared. No pump, no tire iron, no spare.

I was a couple of miles from home. I could walk it. Continue reading

Dirt, Sweat and Daisies


If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. -Marcus Tullius Cicero

Gardening is an almost spiritual experience for me. The sun reddening my skin is my hymnal; my fingers in the dirt is my prayer; every carefully placed plant is a dream I leave in Mother Nature’s hands. To garden to believe in tomorrow. Continue reading

Summoning Pt5


The guardsman’s mouth drops open slightly as you speak, his gaze quickly reassessing you. Your clothes are commonplace and serviceable though, not unlike his under the chainmail shirt that is the city’s standard issue for its guards. But the head Magister’s name on your lips clearly gives him pause. You raise a single quizzical brow at him, casting your gaze over his shoulder to his companions, who have noticed finally that they are being watched.

He hesitates, but as you kick yourself into gear, beginning to turn the horse back towards the town, his arm shoots out in a pleading gesture. “It won’t nothing but some fun,” he tries to explain. “The man tests us so, crying foul over his flock when there’s nothing there harmin’ none of those sheep. But you’re right, there’s no call to be rough with him.”

He tosses a halting signal back to the others, and somewhat reluctantly they disengage, leaving their victim on the ground. Casting one last displeased glare at the man, you step around him and head for the gate.

As you approach, the other guardsmen fall away. Keeping Azure’s reins in hand, you reach down and bodily haul the wounded and wheezing man to his feet.

“Get back in your seat,” you whisper to him. “Do it now.”

Blood drips from his open mouth as he raises his eyes to you, assessing in that way wounded creatures have – cautious and fearful. His grizzled skin is pale and thin under the forming bruises. But then he takes stock of the men who had just been beating him standing at your back, waiting for the slightest opening to leap back in. He seems to decide that you are the lesser of two evils, and climbs with a suppressed groan back into his wagon seat, reaching for the reigns on his one grey packhorse.

You turn and hoist yourself up on Azure, settling easily into the saddle. Turning her, you find the guard who originally stopped you.