Melanie’s “My Thoughts Monday” #2
I have loosely discussed the topic of love triangles in literature before mostly with my small circle of bookish friends in a non-blog setting. One thing that all of us tend to agree upon is that love triangles have become one of the most abundant plot tools found within the young adult genre. The question though is why, why do love triangles keep popping up? What is it about love triangles that we find to be so intriguing? If we aren’t intrigued by them anymore, have we just gone into a state of general acceptance and expectation?
I’ve seen it asked in many places across the internet, the ever burning question of why do authors continue to use love triangles? What do love triangles actually accomplish in a book or series? My opinion on the matter has flipped and flopped a great deal on the subject, especially as I continued reading more young adult novels as I have gotten older. I remember that as a teenager I would eat up the premise of love triangles, they were the most sweet and delicious candy of plot tools because they were something that my fleeting teenage heart could relate to and understand. It is true, my teenage heart flitted through crushes on a regular basis. Looking at it this way begs the question, did I just outgrow the subject? Or did love triangles just lose their shimmer as they became more commonplace? I mean, I realize that at the age of 28 I am not exactly the target market for young adult novels anymore, but they feature the types of stories with which I find solace because I am able to temporarily escape the demands of reality. For me, this is the reason why I read young adult fiction is for those temporary moments of escape from the demands of life. Yet, the question still remains – what is a love triangle supposed to accomplish?
Love triangles can vary in their complexity, their intricacy, but their ultimate goal is somewhat more simplistic in nature. In my own opinion, love triangles are utilized by authors in order to bring about an intimate personal conflict that has the potential to lead to the overall development and growth of the characters involved. The reader is able to observe and watch as the characters involved perform this almost intricate dance and traverse different feelings and emotions, learning and growing from them. I can appreciate a love triangle which has some sort of a purpose, if there is some sort of growth from it on any personal level. It is the love triangles which have no seeming reason, the ones which are only being utilized to add some sort of sense of drama to the story which frustrate me. Yet, on some level parts of us still find love triangles to be intriguing.
The intrigue of a love triangle, in my opinion, brings attention to the most basic idea that we as human beings just want to be loved – we want to feel loved. I don’t want to generalize and suggest that all love triangles stem from one of the partners not feeling loved or appreciated, rather, in many instances the attention starts in an unsolicited manner. It could be some brief glance across a crowded room that sparks a seeming desire for a fleeting romance between two people who know nothing of each other, let alone the relationship status of the other person, which runs a blaze and ultimately becomes something more – it starts as nothing more than sheer lust. There is a majority of love triangles which stem from that need to feel loved though – that most basic desire to feel not only loved but appreciated. I feel like we are a generation which is willing to recognize and speak out against relationships which embody forms of negative and unhealthy behavior, we are a generation which focuses on the ideals of what it means to be in a healthy relationship and seek to make that a goal. Perhaps some of our intrigue with love triangles stems from recognizing the negative factors of a character’s current relationship and we cheer for them when they recognize that they are someone who can be loved and appreciated by someone else, by someone better.
I am not going to generalize and say all love triangles are bad, that isn’t the point of this post. My point for this post is that a love triangle is not a tool to be used lightly, it shouldn’t be used to just stir up drama and force additional conflict where it may not be necessary. The progression of a story from introduction to growing conflict to climax to conclusion can be done incredibly well with the correct use of writing style and word choice. Yet for some reason, there will be authors who decide to add to the growing conflict with relationship problems or a love triangle that doesn’t entirely make sense in light of the events in play. Ensure that the love triangle actually makes sense for the progression of the story and keep in mind the growth of characters, and you can create a successful love triangle premise in your story.