Those Pesky Love Triangles- Marie Andreas

Love triangles- those often pesky, always angst inducing, tidbits of trouble that pop up in movies and books.  Some are great, some are meh, and some are just plain awful.

For the most part readers either love them or hate them.  I have a friend who will give an author only a few chapters to resolve one or she will walk away from the book (and series).

I personally have never been a huge fan of them. For the most part I see them falling in two categories: 1) The one good guy, one bad, or 2) two good guys.  The first one bugs me because if the one guy is bad–then why in the heck is the heroine with him?  The author better have a dang good reason, otherwise I’m thinking we have a not-so-bright heroine here and I’m most likely to walk away from reading further.  The second one bugs me because oft times there really is no solid reason that we as readers can see as to why she picks one over the other.  Both are awesome, both seem perfect. Did she throw a dart?  All of a sudden she just picks one.

I personally would never really use one in my books because of my feelings about them as a reader.  I just didn’t see that many done really well.  But, this week-end I went to a one-day workshop with Michael Hauge (awesome- see him if you can!).  He examines the inner journey as part of his lecture.  And the main part of that journey is the transformation of the character from their “identity” (who they believe they are) into their “essence” (who they REALLY are).  That is the emotional arc for the length of your book.

For a great love triangle you need to have one “Essence” lover and one “Identity” lover.  In other words, one of the men reflects or is a part of the woman’s identity-who she thinks she is (or is trying to appear to be), the other reflects or is part of her essence–who she really is and will become (she just doesn’t know it yet).

A good example comes from one of the first Urban Fantasy authors, Laurel K. Hamilton.  In her Anita Blake series, the character starts out with two love interests of a sort- Jean-Claude (vampire) and Richard (werewolf) (this was waaaay before Twilight folks- Laurel K. started the trend ;)).

Anita is a necromancer/ vampire executioner who doesn’t want to think of her self as one of the monsters.  Richard, a High School teacher who passes for human whenever he can- is a great “identity” love interest.  He’s who she thinks she should be with because of who she thinks she is (not a monster).  Jean-Claude as all “monster”  he embraces being a vampire.  Anita finds herself drawn to him also because he is her “essence”-a monster (not in the bad sense- it’s how she sees things).

When Anita began being more drawn into her essence, she was pulled more towards Jean-Claude.  She’d get scared and run back to Richard, but then she’d go back to Jean-Claude as her sense of her true self grew.

If an author is able to clearly show this, to show how the one lover is in line with who the heroine will be at the end of the book (or series) then it wouldn’t make for a pesky love triangle- rather it’ll just make for damn fine reading :).




This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged by RWA San Diego. Bookmark the permalink.

About RWA San Diego

The Romance Writers of America's San Diego chapter promotes excellence in romantic fiction, helps writers become published and establish careers in their writing field, and provides continuing support for writers within the romance publishing industry. Contact us for more information about RWASD.

10 thoughts on “Those Pesky Love Triangles- Marie Andreas

    • Thanks Cassi! I think I might like them more if I can see which love is the identity and which is the essence ;). Or if that isn’t there I might just get more annoyed-LOL!


  1. Terrific post, Marie! That’s great advice about an “identity” love interest and an “essence” one. I would say the same could be true about secondary characters who are friends of the main characters–some are “identity” friends and some “essence”. Thanks for opening my mind to a new way of thinking about craft!

    • Thanks, Melissa! LOL- ok, I sat through that entire awesome workshop and never made the leap to secondary characters! DURH (insert head smack here) that would be an awesome way to indicate change as well! Thank YOU for expanding on my idea :).


  2. Thanks Marie,
    I lucked out, I guess, or I’m just so damn good. My hero, a spy, lived a monogamous but loveless life with a woman he could have fun with. They had an agreement. A disaster made him wonder if it wasn’t time to change and along comes our heroine (essence). She’s everything he would want if he only could change, love and settle down. The first girl decides she wants more and hangs around, fighting to not let go. To make him choose her. But, she’s not compatible and besides the new girl drives him crazy with feelings he doesn’t yet fully understand.

  3. Great post Marie! 🙂

    Sounds like the workshop was awesome too!


    PS – I’m not a big love triangle reader either, but if it’s done really well it obviously works for lots of people! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s