{Love Triangles 101} The Formula


I have not had a good week for IT stuff. Today I planned on sharing a hand drawn mathematical formula for creating the perfect love triangle surrounded by annotations explaining each point but, alas, it was not meant to be. This keep freezing, or cropping, or getting blurry, or just generally thwarting me at every turn… so instead I’m going to opt for a list. Lists are good, right?

So here is my little list of things that love triangles NEED if they want me to enjoy them:

  • Characters must all be strong in their own right. Their sole function in the book should not be to add an obstacle the main guy and gal getting together
  • Stereotypes are quite frankly banned. Is anyone else interested in a shy and previously unloved supreme beauty being fought over by two Greek gods (one blonde and friendly, one dark and broody) Give us some imperfection. Let us dream that these things can happen to someone as average as us.
  • The love triangle should be a sub-plot, not the entire focus of the novel.
  • The protagonist’s choice should be a slowly revealed journey – we don’t want to know from page 1 who ends up together.
  • Throw in a few red herrings for good measure – we like it if things aren’t so obvious (and I promise we can handle it…)
  • Know that if you try to weave in any cringeworthy self-analysis that at best belongs on daytime TV, you will lose the respect of readers everywhere.
  • Metaphors are good, and it’s good for love interests to represent something more, but can we try something a bit more original than ‘he represents her secure, domesticated self and he represents her wild child side’?
  • Give the love interests a bond, independent from the protagonist. Nothing makes a love triangle more harrowing, or more complex. Look at Elena, Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries… the fact that the Salvatore brothers love each other more than anything makes that whole storyline more compelling, and more fraught with emotion.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but what do you think makes a love triangle particularly enjoyable?

D x

P.S. Don’t forget to check out LT101’s hosts over at A Novel Idea.



6 thoughts on “{Love Triangles 101} The Formula

  1. Love your list so much, it’s always great to know that I’m not the only reader with the same thoughts! I really, truly feel that love triangles often undermine the individual personalities of the people involved; it’s like the triangle swallows them whole and they become defined by this romantic drama instead of their own personal struggles and goals. And YES, there should be a bond between the people involved, I think it really adds a new dimension to the conflict.

    Thanks Daire, such a thoughtful post!! I’m glad you persevered despite the IT issues!!

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  3. Yes, to all the points though sometimes I don’t exactly mind there being decided from the start who’s going to be the winning guy if the plotting is done amazingly well (like in The Hunger Games, even if not purely a love triangle). And yes, everyone wanting to include a love triangle in their books must first watch The Vampire Diaries to how just how it is done. I don’t mind the love triangle and it’s so much more better than found in most YA.

    Great post, Daire!

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