Triangles

Yes, I'm up at a god-awful hour. There's a dog barking out front, really weird sounding barks, and then I saw a man walking up and down the street (our bedroom's in the front of the house) and then the phone rang. I didn't get to it in time, but surely if it was an emergency they would have left a message, right?

Anyway, I'll go back to bed in a bit, when my heart stops pounding.

I love love triangles – GOOD love triangles, where you’re rooting for one guy or the other, where each guy (or girl) is just as deserving of the love of the main girl (or guy.) Okay, to be honest, I’m not so much in love with 2 girls and a guy triangles. But having two guys vying for your love…that I can get behind!

One of my favorite love triangles was the Pacey/Joey/Dawson one on Dawson’s Creek. I really wanted Pacey to win. (And seriously, the two of them, on the boat all summer, and NOTHING happened??? Tell me another one.)

I want Kate to end up with Sawyer, Jim to end up with Pam on The Office, even though I like Karen, and Roy seems to know what he’s lost, Peter to end up with Simone on Heroes.

I think Grey’s did a great triangle with Derek/Meredith/Addison, especially when they gave Addison such a great personality. I thought the Alex/Izzy/Denny triangle was good. But the Derek/Meredith/McVet triangle fell flat for me. McVet was very deserving, but Meredith wasn’t, if that made sense. You knew she’d never treat him right because she would always wonder about Derek.

In books, triangles seem more prevalent in series than standalones, probably because there’s more time to lay out the characters and conflicts. Look at Stephanie Plum (Morelli, please. But I stopped reading about 6 books ago – I can’t keep up.)

In recent reading, Colleen Gleason’s The Rest Falls Away, I rooted for Rockley, the regular guy in Victoria’s life, to give her balance. Trish was rooting for Max. Maybe she’ll come by and tell us why ;)

Stef Feagan had readers vote to choose a hero for her heroine, Pink, in her Bombshell books. She said she never intended to have a triangle, but the one guy kept taking over bigger chunks of the book, and she fell in love with both of them.

Why do readers pick sides? Because the writer makes the characters so real, gives them vulnerabilities and strengths that make us pull for them. I tend to root for the character that seems to reach a deeper need of the main character.

In my zoo story, that I wrote a million years ago, I wrote a triangle. The other woman was such a bitch, she made the hero look weak for loving her.

Now that I’m looking at Spy Girl again, I’m thinking about how to strengthen the characters so that not only will my heroine have a hard time choosing, so will the readers.

I know first I need to beef up my heroine. She needs to be worthy of two men battling over her. (Another problem with the McDreamy/Meredith/McVet triangle – I never got that Meredith was worthy of all that competition.)

And then I need to give my potential heroes appealing traits. One friend suggested each man needs to address a different need in the heroine, so I would need to make each need equally strong, right? Hey, there might be something to this plotting thing after all!

That same friend suggested that I make the bad guy appeal to her dangerous side and the good guy make her feel safe. Another friend suggested I make the good guy act like a bad boy, and I thought about the bad guy making her feel, well, not safe, because she knows who he is and what he’s done, but…you know?

Have you ever written a triangle? How did you make all the characters appealing without making it obvious who the heroine would end up with on the first page?

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5 comments:

Marianne Arkins said...

I can only comment on Heroes (sorry... I'm TV challenged) -- but I don't like Peter and Simone together. He's such a little boy IMHO, and she's all mature and sophisticated... it feels like a mom with her kid to me. Besides, Isaac is a hottie. I pictured Peter with Claire... right up until I discovered that Claire is his niece... eww...

Yeah, triangles. In one of my WIPs (actually in all of them, come to think of it), I have them. But only in ONE would the reader need to choose sides. The others are obvious and now that I've read you post, I think I need to change that.

Thanks!

Trish Milburn said...

I agree with Marianne. Something about the Peter-Simone pairing doesn't work for me. I'm not sure how much of an age difference there is between Claire and Peter, but hey, that one isn't going to happen now anyway. Plus, I like her and Zach together.

As far as my affinity for Max in Colleen's series, there are those sparks between them right from the start. He doesn't think she has what it takes to be a venator; she's determined to show him he does. He's a sexy guy living in the world that is going to be her life from now on. He gets what she does like no one else ever will. Yes, Rockley is a nice guy, but I didn't feel "sparkage" like I did with Max. I guess the next four books will tell us who Victoria ends up with.

Bonnie Ferguson said...

I'm with Trish. I like Max too :)

Natalie Damschroder said...

Claire is 15. Peter's at LEAST 10 years older. That's not much later on, but it's WAY "ew" now.

Zach was written as homosexual, which I never "got," but apparently now his manager is throwing sh** fits about it and he...well, it's a spoiler, but suffice to say I don't think there's going to be a romance there.

I don't see Peter as a little boy, and I don't see Simone as mature. I think Peter is sweet and compassionate and confident when he's NOT dealing with his brother. I like Simone, but she's not playing fair with either man.

In other venues:

I choose Ranger all the way, but love Joe.

Definitely want Steve for Pink, though that one is very tough to choose.

I find a true, solid triangle (like you're describing, Mary) makes romance much more exciting, and I want to see more and more of it. I hope readers do, too, because I've been doing it a lot.

The way I keep them guessing? I don't know who the heroine will choose until the end, myself. :)

MaryF said...

Or the heroine goes and surprises you by picking the wrong guy!

I like Steve, too.

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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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