Solution Saturday: I Smell a Love Triangle


Love triangles appear in stories so often it’s sometimes difficult to realize they’re coming before they settle comfortably into a plot. Even when you’re the one writing the story, sometimes characters have a way of subtly revealing their true feelings even if you didn’t plan it out that way.

Which can be frustrating, if you hate love triangles, but realize you’re in the middle of writing one into your story.

Are you anti-love triangle? There are ways to make it work even if you’ve told yourself a thousand times you’d never let it happen to your characters.

Solution 1: Keep it simple

Every story needs a little drama, and a love triangle is a go-to for many writers. There’s no secret, unwritten law that says every love story involving three people has to be complicated.

A love triangle can run as an underlying element throughout an entire story without becoming its major focal point. You can drop hints that one character has feelings for another without anyone ever actually addressing it. That still counts, and that’s probably more realistic than a werewolf and a vampire pining for the same girl for four straight books (sorry). 

Solution 2: Make sure each love interest is also a significant part of the main plot

Don’t develop a character just to give a love triangle a strong third side. If he or she isn’t all that important to the story, don’t grant them significance just to make things more interesting.

It’s not as daunting if an important major character just so happens to have a crush on another character, who happens to have a crush on someone else. Keep it a side plot. It’s not very often someone’s oh-so-complicated love life is constantly their main focus. Tie it into the story, but don’t overdo it.

Solution 3: Things don’t have to end with a choice

Your story doesn’t have to end with the main character choosing between one love interest or the other. That’s probably what sets a lot of anti-love-trainglers off: when a story pushes the idea that everything always has to conclude with a definite answer.

Going along with that, not everyone gets a happy ending. And just because one guy gets the girl and the other doesn’t, doesn’t mean they’re all going to be friends forever and everything’s fine. Think of Snape, okay? He lost his love, like, twice over. (Ugh, sorry!)

Characters tend to do things we never planned for. Fictional people fall in and out of love just like real people do. If a love triangle is brewing, don’t fight it. You might be able to weave it into your story without banging your head against your keyboard every five minutes.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Genre Breakdown: Romance


It’s the best-selling genre in the North American paperback market. These novels are perfect to grab for an easy beach read or to carry you through that awkward time of night between the halt of productivity and the exhaustion that immediately precedes sleep. Romance is all around us anyway: it makes sense that reading about it is a popular pastime, too.

But what does it take to write a romance novel? Is it really as easy as it seems?

What makes a romance novel a romance novel? 

There’s a major difference between a romantic storyline within a larger plot and a romantic plot with secondary storyline woven underneath it. A romance novel puts the developing relationship between two people above everything else. In a romance novel, if you take out the romance, well, the significance of all other events that occur just crumbles. 

Romance novels are short and simple; while the story itself might seem complicated, for dramatic effect, the storytelling isn’t. They’re meant to be consumed quickly, but writing them isn’t quite as simple. Forget the myth that there has to be a formula: be original. Make your romance unique. 

Recent books and their authors 

Don’t Tell the Brides-to-Be by Anna Bell

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

Myth and Magic by Mae Clair

How to write successfully in this genre

If you take away only one thing from this post, let it be this: amidst all your focus on the love story in front of you, do not forget to include a plot.

Without a plot, a love story is just snippets of people in love, and as interesting as that might sound on the surface, that’s all you’re going to have as a result: a shallow puddle of meaningless fragments of what could have been a pretty great book, if you hadn’t forgotten to write an actual story.

Yes, focus on the romance, the characters, the tension, everything that makes a romance novel different from a book that just so happens to have a romantic sub-plot. But don’t think you can get away with pulling off a romantic masterpiece just by using colorful language and copious amounts of adjectives and metaphors. You’re not fooling anybody. Sorry.

Of course, you still have to tie your romantic themes into each element of your story, but please, make it count.

Don’t write in the romance genre if you just want to be successful in the publishing market. Getting published, and then getting published again, is a challenge no matter your chosen genre. If you’re going to write romance, literally, put your heart into it. Make it what you want it to be, not necessarily what someone else might be expecting. 

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.