Kernels of Nonsense is a weekly feature on my blog where I discuss various book-related topics. This week I will be ranting about the love triangle as a plot device and what makes it a poor choice when trying to write strong protagonists.
I know for many the appeal of the love triangle is hard to resist. For others the love triangle is a complete turn off.
I fall somewhere in the middle. Usually when I read a book and begin to realize a love triangle is forming, I feel a sense of trepidation. This isn’t because I necessarily hate such complicated relationships. It is rather that I know myself and in these situations I know I will ultimately choose one character over another and when the story tilts in the favor of the other (there is no real love triangle without a bit of flip-flopping), I will be suffering internally, feeling the injustice done to my character. Inevitable I’m going to yell at the protagonist caught in the middle, “What are you doing? Why are you being so stupid? What is this? Are you kidding?”
What I tire of is the unconvincing love triangles. These are the ones where I begin to wonder what is so appealing about the other character and whether or not anyone out there is rooting for them. Then I begin to suspect that the author has just conjured up this love triangle to make her story more interesting. These are the authors that don’t realize that readers can be just as emotionally invested in a single relationship than one where the protagonist is caught in the middle. Worse yet is when neither relationship makes sense and you sort of wish the author had scrapped the whole romantic angle altogether.
My real problem with love triangles is how the protagonist comes across as indecisive and fickle. She may seem to commit to one character and have an inner dialogue with herself about her feelings for said character only to find herself having thoughts for another character on the next page. It isn’t even these conflicting feelings that aggravate me the most–it’s when she acts on these capricious emotions (not the most reliable, I’m telling you, someone ought to tell her this), sending mixed signals to both characters and leading them both on. These protagonists do not seem to know themselves at all; at the very least they don’t know what they want and somehow believe kissing two people in the same day is a good decision. I cannot help but think she ought to spend more time on herself before she even considers a relationship with either character instead of making me roll my eyes and begin to question whether she is sensible at all.
Tell me, do love triangle sometime drive you a little crazy too?