Everyone wants to see it happen: that tense, frustrating, and agonizing divide between their favorite characters. Everyone chooses sides, makes bets, heck even decides whose babies would look cuter.
Yup, everyone loves a delicious, drama-filled love triangle.
Or do they?
Believe it or not, not every love triangle is a sure-fire guarantee to both indulging and satisfying your reader’s love for the dramatic. In fact, you may be creating a love triangle that no one will even care about, if you’re not careful!
So how do you know if the love triangle you’ve created in your story is pulling on the right heart strings? How do you properly vamp up the drama in your novel?
There are three questions to ask yourself when creating a love triangle that is sure to drive your readers mad. In fact, three ‘W’s to ask yourself, more precisely.
Is the first ‘W’ to ask yourself when creating a spicy love triangle. Who is the love triangle between?
Think about the cast of characters in your story for a moment. Simply ask yourself: of them all, who is most likely to enter into a situation like this? Who is least likely to? Who would this situation effect the most? Which characters would your reader want to see a romance bloom between?
The most important factor to remember when choosing your characters for a juicy love triangle is this: your character should not exist based on the soul purpose of creating a love triangle.
You’re probably saying, “What?! But that’s why he’s there! He’s a very important character because he creates the wedge between my two other characters!”
And that’s great. But the thing is, your reader is only going to get annoyed by that guy. The general consensus will be against him. Why? Because they don’t know him at all! He exists merely to split up two people your reader is already invested in.
Your love triangle will be more profoundly engaging to your reader when the triangle exists between three characters they know and have already traveled a long way with.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t include a newly introduced character in a love triangle. What it does mean is this: it is vital to build that character up, let your reader get to know who he is and what he is capable of before the love triangle begins to bloom. In this way, when the sparks of tension begin to fly, your reader will be doubly interested in the outcome of the drama. And isn’t that really what we all want? Readers invested in our characters.
Now that we have our well-crafted characters selected, it’s time to then ask yourself…
What is going to be put at stake when this love triangle blooms? What will happen to your characters when the final decision is made? What will happen to the rest of your characters when this triangle is introduced? And most importantly, what will the final outcome effect about your overall story?
Yes, all these questions matter when creating a love triangle. True frustrating tension must hang all these questions in the balance. Not only this, but the answers must also be satisfying to your reader.
If your love triangle, upon emerging, leaves an already existing relationship hanging in the balance, that will add loads of tension between your characters, and will spark drama your readers are sure to feast on.
If the main character caught in between the triangle should feel cornered, or lost as a result of the decision she must make, the reader will feel her same emotions. Better yet, the reader will even try to subconsciously “mentor” your character through their decision, based on their own vote on the matter.
If the triangle effects not just the three choice characters, but their friends or enemies as well, that will add a substantial amount of purpose to the existence of your love triangle.
If the love triangle itself or the ultimate decision that comes from it alters the very path your story will take, then that adds unending value to its existence as well.
See, to create a love triangle that your reader will appreciate, it must affect your story more profoundly than merely adding a sprinkle of drama. While it does not have to be the sole focus of your story, it should exist for the same reason all of your characters exist: a true, solid purpose which supports the message of your story. The less petty the purpose behind it, the more your readers are invested in it.
Now that we have asked ourselves what is at stake with our existing love triangle, we must ask ourselves one final ‘W’…
Why does your reader care? Why does the love triangle exist? Why does it matter to your characters? Why do you feel it must be in your story?
Now I know most of these questions I’ve already brushed upon. But these questions sum up the exact things you should be asking yourself upon creating a love triangle. Remember, when creating a love triangle, do not just focus on the love triangle itself. Focus on why it is happening.
Your reader is less likely to care about a love triangle between characters they aren’t invested in.
You must sincerely ask yourself why the love triangle in your story exists. Again, if it is merely to add a dash of drama, your reader is less likely to be invested in the outcome.
If your love triangle does not effect any fellow characters or enemies in any way, there is much less on the line, therefore the love triangle has less purpose to your story.
Finally, ponder over why you feel your love triangle must exist in your story. Although everyone loves lip-biting, romantic tension between characters, it may not always be necessary. If you feel it is awkwardly placed in your story, or seems to fade into the background, it may be time to reevaluate its worth in your story.
On the other hand, if you feel confident of the love drama you’ve created in your novel, then I’m sure it will add the right amount of depth and tension your readers will devour.
How about you? What do you think helps create romantic tension between characters? What atmosphere creates the right time and place for a love drama in a story?
Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear what you have to say.