I am not a romance writer; the amount of romance in IN THE
AFTER is very little, and the small amount that can be found is very subtle.
But I have a confession…I love love triangles, especially in YA lit, which I read
almost exclusively. I know some people feel very strongly (and very negatively)
about them, but before you unfollow, unlike, block, and write me off completely,
let me explain my affection for the much maligned YA love triangle.
Choices, Choices –
Choice in YA lit is not a bad thing. Teens may not feel like they have a lot of say over their daily life, but most teens can decide who they date (or if their parents are strict, at least who they want to date.) Portraying teens as in charge of their own life, and as having choices when it comes to something so important, is a positive trend.
Having a character choose between two or more
love interests can also be a great plot device. It can keep the reader interested in
a love subplot or rooting for one character over another…but it goes beyond
plot progression. Why is heartthrob A better than heartthrob B? How do their
traits differ? What makes one a better choice than the other? A character reveals a lot about themselves through the
choices they make, and choosing between love interests can round out an MC. Of
course, this can be done poorly. Two supermodel-esq teens fight over an MC who
isn’t very interesting or dynamic. I’m not saying simply having a love triangle
will make a story, but it can definitely enhance it when done right.
- When you have an MC that is kick-ass, smart, hot, and interesting, who
wouldn’t want to date them? If the MC were dull, they probably wouldn’t be the
MC…they’d be the best friend or the tertiary character stuck in the background.
When there’s an awesome MC, I think it’s completely realistic that there would
be multiple guys (or girls) chasing them and perhaps these suitors are less
than ideal. It would be equally realistic that they would try to avoid the
attention of the shallow/jerk/meathead/overbearing character.
I personally have never had to choose between two equally
wonderfully perfect guys who each pursued me with a passionate fury…but I’ve had
plenty of unwanted weirdo creep attention. It’s just part of being human.
Someone you wouldn’t give the time of day to will like you, while you like
someone else who doesn’t know you exist. Yes, it’s harsh, but it’s also high
Crushed - The definition of a crush is: a temporary romantic attraction, especially in teenagers and young people. Though they are not always lumped in with the love triangle, crushes are a huge part of
YA lit…and with that comes crushes on multiple characters. I think this is
Not every attraction ends in meeting your soul mate and
results in a lifelong relationship. It's normal for teens to crush on someone one week and lose interest the next, that's why it's called a crush and not love eternal. It's also normal for teens to have multiple crushes at once. My high school guy friends always had at least three or four girls they were interested in at any given time. That many crushes in a novel may be unwieldy, so I can see why some stories stick to the two crush scenario, which gets them put squarely into the love triangle category. (Ha! Squarely into the triangle...never mind.)
And yes, sometimes along the course of a novel a crush develops into love
and can result in breaking an MC’s heart (See love (un)interests above) but that’s just another part of growing
up. And when the crush character doesn’t break the MC's heart? The progression
from crush to relationship can really drive a story. And let’s be honest, an MC’s
early crush on the "wrong" character also makes it all the more satisfying if
they do wind up with the "right" character at the end.
That’s my take on love triangles. I love any YA lit that realistically
portrays teen emotions and all the depth (and sometimes the shallowness) that
comes along with finding yourself and growing into adulthood.
What's your take on the love triangle in YA lit? Love them? Hate
them? Feel free to rant…I love a good rant!