Monday, April 17, 2006

Love Triangles

Love Triangles
I've been giving this subject quite a lot of thought.  And of course, by a triangle, I mean one woman and two men -- this is a female's fantasy, after all.  You men, go write your own.
As I embark on my next novel, I've been examining classic love triangles and looking for the secret to a meaningful two-Kleenex story.  You know, the real classics, where a woman has to choose between two good and deserving men.  A story that just can't end without someone's heart bloody and scarred.  Now that I think about it, that someone is quite often ... dead.
King Arthur / Gwenivere / Lancelot.   
Tristan / Isolde / Lord Marc.
Edmund Dantes / Mercedes / Fernand Mondego.  
Hawkeye / Cora / Duncan.
Rhett / Scarlett / Ashley.
Rick / Ilsa / Victor.
Rafe / Evelyn / Danny.
Jack / Kate / Sawyer.  (This one is just developing, will have to stay tuned to see how it pans out.)
Popeye / Olive Oyl / Bluto.  (Okay, this is a bit of a stretch.  But hey, Olive seemed to see something in these guys.)
If you're a real romantic fiction fan, I don't have to identify the stories which laid these souls bare -- you've seen them over and over on the screen and read them a hundred times.  For those of you who have missed a few, let me take a moment to name the stories in order of their above appearance: Excalibur (or First Knight, or any one of a dozen other titles this story has had); Tristan and Isolde; The Count of Monte Cristo; Last of the Mohicans (movie version, in the original book it was much different);  Gone With the Wind; Casablanca; Pearl Harbor; Lost (one of my new favorite TV shows); and of course, Popeye the Sailorman.  Of course, in Olive's case, she was just plain blind not to see Bluto was a creep.  Other than that, these women all faced the decision of which good man to hurt.  Follow passion, or follow promises?
We all know, there is no way to control who we love -- the control lies in what we do about it.  I've looked at all of these stories and decided that I'm too much of a rule follower to take the leap.  As much as I wanted to see Ilsa stay with Rick that foggy night on the airfield tarmac, I know I would have dragged my sad, broken-hearted self up the steps into the waiting plane.  But it's the fantasy, the possibility that draws us back again and again to these stories.  I suppose that's part of the reason I became a writer, to take those leaps of the heart that I'm far too timid to take in real life. 
In fact, I'm embarking on my next rip-the-guy's-heart-out love triangle.  Even as I set him up for the fall, I can't help but love him myself.  Maybe he'll get a happy ending of his own on down the road -- See I just can't leave 'em broken and bleeding.
So how about you?  Follow passion?  Or follow promises?


Candy Halliday said...


One of my favorite love triangles (though you really never get to know the husband) is Bridges of Madison County.

I so wanted Francesca to follow her passsion and Robert Kincaid off into the sunset. But sigh. Like her, I would have followed my promises to my husband and my children.


Michelle Rowen said...

I have a love triangle in my first book. It's also going to play a pivotal role in the sequel. My editor told me it was unusual to have a triangle when compared with other books in the genre. However, she didn't want me to change a thing. But the thing with love triangles in a romance novel is there's ultimately a loser when the heroine makes her final decision. But the loser of mine gets to be the hero of my forth book. So everybody wins. *g*

And I hate the Jack/Sawyer/Kate triangle. Mostly because i hate Jack and Kate. ;-)

Diane Perkins said...

I can't believe you missed

Christine / Rauol / THE PHANTOM!!!

Of course, I'm not sure you can call the Phantom "good and deserving" but he certainly would have been the passionate, unsafe, choice, one that took greater risks but perhaps promised the greater of love's rewards. I think there are millions of women who were rooting for The Phantom!

Diane (still obsessed)

Diana Holquist said...

My favorite triangle was the love triangle in Briget Jone's diary--the movie version (although it was in the book too). Who could say no to Hugh Grant? Or Colin Firth? How to choose? Twice the fun, I say.

Susan Crandall said...

Okay, Diane, it's not that I didn't think of the Phantom -- and you're right about greater risk, greater love. Still it was the good and deserving that kept the poor guy off my list. I'll be sure and include him next time!

And Diana -- no way could I say no to Colin Firth ... Hugh Grant ... maybe.

Candy -- That particular triangle didn't even come to mind (shame on me). I guess because we never met love #1.

Elizabeth Hoyt said...

But Hughie G. was soooo wicked in BRIGET 2! I dunno, he was looking awfully good in that one. Almost made me forget about the hooker thing.

MaryF said...


I love love triangles!