Friday, 8 July 2011

You're Making Me Blush!

Question: Are authors getting lazy in their portrayal of love? Let me ask it another way... how many times have you read this in a review/blurb recently?

"In the midst of it all (heroine) must decide who she can trust: sweet and loyal (good boy) or mysterious bad boy (...bad boy)."

It's gotten to the point where I, as a reader, will put down a book if I see that on the back cover.

There are dozens of reasons why love triangles can work, and I think that's because there are dozens of reasons to fall in love with someone. Why did your hero fall in love with your heroine? Let's look at a couple options:

The Timing Was Strangely Right: He had a fight with his parents, she was the rebel girl smoking at the park. He broke up with a girlfriend, she was the sweet waitress who gave him free coffee. He moved to a new city, she was the girl who was always welcoming to the new kids.

Mystery: She does something odd, without any immediate reason. Curiosity is a common precursor to romantic interest, didn't you know? :)

Instant Attraction: Another old standby, but a believable one. The problem is that most immediate instant attractions are physical, and a lot of literature describes it as an immediate mental/spiritual connection.

Old Friends Meet Again: This one is pretty fun, but it works best when there's been a significant amount of time in between the meetings.

Strange First Meeting: Because, face it, we like people who stand out. And when you meet someone for the first time in a game of spin-the-bottle, you'll treat them differently than if you met them at a sporting event.

What about characters who SHOULD fall in love, but for some reason don't?

The Timing Was Horribly Wrong: He just got engaged. She just met a boy she thinks will be her forever prince. She has a career. He just got fired. He just made a breakthrough in independence after his last break-up. She just found out her little sister is coming home from boarding school.

No Mystery: You know exactly where the relationship would go from the beginning.

No Attraction: This can be battled through, I think, but who wants to try and fall in love with someone they're not attracted to?

Old Friends Meet Again: ... and can't stand each other. Too many bad memories. Or maybe the friendship is too important to risk.

Bad First Meeting: She's his new, aggressive, uncaring boss. He's the officer that arrested her brother.

So... how about some mix and match? Or take the above reasons to love/not to love and play around with them, break them, contradict them. Have fun! :)

What are some old romantic standbys you're getting sick of? What books have you read recently that shed new light on the love triangle?



L.G.Smith said...

God, I haven't read a good love story in a long time (must correct that!).

Marsha Sigman said...

I think you pretty much listed them all. But I agree, it's boring and I'm all for something new and twisty.

Wait...I'm writing it so never

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Bethany!
I agree with Marsha. I think you've covered most of the bases.

I won't even ask Poet his opinion. We don't need to go there.

Morgan said...

I think the thing that annoys me the most (which you mentioned, I just want to rag on it a bit :P) is just the whole "instantly falling in love" or lack of providing a reason behind it. Especially if the romance is a main part of the book. I want to see the character's falling for each other, not just instantly be enamored with one another. Most of the relationships I've seen in real life that started out with instant attraction didn't last- first impressions are often wrong.

I'll have to keep thinking on books with unique love triangles. I'm sure I've read a few, they're just not coming to mind right now.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't tend to read those kinds of books, but the love triangle seems worn out.

Elana Johnson said...

Love this post! I find most of the love triangles I read to be ordinary. That sounds terrible, and I still enjoy the books, but yeah.

Lots for me to think about here as I write...

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't like it when the MC is all "OMG he's so dreamy!" throughout the story. Yes, I get it, the love interest is good-looking--but what about his personality? Sometimes there can be a big difference between the two, if you ask me. :P

I awarded you over on my blog, by the way. :)

Missed Periods said...

Did you see the movie Age of Innocence? It's an older movie with Daniel Day Lewis and Michelle Pfeifer. I got why he fell in love with her, but I couldn't quite buy that she was in love with him. It was just so sudden. I bet it was handled better in the book.

Sangu said...

Great post - I've found the same thing with so many books out there lately. I love a good instant attraction and growing mutual respect/genuinely strong feelings kind of plot, but the 'instant love and mindblowing connection' thing annoys me no end. It's so rarely believable.

Madeleine said...

Oh I love all these pointers. Will bookmark them now Blogger follow buttons awol today, so I can't yet :O)

Francine Howarth said...


Food for thought post.

That's why I like writing historical romances. Instant attraction can be there, but often as not a bridegroom in an arranged marriage is far from desirable. The heroine can either run away and rebel (cliched) or be forced to do whomever's bidding. I chose for my heroine to refuse marriage, and although a lady of rank she's then sold to the highest bidder, not knowing her eventual fate! :o


Lisa Marie said...

I agree. Writers have definitely gotten lazier about the subject. I find it annoying that when I walk into a book store and go to the young adult section, 9 out of every 10 books sounds exactly the same. Once you've read one, you've read them all. Ugh.