Day 22: Least Favourite Plot Device.

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Hey guys, today we’re going to be talking about…….LOVE TRIANGLES. Doesn’t that sound fun?

Today’s topic is your ‘least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise’ but I shortened the title because hey, WORDY.

So we all know that love triangles are a painfully consistent trend in YA at the moment, and and it doesn’t seem like it will be changing any time soon. I feel that there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, love triangles are an obvious go-to when an author needs to stretch their book into a trilogy and don’t have enough material. If you pick up any YA trilogy out there I can almost guarantee you will find a love triangle in it, and that the second book will be packed with filler. Secondly, publishers feel it is a safe gamble. They look at other popular YA series, (the obvious one being Twilight) and see the sales. A light bulb goes on in their head that love triangles = money and they become instantly more likely to consider manuscripts for publication that contain them. It is the same as any other trend like vampires, werewolves, angels, fairytales, (that one kind of failed) Greek mythology and dystopia. Finally having two love interests is a good way to get people talking about your book. Teens will be having debates over Team Gale or Team Peeta for hours, passionately defending their fictional crush. It’s good publicity for the book to have devoted fandoms that readers can debate over.

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To the left is a selection of books/series that contain love triangles, and those are only the ones I have read! I have plenty of other series on my shelf like Divergent, Delirium, Shiver, The Wolves of Mercy Falls and Sookie Stackhouse that I haven’t read yet, and I would be willing to bet money on the fact that they contain love triangles too.

This post is not to to say that love triangles are necessarily bad. I like that they don’t promote love as a sure thing, noting that it is okay to have doubts and to waver. I also think it’s great it suggests first love doesn’t have to be the only love (although the protagonist usually ends up with the first love anyway). My issue is that there are just TOO DARN MANY OF THEM. Looking at my YA series shelf I am hard pressed to find something that doesn’t have a love triangle. It’s repetitive and boring. It’s gotten to the point that whenever a new guy turns up in a book I roll my eyes with an internal notification, ‘love triangle alert’. It usually leads to me putting the book down in frustration and leaving it for a couple of days before going back to it. I think to myself “can’t we just skip this bit and get to the point where character A and B get back together and solve the issues at hand? We all know it’s going to happen anyway.”

Here’s my biggest issue with love triangles: They only work if they are believable, if you genuinely can’t choose which guy or girl you would like the character to end up with. Otherwise, they’re a waste of time. Unfortunately they’re rarely believable. Authors spend so much time creating an epic, impenetrable love in the first book that when they haphazardly slap another guy into the mix with minimal character development, it doesn’t work. We know how much the protagonist loves the first guy, we know that there’s no chance she’s going to pick the second guy over the first so it becomes irritating. I’ll never forget my teen self reading New Moon as quickly as possible so I could get back to the part where Edward would reappear, as opposed to all the Jacob drama.

The few novels where the love triangles worked for me include The Hunger Games because of how Katniss developed and changed over time, The Sky is Everywhere and Kissed by an Angel because these two included grief over the death of someone. That’s a very small percentage. The rest? Pretty pitiful.

I’m not suggesting books should omit love triangles altogether, but please I beg of you authors/publishers, change it up a bit!

What is your least favourite plot device? Are you a fan of love triangles in books? 🙂

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29 thoughts on “Day 22: Least Favourite Plot Device.

  1. Mmm…House of Night..that’s more like a love pentagon. 🙂 I don’t remember there being a love triangle in Divergent; maybe, a slight one. You should move it to the top of your to read list. I really enjoyed reading it and can’t wait for the film and the third book to come out.

    • Hahaa unfortunately too true. I don’t even know what you would call HoN, it was a love triangle at first and then escalated to crazy proportions.
      Divergent is very high on my list right now because I want to read it before the film comes out. 🙂 It looks great so I hope I will enjoy it.

      Thanks for reading Yasmine!

  2. Completely agree! I dislike the wishy washy love triangle, or the obviously slap-dash ones. Though sometimes they are fun, they are often simply annoying.
    You are coming into the 30 day home stretch! 🙂

    • Thank you, I know that you also read a lot of YA, urban fantasy and paranormal so this must be something you have encountered a lot of too!
      I agree they can be a lot of fun when done well, the problem is that this seems to be happening less and less. :/

      I am! I can’t believe it. 🙂 I think it’s going to be more crawling over the finish line but at least I will get over it!

  3. I agree! The love triangle move is overdone, unrealistic and often distracts from the story. I’m happy to say that Shiver does not have a love triangle in it which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. Great pick for today! 🙂

    • Overdone is the perfect word. I also think it’s a shame that they are making two guys fighting over a girl seem desirable, I get that it is a fun fantasy but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be!
      Yay, that’s so good to know because I’m not sure how many more I could take. 😀

  4. Ah, yes. Love triangles are one of my biggest pet peeves in the YA genre (the other being instalove). I do agree that they work in some situations like in the Hunger Games trilogy, but I wish they didn’t occur in nearly every YA book.

    • Mine too! Insta love drives me insane most of the time too! There is the very occasional book that handles it well but it’s very rare and not at all realistic to real life!
      I think it worked in The Hunger Games because while it was there it was in no way the focus of the story and Katniss had bigger things on her mind than who she was going to pick as her soul mate!

  5. Wooo! I am pleased to see that people are generally agreeing that the triangle in Hunger Games actually works – ’cause it does. Maybe it helps, too, that none of the people in the triangle are schmoozing all over each other *bleugh*. Great choice, Becky – I wouldn’t have even thought of this plot device (English major FAIL). Love triangles are just cash cows to publishers and you’re so right, most of these stories with love triangles don’t know how to use them properly. Here’s to the hope of finding books without love triangles, books in which the protagonist picks NEITHER of the triangle choices, or books that just actually know how to get that shtuff right!
    Great post, Becky! 😀

    • Me too! I do think it is one of the rare exceptions. I completely agree that it works better because they are not constantly talking about it and acknowledging it. While it is there, it’s very much in the background and works in favour of the story because it makes you care about the character more. 🙂
      Haha thanks, it did take a lot of mulling to come up with it, my second choice was the YA parent who turns out to have a deep dark past which affect the plot. So overdone! That might be more of a cliche than a plot device though. 😛

      They sure are and I will keep my fingers crossed. I mean, what happened to the old fall in love, fall out of love, fall in love with someone else scenario? It doesn’t seem to exist anymore! Hopefully publishers will work out we’re bored now.

      Thank you. 🙂

  6. You’ll be glad to hear, then, that in the novel I’m planning (I really should just get started) the protagonist will not be falling in love with anyone. In the sequel she will, but she’ll discover he’s evil and will have to destroy him. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy?

    My least favourite plot device is the deus ex machina (when things are at their most dire, some outside force intervenes and miraculously turns the tables so the hero can win). Sure, it was the big thing in Ancient Greece, but surely we’ve learned some new tricks in the two millennia since?

    The best (worst) example of this is the long list of James Bond’s. Have you ever noticed that Bond is actually incredibly inept at his job? He ALWAYS gets caught and usually only escapes through dumb luck (or because Q gave him exactly the gadgets he needs for the particular situation). While I don’t like Daniel Craig as Bond, the last film is the best one for me because for the first time Bond has to save his own ass (and he does it with flair, MacGyver-style). Let the hero figure out the solutions to his problems on his own, for crying out loud (and if he can’t maybe he deserves to get crushed).

    • That is indeed very good to hear! I love that evil twist no matter how many times I come across it (which isn’t that often these days) but it never ceases to blow my mind in the best way possible. I think you being a guy definitely has an impact because all these love triangle books above are written by females. Good luck with your writing kokkieh! 🙂

      Oooh that’s a great one and I agree that can be irritating, especially when it happens so often. When you’ve seen a protagonist struggle along for so long trying to fix or solve whenever problem they have, it’s kind of naff when someone else swoops in to give them exactly what they need to win or work it out.

      I’ve never attempted a James Bond book and I don’t intend to, I’ve never even got on with the movies and the sexism is damn irritating! But you’re so right with your choice although I had never thought of it in that context before. The gadget thing always grated on me and now I guess I know why! I’m not a big fan of action films at the best of times but James Bond is a pet hate of mine. 😛

      Thanks for the knowledge filled comment! This was really interesting. 🙂

  7. I’m not a fan of love triangles at all. In fact, if the romantic aspect of a book threatens to overwhelm the story, I will most likely put it down. I want action and intense emotional drama (that extends beyond ‘why doesn’t he luuuuuuuuuuuuurve me?’).

    KokkieH, your book ideas sound wonderful! What a great scope for some serious internal conflict. I would be interested to see what you do with it.

    • I find that really refreshing, Buffy, good for you! I must admit I am not a big fan of romance being at the forefront of a book either, I think it does far better complimenting a story rather than causing it. That being said, I’ve read quite a few romance books in my time and if they’re done well they do make me feel all gooey. 😛

  8. Yes, the love triangle (Isn’t that a great name for a rock group?) gets a thumbs down from me. In my work-in-progress, I have a girl and two boys and I skipped the love triangle very deliberately.

    The other one that annoys me is “Nerdy best-friend I go to for advice secretly loves me, but I love Generic Hunk. But that’s OK…I love Nerdy best-friend at the end.” Ugh.

    Wouldn’t it be fun to see variations though? Girl loves two boys – boys love each other; Nerdy best friend wins Generic Hunk…

    • Hahaa you know, it would be! So happy to hear that you skipped the love triangle angle Tony, it really is getting tired. It’s too repetitive and overdone and usually ends up frustrating the reader rather than adding anything.

      Ha! You’re right that one happens a lot too, while it is a big one, I usually get on with it because it is at least more realistic. Plus, I’ve seen some authors do it in some hugely creative ways. That being said, if it is done badly it goes very, very wrong. :S Aka if the hunk is a generic hunk. 😉

      It definitely would! What happened to the good old fashioned fall in love with someone, fall out of love with that someone, find a new person and fall in love with them scenario? It doesn’t seem to exist any more. Nerdy best friend wins Generic Hunk would be interesting!

  9. I totally agree way too many love triangles! I just read City of Bones by Cassandra Clare the first book in The Mortal Instruments trilogy. My heart sank as I saw a love triangle forming! although there was at least a twist later in the book.

    • Ohhh no! I forgot to mention that one but I also have the first two books of The Mortal Instruments trilogy as well. NO MORE LOVE TRIANGLES. I can’t take it, agh! :S Twists are good though, I will cling to the idea of a twist. 🙂

  10. Divergent doesn’t have a love triangle! The focus of Divergent is definitely not the relationship between Tris and her love interest which is what makes it SO AWESOME AND YOU NEED TO READ IT. Ahem, anyway, I totally agree with you. If I see that a book has a love triangle I am almost immediately turned off by it.

    • Phew, thank goodness for that, I am so relieved! Hehee, so glad you are so passionate about Diverget, I hope I will feel the same. 🙂 It’s zoomed to the top of my to-read pile now because all the movie hype is getting me excited.

      Me too, every time it happens I sigh and roll my eyes.

  11. You’re right, the love triangle has to be well written and believable for it to be enjoyable. My first instinct is ‘I love the triangle!’ because I’m sickeningly romantic and enjoy reading chick-lit. I like the predictability. You know where you are with a love triangle, even though they’re supposed to keep you guessing who the protagonist will choose. What can I say, I’m a sucker for literary romance.

    • That is my biggest problem with the love triangle, they are rarely done well now. I can be a soppy dope when it comes to romances but it’s frustrating when they are badly done and just feel like filler.
      Hehee, there’s nothing wrong with being a sucker for book romance, I fall for it a lot too. 😉

  12. I don’t mind a love triangle too much as long as it’s not the focus of the story. And yes it has to be believable.
    The plot device that irritates me the most though, which I’ve probably seen in more movies than books, is when the protagonist goes looking for his father’s/mother’s/wife’s/best friend’s/*insert important person here*’s murderer. It’s usually accompanied by twists which involve flashbacks from his childhood or whatever. Ugh, so overkill.

    • I completely agree Nisha!. 🙂 When love triangles actually work and are more of a background element as opposed to the main issue they are great, but in YA this rarely seems to be the case at the moment. It gets very frustrating!

      Ugh I know what you mean, I’ve haven’t encountered this too much in books lately (although I have in the past) but on TV they seem to be using it as a device ALL THE TIME, especially on cop/investigator type shows. It always ends up that at least one of then chose the job because someone they know was murdered. Which is quite realistic I guess, but too repetitive! You’re right, definitely overkill. 🙂

  13. Currently reading Matched and omg it’s so badly excuted. It makes me sad. Bad love triangles are bad. I’m happy to say though that not all of the series you have yet to read employ love triangles, thank the writing-gods

    • I am so glad you said that because I had the exact same problem with Matched all round! It had so much potential and really hooked me at the start but then got a bit random. All the love interests felt weak to me and the voice of the protagonist bugged me. The poetry stuff seemed unneeded as well (although that may just be because I don’t like poetry. :P)

      Yay, thank goodness! I’m so happy to hear that.

      Thanks for commenting Emma. 🙂

  14. Pingback: 30-Day Book Challenge: Day 22 – Least favourite plot device | A Reading Writer

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