by Jennifer Archer
I'm on the road for the next couple weeks, so today I'm recycling a post I did a while back as a guest on another blog about love triangles. Enjoy!
These days, love triangles in young adult fiction abound. I’ve conducted an informal survey of my reading friends and here’s what I’ve surmised: Readers have strong feelings about love triangles. They seem to either really love them or really hate them.
I enjoy a love triangle in fiction if it’s handled deftly and isn’t the main focus of the story. I mean, let’s face it: Who will she choose? can get a bit old, and besides that, the answer is usually fairly predictable. But as a side plot, a good love triangle can add great conflict to a story. If only someone didn’t have to get hurt! Especially if that someone is a nice, well-meaning guy or girl. That’s another problem with most fictional love triangles – frequently they don’t play out in a realistic way. In real life, love triangles are usually pretty messy and don’t end conveniently, smoothly, or with everyone getting along. But in fiction, often one of the love interests either dies, turns out to be an unworthy person, or is so unbelievably virtuous that they step aside with little display of anger, jealously, or hurt feelings.
In my YA novel THE SHADOW GIRL that will be released next year by Harper Teen, the protagonist, Lily, finds herself in a love triangle. I tried to show as realistically as possible the pain and confusion this causes her, as well as the guy who loses out, without letting that aspect of the book take over the story. My debut YA novel THROUGH HER EYES also contains a love triangle, but one with a twist. The triangle consists of a guy (Tate), a girl (Tansy), and a ghost (Henry). I had a great time with this element of the book because I’m a sucker for ghost love stories. One of my favorite older movies is one directed by Steven Spielberg called ALWAYS. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the trailer.
In ALWAYS, Dorinda really doesn’t have the option of a life with Pete, her deceased boyfriend who is now a ghost. But that isn’t necessarily the case for the character Tansy in my novel THROUGH HER EYES. Even though Henry is a ghost, there might be a way for Tansy to choose a life with him, but doing so will involve giving up A LOT on her part. The things at risk for Tansy are serious ones: family, friends, the life she’s always known in a time period that’s familiar. But what about the smaller things? What would a girl have to deal with if she chose to have a romantic relationship with a ghost? Just for fun, I’ve come up with a list:
Top Ten Reasons a Girl Should Think Carefully
Before Choosing a Ghost Guy Over a Real Guy
1. Real guys have actual blood running through their veins so they’re warmer. No girl likes to be cold!
2. Your friends can actually see how hot your real guy is. Not so with your ghost guy. In fact, your friends may not even believe you really have a boyfriend.
3. Privacy. When you want some time alone, you can tell a real guy ‘goodbye’ and close the door. You never know when a ghost guy’s in the room with you. Creepy.
4. A ghost guy will stay young while you grow older. Will he still love you when you’re 30 and he’s 18?
5. Transportation. Ghosts can’t drive so you’ll always have to take your car.
6. Food. Ghost guys never get hungry. It’s no fun to eat alone!
7. Strait jackets are uncomfortable and ugly but you might end up in one because people will think you’ve lost it when they see you talking to thin air.
8. Ghosts are unemployed since nobody hires them. You’ll have to pay for every date.
9. You’ll never see your ghost boyfriend in any other clothes than the ones he died wearing; he’s pretty much stuck in those.
10. Forget going to a crowded movie theater with a ghost; once the seats are filled, he’ll probably get sat on.
So, what about you? I’d love to know how you feel about love triangles in fiction. If you like them, what are your favorite books or movies with love triangles? And what else do you think a girl should consider carefully before choosing a ghost boyfriend over a real guy?