Friday, May 28, 2010

The YA Love Interest(s)

I adore reading young adult fiction, and I know how rare it is to find a YA book without some sort of love interest. It makes sense; teens are crushing and they want their reading experience to reflect that. (Read: Vampires, the ultimate in unrequited love. Talk about a "crush.") Still, I wonder about all the triangles happening these days. 

Since when did having to decide between two potentials become the only way to deepen a protagonist's emotion? Maybe readers just enjoy identifying with a protagonist who is so loved. Still, what happened to just deciding if you love the guy in the first place? Maybe real love in the YA genre is DOA. I mean, when does all this mushy stuff happen? In the cafeteria? Talking about homework? In PE, while ducking a red rubber ball during dodge-ball? That's hot. 

Sure, there's something to be said for love at first sight. But I for one would like to see more development going on between the two would-be lovers, than a half-baked "pick me" "no pick me" conflict-for-the-sake-of-conflict. 

What do you all think? Triangles you thought were successful? Unsuccessful? Do you find them frustrating? A cheap way to thicken the conflict? Post your thoughts on this one! - AH


  1. It's weird to hear so much about vampires and teen love from a "largely Science Fiction and Fantasy" agency.

  2. I don't actually mind triangles, mainly because I think it's a good analogy for all the many choices young adults have to make. However, you're right. It does have to work and not be just a conflict for the sake of conflict.

  3. In my opinion, most teenagers these days are suffering from an over-stimulated narcissistic complex. This is caused by a corruption of the moral values in the Media Industry. Sex sells more than love. When writers manage to create a compelling self-centered story where all the half naked hotties are fighting over the protagonist, they hit the jackpot, because every teen wants to be that guy/girl. I beleive this is not the right way to explore human emotion. Love is not a choice. Love is a selfless act. Fiction characters in love should be too.

  4. I strongly dislike love triangles. Yet a friend sold her novel, and the editor insisted she rewrite it to include a triangle. That just doesn't make sense to me.

  5. Anon, we'll try and get more SF related topics up here in the near future. To be clear though, we consider urban fantasy (supernaturals and the like) to be part of our niche. Our #1 NYT bestselling author, Patricia Briggs, writes urban fantasy. I see your confusion, but it's an overlap. As for YA, well that's my interest, and we are actively looking to take it on.

    Thanks everyone for posting! Great comments.

  6. It takes a deft pen to write a gripping standard male-female mutual attraction story. For that to be the primary plot, there has to be a hitch, ala Romeo and Juliet.

    Consider Twilight. Vampirism aside, the conflict in the love story was completely manufactured (He doesn't trust himself with her, WAIT NO NOW HE DOES) and the real action was absurdly tacked on at the very end with completely new characters.

    It was such a nothing plot to begin with the author had little choice but to make it into a love triangle just so SOMETHING would happen in the second book. And people ate it up.

    I suspect this is why the love triangle is appearing so often: it's a cheap way to fill sellable pages.

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  8. Given the above comment, is it fair to assume there is a lack of creativity looming on the horizon, that prevents writers from designing a profitable standard plot?

    Take Star Wars and Avatar for example. They all have an inherent love story, they profited billions without relying on emotional triangles. As opposed to them, the plot manages to extend itself to a greater cause, one of morality and choice, while still mantaining the importance of one's emotions towards another.

    P.s. The funniest part about Avatar tho, is that there IS an emotional triangle. It's so irrelevant that it could be discarded with no interference to the plot, but it's still there!

    I say there's an evil scheming afoot! An edgy one too!

  9. I like to write about love that is denied for a greater good. I think regular romance concepts such as love at first sight and love triangles are overused. I swear I can't pick up a book (even if the main concept is interesting) without seeing it (mainly in YA, that is). I wish there were more with tragic love, where the hero doesn't get the girl/guy in the end or they give him/her up for something else.

    Great post! Cute doggy.

  10. A love triangle is an easy way to create tension and conflict. I know that to make an example about Twilight is probably too easy, but.... The introduction of a werewolf pack, their culture, members, etc. filled a lot of pages between Edward's going and coming. Plus, focusing on the werewolf's (can't remember his name) obsession with Bella was an easy way to avoid interaction with the characters already introduced.