I don’t much care for love triangles. I find them tired. Sue me.
However, there’s a lot to learn from them. Interactions between just two can quickly become boring. Interactions between three can be complicated and messy enough to warrant a reader’s attention for the length of a book. And I realized recently that love isn’t the only thing that can be turned into a triangle. In fact, a few of my favorite books have included what I’d like to call “hate triangles,” where there’s not just the vanilla Protagonist vs Antagonist struggle, there’s an extra force as well. Extra-tagonist?
There are three forces against each other in Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora. There are three forces against one another in Rachel Aaron’s Legends of Eli Monpress. There is a clear protagonist and antagonist, but there’s a third party in each which must decide whether to team up with one of the others or grind against both simultaneously. Spoiler alert! They typically decide the protagonist is the lesser of two evils to team up with and take the antagonist out. Then the protagonist slips away before the extratagonist can pin them down.
I feel called to introduce a hate triangle into my own writing, and I feel like I could learn a lot from love triangles to make it work out in an interesting, fun way.