I got some great responses when I decided to write about love triangles in Y fiction and my thoughts on them. Conversations were started which I found to be a lot of fun, so I’d like to throw another related topic out there.
The YA couple. Since I write YA, that’s what I’m going to stick with for purposes of this post. Any story that hits romance as a genre needs to have its own power couple. Some writers like the Destined One, others like the Love Triangle, others like the Not-Destiny-But-Obvious-Couple.
No matter which type is chosen, the next big question can be how physical is such a relationship going to get in a YA novel. It’s a big question that can often decide if libraries and schools will take your books, if organizations want it banned and for some teens, whether or not a book is “too sexy” for them. You will find books that go from very clean, to books that deal with teen sexuality a lot more. The bottom line I think that writers need to remember is that they send a message on their pick, no matter what that message is. I’m a cleaner read author but I know of other writers that hit varying degrees of clean or racier. I don’t think the other writers are wrong for writing what they do. Some of them explore issues of sexuality that are important to teens and it is important for them to write a story that does that.
For me, a person who works with teens, I see too many girls get hung up on the wrong person because they have convinced themselves that this person is the One. They get caught up with wanting this person to be the One so badly that they don’t see why that can’t happen and it creates a vicious cycle of drama that impacts everything. I’m big of the idea of a partnership in my stories, of a couple complimenting each other and bringing out the best in each other. I think those are important qualities in a relationship and I want teen girls to have that example. When they say they want a guy like my romantic hero, I want it to be because he has qualities that should be reasonable to expect in a partner, I want my heroes to raise the standard girls have for boyfriends.
I ended up leaving a comment a few weeks ago on another writer’s blog regarding her thought on love triangles and how much they seem to be used. She wasn’t such a big fan of the practice, but I had some thoughts I wanted to throw in and I did. It lead to a nice little comment back and the conversation lingered in my mind.
The bottom line is, love triangles are stressful for more than just the protagonist having to make the choice about who they want to end up with. I maintain that do a true love triangle justice you have to establish both potential partners as being the one as well as having some sort of flaw that makes them not the one. If you pull this off well, your readers will align themselves into separate camps, and affix some title beginning with “Team” upon their relationship or “ship” of choice. The separate teams will play as nicely together as the Capulets and the Montagues and half of them will feel disappointed and betrayed when their choice doesn’t win.
See also my experience as a Apollo/Starbuck shipper on the most recent Battlestar Galactica for an example. They will still qualify as one of my favorite OTPs for the record.
This shipping business can get very complicated and sometimes take the author by surprise. I recall reading that the author of a certain popular set of vampire stories didn’t expect her werewolf character to gain a following of his own. But they clearly exist and are very enthusiastic to prove this anytime Taylor Lautner has to remove his shirt during one of those movies.
I understand a group of fans was particularly upset when J. K. Rowling stated that Ron and Hermione were her couple of choice and that Harry and Hermione were never going to happen.
I have also witnessed cases of fans latching onto pairings that the writers never intended or saw, but the fans most certainly did.
I can’t write like that, while I don’t mind another character trying to cause some sort of upset to my couple, I have blatant favoritism for my romantic hero. It’s just the way I am, however I must hand it to those writers who can create two romantic rivals knowing that they will most likely have to crush one of them horribly.