Love triangles. They’ve been all the rage recently, due in part to the wild popularity of novels like The Hunger Games and A Court of Thorns and Roses. (For the former, the brilliance of how the love triangle works is better explained in tumblr posts by users @fictionadventurer and @foxmagpie.) They’re a fascinating way of adding a little bit of spice and intrigue to a romance novel, but are also prone to being incredibly formulaic and boring. If you want to try your hand at writing your own version of a love triangle, here’s some interesting twists on the trope to make your story stand out. 

  1. Nobody Gets Together in the End

While romance novels often need a “happily ever after,” switching up that formulaic ending might be what your writing needs. Maybe the stress of all the plot elements spoils romance for the protagonist. Maybe both romantic choices suck in uniquely awful ways and the protagonist realizes they’re better off without either. Maybe both love interests die and the protagonist has to grapple with the great loss of both possibilities. Maybe the protagonist realizes they’re aromantic and have no interest in romance at all, but wishes to make friends with both love interests. Any which way you do it, if at the end of the story the protagonist walks away without a new beau, it’s a wonderful twist on “they get the guy/girl in the end”; not every story that starts as a romance has to end that way! 

  1. Have the Protagonist Cheat

Okay, before you start lighting my funeral pyre, hear me out. Oftentimes, part of the conflict of love triangles comes from the protagonist being unable to choose between two people… what if they think they can have both at the same time? There is a careful line to skate here in making sure that you’re not saying cheating is in any way acceptable—at the same time, the best protagonists are the ones who feel human. They make very human mistakes, have very human lapses in judgment, and furthermore, face very human consequences. How does the drama escalate when the two love interests discover the protagonist has been cheating on them both? How does the protagonist react? Do they apologize? Does this result in something else in the story going wrong? How does the protagonist grow from this, if at all? 

  1. Polyamory

I’ll be completely honest, this has always been my go-to answer for how to solve the issues apparent with love triangles for a long while. Can’t decide? Choose both! Maybe the rivalry between the love interests was a misplaced attraction between the two, or maybe they love the protagonist enough that they’re willing to share them if it makes the protagonist happy. It can be a wonderful opportunity to explore the unique struggles and the unique joys of being in a polyamorous relationship, as well as a chance to explore and critique monogamous relationships.

However you go about writing love triangles, or any story, remember that you are the one telling it—and you are the only one who can tell it in that specific way. By adding your own touches and being passionate about whatever you’re writing about, your readers will respond with the same passion and adore the love and work you put in. Now, get on out there and write in the way only you can. 


Meet the blogger:

A.E. GOODMAN is an undergraduate student at Hamline University working for Runestone. A double major in Creative Writing and Anthropology, A.E. enjoys traveling, video games, and storytelling of all kinds. You can find A.E. on Twitter at @AEStargazer or shoot an email to

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This