Love Triangle or Love Teeter-totter?

I must start by saying that, if you don’t know what a love triangle is, you MUST read this post by Erica O’Rourke. I will not try to re-state her brilliant words, but let me just say that her main point about a love triangle is that the two choices must be equal. The main character must be torn between the two because they’re different, yet equally viable options. If you want to see an example of how this is done, read her book Torn.

What I want to talk about today is what I call a love teeter-totter. Often confused with a love triangle, a love teeter-totter is something you may have seen in books like Pride and Prejudice. It goes like this.

Stage One: Main character meets two new guys. At first, she may think they are equal.




Stage Two: But then something happens to make her think that the guy on the left is a dreamboat and the guy on the right sucks cheese.




Stage Three: Stuff happens to confuse main character. Now, both guys are equally dreamy and sucky. The main character is torn between the two. Note that this is the same as a love triangle except it doesn’t last for very long. In a love triangle, the two guys may go up and down slightly, but they’re usually well-balanced, which is why she is having difficultly choosing. In a teeter-totter, the guys do not stay equal for very long. The challenge is not so much the choice as it is the mystery of who is the good guy?




Stage Four: Main character realizes that the guy on the left slept with her sister and that the guy on the right is a dreamboat after all. In the end, there is no choice for the main character.

Category: On Writing