Toni McGee Causey: Love Triangles

Posted August 4, 2009 by Casee in Promotions | 9 Comments

Toni McGee Causey is here today to celebrate the release of her new book, When a Man Loves a Weapon. It is book three in the Bobbie Faye series. There is a sort of love triangle in this series, so Toni is going to talk about love triangles in general, something most readers love to hate.

When Casee first asked me to blog, we were emailing specifically about love triangles—the pros and cons. I think Casee had just finished CHARMED AND DANGEROUS and saw that there was a potential triangle starting at the end of that first book in the series, and she was concerned.

And frankly, I don’t blame her. I agreed, in fact, that there was a good reason for concern.

Sounds like a crazy thing for a writer who developed a triangle to say? A triangle can be the singular worst idea for a story, in fact. But I have one. How’s that for contradictory?

Okay, to explain, now that I’ve probably thoroughly confused everyone.

Let’s look at a few reasons why triangles are often introduced:

1. need to increase tension in the main couple – introduce risk of them not getting together
2. need to introduce a “villain” so that the hero can look like a good choice
3. desire to show the heroine as attractive
4. desire for the heroine to perceive herself as attractive (one guy could be a fluke! Two must “mean something” surely?)
5. back story

Now, in and of themselves, every one of the above can be a legitimate reason for a triangle, but without depth and breadth, they can come across as superficial. As a reason to show that the characters involved are Hot! Hot! with extra Hot! on top. The problem is that without delving more into the choice of why include a triangle, a writer runs the risk of being predictable: yeah yeah, we get it, they’re hot, she’s going to pick the one who’s best for her, get it over with already. The other problem? All of these reasons are easy. They are skimming along the surface of the lake, barely dipping the oars in. (There is just no way that’s not going to sound dirty, is there?) These reasons are pasted on from the outside—they’re about what the writer wants to accomplish.

What they’re not about (at least, not yet), is the character. Who she is and why is she in this place, right now, where she has two choices? That gets sticky—and tougher to write.

Because really, how does a character juggle two people without being a self-centered ass? That’s a hard balance to strike, if the character is the kind of person we’d want to be around for any length of time. Can someone really and truly love two people at once? If so, how? Why? What is it about them that is making it difficult for them to make this choice? Is that their fault? The fault of the men involved? Some combination?

This is where triangles start getting interesting.

They are about the road not taken. It’s a theme we all know, from every walk of life, whether we’ve had to make a choice between two people or two careers or two different places to live. Who will I be if I make this choice? Or that one? Who will I become? Who do I want to be? Why? How do I make this choice? Why isn’t it simple?

Story = character in conflict.

Conflict = choice and ramifications.

It’s the ramification part that a lot of love triangles leave out, which, honestly, feels superficial to me. Without ramifications, there are no stakes, and without stakes, there is no real tension. There’s a temporary feel of stress, maybe, of waiting for the character to go ahead and make the choice so that all ends well, but it’s not real tension, there’s no real jeopardy in the reader’s mind if there aren’t real ramifications to the character making the choice.

Without real stakes, the story isn’t memorable. The characters aren’t memorable.

Love triangles should only be there because there’s no way to write the story without them. These characters in this particular moment with this high-pressure fulcrum of choice bearing down on them—and who they are and what they’ll become at risk. Triangles illuminate all sorts of character flaws, successes, failures—and forces the characters into a situation where some choice has to be made.

When I started writing Bobbie Faye, I knew she was a magnet for crazy, chaotic events, and I knew she had her own absurd sense of humor, but I also knew she had been reacting quite a bit from the circumstances in her life. She hasn’t been in control of the crazy—and I wanted to put her under extreme pressure: two people love her. She loves them—albeit differently. How does she handle that? What are the ramifications of her choice? Not only that, but what are the ramifications of how she understands herself once she’s made the choice?

Why was the road not taken… the one not taken? How does that change us, when we start to understand that?

Who we were vs. what we will become.

This is why I wrote about that potential triangle.

With, I hope, a lot of laughs and heart along the way.

The third book of the trilogy – WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON – is out (today! Tuesday!) – and there are choices made. And ramifications. (And some crazy stuff with a chicken foot.) (Don’t say you weren’t warned.) I hope you’ll check them out, and let me know if you agree with the choices—or the ramifications—in Bobbie Faye’s crazy (very crazy) world.

Stay tuned for a fabulous contest! We have lots of copies to giveaway.

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9 responses to “Toni McGee Causey: Love Triangles

  1. LOL, great post!! I have to say, I’m one who doesn’t really enjoy love triangles…

    I have the first 2 books in my TBR pile and I’m waiting for the third one to start, but I gotta ask. First, is When a Man Loves a Weapon the last book of the Bobbie Faye series? Also, LOL, I know she’s engaged to Trevor… but is that final? I hate rooting for a guy to only find out that she chooses someone else ^_^;

  2. nath…

    There are more BF adventures on the horizon — more specifics when I have them. But for now, just know that I have lots more planned. 😉

    LOL on rooting for the guy and then having the rug ripped out from under… I believe there are a lot of repercussions Bobbie Faye has to face by making a choice, and those are fun and tension-filled things to write about. How’s that for a non-answer answer? (evil, moi?)

  3. how did I miss this series; I am happy I found out about the BF books. BF sounds like a loveable character and I’d love to read about her antics and her choices.

  4. This sounds like fun! Great guest post!

    The last love triangle that I remember was with my boyfriend (now husband) and this old friend of his from med school. It was very annoying – my boyfriend lived in NZ and would only visit for 2 weeks or so a year, and this friend would try to hang out with us all the time. I was pretty busy with law school, so I didn’t want to waste any of my free time with this girl. It drove me nuts!

    She figured it out but didn’t like me much at all – when she got married this year, she invited my husband but not me.

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

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