Rachel Van Dyken and Jessica Sorensen discuss how love triangles keep us invested in storylines in this exclusive Q&A.
Q: Breaking Nova has a love
triangle when cousins are both interested in the same heroine. How do you feel
love triangles add to the tension of your story or propel your characters
through their journey?
Jessica Sorensen: I think love triangles can add
tension to a story because it adds tension and complications to the
relationships between the characters. In Breaking Nova, Tristan’s interest in
Nova is part of the reason why Quinton hesitates forming a relationship with
Nova. When he finally does start to spend time with her, it causes tension
between the two of them. There’s a lot of complications when two guys want the
same girl, especially when their friends and living under the same roof.
Rachel Van Dyken: Love triangles make you want to root for someone; I
think they add that extra "jolt" to your heart. I write the triangle
because I know that personally not everyone is going to like who I pick as the
hero, when you put in a secondary character, even if he or she is awful, it
adds a dramatic element to the reader. All of a sudden, it isn't just about the
hero and heroine ending up together. Suddenly, a wrench is thrown into your
happy reader universe, because what if she chooses the other guy? What if she choose
the wrong guy? Real life relationships may not include two rock stars or
billionaires fighting over you, but I think it's very realistic to be put in a
position where there is someone who is perfect for you, and someone who you may be
attracted to but isn't as great for you. I have a love/hate relationship with
triangles. While I love writing them, I end up falling for the wrong guy and
then having to write myself out of a corner! It keeps things interesting
Q: When you write a love
triangle do you know right away who your heroine will end up with? Or do you
find the guys "competing" in your head?
JS: When I do write love
triangles, I almost always know who will end up together. There was only one
story where I was surprised with what guy the heroine chose at the end.
RVD: They fight all the time! Seriously, I used to be a
counselor, and sometimes I think I'm losing it, especially when my characters
fight in my head, or when I dream about them. I hate to admit how often that
happens. I like to see the best in everyone, even in my guy characters. So even
when they're acting like idiots, I justify their actions in my head by saying,
"Oh but they're just afraid of commitment! Give him a chance!" It's
ridiculous, but I love it!
Q: Were either of these
triangles inspired by your own experiences? Can you speak about the impetus of
the character creation?
JS: They weren’t really inspired
by my own experiences but when I was a teenager, my friend and I had a crush on
the same guy and one of us ended up dating him, so I can sort of understand the
tension between Tristan and Quinton.
RVD: I was involved in one love triangle many, many years ago.
It didn't end well. Most triangles don't have happy endings; I've actually
never taken my personal "triangle" experience and projected it onto
my characters. I think the reason for this is because my characters kind of
take on personalities of their own. It's hard to use personal experience that I've had (concerning relationships) because some of the characters are going through
things I've never gone through, but that's what makes writing so interesting.
You have a character that's different but they aren't just one dimension. They
have nervous ticks, favorite foods, weird habits, etc. When I create a character
I want to know what makes them different. What sets them apart from everyone
else, or what draws a reader to that specific character. Most of my characters
or books come from dialogue. It may sound weird, but I don't plan anything out.
I start with a conversation, maybe something I've overheard or a piece of
dialogue I wrote by itself that I thought could be catchy. I then imagine what
type of characters would be saying that, and build the world form there, kind
of from the inside out. It's amazing to watch the process. I think it's more
fun when you don't plan. So many times, my characters will do or say something
that shocks me to death. I'd rather write blind then control the characters
like a puppet master :) Life isn't that way...I mean we all try to plan but
there are a lot of things you can't control. It's important to me to include
that factor with my characters.
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