How to Write Love Triangles from an Omniscient Perspective

by Liz Bureman | 6 comments

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Ahhh, the love triangle. Stephenie Meyer's favorite plot device. When you're writing a love triangle from a first person or third person limited perspective, it's hard to write a lot of multi-directional triangles. However, writing from a third-person omniscient perspective gives you the freedom to explore the other two prongs of the love triangle.

Love Triangles

Photo by Jin

Classic Love Triangles

Say you've got a classic love triangle where one character (I'll call her Leslie) is interested in two other people (who I'll call Charlie and Ted).

In a first person or third person limited story, you would get to know Leslie and her particular quirks and how she views each of these gentlemen, and the pros and cons of her developing a relationship with either of them.

Omniscient Love Triangles

 

However, with an omniscient narrator, you also get to see how Charlie and Ted each view Leslie, and, if they are acquainted with each other, how they feel about her.

You could have an alternative love triangle where Leslie is interested in Charlie, but Charlie is interested in Leslie's friend Gwen. Maybe Gwen doesn't want to compromise her friendship with Leslie, but she still really likes Charlie, and then all of a sudden they get together and now have to keep this blossoming relationship (or one-night stand) a secret from Leslie.

Or maybe Leslie is interested in both Charlie and Ted, and decides to have flings with both of them in order to determine which one she likes better. Maybe Charlie and Ted know about this, or maybe they're both oblivious. Maybe only Charlie knows, and he's ok with it. Maybe Ted is the only one who knows, and it's eating away at his conscience.

Two may be company, but three is where things get interesting, especially if your reader knows more than each of the individual characters do.

Do you like love triangles in books and films or do they drive you nuts?

PRACTICE

Write a love triangle scenario with an omniscient viewpoint. Post your practice in the comments when you're finished.

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Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

6 Comments

  1. joncarllewis

    I haven’t fleshed out the narrative — yet. But I’d be interested in knowing how much you can get from the story by just listening to the dialogue. Basically, that’s all there is, right now.

    SHEILA’s RETURN (707 words or so…)

    She’s going to kill us.

    No. she won’t kill us. She’ll nag us to death. She will never
    get over it –

    She’s going to kill us.

    She needs to keep us alive so she can nag us to death about
    it.

    I could say I was drunk.

    Won’t work.

    Too much of a cliché?

    I don’t drink.

    But I do…

    That’s the point. If you say you were drunk then she’s going
    to kill me for taking advantage of you.

    You did take advantage of me.

    [shock]

    I thought you wanted to.

    I did. I just mean…

    I wouldn’t have raped you, and you definitely weren’t drunk.
    Beat. We can’t tell her.

    I tell her everything.

    No you don’t.

    Sure I do.

    You didn’t tell her about this. Beat. Did you? She would have
    told me if you did…

    Damn. What does she tell you? Everything?

    Within reason. But this is a little bigger than dishing about
    your choice of underwear.

    What if I didn’t know, myself?

    [no response]

    What if I… I just figured it out…?

    Is that possible in this day and age? Is that even possible?

    I didn’t know. I swear. I had no idea. I just thought…

    So you had your suspicions.

    Yeah. I just thought it was… I dunno…

    Something you ate?

    Yeah, really. It was the pastrami. Pause. But I didn’t’ know…

    What.

    Excuse me?

    What didn’t you know? That you’re gay, that you wanted to get
    naked with boys…

    I’m not gay.

    That you maybe had some feelings for me…

    I do have feelings for you. We’ve been friends for a long
    time. But I’m not gay. Not entirely. I love her.

    I… love her too. But that doesn’t make me want to sleep with
    her. So you’re going to go with bi…

    I don’t know. This is the first time – [whisper] this is the
    first time –

    Friend nods.

    I’ve been with anyone…

    Since you’ve been together.

    Yeah. And it’s been good. Being with…

    So is this a mistake?

    [Long pause.]

    I… I liked being with you… that way…

    [Longer pause.]

    I… I liked being with you too. But I never suspected…

    So you’ve felt that way about me, too?

    Friend nods.

    How long?

    Since we met. [laugh]

    I thought you hated me.

    I did hate you.

    Honestly?

    No. when I first met you, I was completely in lust over you
    and insanely jealous.

    I got to be glad that she had you as a friend.

    As a boyfriend.

    [sigh] I had my suspicions, but after –

    Wait. You thought I was gay?

    I didn’t know what your story was. Looks like my first
    impression… wasn’t very far off.

    I guess not. Why didn’t you ever tell me? Did you tell
    Sheila?

    Yep.

    What did she say?

    She said “[I don’t care. ]Stay away from him; he’s mine.”

    I’m still hers, you know.

    I know. [moves toward the other side of the bed.]

    [smiles] But you are pretty hot in bed.

    Don’t you forget it. [Pause] Actually, you’d better forget
    about it.

    Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

    They lie there together for a while.

    Can I…?

    Please don’t ask.

    No. really… Can I kiss you?

    Why… would you want to do that?

    We’ve done everything else.

    No. No we haven’t. [Stares] at Doug. Oh, why the hell not?

    Doug rolls on top of Cary. They share a deep kiss. Doug feels
    himself swelling.

    Really? Cary quipped. Again?

    You do that to me.

    So dopes a stiff breeze. Why the hell are you so horny?

    Doug smiled and went in for a kiss again. He leans down near
    Cary’s ear. You know I love you too.

    Uh, let’s go back to kissing.

    Sure thing, Doug said. As they kiss, he grinds on top of
    Shawn. God this feels good…

    The light comes on. She drops the shopping bag and something
    breaks: something like a vase. (I think these guys are in the living room. They
    think she is gone shopping and won’t be back for hours.

    Fuck.

    Fuck.

    She says “You got that right.” She says. “Fuck!”

    End of story. 12.46-14.24. Written at the farm.

    Reply
    • Heather

      Yes, I think you got the story across with just dialogue. Well done. It’s quite hard to read so much dialogue, though, and some narrative helps reduce the need for so much dialogue. Good use of humour in the 4th line and later with the “pastrami” reply. I’m not sure about the word “nag.” Nag is what you do when you want someone to pick up their clothes, or take out the rubbish, but I don’t think it applies to finding out your boyfriend is sleeping with his gay friend. It works to throw the reader off the scent, but makes less sense when you
      know the story.

    • joncarllewis

      Thank you so much for making the effort to read and decipher
      the story in my script. I think you’re right about the “nag” word. Many things need to happen with Sheila emotionally well before she gets to “nag”. But I am not clear on what her reaction is likely to be — to the extent that Shawn knows her well enough to predict her response. I’m open to suggestion, and your feedback is welcome on this. Thanks again!

  2. Karoline Kingley

    Katrina barely knew them. Both Bennet and Devyn entered her life at the same time, yet they had already known each other for years. Katrina connected with Bennet right away. His laid-back nature, love of laughter and accidental flirting mirrored her own characteristics so exactly that they got along like old friends after meeting only a week ago.
    Devyn came like a quiet storm.
    He crept on her, bringing rain which, wasn’t really a problem since she always danced in the rain. It was the lightning he brought which made them clash. His words though few and far between were sharp, witty and laced-with secrecy. Altogether alluring. Yet still, his childish stunts ruffled her feathers and they did not reconcile to become friends until they had endured much at each other’s hands.
    Bennet assured Katrina that Devyn was a good man. And when Katrina wondered if Bennet was falling for her, it was Devyn’s honest input that gave her cause to evaluate Bennet, and to trust Devyn’s word. Bennet remained unaware that Katrina recognized his feelings. As Devyn and Katrina continued to become better acquainted…something happened.
    The cards turned.
    One moment, Devyn was still convincing Katrina that she and Bennet should be together. And the next, he seemed to be obtaining information for his sake. Katrina was less fickle. She knew she was falling for the quiet and mysterious boy. Yet would she risk admitting her feelings when Bennet had been nothing but a faithful friend?

    Reply
    • Joy

      This sounds like a base for a romance novel. Have you considered turning this into something larger?

    • Sandra D

      I love your intro into Bennet and Devyn. It propelled me right into the story.

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