Four Times I Got on the Wrong Ship (aka Unlucky in Love Triangles)

Featured image source: Shutterstock

Ship noun (in fanfic) 1. a relationship.
— verb (t) (shipped, shipping
2. to create a relationship between two characters in a work of fiction, as in the genre fanfic.
[shortened form of relationship]

— Macquarie Dictionary

Love triangles* are one of the biggest tropes in modern YA and in speculative fiction more broadly, usually of the two-guys-one-girl variety.

(The geometry nerd in me has to point out that it usually isn’t a triangle but two lines with one connecting point. Gale never snogged Peeta in The Hunger Games … though it’d be the work of a few seconds to turn up a fanfic where he did. Anyway, moving on…)

For a writer, they are loads of fun and a great source of romantic and dramatic tension. For a reader, love triangles can be the ultimate in wish fulfilment. But I have another game that I play when I read books with a love triangle, which is “pick my favourite love interest and watch them lose”. If love triangles are a race between the (usually) two guys for the (usually) one girl, don’t back my bet, people. I almost always get on the wrong ship. Part of that is because I tend to go for the best friend character, the boy next door, rather than the brooding and enigmatic one, and in urban fantasy (my favourite genre) Mr Enigma always wins. 

Four times I got on the wrong ship

Katniss, Peeta and Gale (The Hunger Games) — I was pro-Gale in the beginning, though I did have a soft spot for Peeta (as the boy next door) as well. It just seemed obvious to me that Katniss was hung up on Gale from the start. Of course, then she got broken and he couldn’t deal. By halfway through the third book I had changed ships, but for the first two? I got it totally wrong. 

Hermione, Ron and Harry (Harry Potter) — It’s been a while since I read the books, but I don’t remember JK Rowling inserting much in the way of a love triangle into them. It was more that I was on the Harry ship from the start, and I could never quite deal with the whole Ron thing. Sorry, Ron. 

Clary, Jace and Simon (The Mortal Instruments) — This was a textbook case of me liking the nerdy, normal best friend over the brooding and arrogant Mr Enigma. Given the allegations that Simon is based off Harry from Cassandra Clare’s fanfic-writing days (and Jace is Draco), that shouldn’t be a surprise. At least I’m consistent!

Alyssa, Jeb and Morpheus (Splintered) — This was a race to the bottom between the boys for me. Jeb was the literal boy next door but I hated his domineering attitude even more than I hated Morpheus’s manipulations. At least Morpheus had playfulness going for him, but I wanted neither of them to end up with Alyssa — which, again, was the opposite of what happened. (I only read the first two Twilight books, but I felt the same way about Edward and Jacob. Hard pass on both.) 

Do you play the “who will win” game when you read books with love triangles? Are you better at picking the ship that wins out in the end? Or do you go your own way, fanfic style, and create a ship outside the parameters of the original story — such as Draco and Harry, or McGonnagall and Snape? Leave a comment telling us about your favourite ship!

Cassandra PageCassandra Page is a speculative fiction writer who has used used love triangles a couple of times, in her Isla’s Inheritance YA urban fantasy trilogy and her Lucid Dreaming adult urban fantasy duology (the second book of which comes out later this year). Mmm, triangle-y. 


Creating the Feels

I love reading books that leave you with that “feeling all the feels”. Recently, I finished Me Before You by Jojo Meyes, and I have to admit — wow. All. The. Feels!

I was trying to work out what draws such an emotional response from me when it comes to books. After all, if I have a list, it means I could maybe try do it myself one day . . . right?! So here are some of my thoughts on what makes a Feels book:

  • A flawed protagonist. In every book I’ve read that has drawn an intense emotional response from me, the protagonist has been flawed. They’ve not been the perfect babe who gets all the guys. They’ve been raw and very real, with clear issues that have helped define their life, and not always in a good way. Whether you’re looking at Lake in Colleen Hoover’s Slammed, or Fern in Kristin Maddock’s The Enchanted Orchards, they’re people who have had a serious event in their past that they’re trying to overcome; not always with success.
  • Well crafted story structure. For me, the novels that give me the feels build, and build, then, wham! You reach a climx point that absolutely changes the direction of the novel, leaving you feeling betrayed, a little like everything you thought you knew about a character was wrong/is different/has been taken from you. You see a different side, and realise the motivations for their actions is completely different to what you thought it was.

    Sometimes, I'm a sucker for a little bit of heartache  Photo: Big Stock Photo

    Sometimes, I’m a sucker for a little bit of heartache
    Photo: Big Stock Photo

  • Heartbreak. I know you can get the feels from happy books, or thriller books, or, erm, erotica books. HOWEVER the books that really stick with me the most are the ones that break my heart. I don’t know why; it makes no sense. Why do I want to read about other people’s sadness? Is it so I can cheat, have an excuse to cry on someone else’s behalf? Is it because really, I’m not over some of the sadness I’ve experienced in my life, and some books tap in and trigger the heartbreak button for me? I’m not sure. But I do know that heartbreak gives me the feels. Provided that…
  • The protagonist is likeable. I need to be deeply invested, to care about them and their journey. I need to feel like we could be friends in real life. And, for me, this often means they need to have a similar moral grounding to what I have — pretty centre field, no major indisgressions, no propensity for cheating on the quarterback with his best friend, or bitching about friends behind their backs. Hey, I like reading those stories too — sometimes, I LOVE reading those stories — but they’re not usually the ones that leave me with the feels.

There are a whole heap of other qualities that make up books that give me the feels; these are just a few I’ve thought of now. So what about you? What gives you the feels when you’re reading a book?


Lauren (3)Lauren K. McKellar is an editor of fact and fiction. She has worked in publishing for more than eight years, and was recently Runner Up Editor of the Year in the 2013 Publishers Australia Excellence Awards for her magazine work.
Lauren is also an author and her debut novel, Finding Home, was released in October this year through Escape Publishing, and her second novel, The Problem With Crazy, is coming out March, 2014.