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What is a love square?

Fiction is spicy when there are relationships at the center of the plot. The story is even more exciting when the relationships are complicated.

Ever heard of a love square? A love triangle, but a little bit more complicated, one person knottier!

For some characters, it’s a lost cause from the start, but it can still be fun to read or watch. What makes a love square interesting is the tension between the lovers on how to handle their feelings for each other.

If you’re a writer, there are some tips that you can use to make a love square work (and they are in this article). If you’re the audience, sit back, relax, and enjoy the knottiness of this romantic web.

But what is a love square exactly? Read on to find out and discover secrets to making this type of relationship work for your fiction.

love square

What is a love square?

What is a love square? Simply put, it’s when there are four characters in a romantic relationship with one another.

As I said, it’s a love triangle, but instead of 3 people, we have 4 four people all romantically involved with each other. Each person shares some sort of connection with the other three in the love square.

Love squares, which are also known as love quadrangles, are great for a story, novel, movie, or TV show. There are limitless ways writers and movie producers twist love squares to make them enticing, but they mainly focus on the knottiness of relationships and conflicting feelings or unrequited love between the pairs of people in the square.

This Is Why You Should Write A Love Square Story

Ever considered writing a spicy story that revolves around a love square?

Let me give you a couple of good reasons you have to consider writing a love square story.

The first two reasons have to do with your readers (the reason most of us write). Having a love square in your story adds conflict and tension, and every fiction writer knows that these two elements give weight to fiction. Secondly, love squares help display more nuanced character relationships. Your readers are tired of the usual tropes and want a more complex story with surprises, teases, and a drib of emotion here and there.

For you, love squares are equally beneficial because they increase the length of your story and enrich it with new angles, more characters, et cetera.

Examples of Love Squares

A love square is when two people are romantically involved with another pair of people who are romantically involved with each other. For example, Person A is in a relationship with Person B who is in a relationship with Person C.

Love Square Example 1:  There are couples AB and CD: A has feelings for D and B has feelings for C

two couples dancing at a party
Two couples dancing at a party.

This is another love square setting, a romantic situation that involves four people as two “official couples” while being involved with people in the other relationship. Usually, in a triangle, the person in the middle has feelings for two different people and they don’t know who to choose, but in this setting, both lovers in the relationship (A and B) have fallen for people outside the relationship, another couple (C and D).

And the feelings might be mutual for the other lovers. The twists are infinite!

Love Square Example 2:  X, Y, and Z are all in love with M

three men are chasing a lady on the beach.
Three men are chasing a lady on the beach.

To make this type of romantic web, you could make at least one of four characters involved gay (not for everyone but if you can write that kind of story, this is a good suggestion for you). So while all of them have feelings for M, they could also have an interest in each other.

Very complicated, just how it is supposed to be.

The most common love squares involve two men and two women, but this is not always the case. It could be three women, all vying for one man while being romantically involved with one another.

How to Create a Love Square Story

Ah, love triangles. A classic story trope for any romance novel. But what about a love square? A love rectangle? What if you have more than one man or woman pining after the same person? If you’ve ever thought to yourself “Wow, I wish I could write a story with more than one person vying for the same love interest,” I’m here for you!

It’s a new concept for some writers, but—luckily for you—you have me, and I have compiled some useful tips on how to create a love square story.

And here are these tips for creating a good love square:

Writing a Love Square: It’s about the Basics

Is it just me, or are love squares taking over? No?

Love squares are not a new thing in Hollywood. They’re all over TV these days, and they’ve also become popular in books as well. As complex as they are, you don’t need extra writing skills to write them, maybe just a few tips from seasoned writers. It’s the basics that will help you out!

Things like good old planning. A love square story is like any other romance story or novel, so you will need to use elements of romance to capture your audience’s attention, you will need to introduce your four main characters, et cetera.

In the planning stage, you need to decide whether introducing the four characters involved in the love square can be done per chapter or in one scene.

Then, you will need to plan different storylines (at least two) with multiple obstacles for each character for the story to progress naturally.

Characters

A vital step when developing a love square story involves deciding who the four main characters will be.

It’s important to think about what role each character will play in your story. For example, if one of the characters is the protagonist, you need to decide if they should be male or female, and then what personality type you want them to be.

If two of the characters are lovers, think about whether they are happy or unhappy together. You may also want to consider what kind of obstacles will be in their way.

These sort of things will help your story take shape, like in the two examples I gave earlier.

decide who the four main characters will be

Writing an Outline

Again, let me stress the importance of sticking with the basics. I’m not going to preach about plotters and pantsers here, I have an article on story outlining here.

You need an outline for your love square story.

Write a brief outline of the story. Refer to it for your introduction, the climax, and the aftermath. Other ideas might be how this love square will affect your protagonist’s life or what other characters will do in response to the new love square.

Love squares usually get complicated, and that’s why it’s—more often than not—a good idea to plan your love square story and have a written chart of the relationships. If you decide to pants it, you might get confused and end up not knowing who was supposed to end up with who.

Introduction to the Character’s Backgrounds, Motivations, and Conflicts

A love square story tells about the four characters’ complicated relationships and the way they evolve.

These types of stories often represent human nature by exploring different aspects of love, attraction, and ideals.

Therefore, the lovers cannot be one-dimensional; they need to have a life, a persona, a background, and motivations for loving or being attracted to one another.

If your readers are to take sides or fall in love with your characters, they ought to understand them first.

The Hook

A good hook is a key component to writing a love square story. It should be gripping and intriguing, drawing the reader in while making their heart pound with excitement. The hook should also offer some hint to the world that will unfold before them.

Exploit the Web

In the two examples that I gave, example 2 seemed all four connected on a one-to-one basis.

You might not write something similar, but it’s good for you to make the characters involved with each other as much as possible. This means that you have a longer story and the story has more tension and conflict.

What Makes a Love Square Work in a Story?

I always say that creative writing has no immutable boundaries and no rules set in stone.

It is the same thing when it comes to writing a great love square or love rectangle. After all, every writer wants to pour their imagination, not just follow a set of rules or guidelines written but someone else.

Having said that, I believe that great love squares have things in common, and here are some of those things that can make your love square story great:

  • All of the relationships should be set up in the earliest sections of the story.
  • All of the relationships should be allotted adequate time and almost in equal quantities.
  • There should be clear distinctions between couples. Each couple should be unique in a particularly elaborate way.
  • More than one character is—in some way—involved with at least two other characters.
  • As the story moves forward, all of the relationships have to experience some form of change.
  • Unless you’re planning a series, all of the relationships should have a clear resolution.
what makes a love square work in a story

Love Square vs. Love Triangle

Ah, love triangles! A classic story trope for any romance novel. But what about a love square? A love rectangle? Which one is spicier?

Which is better—a love square or a love triangle?

What if you have more than two men or women pining after the same person?

The thing with us humans is that we are always searching for more, more, more!

And I know that I’m not the only one who’s ever thought “I could write a story with more than two characters vying for the same love interest, I could write three!”

I don’t know about you, but I like both the love square and the love triangle. I don’t think that one is necessarily better than the other.

love square vs love triangle

But having said that, I must also say that I believe each is better in a particular context. For example, if you want a lengthier, richer, more complex love story, then a love square would be more favorable.

And, if I wanted to write a shorter story, a love triangle would be better than a love square.

As a writer, I believe the ball is always in your hand, and the choice is always yours!

However, I also believe that the complexity of your love stories should progress with the level of mastery of fiction writing. Since love squares involve more complex relationships and more moving parts, experienced writers should attempt them, and amateur writers should focus on stories with fewer characters.

But, that’s just my opinion and you shouldn’t let it deter you from creating anything you wish.

Love Squares in Literature

Here are some books with love square in them:

Conclusion

Generally, a love square is a complicated romantic situation, with all four people involved suffering from indecisiveness and at least one making decisions influenced by infatuation.

Love squares are nothing new, but they are not like a love triangle (which is sort of an overused and abused trope in both movies and books), so there’s always a higher possibility of a writer coming up with fresh angles.

One thing to consider before you include a love square in your story is the necessity of the trope in your story.

Apart from looking at the genre of the story, you also have to consider the themes, character goals and development, and plots and subplots of your story.

And then, you should ask yourself questions like:

Is it a desideratum for your story? Will it make the story more interesting?

If you’re positive, go ahead!

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.