Sunday, February 3, 2008

Voice theory – Emotion. Part 3

AKA Why love triangles slay me….

What I'm reading: Lay That Trumpet in our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy AND Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. (Our book club discussion of Poison Study is next Sunday, 2/10. I’m really enjoying it.)

What I'm working on: I’m back to the fight scene – the big one between Tara and a demon god. And then I’m off to read the 305 pages I printed. No, I won’t read it all tonight, but it needs to be read so I know what's still missing.

New words today: 505

If you recall, I’ve been posting a little series on voice. Today, I’m resuming it with part 3.
The big key to swept-away titles for me – be it books or movies – is a truly emotional story, a story where I feel deeply. I want that bone-deep, overpowering, soul-clutching emotional ride.

I frequently find that ride in stories with well-developed love triangles. Let me just list a few.

Bridges of Madison County
Sugar Daddy
The X-Men
The Anita Blake series – okay, yes, there might be more than a triangle going on now
The Twilight Series

I realize some of these titles don’t have traditional love triangles, but there are triangles.

You see, the deal with love triangles is they require someone (the hero or heroine) to choose. Often the best choice is clear to a reader or watcher, but just as often it’s not any clearer to us than it is to the main character.

The best love triangles involve giving up something you really want regardless of the choice you make. They involve the deep understanding that you can’t have everything no matter how bad you want it all.

Let me give you some examples.
WARNING: THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS BELOW. If you don’t want to be spoiled stop reading when you see the title of a story you haven’t read.

First, let’s look at BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. I loved the movie and the book, but to keep us all straight, let’s talk movie here. The love triangle is between Francesca, Robert, and Francesca’s husband. Immediately, one might think the choice should be obvious, but it’s not. And what’s more, at the end of the movie, you’re heart-broken when she makes the moral choice. Notice – I didn’t say right. There is no right choice. She loses a chunk of her soul and heart regardless of who she chooses. No matter how many times I watch the movie, I cry when the shot cuts to her hand on the door. The indecision is a heart-breaking, emotional ride.

In SUGAR DADDY by Lisa Kleypas, Liberty is just falling in love again when the man she’s always been in love with shows up. I won’t tell you want happens, but I love to watch how both men react – doing whatever it takes to keep her. Very dramatic stuff.

In the X-MEN trilogy (movies), Wolverine is in love, but he can’t have the object of his affection. She’s married to someone else – someone that doesn’t understand her troubled soul. In the end, the husband is out of the picture, but the conflict is still there. It becomes a love triangle between choosing her and choosing what’s right (saving the world). He can’t have both.

In the ANITA BLAKE series by Laurell K. Hamilton, I love the love triangle between Richard, Jean Claude, and Anita. The books with high tension between the three of them were my favorites in the series.

Finally, the series that got me thinking about love triangles: THE TWILIGHT SERIES by Stephanie Meyer.

I recently lay on the bed reading the last book so far in the series – ECLIPSE. Marcus lay next to me watching a sitcom. Suddenly I slammed the book and swung my legs over the edge of the bed to stand up. I dropped the book onto my pillow as if it burned my hands.

“What’s wrong?” Marcus asked, pulling his eyes away from the TV.

“Bella is so screwed.” I say clenching my teeth in anxiety over recent events in the book. “I can’t read anymore right now.”

I stare down at the book. Marcus returns to watching the sitcom.

I plop back down on the bed and pry the book open again, resuming my read.

“I thought you couldn’t read anymore of it right now.” He raises his eyebrows in amusement. He’s seen this side of me before.

“I can’t, but I can’t stop. She is so, so screwed. This will never turn out okay. No matter what happens.”

Bella has a choice to make. If she chooses Edward, there is a huge cost. If she chooses Jake, there is a huge cost. I hurt for her. If it was me, I'd want to stay in limbo -- or perhaps live in a vacuum where I didn't have to choose.

Angsty, emotional, riveting stuff. There’s just something about the emotional journey in a good love triangle, especially when to win, you also have to lose.

I want to write books like these.
(So, I guess it’s good that I have a couple of ideas for love triangles, eh?)


Hmm... A question: What good love triangles in books or movies can you think of?


C. Alyson Love said...

Okay, well . .. the love triangles that first come to mind are
(1)Jack-Kate-Sawyer on Lost, and now they've thrown Juliet into the mix so it's a bit more complicated that a straight triangle
(2)Ranger-Stephanie-Joe Morelli of the Stephanie Plum series, but it's an ongoing series and no tough choices have been made, nor do I know if they ever will be made
(3) Lancelot-Guinevere- Arthur in various movies and books based on the King Arthur stories. Mists of Avalon also throws Morgaine into the mix.
(4) the first Outlander sort of has a triangle between Claire, Jamie and her husband back in the "present" which is actually the 1940's . . .and then the 1960's, but there is no relationship between Jamie and the husband so it's not a real triangle with all the dynamics that are added by that additional relationship.
(5) Beth Ciotta's latest series about Evie has a triangle developing but I haven't finished the second book yet. It's interesting. Keeps me flipping pages.

I think I pick lighter type triangles, but there's still this drawn-out tensino from anticipation and apprehension from them, and I like that.

Great post,

C. Alyson Love said...

He, he. Excuse typos:) I meant the first couple books in the Outlander series, and tension rather than tensino. LOL.