Monday, April 17, 2006
I've been giving this subject quite a lot of thought. And of course, by a triangle, I mean one woman and two men -- this is a female's fantasy, after all. You men, go write your own.
As I embark on my next novel, I've been examining classic love triangles and looking for the secret to a meaningful two-Kleenex story. You know, the real classics, where a woman has to choose between two good and deserving men. A story that just can't end without someone's heart bloody and scarred. Now that I think about it, that someone is quite often ... dead.
Tristan / Isolde / Lord Marc.
Edmund Dantes / Mercedes / Fernand Mondego.
Hawkeye / Cora / Duncan.
Rhett / Scarlett / Ashley.
Rick / Ilsa / Victor.
Rafe / Evelyn / Danny.
Jack / Kate / Sawyer. (This one is just developing, will have to stay tuned to see how it pans out.)
Popeye / Olive Oyl / Bluto. (Okay, this is a bit of a stretch. But hey, Olive seemed to see something in these guys.)
If you're a real romantic fiction fan, I don't have to identify the stories which laid these souls bare -- you've seen them over and over on the screen and read them a hundred times. For those of you who have missed a few, let me take a moment to name the stories in order of their above appearance: Excalibur (or First Knight, or any one of a dozen other titles this story has had); Tristan and Isolde; The Count of Monte Cristo; Last of the Mohicans (movie version, in the original book it was much different); Gone With the Wind; Casablanca; Pearl Harbor; Lost (one of my new favorite TV shows); and of course, Popeye the Sailorman. Of course, in Olive's case, she was just plain blind not to see Bluto was a creep. Other than that, these women all faced the decision of which good man to hurt. Follow passion, or follow promises?
We all know, there is no way to control who we love -- the control lies in what we do about it. I've looked at all of these stories and decided that I'm too much of a rule follower to take the leap. As much as I wanted to see Ilsa stay with Rick that foggy night on the airfield tarmac, I know I would have dragged my sad, broken-hearted self up the steps into the waiting plane. But it's the fantasy, the possibility that draws us back again and again to these stories. I suppose that's part of the reason I became a writer, to take those leaps of the heart that I'm far too timid to take in real life.
In fact, I'm embarking on my next rip-the-guy's-heart-out love triangle. Even as I set him up for the fall, I can't help but love him myself. Maybe he'll get a happy ending of his own on down the road -- See I just can't leave 'em broken and bleeding.
So how about you? Follow passion? Or follow promises?