1. Ceedle

    Ceedle New Member

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    Love triangle, pursuit of happiness and guilt. Stuck at a scene.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ceedle, May 31, 2019.

    Hi !

    First, sorry for the wall of text and any mistake...
    I’m stuck in a romance sub-plot that is part of a bigger fantasy plot, and would be glad for any advice.

    Here is the general setting :
    Harold and Lina are married. Lina loved her husband from the start but it was and is still unrequited. This situation and their relative seclusion led her to depression over the years.

    Lina and Maeve are sisters. Maeve has come to live with the couple after her father’s death. At first, being reunited works wonders on Lina’s mood. But after some time, she becomes jealous of the close frienship that is forming between her husband and her sister. There is nothing at this stage, but Lina doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence and do not doubt her husband could be easily attracted by another woman. In fact, even if Harold and Maeve are too blind to admit it yet, there is indeed attraction between them.
    The two sisters have a huge and violent fall-out at some point and don’t speak to each other after that.

    From there I’d like to outline the paths of the 3 characters, but keep in mind they happen simultaneously.
    • Lina realizes she needs to take her life in her own hands if she wants to be happy. She needs a new start, and plans it. When the opportunity arises, she runs away (to have lots of adventures and her happy ending).
    • Maeve is disheartened by the fall-out with her sister, but realizes she indeed has feelings for Harold. She doesn’t feel guilty though, because those things are not intentional. She tries to distance herself from him nonetheless, to appease Lina. After some months feeling terribly alone (and because Lina doesn’t seem to give a fig about her efforts), she gives up and spend time with Harold again.
    • Harold has had a sense of guilt over Lina’s depression for a long time, and it is now even more present. Not because he thinks she is justified but because Lina rejected her only companion because of him. Months pass in loneliness as Maeve is distant toward him. He’s shocked to realize he is more saddened by that than by Lina’s coldness. He’s resolute not to disrespect his wife even more, and swears nothing will come of his feelings for Maeve. Unfortunately, Maeve seeks his company again. Before he can properly muster the courage to speak to her about finding her a husband and sending her off, she confesses to him (she’s drunk at the time and didn’t plan on it). He rejects her.

    So here I am. I’ve been asking myself if I needed to stop their angst here, and set them on their separate ways, triggered by Lina’s flight and their guilt of being the cause of it. The thing is, 1) Maeve is not in the right set of mind for that just yet, and 2) I need her to make an important decision for later events, and she is not ready for that either if I leave it like this.

    Let me explain 1) :
    Maeve is compassionate, but also pushy and slightly selfish. She doesn’t hesitate to take what she wants when she has a good reason to think there is nothing to lose. And she wouldn’t have anything left to lose at this stage : her sister after not having spoken to her for months would have ran away ; and she knows Harold loves her back. As I said before, she doesn’t feel guilty about her feelings. Thus she would not sacrifice her chance at happiness when her sister relinquishes her claim on the man by fleeing. Besides, Maeve knows her sister was unhappy before she arrived in the couple’s life. Perhaps Lina would have escaped eventually even without her meddling, who knows ?

    As for 2) :
    For the bigger plot, Maeve later needs to leave everything she has behind (including memories, because of the magic involved). And again, I don’t see her able to do it for anyone but herself. The only way she’d surrender her memories like this would be to stop suffering, not to atone for anything.
    In order for her to surrender, I need her to truely feel guilty. And for that, she needs to actively do something wrong in her own point of view ; preferably by doing it immediatly before Lina escapes (either by coincidence, or because it precipitates it).

    Knowing that just before Lina flees, they are in town after a travel of several weeks, what could be the key scene to Maeve’s guilt ?
    I don’t want her to simply sleep with Harold when she finds an occasion. It wouldn’t be in character nor for Harold nor for her at this point (he is to honourable for a start, and secondly Lina hasn't yet escaped, and they don't have a clue she will). Maeve stays because she has nowhere else to go, and has to many advantages to remain unmarried (and Harold can't marry her off if it means sentencing her to the same unhappiness as her sister). Besides, he has tried to keep their relationship cordial but aloof after he rejected her, and Maeve is still trying to play by those rules (but she could snap out of it for a good reason?).

    I’m all ears for suggestions :) Thank you in advance!
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Hi, and welcome to the forum! I see you just joined up, and you already have a story under way. I found myself reading through the entire synopsis, which I don't normally do. Why? Because you kept me grounded the whole time, via your understanding of what makes these characters tick.

    I like this kind of dilemma myself, because it won't be easily resolved. Everybody has issues they need to work on. Maeve's self centredness, Lina's lack of self confidence and self-esteem, and Harold's lack of decisiveness. (What made him marry a woman he didn't really love? Sounds as if he kind of wandered into it.)

    In a case like this, you probably need a catalyst. Perhaps a fourth person? Or something out of the blue that happens, that pushes them all in directions they maybe don't want to go. Something that shakes them up.

    I don't know how much you have actually written, but this is the sort of thing I would consider. Maybe just play around with the ideas at first. At the playing around stage, anything goes. It doesn't matter how crazy it may seem. Just fool around a bit. You could start with survival. How many of these three characters need to survive to the end of your story? Could you kill one off? If you need to keep them, you could consider something really major happening in their lives. Something they didn't expect. A relative out of the past? A friend out of the past? A new person who is bent on starting a romance with one of them? Turn something on its head.

    Even if these changes are things you won't end up making, just thinking about them might give you ideas.

    I'm not about to suggest any particular ideas, because it's your story. Solving these kinds of problems will increase your self-confidence as a writer. However, they do require thinking and willingness to change things, if need be.

    Anyway, a good start to the forum.

    If you haven't already done so, PLEASE do read these links. Pay special attention to the New Member guide. This contains a lot of information you'll need from the start, including the preliminary requirements youmust meet before (and after) posting your work for critique. Knowing these rules will set you off on the right foot. In the meantime, explore the forum, get to know members by seeing what they post, join in discussions, write a few critiques yourself, etc. Have fun!

    New Member Quick Start
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    https://www.writingforums.org/faq/staff.68/

    https://www.writingforums.org/threads/constructive-critiques.20627/
     
  3. Ceedle

    Ceedle New Member

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    Thank you @jannert !
    I read the rules and the guide, but it wont hurt to reread them as I was quite tired the first time.

    I also thank you for your answer on my post, it helps me a great deal already.
    My post was already long so I didn't dare put more details into it... To sum it up, it was an arranged marriage that profited to both families in term of reputation and wealth. Basically, Harold followed what his father told him to do thinking it was for the best. He is definitely not stronged-will as you noticed. I intend for him to find a backbone later in the story, but it won't change him drastically to make him a leader.

    I didn't include it, but though they are not issued from big and insanely rich families, they live well and employ a few domestics. Three in particular I've already given a small role previously in advancing the plot. I will think on how one or two of them may help in the matter. And the fact they are in town adds possibilities in a disruptive event, hmm... :superthink:

    To be honest, I'm the kind who plans everything with thumbnails and notes everywhere before diving in the actual writting. I have a big file that summarise the story, but I have actually only written key events or diologues for some chapters. I have a good idea of where I want it to go, but the how is not set in stone. I've already dropped several chapters that didn't add anything to the plot or character depth, and I changed the course of events many times too. Everytime it feels good to be unstuck by letting go, so I'm not at all averse to the idea !

    Thank you again for your time and great advice :)
     
    jannert likes this.
  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    You're welcome. And in a way, it's great that you haven't actually started writing yet (although, once you start you may find things will still take unexpected turns!) However, the fact that nothing is actually written yet means you really can experiment without 'losing' work. (Although nothing you ever write is set in stone, at least not till you publish it.)

    Play around with even daft ideas. But do something to shake things up a bit. Over-heavy plotting can result in predictable storylines ...sometimes a bolt out of the blue can be the catalyst you need to make your story catch fire.
     

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