Monday, April 21, 2014

Dividing Love

Good Morning. I've been tackling a new project, part of the Regency series I've been writing for the last couple of years. However, with this book, I'm trying to introduce a new series that I WILL BE writing beginning next year.

I'm stuck. Not because I can't write. I have the words, the outline, and believe it or not, the time. I have just never encountered this particular dilemma in my real life so I have nothing to base my character on.

Let's call my character, Oprah. Oprah knows two very different men. Steadman and John. Oprah is in love with each of these men for different reasons. Here's the skinny and then I'll tell you my problem.

Steadman -- Oprah met Steadman when they were both twenty, two weeks before she was to marry Fitzhugh, an old man. She marries him because she has to. For her family. Steadman joins the Army. Oprah doesn't see him again for almost forty years, at a school reunion.When they meet, Fitzhugh is dead, Steadman is a decorated Colonel and Oprah is a billionaire. Steadman and
Oprah have a full-blown love fest for a year where everyone thinks by Christmas they'll be engaged, with a spring wedding. On Twelfth Night, when Steadman doesn't propose, Oprah gets all up in his face and storms out the door. (Steadman has amassed a small fortune from being in the Army, and also has about a billion dollar inheritance. Her family thinks he's a good catch.)

John -- So Oprah's family is related to some real gangster type people, and they put a hit out on another of Oprah's relatives, her dearest niece. So Oprah grabs the girl and flies cross country to Connecticut to hide
out on a farm. Near the ocean. Living in near seclusion, with only John, the houseman for company, Oprah and he form an attachment. And then to take it a step further, once the threat from the niece is removed, John moves back to Oprah's mansion, where they've been having a perfectly kept secret affair. (Because he's actually Black Ops and posing as the butler. Oprah entertains a lot of foreign dignitaries. John speaks fifteen languages. He's doing special time for the Foreign Office.)

However, here's the kicker -- Both Steadman and John have been called up for one last mission.

When John tells her he's going away, Oprah wants to get married. She tells him she'll go to the JP and get the licence. John says no. What would people think? He's just a butler, married to a billionaire. That's like Liz and Larry. No thanks, says John. She argues it's not like that. He doesn't want to hear it.

But John also told Oprah that Steadman is going on this same mission and she must apologize to Steadman for running away last year. What if she never sees him again? However, when she apologizes, Steadman tells her what a mistake he made for not giving her a ring, he understands what happened and why she went away, and all is forgiven. He asks her to marry him. She's so overwhelmed, she says yes.

My character is in love with two men. At the same time. And is having a dalliance with each of them. At the same time. Yes, she has a perfectly good reason for it. Perhaps even somewhat selfless (if I wrote that scene the right way), but let's call a spade a spade here. She's being a slut. And selfish. And cruel. And conceited. And all these things that women hate about other women, because those kind of women always get what they want, instead of what they deserve. You know.

Well, in this case, that isn't so. Oprah will get what she deserves and then some.

My problem is I can't find the dividing line between the love she feels for each of them. Her cousin, Constance says to her, "What are you going to do, just wait until one of them comes back? What if neither of them do? What if they both do? What are you going to do then?" Oprah says it doesn't matter if they both hate her when they return, only that they both come back alive.

Oprah loves each of them for totally different reasons. And wants to marry each of them for totally different reasons. (There's more to each backstory than I've alluded to here.) The way I've written it so far, Oprah never really reveals who she wants more. And that's where I'm stuck -- Will my readers want Oprah to choose one particular man, or will they suspend their disbelief that she can love two men equally?

Tell me --  Should I be looking for the dividing line? Can a person be in love with two people at the same time? What would you rather see as a reader -- a firm decision in love, or ambiguity until the story plays out?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


Al said...

People can and do love more than one person at the same time. It usually ends up pretty messy...

Ambiguity done the right way could build suspense.

Anne Gallagher said...

Al -- Oh it will definitely be messy. Most love triangles usually are. And you hit the nail on the head. Ambiguity done the right way could build suspense. And that's exactly what I want.

SA Larsenッ said...

Ooh, I think the deciding factor for me would be the character's themselves. What types of people are they? Would 'loving two at the same time' be a total and complete veer from who one is as a person - like against what they stand for?

Sheri at Writer's Alley

Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge

Liza said...

Oh boy! Since I know the players...well, Oh boy! I am thinking your readers will want resolution. Whether she chooses one man or the other, a third entirely, or no one at all, I do think it will feel more "finished" if it is wrapped up. And once again, may I just say...Oh boy!

Bish Denham said...

People can definitely be in love with two people at the same time. No one person fills ALL of your needs ALL of the time. If you have to choose, you try to choose the one that fills MOST of your needs MOST of the time.

I have this thought though... Oprah and Steadman first meet when they are 20. Then, some 40 years later they reconnect. That makes them 60. Do you mean for these characters to be so... old? Is John, also of that age? And why would such elderly men be called up for another mission?

Linda G. said...

That's quite a pickle for Oprah. Hmm. If I were here age and independently wealthy, I might leave things as they are. She doesn't need the money, and obviously doesn't intend to have children, so why choose? ;)

Oh, all right. That probably isn't an option (openly, anyway) in her time period, but I suspect more than a few upper class ladies pulled it off anyway.

If you want to go for a real surprise ending, you can always have Steadman run off with John, leaving Oprah in the dust. ;)

Okay, joking aside, I think might want to consider what Bish said. Sixty does seem a bit old for the guys to be called back to duty.

Sarah Ahiers said...

man, i have no idea. That's a pretty big problem and i have no ideas on how to fix it

Anne Gallagher said...

Sherrie -- That's the killer part of this, both are perfectly wonderful men. There really isn't a reason to "choose" one over the other.

Liza -- No worries. It will all be wrapped up in the end. no spoilers though.

Bish -- Steadman and Oprah are 56, John is 58. They're not that old, but if I need to recreate the dates I can. That's the beauty of this. It's fiction.

Linda -- OMG. John and Steadman would be fabulous.

Things can't stay the way they are. That's why she needs to be married. It's 1811 after all. And also in the war, men fought no matter what age.

Sarah -- It's okay. Oprah gets what she deserves in the end.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Objectively, I think part of the decision has to do with her age and level of maturity. I think a woman's viewpoint (assuming she has matured beyond the 'I just want a passionate, earth-shattering love affair, yeah, like in the romance novels') changes when it comes to her expectations in a relationship. Let's face it, the older we get, the more important stability, integrity, true companionship and compatibility become. Sure, the desire for hot sex and all that can still influence older woman, but I think an emotionally mature woman has the foresight to know that that is not primarily what makes a lasting, satisfying relationship.

Also, remember who your character is. Is she flighty? Is she impetuous? Have you developed her as a level-headed, intelligent woman? Have you portrayed her as duty-bound or self-serving? Don't veer out of that character framework in the end....You know your character--try to look at her objectively, from your reader's pov. In the end, your readers want you to be true to her character.

That's my 2-cents, for what it's worth.

Anne Gallagher said...

Bridget -- And always most welcome. You hit the nail on the head again. Duty-bound or self-serving. That's where I'm stuck. If she marries Steadman, she does it because of her family. In her world you marry for inheritance and family honor and duty.

If she marries John, she blows convention out of the water. Even Constance agrees she shouldn't do it. Oprah will lose all credibility and standing in Society.

And Love is not supposed to enter the picture. I shall need to investigate further who Oprah really is.