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Friday, May 11, 2012

Revenge: What Goes Around Comes Around

This year I’ve been watching Revenge, a television series featuring Madeline Stowe and Emily VanCamp. It’s about a young woman who returns to the Hamptons seeking revenge against the couple who set up her father. Her father was tried and incarcerated for organizing the bombing of a plane. He left papers and documents for his daughter, proving his innocence and detailing the different people who played a part in his imprisonment.

Each week Emily Thorne goes after a different person and tugs on strands of the past, forcing the cast of characters to react. In the last episode I watched, Emily is starting to realize that innocent people can get caught in the fallout. She starts to waver in her pursuit of revenge.
I used the theme of revenge in my historical mystery romance, TheSpurned Viscountess. My hero Lucien is focused on discovering the identity of the men responsible for murdering his first wife. He lets his estranged family organize a second marriage for him, but he’s totally indifferent about his new bride. At the start of the story the only thing he’s interested in is revenge. It takes time for him to appreciate his new wife and come to accept the loss of his first wife.

Revenge is a fairly common theme in romances, and it works particularly well with romantic suspense stories. In most of the stories I’ve read the character seeking revenge usually comes to realize that success won’t change the circumstances or bring the wronged person back. The characters learn to accept and forgive.
I’m not sure how the TV series ends since I’m still watching the show each week. As a writer, I’m enjoying the slow build and the way that each action by the heroine brings consequences. She doesn’t always achieve her goals because the other characters move to their own drummer. I think this makes her seem more sympathetic as a character. We know her father was wrongly accused, and we want her to succeed, yet we don’t want the innocent players hurt either.

So, my questions for you today:
1. Do you enjoy the revenge type plot?
2. Do you think that the character seeking revenge should be successful or should they come to accept that they can’t change the past? Should they move on and embrace the future?


Clare London said...

Great post Shelley! I'm really fond of revenge plots, and I confess disappointment when sometimes the revenger eases off the victim in the last stages - because he/she's fallen in love with them LOL. One of my favourite plays is An Inspector Calls, which your description reminds me of - where each player in the revenge plot is challenged in turn, to make them realise their accountability.

Maureen A. Miller said...

I remember the original REVENGE movie with Madeline Stowe and Kevin Costner. It was very sad.

Revenge plots definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. It's easier to understand the motivation in a revenge plot.

Great post, Shelley. :)

Toni Anderson said...

I love revenge plots. They can get so horribly twisted. My first story was all about revenge or redemption. The best writers find a way to do both. I only caught 1 episode of REVENGE and was horribly confused, but I'd like to watch it properly from the start.

Elise Warner said...

Fascinating to read novels of revenge,Shelley. Revenge or redemption? I agree with Toni--it's up to the writer and the character, of course.

JB Lynn said...

My current WIP has a revenge aspect to it, so I read your post and the responses with great interest.

I won't answer the questions for fear of giving away the ending of my own book, lol.

Shirley Wells said...

Great post, Shelley. I love revenge type plots. Used well, they make a reader stop and think.

Should characters out for revenge move on? I think it depends on the other characters and what the consequences will be. As readers, I think we start off hoping she'll get her revenge. Then we stop and think about the consequences and hope that maybe she'll move on and embrace the future.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Interesting post, Shelley. I love the movie "The Count of Monte Cristo" (though I confess, I've tried to read the book and could never get very far - that thing's a doorstop!) I loved how his concerns for the woman he loves becomes more important. Kind of love overpowers anger. But he still gets his revenge in the end (though not through anger). I think THOSE are the best plots, because achieving something through anger just isn't as satisfying as it seems it would be.

Wynter Daniels said...

I enjoy revenge stories. I can't say that I always want the revenge to be meted out. I think it depends on the characters.

Shelley Munro said...

Toni, the first episode was a bit confusing. The next episode they went back and we're gradually working our way back to what happened in the first episode.

Shelley Munro said...

Maureen - I didn't realize there was a movie first. I'll have to check it out.

Shelley Munro said...

Clare - an Inspector Calls is vaguely familiar to me - the title anyway. I'm off to google.

Shelley Munro said...

Elise - I think a good writer can do anything with a particular plot trope. It's all in the execution.

Shelley Munro said...

JB - I look forward to your revenge book :)

Rita said...

I adore revenge plots. I want to see the bad guy get his come-upins. Do you remember the movie Pacific Heights? Michael Keaton was freaking scary in that movie.

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