We study smooth isotopy classes of complex curves in complex surfaces from the perspective of the theory of bridge trisections, with a special focus on curves in and . We are especially interested in bridge trisections and trisections that are as simple as possible, which we call efficient. We show that any curve in or admits an efficient bridge trisection. Because bridge trisections and trisections are nicely related via branched covering operations, we are able to give many examples of complex surfaces that admit efficient trisections. Among these are hypersurfaces in , the elliptic surfaces , the Horikawa surfaces , and complete intersections of hypersurfaces in . As a corollary, we observe that, in many cases, manifolds that are homeomorphic but not diffeomorphic have the same trisection genus, which is consistent with the conjecture that trisection genus is additive under connected sum. We give many trisection diagrams to illustrate our examples.