Two Main Characters

by Shira

Question: My story traces two romances: one that starts off with total hatred and eventually leads to love and marriage, and one that starts out slightly abusive and ends in rape and marriage. Both women are used as the main points of view, though lately I've been favoring the older one, and I think both of their stories are important to the story as a whole. I can't decide, therefore, what the story goal should be: should it be for the younger one to learn that her father will love her if she's a good person, or for the older one to learn that duty can be intensely destructive? Or both?

I'm likewise having an issue with theme. If the younger character were the main character, then the theme would be that even the undeserving can earn love, and if the older character were the main character, the theme would be that even good passions are destructive.
These two characters are the only sustained points of view: the younger one's father and the older one's boyfriend are used whenever either is unconscious. How do I tell which is the main character?

Answer: Keep in mind that the story goal is the goal that involves or affects most characters in the story world. So you have to ask yourself if there is something that would satisfy both these women, and maybe the men too, if they were to find it (even if only one of woman does find it). What is it that would fix the dissatisfaction in the world?

Your main character will be the person whose decision at the climax determines the outcome - whether or not the goal is achieved - even if just for her. You can think of the "message" of the book as "given this kind of problem, the choice she makes will or will not lead to a solution."

The trick when using multiple point-of-view characters is that each can have their personal own story and inner conflict, even if not all of them are fully developed. One way to unify these storylines is to have them share a single overall throughline. It's the overall throughline that concerns the pursuit of the story goal.

Comments for Two Main Characters

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Mar 18, 2013
Thanks, but
by: Shira

The problem is that neither of these characters' decisions is the climax. The climax is the choice of one of the men (who has been growing steadily more abusive) to rape the older woman because he believes it's the only way he can get her to marry him. This causes the entire outcome to happen. Nothing beyond that point is really affected by any choices they make afterward. So that doesn't really help me.

Mar 18, 2013
by: Glen

What about her decision to marry him after the rape occurs?

I mention this because generally the meaning of the story derives from how a character's choices affect her destiny, even if it's only a matter of choosing how to regard events that have happened or how to respond to them.

Mar 18, 2013
by: Shira

I guess so, but it isn't really a decision she makes afterward. It's something she decides much earlier. Maybe her getting drunk afterward (which she apparently considers "the warrior's way") is the real choice that affects everything, since it's what determines the outcome for the other couple. But it really doesn't affect HER. Her outlook on life makes everything she does fairly inevitable.

Mar 18, 2013
by: Glen

I'm a little confused. You say she decides at an earlier point... what? That she will marry him if he rapes her? If so, and that decision is somehow binding or she remains committed to it, then her remaining steadfast is what determines the outcome.

For instance, if this is a story world in which women cannot have any form of intercourse, forced or not, with more than one person, and this woman chooses not to break that rule, then that is her choice to stay steadfast.

(The MC's choice at the climax is whether to change and adopt a new approach or to remain steadfast and stay with her established approach.)

Whether the MC is happy about the choice in the end is a different matter.

Mar 18, 2013
Okay, so
by: Shira

She decides at a very early point in the story that if there are circumstances that allow her to marry him, she will. She believes that honor requires her to stay with her decisions, and furthermore she is obligated to marry him by one of her people's laws.
I guess that could be the choice. Okay, that makes sense. Off to write!

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