Two Main Characters
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.