Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Second Lead Syndrome -- Who should get the girl?

Most readers and writers understand second lead syndrome. It's that strange feeling in the heart that perhaps the heroine (sometimes it's the hero) should choose to marry the Other Guy and not the main male character.

In some romances, the main female character has lived an unloved life. Then suddenly two perfect guys come out of the woodwork (sometimes they are friends, related, enemies) and they both want her.

Sometimes it's easy for the reader to pick the True Love our heroine should ride off into the sunset with. IF it's too easy, there's a cheat involved. Bad writing usually makes the second lead somewhat evil and unworthy of our heroine; he has an evil secret or an unacceptable flaw or he doesn't really love her for herself. Good writing makes both guys equally flawed, equally loving, equally good. Thus good SLT should divide the heroine and twist her heartstrings as much as it twists the heartstrings of the reader and the author. When writing a scene with the Second Lead, the writer should be totally confused as to whether her heroine will choose this guy. This is when Second Lead Syndrome really kicks in. Because the author is as in love with the second lead as she is with the main character. She can see that a life with the poor guy would be just as happy for the heroine as a life with the rich guy.

This second lead thing pops up in many stories. Harry Potter/Hermione/Ron     Edward/Bella/Jacob  Of course the choice must be made because we don't live in a world where the heroine can have both guys, even if she wants them both. Why do we always want them both? (Or is it...why do I always want her to have them both?) So for those of us living in our society with our societal norms of marriage, if the heroine keeps  both her lovers, we're talking sin (to the puritanical mind), menage a trois (for the lustful mind) and piggy behavior (for the folks who have fairness issues.)

We want to choose a guy who's perfect for her. Or we want her to choose a guy because she's perfect for him.

I don't know but I have these moments where I find myself watching a movie and getting very annoyed with whom the heroine chooses. A lot of issues having to do with class, societal ideas about marriageability. Real subtle racial issues. I'll have to deal with that in another blog.

Of course, I cheated in Constant Tower. Our heroine gets the guys. <-- note: guys. Although it's a bit complicated and one wonders who the relationships will pan out in actuality, because these are truce marriages after all.

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