Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mr. and Ms. Wrong, by Linda Hope Lee

     Back in the '80s, the Other Woman, and sometimes the Other Man, became a popular plot device to help keep the hero and heroine apart until the HEA. The other woman, especially, was a jealous type who wanted to get her claws into the hero and keep him away from the heroine. She had a certain hard look, a sharp tongue, and was not above using underhanded means to reach her goal. She was more a cliche than a three-dimensional character.
     The Other Woman and Man became so overused that eventually publishers did not welcome these characters. And, I agree. It was time to give them the boot.
     However, I do feel that properly developed, Mr. and Ms. Wrong, as I prefer to call them, can be good additions to a romance novel. They can help the hero and heroine learn about themselves, so that they can make not only the right choice in a partner but also in other aspects of their lives. Career choices, for example.
     One of the best ways to learn how to use these characters in a romance novel is to study how they are used in movies. One such film I watched recently is Hallmark's The Wish List. In this story, Sarah is a highly organized, by-the-book executive who knows exactly what she wants in a man. She finds him in pediatrician Erik. At the same time, she meets Fred, an off-the-wall barista, who possesses none of the qualities she wants in her future husband. 
CrownMedia/HallmarkChannel
     But life with too-perfect Erik soon makes her realize that isn't what she wants after all. She wants to express herself with more spontaneity and freedom than she can in their relationship. Of course, Fred has something to do with this; but, without Erik, would she have come to realize that what she thought she wanted wasn't what she wanted after all? I don't think so.
     Of course, when using this angle in a romance novel, you need to be careful to not have Mr. or Ms. Wrong overshadow Mr. or Ms. Right. The relationship between the true hero and heroine must be given center stage.
     What do you think? Do you like to read novels with a Mr. or Ms. Wrong? Or do you prefer to keep the focus entirely on the true hero and heroine?

21 comments:

  1. Linda,
    I like books with a lot of sub characters. Since I don't read only romance maybe I don't get tired of what some think are clichéd characters. I like troublesome exes, or even some women who have designs or the hero. They do still exist for real, so I think they can keep a story on edge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Roz, that's a good way to put it: they can keep a story on edge. And yes, they certainly are part of the real world. Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  2. I like Mr. or Ms. Wrongs sometimes, especially when they're perfectly nice people but the connection just isn't there. Sometimes they even get their own books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz, I never thought of giving them their own stories. Good idea!

      Delete
  3. I like the competition going on with several Mr. Rights and making it difficult for the heroine to decide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, this is a great way to heighten the suspense and keep the reader turning the pages. Thanks, Marion.

      Delete
  4. I like Mr. or Ms. Wrong. Any character in a book should be created well, and when they make the hero or heroine think twice, give them fits, or otherwise upset the status quo, they're valuable. They're also really fun to write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Muriel. If a character is in the book, he or she deserves the best we can do.

      Delete

  5. The book I'm writing now has a Mr. Wrong. But, he was ten years ago. Hmmm, but he's also the current hero's brother. Wrongs can be easy to write. hehehehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As the hero's brother, maybe he will get his own story, as Liz suggested above. ??

      Delete
    2. Wrongs can be easy to WRITE? Pamela - no pun too cheap?

      Delete
  6. I like these types of movies/books. They definitely add to the storyline and the conflict especially. One of my other WIP's has this type of storyline where the heroine is chasing the wrong hero and it's super fun to write!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having fun with a story is great, isn't it? I'm enjoying my WIP, too, and wish I had more time to work on it.

      Delete
  7. I enjoy characters who present a mirror - sometimes a warped one - that helps the h/h learn something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting idea, Mel. I hadn't thought of characters as a mirror for the h/h. I will definitely give this some thought.

      Delete
  8. Linda, I've seen The Wish List and really liked it (maybe because I work part time as a barista, and I loved Fred's different drinks!) I like when stories mix it up a bit with a Mr. Wrong and well as a Mr. Right. Good thoughts! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've seen The Wish List twice now, and will probably see it again when it comes around next year. I'm a huge Hallmark movie fan. They are a lot like the Heartwarming books, don't you think? I'll bet you have a lot of fun on your job and meet a lot of interesting people. Story ideas!

      Delete
  9. I must say that I'm a fan of these when done right. I grew up reading Betty Neels' stories, which often featured a more beautiful, spoiled woman who the heroine thought was competition (even if she wasn't), and a few that had a guy going after the heroine for less than honorable reasons. I recently saw a movie called Dorfman in Love that featured a Mr. Wrong. There are other, more classic examples of this as well. It's been a while since I read a book with a good Mr. or Ms. Wrong in it. Hopefully someone will write one soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Mz.ZeyZey. I'm not familiar with Dorfman in Love. Will look it up. I think these characters can be difficult to portray just right, without making them appear too negative. We'll keep trying, though, and hopefully create some that work well!

      Delete
  10. I love Mr. Wrong movies and saw The Wish List. I love rooting for Mr. Right and watching the heroine come to that realization.

    ReplyDelete