GUESTLIST by Jay Fingers

Yesterday, I was reading a few articles at K.M. Weiland’s Wordplay when I came across this post that said the protagonist and antagonist of one’s novel should share similar traits. The examples cited gave credence to Weiland’s argument, and ranged from the parallels between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader to the common goal of every character in Dashiell Hammett’s classic The Maltese Falcon.

This made me wonder if Juliet and Ava, the protagonist and antagonist, respectively, of my novel GUESTLIST, have more in common than I initially realized. Looking at the same three comparison points Weiland used in her post, here’s what I came up with.

  • Personality: Both Juliet and Ava are angry people. The slightest thing will set them off. I think Juliet would be more inclined to react physically whereas Ava would use mind games and intimidation tactics against any given offender. Several times in the novel, Juliet’s hand balls into a fist and she must restrain herself from hauling off and punching Ava in the mouth. These ladies both wear their hearts on their sleeves—you know when they’re pissed at you.
  • Values: I think Juliet and Ava are both hard workers and take pride in what they do. This is explicitly mentioned in the case of Juliet, who once worked a dead-end job in retail management but still went above and beyond to ensure her store was one of the company’s top earners in the nation. Even when her relationship with her superiors goes south, it’s her work ethic (and their acknowledgement of that) that ultimately helps Juliet. Though we rarely see her truly working, Ava seems to take her responsibilities as Napoleon’s business partner very seriously. I think this is best shown in the scene where she chastises poor Victoria outside Byron Lord’s birthday party. This is also the event in which Ava is in charge, not Napoleon—she’s constantly running around, dealing with the club’s general manager, even working the VIP line at times. Both women are clearly hard workers.
  • Goals: This struck me as interesting. Both Juliet and Ava are trying to tie down seemingly unavailable men. For Juliet, it’s the dapper and debonair Napoleon Fey. He’s a successful and popular party promoters, always surrounded by beautiful women and courted by those with power and influence. Juliet is a relative nobody, a newcomer to New York City and its culture of nightlife. How will she ever stand out? As for Ava, she pines for NBA superstar Byron Lord. Again, we have a man that’s always at the center of attention, and so Ava will do whatever it takes to make him to truly notice and appreciate her.

So, as it turns out, Juliet and Ava are not so different after all. It’s funny the connections that one can make after thinking about it. Hell, I wrote the damn thing and didn’t even realize it until now.

What do you think? Have I hit the nail on the head here? Do you see any more connections between these two characters? Or is it all poppycock, just a bunch of bullshit that I’m trying to shoehorn into the novel somehow? Don’t be shy—leave your opinions in the comments below!

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