Michaeline: Goddess Maya Bows Down to June

A man kissing a woman with a skinny man lurking in the background with a sword.

Lovers Paolo and Francesca couldn’t expect a happy ending because they already have spouses. But with a different backstory, their love could end in joy and with the defeat of the person keeping them apart. (Radically different backstory.) Image via Wikimedia Commons

Even in Japan, the phrase ジューン・ブライド (jun buraido or June bride) has currency. It’s a popular month to get married, even today.

Here in the northern half of the northern hemisphere, we are four days into June. Up where I live, winter is five months long, and it’s not unheard of to have snow in May. So nature gets very exuberant and bouncy during the short summer months. May is frantic with planting and weeding and babying the new plants along, but when June rolls around, people on my island have time to relax. This is when the sports days are scheduled, because people once again have a little free time to spend a long day watching kids playing, then finishing up with barbecues and various fire-based ritual cuisines.

This agricultural cycle must be behind the June bride thing. The way I remember it, May was dedicated to a jealous goddess, Maya, who would curse anyone who got married during her month. I think it was probably more a matter of if you fooled around getting married and having honeymoons, you didn’t get your crops in the field, and you starved during the winter. That would certainly look like a curse, wouldn’t it?

I do think the story makes a great template for a story. You’ve got a classic love triangle: the strong, demanding antagonist, the handsome hero, and the beautiful heroine, who must somehow find a way to defeat or placate the antagonist. There’s a kind of a double protagonist thing going on, which is difficult to deal with. However, if you are playing with the “two shall be made one” meme, then it works out pretty well.

This is where my WIP is right now. I’ve got a hero and heroine who share goals. The conflict is weak as a result, although there is some miscommunication in the beginning (quickly cleared up), and I think there may be “protecting the other one without clearly communicating” business going on later on. Sigh. Not a very attractive conflict at all, but when a hero and heroine have a huge conflict going on and conflicting goals, it can be really hard to show them as tough and committed, yet able to work with each other in the end to create a lasting relationship.

By introducing another character as the real antagonist, I give them another good reason to join forces and work together, but more importantly, I provide the book with a proper conflict that drives the story. Otherwise, my hero and heroine would be sitting at a cafe table, calmly discussing their problems and solving them without much fuss. The Third Party can put a time-lock on the situation: the hero or heroine may have to react without thinking. The Third Party can legitimately have goals that conflict with the hero’s or heroine’s (or both). And when the Third Party dies a psychic death (or even a physical one), it can be very, very sad if you’ve written a great antagonist (and not just a cardboard villain), but it’s also acceptable. It’s a romance – you knew going in that someone was going to get a happy ending, and if I’ve done my job right, you knew that She (or He) was not the one who was going to get it.

So, do you have a favorite character who could fit in the Maya category (strong opponent to the love elements in your story)? Have you written one? Traditionally, Maya has won, and our lovers tended to wait until June. But in the modern age, I don’t think the audience sympathizes with the Maya so much. If you know of a contemporary story where Maya won (at least temporarily), please share!

 

(P.S. I have no idea where I got these ideas about Maya. The internet isn’t helping, so just take it as a story, not actual fact.)

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