And Now, a Question on Varying Protaganists

by Christine
(Dallas, Texas, US)

Question: Thank you for answering my previous question about plotting out a story framed around two time frames, but now I have a new question for you.

I literally just realized that, as I was originally trying to figure out the plot of my story, I was so busy with that my two protagonist characters are nearly exactly the same.

As I was analyzing this, I realized that pretty much all of the protagonists I have ever written are basically the same people with different quirks attached. With this story, The two protagonists are nearly EXACTLY the same. Only differences being back story and...age. That's about it. I think it's because they were both inspired by the same character - Arsene Lupin - and I want to stick to that vibe, but I don't want to have two of the same person running around. Even if it is in two time frames, the world has ENOUGH of him, thank you.

I will appreciate your reply, thank you.

Answer: I think you have essentially answered your own question.

If your protagonists are too similar and there is no reason for them to be similar (like one is the reincarnation of the other), then you need to change one of them.

If you have worked out a separate story goal for your two story lines (past and present), then you might ask yourself what type of person would be uniquely suited to make the right choice to achieve each goal (assuming you want a successful outcome). Of course, you can also choose an apparently unlikely protagonist who nonetheless has a hidden talent/trait that makes them suitable.

Working backwards in this way, you might then look at what motivations, beliefs, purposes in life each may possess. What type of problem-solving approaches do they bring to the problem?

You might look at their social background. What connections do they have? What education, class, friends, status, jobs they've held etc. can help/hinder them? The fact that they are products of different times, different environments will make a difference in their outlook and the opportunities they've had.

I'm sure you will have no trouble introducing enough changes to make them different.

All that aside, you might want them to share at least one essential trait, since you are writing a story about parallel events.

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