Main Character and Impact Character Query

by Ken Booth
(Walsall,United Kingdom)

Question: Is it possible to have two main characters that are also the impact character to each other?

Answer: Yes. In effect, you would have two stories running side by side, each with a main character. This is common in romances, where the viewpoint switches between the female romantic lead and the male romantic lead. Each is the impact character in the other's story. Each one offers the other an example of a different way of being or of tackling problems.

Where this gets interesting is when you choose to develop both stories fully. Generally, at the climax of the story, the main character makes his/her decision whether to switch to a new way of attempting to solve problems or stay the same. If the MC changes, generally the impact character will not. If the MC stays the same, the IC will generally be forced to change.

For instance, let's say your female MC, Sally, is someone who relies on a certain theory to assess people, while the male IC, Bob, is someone who relies on hunches. At the climax, if Sally changes - if she decides to go on a hunch about someone - then Bob will remain a hunch guy. On the other hand, if Sally stuck to her theory, Bob might be forced to change from his usual approach and become someone who relies on theory over hunches.

Now, if you also make Bob a main character, his story might be about a different issue. Maybe Bob's purpose in life so far is to embrace change while Sally (the IC in Bob's story) is fighting to keep things the way they are.

If you develop this story fully, it will have its own climax where Bob makes a decision - does he continue to embrace change, or does Sally convince him to keep things the same? Again, if he changes, Sally will stay the same on this issue. If he sticks to his guns, Sally will switch to embracing change.

The challenge you would have in this case is keeping your points of view clear. There would be times when the reader sees Bob through Sally's eyes, and times when the reader sees Sally through Bob's eyes, depending on whether the scene in question is part of Sally's story or Bob's. You have to be very clear about this in your own mind and in your story telling to pull it off.

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