Co-Protagonists

by JL

Question: The more I watch the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer, the more I feel (and hear, it seems) that Rey and Kylo Ren aren't protagonist and villain, but rather co-protagonists.


The idea was intriguing to me, but I want to know what you think about co-protagonists. Is that even an actual thing? The reason I'm asking is because I'm cheating in my book. I introduce the "main character" in the Prologue, and the second "main character" in the first chapter. They're both pretty important, and make huge, defining decisions in the climax... Heck, even the third "main character" makes a giant decision. And yeah, these 3 choices are separate and distinct.

Anyway, I was encouraged by Rey and Kylo being co-protagonists, as I thought that maybe I was kind of screwing up with my own characters, but I want more opinions, honestly.

What do you think?

Answer: Every point-of-view character is in a sense the main character of his/her own story. However, you can't write a scene from more than one point of view at a time, without creating a mess. You can have multiple POV characters in a novel, but you do so by switching between their points of view at clearly defined places (such as chapter breaks).

It is, of course, up to you how much you develop each of your POV characters. However. there is a trade-off since a typical novel can only be so long.

The more POV characters you have, and the more equally developed they are, the less space you have to develop one main character in depth and the less connection the reader will have to that character.

Also, the more POV characters, the more the readers is put into an objective experience of the story (since they can see all sides), whereas a single main character gives the reader a very subjective experience of the story.

Bear in mind, none of these options is necessarily "better." It depends on the story you want to tell, what you feel is important.

Also, on a technical note, a main or POV character is not always the protagonist. The protagonist is the person in the external story who is primarily pursuing the story goal. More than one protagonist is somewhat redundant, though the protagonist can have other character as supporters.

I will say that one thing that disappoints me about the recent Star Wars films is that they focus so much on spectacle and action and not enough on main characters I can care about.

Best of luck.

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