I can't seem to choose my main characters, please help.

by Peter Hill

Question: My novel is based around several gods and goddesses who are the main focus of the story. However upon picking the heroes I seem to want to swap characters for others a lot. Is there any advice you have on dealing with this subject?

Many thanks.

Answer: The important thing for you to do is determine your Story Goal. What are your characters trying to achieve in the overall story? What big problem are they dealing with? What imbalance must be righted?

Once you know your Goal, then you know that the climax of the story will be the event that determines decisively whether or not that Goal is achieved (the Outcome).

Your main character will be the one whose decision (whether or not to change) at the climax determines the Outcome.

It helps greatly if you also develop the main character's inner conflict, so that the reader cannot say for certain what choice he/she will make at the critical moment. That uncertainty is an important source of suspense and tension that will keep your readers hooked.

And in order to develop the main character's inner conflict, it helps to tell the story from that character's point of view. (How else can the reader perceive his/her inner conflict?)

Often, the main character is also the protagonist (the one leading the effort to achieve the Story Goal), but this is not necessary. Sometimes the main character is someone else who resolves his inner conflict as a result of watching the protagonist struggle with the antagonist - and goes on to play a critical part at the climax.

You can also tell parts of the story from the point of view of other characters, but the drama will be stronger if your main character is the primary POV character.

Comments for I can't seem to choose my main characters, please help.

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Sep 13, 2013
I want to know how to have more than one or two characters? I have trouble having a support staff in my work.
by: Midniyte

I have an opposite problem. I've come up with some solutions but any new ideas would be nice.

Sep 14, 2013
Response to Midniyte
by: Glen

If you're trying to round out your cast, you might first make sure you've included characters to represent all the dramatic functions. See this article...


Then make sure you're not making one character do everything when it might be more interesting to have several characters, each with a different role.

Drama comes from putting assigning different points of view to different characters and then letting them argue it out, rather than having one character with a single perspective.

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