MC/Protag split and POV

by Fancy
(Edgewood, NM)

Question: After a long time of thinking my Main Character and Protagonist would be the same character (and written in Limited 3rd POV), I am exploring the idea that they are not as I think the protagonist would be hard for the audience to relate to. In looking for examples of this, I seem to only find books where the main character is written exclusively in 1st Person POV (Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird). I had not envisioned writing in that POV, and I have been unsuccessful in finding other books that I am familiar with using two characters for the MC and Protag. So my questions are: What other books (not movies) could I study that use this format, and is 1st Person POV a requirement of this format?

Thank you. Your site is really helping me get a handle on Dramatica!

Answer: You are right that, in the novel format, a main character who is not the protagonist will most often be the narrator. Consequently, these novels are written in first person, from the main character's POV.

However, there are always exceptions.

One fairly recent example - admittedly perhaps not the best - that comes to mind is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The story is written from many points-of-view -- at least six, as I recall -- and it takes some time and effort to identify who the main character actually is. He turns out to be a farmboy who runs away to join the circus, after falling in love with one of its members.

The protagonist, on the other hand, is a magician known as the "man in the grey suit," whose goal is to defeat a rival magician in a contest of champions and who uses the circus as a setting for the contest.

As memory serves, the entire story is written in third person, present tense, limited narration.

The reason this book is not the best example is because there are so many POV characters that much of the story is not told from the main character's POV.

Perhaps some readers of this site would be kind enough to suggest other examples?

Bottom line... you are certainly free to use third person if you like when writing from the main character's POV, even if he is not the protagonist.

Comments for MC/Protag split and POV

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Dec 30, 2013
Thank you!
by: Fancy

Thanks for your quick response and also for pushing The Night Circus to the top of my reading list. I do see my story as being mainly in the MC's POV with a few forays into others where necessary. I will read Morgenstern's book with your comments in mind. And I hope others will make other suggestions as well.

Dec 31, 2013
Main character POV 3rd person present tense narration
by: Mina Bancheva

Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall is a good example of narration from the main character's POV ( Thomas Cromwell), narrated in the present tense,3rd person.

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