What if there isn't a protagonist?

by Ivan

Question: First of all, thanks a lot to all the people that have built this website, it has been a great help. My question is, I was planning on writing a book about a post-apocalyptic era, but I plan to tell the tale of various characters with the same importance, meaning that there wouldn't be a protagonist. Is is okay if there isn't a main character and that I just keep a handful of main characters? Thank you.

Answer: Your welcome, and thanks for the kind comments.

Dramatica separates the roles of "main character" and "protagonist," so it's important to be clear the differences.

The protagonist is the character who leads the effort to pursue the story goal. This effort is part of the overall story.

The main character or primary point-of-view character is the person through whose eyes the reader experiences the story. It is the character whose inner conflict and perspective is shared with the reader.

If you have multiple point-of-view characters, the effect is like having multiple stories within one novel. Every POV character is the main character of his/her story. However, you don't have to develop all of them to the same degree. Often there is one "main, main character" who plays a more important role.

It's trickier to develop them all equally (though it can be done), because usually the way the main character resolves his/her inner conflict at the crisis determines whether the story goal will be achieved. It can be hard to make all the characters resolve their inner conflict and make a crucial contribution with no one standing out.

Either way, no matter how many POV characters you have, usually only one will be the protagonist--the one leading the effort. Others may be helpers, detractors, supporters, etc. Giving characters different roles in the overall plot helps distinguish them and create drama.

Comments for What if there isn't a protagonist?

Click here to add your own comments

Sep 01, 2014
by: Ivan

Okay, thanks for your advice! Now that I've thought better about my characters I realized that it's hard not to have someone who leads the effort. Thanks a lot!

Oct 06, 2014
Multiple POV example
by: Anonymous

I think "A Song of Ice and Fire" by G.R.R.Martin is a great example for multiple POV, some of them equaly important, other varying in importance. Maybe this example helps you a bit :D

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero