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?

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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

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