1. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    Two protagonists

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Fitzroy Zeph, Jan 8, 2014.

    I have an idea for a story involving, what would ostensibly have, two protagonists. I'm sure it can work but I can't remember a book where this is the case. I'd like to read couple to see how other authors did it. Any suggestions or reasons to not do this?
     
  2. Storysmith
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    Check out A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin. It has a large number of protagonists. Each chapter is named after the character who will give us their point of view (usually a protagonist), and they'll become POV again in a few more chapters time. Other previous protagonists are simply characters when they're not the POV protagonist.
     
  3. Claire A.
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    Do you mean two protagonists together or in separate settings? I suppose either one could work.
     
  4. Fitzroy Zeph
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    No, more like working together, but not. While I write this, I thought of The Odd Couple which may not be far from the way I'm thinking.
     
  5. Claire A.
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    Okay, I like that idea; you could really do a lot with it. Maybe you could switch POVs sometimes, or not :) It's up to you.
     
  6. Glacial
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    The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan is like that. Each book in that series follows at least 3 protagonists and every few chapters it switches viewpoints. Sometimes the characters happen to be together, sometimes they aren't. They are a quick (and very fun) read as well.
     
  7. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    You might read a few of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries. Wolfe and his assistant, Archie Goodwin, consistently function as co-protagonists against whatever criminal elements they're up against.

    But Stout also plays Wolfe and Goodwin off against each other in protagonist/antagonist relationships that switch back and forth. I think that's critically important when you have two (or more) protagonists, and Stout does this with great skill.
     
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  8. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's sounds exactly right. Thanks.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Some of Tom Clancy's novels included both Jack Ryan and John Clarke. Clarke started out as a minor character, working for Ryan, but evolved to the point where Clancy wrote separate books for him.
     
  10. Revilo87
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    Game of Thrones for sure, there are also many other book series where chapters or sections of the books switch between different characters. Outside of literature, this can be seen in film a lot, the LOTR films being a prime example. While the FOTR has all the protagonists together, TTT and TROK switch between mostly the pov of Frodo & Aragon who are working toward the same end but really have no idea what the other is going through
     
  11. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    First question what pov you planning on using?
     
  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Shouldn't that be whose point of view?
     
  13. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    The POV question is up in the air.
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The Poisonwood Bible treats three sisters each as protagonists. I like the way it works. And I'm most of the way through Hyperion which has 6 or 7 protagonists each with their own story (I won't know the total until another couple chapters). It's one of the best sci-fi books I've read.
     
  15. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    In a sense that would be the next question. I was wondering more the about the mechanics. 1st person. 3rd person etc.
     
  16. SuperVenom
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    I would say look at the pov. If you choose 1st person then you will have to have breaks somewhere (ie in chapters). But if you have a 3rd person you could have a bit more freedom in how u approah, as long as you resist the urge to head hop. You could still have the breaks but shift the focus not the whole pov. again depends on the type of 3rd person.
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That's not POV. POV means from which character's perspective does the reader see a scene unfold. The Old Man and the Sea is told almost entirely from Santiago's POV, and would be, even if Hemingway had written it in 1st person.
     
  18. Fitzroy Zeph
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    The more learn the more confused, or perhaps, confounded I get.
     
  19. SuperVenom
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    K, think I get the question now, if the question was does having more than one protagonist work then I agree with everyone that it is fine to have as many as you can handle. I was looking at the way it would be written, and how the scene would unfold around the protagonists. What focus would work best. That's why I was talking about 1st person etc. because more than one means jumping views at chapters which is fine, while 3rd is like following them around.
     
  20. Fitzroy Zeph
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    My original thoughts were, how to handle a story with two central characters, neither of which is more important than the other. I need to get into the heads of both and I can't see why I can't do it in either 1st or 3rd. Chapter swapping would work fine. I am now thinking 1st or a limited inner 3rd.
     
  21. SuperVenom
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    You can do it in either I was just asking what you were considering, I like limited inner 3rd. Im doing the same with two equally important characters in the main plot and some lesser characters in the sub plot, and I find it easier to keep track and have them moving organically round the environment and not wait for the protag. at that time to "notice" what they are doing. I think i just like the freedom it gives. Nothing against 1st mind you, just my preference. My trouble is getting the right view point for the situation, ie who would the story benifit from more in this scene?
     
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  22. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    I remember a novel I read back in school that involved the MC being reverted back to a child and interacting with her own daughter. Each chapter was named after either her or the daughter to tell the POV. It worked pretty well for the storytelling, kept the flow of the story smooth.
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    Definitely changing POV requires a new chapter. If not it's too confusing for the reader. Just as a new speaker requires a new paragraph, a new POV requires a new chapter.

    Not to be confused with an omniscient narrator who can write different POVs in one chapter and maybe even one paragraph. ;)
     
  24. SuperVenom
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    I always like to leave the pov intact until the chapter end just to save confusion of head hopping even in 3rd person, or omniscient. The later has far too much freedom which i always end up abusing.
     
  25. EdFromNY
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    I would definitely disagree with this, Ginger. All that's required is a scene break. Tom Clancy did this incessantly.
     

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