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Thread: The Center of the Universe

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I'm not sure if this is the place to ask, but here goes. I have received advice from various friends that all match. They all tell me that in order for my story to catch a reader's attention, the main character needs to be the center of the universe, so to speak. The fate of everything- the world, the other characters, the plot and the subplots, the peoples and nations- everything has hang on every action of the main character. The protagonist must be the center of everything. My protagonist, as of now, is not. So my first question is: does my protagonist have to be the center of the universe? and second: if so, how do I make her the center without making her the key to a prophecy, or secretly royalty? (These are the reasons my friends have given me, but they don't really match the world and characters/plot lines that I already have). Any suggestions for a young writer?

Explain more of your story. the  world, time, characters and plot would help.

Hello, Rukain!

That's a good question.  As an aspiring writer, I don't adhere to the "Only One Protagonist" line.  I do think, however, that having a few main characters to focus on in your story would be a good thing.  Let's take LotR for an example, since we're on this Forum.  Who is the main protagonist of these books?  At first Frodo might jump into your mind, but what about Aragorn?  Ultimately, I think that both are essential protagonists to Tolkien's story.  Sometimes reading a lot about only one character can be kind of boring, too.  You just have to be cautious not to fall into the trap of providing confusing multiple viewpoints, or having so many characters that the reader can't possibly follow them all with any sense of coherency.  To give an example, in the novel that I am writing now (it's scifi), I have two main protagonists (one male and one female).  Then there are minor characters that pop up every once in a while, and you get to see their point-of-views as well.  I hope that this helps, and let me know if I can be of further assistance or if I didn't explain something thoroughly!

No, they do not. In fact many argue what makes Tolkien so amazing is the fact it's difficult to center on a single protagonist. There are AT LEAST two in each LOTR book. Arguably you only have Bilbo for The Hobbit. But there's a whole mythology out there and it's all intertwined. What about The Silmarillion? Still an amazing story, written as a novel, but tell me, who's the single protagonist there? None. It's an evolution of protagonists. Children of Hurin. Niennor was incredibly significant to everything that happens, and Turin is purposely left in a bit of a shroud, and Tolkien doesn't make an especially dedicated effort to make us like him. He is hardly the center of the universe.

But because you could really argue otherwise, Tolkien might not be the best example. The PERFECT example is George R.R. Martin and the Song of Fire and Ice series. I dare you to read the first book and tell me who the main protagonist is. Then read the next 2 and you'll understand even more what I mean. Especially if you're an aspiring fantasy author, I cannot recommend reading his series enough. Brilliant story and sub plots aside, the way he approaches the character development and how he puts it into words is very unique. And trust me, I've read alooooottt of fantasy/sci-fi.

Another question which has been nagging at me is 'do I have to many characters?' But when I look at LotR, I see Frodo and Aragorn, and then there's Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gimli, Legolas, Eowyn, Theoden, Eomer, and even Saruman, Grima, Boromir and Faramir. You could add Elrond and Arwen, and maybe Denethor on there too, if you wanted to. All are needed fot the story to play out the way it did. If there wasn't any one of them, things wouldn't have gone the way they did: and who knows what would have happened. So I hope I won't confuse people with Kay, Liah, Don, Art, Elgan, Morgham, Elsayn, Tosandik, Cirvaan, and Kahmyr. Especially if I only use a few points of view.

@Balrogs are Us  I've hear a lot of good things about the Song of Fire and Ice, and now I might just have to read it. I am a fantasy writer (or wish I was, anyways)

I was worried that it wouldn't be, I don't know, GOOD enough for people if I said 'the universe revolves around him, him, him, him, her, her, them, and that guy, in a way' instead of 'this is Kay. she is protagonist. She saves universe!'..... Well, something like that :P

@ Kyelek, I have so far sections in 3, maybe 4 points of view, but only two come up frequently, and the other two are used when they are separated from the usual point-of-view characters and need their story told. I've tried very hard to make them distinct, and only use two, maybe three if I must. I'll be careful!

Thanks all! Maybe if I ever get it going well, I'll share a little here. If I ever find time to write it, of course. You know life: making sure we have no free time cluttering up our days.

Listen man, and I say this with complete respect, but I think you're worrying way too much about structure. Literature is art and art is unique. Write the story the way you want to tell it. If that happens to involve several protagonists, then there will be several protagonists. You're simply telling us about events that happened in this other universe that you created. And I'm sure it's a huge universe so there's probably a lot of events to cover!! But if you want to focus on one person in this huge place...well, there ya go!!

There is no right or wrong way to tell a story. So now just write that story down. Disprove your friends when you write a best selling "several protagonist" themed novel. It's important to remember that  the sky isn't even the limit!

I agree with what others have posted here - You do not need to have a single main character. What is important is to be economical with the number you use, so that each one does not become too diluted. Your main characters should have something that gives the reader a strong emotion about them, whether it be respect, love, hate, fear, sorrow etc. You achieve that by giving them depth - a history, goals, emotions of their own etc. If you have too many characters, these all become diluted. This should ensure your characters are all different to each other, rather than having 20 clones running around together.

Also, when you are writing, try to look at the world through the eyes of each one that you writing about.

Good question in this thread. I don't know much about this, but I want to express my opinion if it can be of help. I think the reader has to "live" the story through a main character, there must be many other important characters in relation with the story ("good and bad ones"Wink Smilie and for me, the most important is to follow one end or result for the story, you can add many other shorter stories (from past); sometimes to explain the main story and some others to give it more strength or thrill, etc. Anyway what it's told must be clear, sometimes by addition of too much information the reader get lost and give up with the reading.


Sorry for not being able to be more clear, it's difficult to explain but I think you get the idea.