Can your novel have more than one protagonist? If so, can they be enemies? Is doing that a no-no, a may-be, or a why-not?
Adam posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
I noticed that a lot of your advice seems to center on a novel having a single protagonist (such as when creating summaries and other parts of the snowflake method).In my WIP, however, I have two characters who are having disparate experiences and I view both of them as protagonists (who will eventually end up on opposite sides of a conflict).
How do I reconcile that with techniques such as the 5 sentence summary? Or am I setting myself up for failure and should just choose one to be the protagonist and slightly tip the scales in their favor in number of scenes showing their POV?
Randy sez: You can do anything you want in a novel. However, you can’t make a publisher buy your book and you can’t make readers care. Those pesky publishers will buy what they think the public will buy. And the public will only buy books they like.
Here’s the thing: Readers want to know who to root for. When you give them two people to root for, you cut the emotional impact in half.
This is a case where 1 + 1 = 1/2.
When you give your reader two people to root for, and they’re enemies, then things are even worse. Now your reader is confused. Is it good that the bomb blew up Reginald’s helicopter, or is it bad? Is it bad that Reginald wasn’t in it, or is it good?
This is a case where 1 – 1 = 0.
It’s like trying to drive with your foot jammed down hard on both the gas and the brakes.
If you’re reading a novel or watching a movie, you want to root for one character or at least one group of characters who are all on the same side. Treat your reader like you want to be treated. Choose one protagonist. Choose one antagonist. Make them duke it out. Make them keep duking until there’s a clear winner.
The alternative is to have no readers and get no publishing contracts.
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer them in the order they come in.
Some links that may be of interest to use:
My friend Carla Williams asked me to let my Loyal Blog Readers know about a cruise she’s organizing for Christian writers. The cruise is February 27 to March 6 and will be mostly in Mexican waters. Sounds nice and warm during the chilly winter. If you’re interested, check out Carla’s cruise here.
One of my Loyal Blog Readers, Basil Munroe Godevenos, has started a blog on which he’s writing a fantasy novel in public, using my well-known Snowflake method. He calls this blog TheSnowflakeProject and you might be interested in following him on his writing adventures.