I recently got a question regarding multiple protagonists, so I wanted to address this in a blog post.
Some writing experts will tell you that having dual protagonists is a bad idea. Personally, I like writing stories with a single protagonist, but I try not to discourage multiple protagonists if that’s what the writer wants to do. It can work and it has worked very well, so here are a few tips to get your started.
Develop Each Protagonist Separately
If you want to have two or more protagonists, you need to make each of them dynamic in their own way. If one character is developed less than the other, the audience will naturally lean toward that one. It’s hard to make your audience care about more than one main character, so to do that you need to develop each one individually and know their separate personalities.
Give Each Character the Time and Attention They Deserve
Again, one character can’t be more important than the other if you want them both to be a protagonist. I like to think about Breaking Bad when addressing this point. Walter White had the same amount of character development that Jesse had. I know technically Walter White was the main character, but it’s definitely arguable that Jesse’s story was also the focus. The story would not have developed the same way if they both hadn’t been in each other’s lives. Know all of your characters’ journeys and what they each want/need.
Figure out a Pattern
The best way to tackle dual main characters is to devise a plan. What viewpoint do you want to tell your story in? If you’re going for first person, are you going to alternate chapters? Remember that using first person POV and only focusing on one main character will make that character the most important voice. If you want to have successful dual protagonist, their voices need to feel equal and their actions need to feel meaningful. Figure out a pattern and stick to it.
When writing a story with more than one protagonist, organization is super important. You need to keep track of each main character’s story, so it might require a little bit more work. Hope this helps!