The Main Character Element of the Hero Stereotype

Of all four attributes of the hero, his role as the Main Character is perhaps the most intriguing. As described in an earlier writing tip, the Main Character represents the audience position in the story, and is the character with whom the audience most empathizes, the one whom the story seems to be about.

In the Story Mind, the Main Character represents our sense of self, the ego or identity of the story as a whole. So, always writing about heroic characters who are both Main Character and Protagonist is a lot like telling a story about football from only the Quarterback’s point of view and never from that of any of the other players.

In real life we are always the Main Character in our personal story, but we are not always the Prime Mover out of every one we know. Rather, we are usually supporting characters in the larger Goal, such as in a business, club, or church group, only occasionally being the driving force, leader, or initiator who others follow.

When we assign the attribute of Protagonist to one of the characters in our story but the role of Main Character to another, we open up a wealth of variations that better reflect the audience’s real life experiences. Such arrangements seem far less stereotypical and far more personal.

A Good example of this can be found in both the book and movie version of the classic story, To Kill A Mockingbird. This story is about Atticus, an open-minded lawyer in a small Southern town in the 1930s and his young daughter, Scout, who is trying to understand what is going on around her.

Atticus is the Protagonist as he tries to defend a black man wrongly accused of raping a white girl.

Scout is the Main Character because we see this story about prejudice through her eyes – a child’s eyes.

Melanie Anne Phillips
Co-creator, Dramatica

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