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What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 1:28 pm
by heather_hangs_it
... in the course of your story, a different character takes over as the main character?

As I began my wip, I had a main character and several major supporting ones in mind. As I've progressed through the story, one of my supporting characters has become stronger than my original choice - there is more history and a far more interesting story. I don't think it will change the way I've been writing or the direction I'm going if this character takes over as the center of my story, except for needing to go back and add more about the character, but I feel bad for switching. Ridiculous, I know.

Has this ever happened to anyone? If so, how did you handle it? Is it faulty writing or unexpected inspiration?

~heather

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 1:32 pm
by Em!
heather_hangs_it wrote:Is it faulty writing or unexpected inspiration?
As long as it's better this way, I think you're allowed to call it inspiration.

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 3:48 pm
by treeoflife
Maybe if the second character's situation is more interesting, you might want to revise back and include them earlier.

I'm not sure if I've ever read a book where who the main character is actually does a full-on switch.

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 4:00 pm
by heather_hangs_it
Thanks em!

And treeoflife, I don't think the switch isn't perceptible to the reader. I think it is to me because I'm the one who's on the inside. I will have to go back and make a new beginning, though, befitting of my new main character. It's silly, but I feel bad because someone else has taken up the spotlight.

And - I'm slightly nervous because the main character is now a man instead of a woman. Eeek!

~heather

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 4:09 pm
by r louis scott
I had this happen to me when I was about forty pages in. The guy that was supposed to be the main character didn't have nearly the freedom to do things as his servant did, and the servant would still have unfettered access to everything the so-called main character knew, so, BOOM! New protagonist!

I hope you aren't so far along in your story that it will be a pain to bring it up to speed in the re-write.

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 6:14 pm
by treeoflife
Sounds good. If it's not easily discernible to the reader, it could actually be pretty neat to read.

There are a bazillion books with multiple main characters though, so if it's not a big difference, the reader might just think that's the case.

Funny thing is though, since my last post, I actually have thought of a few books where the MC switches. But these have been lengthy books, and usually take place over a long period of time (ie Pillars of the Earth).

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 7:03 pm
by Aimée
Oh this happened to me! I had a really hard time parting with the first main character, but the story was so much better the second way! Probably because the first one dies about three quarters through...
I have tried to write it in third person omniscient, third following a character, first person from both characters, and little chunks going between four characters or so. It is so difficult when something like that happens. I'm sure what happened to you will be easier to figure out, but for me, I have to cut out a couple characters or combine them because I have too many and they are all fighting for the spotlight.

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 13th, 2010, 10:27 pm
by heather_hangs_it
Thanks everyone - I'm feeling better already! Now, to get this blasted thing finished...

~heather

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 14th, 2010, 3:10 am
by HillaryJ
I've experienced multiple variations of this when starting. Somewhere around 50 pages in, as the story you're telling becomes bigger than your original premise, things change. I've been 50 pages in before I realized that there, on page 50, was the actual start of the story.

Sometimes a supporting character will overtake the intended main character, but then I think you have to ask yourself why. Was the original premise too simple to warrant novel length? Was the MC's goal(s) not urgent enough, or were there too few obstacles through at him/her? Is the supporting character more interesting because he/she has a stronger personality, or does he/she just seem more interesting because he/she's getting all the good one-liners? Can you combine the persona of the original MC with this supporting character to create a super-interesting MC?

Just some things to think about. Maybe they'll save you the slow torture of adding backstory to completed pages.

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 14th, 2010, 9:58 am
by Nomad0404
I think my second book if my first ever gets published will see the lead character roll switched from one person to another because the story at that point focuses more on the second character.

However, they are pretty much of equal importance to the story.

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 14th, 2010, 10:50 am
by Sommer Leigh
Don't feel bad about changing the main character. Go with your gut. I think sometimes writers get hung up on not wanting to rewrite something because they've already put so much into what they've already written. But trust that if you feel it in your gut, so will your readers. If you believe the story is better todl from another character, your readers will think the same thing. Sure, it might be extra work, but you'll be happier in the end.

Just make sure you do a lot of good editing. Make the adjustment seamless. Remember you're building a better story! Sometimes the story goes in a direction you're not expecting. And that's cool

Re: What happens when...

Posted: May 14th, 2010, 10:53 am
by Ermo
The only thing that I'll add that I don't think anybody has said is that make sure that if you switch MCs that the second MC has a deep enough story to tell. Sometimes you get swept away in the moment (or at least I do) and think a certain character could be an MC only to discover that they don't have much depth to their story.