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Old 06-13-2012, 04:46 AM View Post #1 (Link) Main character most important?
graystripe79 (Offline)
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This is just kind of a crazy, super random thought that I've been thinking about for a while. Maybe this is just me, but I almost feel like when your reading a story, you care more about side characters then the main character. I feel like the main characters are often kind of dull compared to the characters that they interact with over the course of the story.
Harry Potter, Katniss, Clary Frey (city of bones), Grace (Shiver), and even characters like Frodo (LOTR). I just feel like without their interesting sidekicks, these characters don't have a lot about them that I like...*shrugs*
More then anything, I just wanted to see what other people thought about this.

Is that crazy and weird? If so, I'll just stop now.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:06 AM View Post #2 (Link)
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I get what you're saying. I often really dislike main characters because they're often being branded as heroes when they're just arseholes.
That's one of the reasons why I dislike Harry Potter so much. He's like some great hero or whatnot, hailed by all, but to me that's just annoying.
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Old 06-13-2012, 01:57 PM View Post #3 (Link)
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The question: "Main character most important?" and your words above are quite different topics.
Main character is rarely most important, neither most interesting. Main character was chosen to be main for some reason which usually is because story can be told through that characters eyes the best. Think about Harry Potter, story would be entirely different if J.K Rowling would have concentrated on other character. Yes, authors usually choose quite dull characters to be main so that they can tell the story without being bias. Other characters are given more interesting features since they are being observed by this main, boring character.
To conclude, main character is usually the one that can observe all the events author is trying to show and convey them in least bias way.
Now your given examples aren't very good. Those are popular books with simple structure. Let's take for example F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Who's is the main character in this books? You might say that Nick is, since he is the narrator, however other characters play the main role in the story while Nick usually stays aside. As you see, main character doesn't have to exist at all. It all depends from the author. Another example, Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. This book has 2 main characters at first, to then end the 3rd enters the scene. They are very interesting and not dull in anyways. Author chooses three of them to tell the story because he wants to show something what only those 3 character's eyes can see.
What I'm trying to say here is that characters are just a tool to convey author's message. They are not created in order for you to like them.
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:49 PM View Post #4 (Link)
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Originally Posted by Syn View Post
I get what you're saying. I often really dislike main characters because they're often being branded as heroes when they're just arseholes.
That's one of the reasons why I dislike Harry Potter so much. He's like some great hero or whatnot, hailed by all, but to me that's just annoying.
I agree. That's what bugged me most about Katniss in the Hunger Games. She's totally not icon worthy. But then again, if she was icon worthy I'd probably be saying that she isn't real enough, that she's to fake. It's hard for main characters to walk that fine line.
Fake Magic, I respectfully agree and disagree. I'm not trying to say that you have to like the main character, I'm simply questioning why they have to be so boring. Real life people have many sides to them, so why do story characters have to be so black and white? The main characters shouldn't have to be boring. Go watch Game of Thrones. That series has many main characters and all of them interesting. This book I'm reading, The Child Thief. Both Peter and Nick are interesting characters, neither are plain or uncooked. It also depends on the author's writing style I suppose.
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						Last edited by graystripe79; 06-16-2012 at 05:01 PM.
					
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:04 PM View Post #5 (Link)
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And I'm sorry about the title of the post. That was a bad title choice.
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Old 06-16-2012, 07:27 PM View Post #6 (Link)
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Originally Posted by graystripe79 View Post
even characters like Frodo (LOTR).
No, Frodo could not carry a story alone. Without Sam? But is he even the main character? Isn't Aragon practically as important? Aragon has a book in his name (the Return of the King), after all. None of them would be a story alone. The entire Fellowship is the MC of LOTR.
No, that's not the point of your debate....

I've got two half-finished nanovels in my drawers. In both of them I began with a cliche and boring female MC and, although she maintained MC-status, I ended by liking someone else more. Delving into someone else more. I expect this happens in published novels too.
It's actually harder to make someone interesting when you're as close to them as you have to be to the MC. If someone lived in your head would they think you were interesting? this works for third-person narrators just as much. Irl, the people who you think are extremely interesting are probably ones you don't know every detail of.
My best friend is infinitely less interesting than her cousin. But I'd rather be best friends with her than with him. My MC is infinitely less interesting than her friend. But I'd rather see the world through her eyes. (It'd ruin him to see it through his.)
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:34 PM View Post #7 (Link)
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Very well put lalodragon. Very well put.
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:41 AM View Post #8 (Link)
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Of course, you could define the main character as the one who undergoes the character change that represents the plot. I think the examples you've given - Harry Potter and Katniss, especially - are kind of uninteresting because they go through such a small change it's almost unnoticeable. The entirety of Harry Potter (or, at least, the last four books) are about Harry coming to terms with death; in the last book he collects all three of the Deathly Hallows and becomes the Master of Death (which, turns out, is just someone who is willing to die). This is what separates him from Voldemort, who is afraid of death. Katniss starts as a spunky girl who hates the Capitol and wants to protect her sister and ends as... a spunky girl who hates the Capitol and wants to protect her sister and has a love triangle (well, the first book anyway). They're not the most exciting arcs, so perhaps that's why you're not responding well to them?

(not to say side characters don't undergo arcs, but it's the MC's arc that is often highlighted thematically)
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:36 AM View Post #9 (Link)
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The main characters of Jack Kerouac, Nabokov, Hemingway, Faulkner, Dreiser, Lion Feuchtwanger, are not boring.
It just depends on the literature you read.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:30 AM View Post #10 (Link)
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It depends on what books you read. If you're reading a book where the MC is boring (not necessarily less interesting than other characters, but just boring) then your author needs to do some work. The characters in Game of Thrones are interesting because George R.R. Martin is a very skilled author who understands , that characters are what drive a story, unlike JK Rowling who is more concerned with telling a quest/adventure. Her characters are subsequently flatter (this is a general statement not meant to reflect every character) and often act as tools for telling said adventure. This is generally the issue with the "Hero with 1000 faces" archetype. In fact, it's a huge issue with a lot of fantasy and teen literature, and it's why I avoid much from those genres.
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