[Dramatica for novels] Who should be the narrator?

First part of the question: Since the main character is the “I” of the story, the main perspective, should that imply that he must always be present on every single events?, à la To Kill a Mockingbird?

Second part of the question: Is it possible to use a distant third person in the Overall Through-line, and then switch to a first person, or close third person, when I’m writing the main character through-line?

No, the main character doesn’t have to be present for every single thing, otherwise you’d have Harry Potter, consistently blundering his way into exposition again and again. (The term you’re looking for is Dramatic Irony – the audience knows things certain characters don’t).

There aren’t any rules against switching between first and third person that I’m aware of,

It’s also important to remember that Dramatica separates the MC from the Protagonist. While they CAN reside in the same “player,” they don’t necessarily have to.

Hello Rod, for sure.
I think it’s also very hard, at least when you’re writing a novel, to treat the protagonist as a mere object character. You have to be careful not to dive too deep into his “mind” - can I say that? - in order to do not assign him a “personal” problem.

Personal experience tells me that people do not like switching between first and third person, though I’m sure there are contradictory genre standards.
Narrative distance on the other hand is fine, i.e. you can switch between close third person and distant third person if necessary.

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1st part - Thanks a lot, Bob. Why would you say J.K. Rowling cheated? Is it because she manages to introduce Harry without fanfare?

2nd part - Two grand arguments story seems a lot… wouldn’t be confusing for the audience?

[quote=“holybuble, post:6, topic:708”]
Why would you say J.K. Rowling cheated? Is it because she manages to introduce Harry without fanfare?[/quote]
She “cheated” (note the quotation marks) because the first chapter of Philospher’s Stone was about the Dursley’s and such before Harry could even form a coherent sentence, meaning it wasn’t from his point-of-view, and in Goblet of Fire, it was more out of the gardner’s point-of-view than anything. The point is, you can change point-of-view to people who aren’t your main character.

Depends on how separate those arguments are, I would say.
I don’t know exactly what the stories of Lord of the Rings are, but I would argue that Frodo’s Mission and Aragorn’s Mission(s) are separate enough, even if they started at the same place.

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I’m not sure if this is exactly what you mean, but I recently saw a play with a narrator who was an Objective Character, and a different person was the MC. [It also had no IC, ended the second “stage act” with the end of the story, and then had a full final act that was nothing but a coda, and he didn’t resolve the MC’s personal problem. Maybe by screwing everything up, he opened himself up to having an unusual narrator?]

Hello Mike, thank you for your contribution. Do you mean that this objective character was the only narrator of the all play?

Yes, she narrated the whole play.

Would that be like Sherlock Holmes stories?

Hello Prish, for sure. Sherlock Holmes stories is the perfect example of the main character being the only narrator of the all thing.


POV in a novel is an art form and there are many options available.

Diana Gabaldon for instance write her Outlander novels in 1st person for the MC and 3rd (usually tight 3rd) for all the other characters.

There are POV handoffs, POV bobbles(errors).

Even head hopping from character to character done by people like Nora Roberts.

The one rule I’m aware of is you can do anything as long as you do it well.

If you’d like examples, let me know.

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Hello Diane,

thank you for your reply.
Pardon me if I didn’t explain myself properly. I wanted to know if there are some limitations with Dramatica concerning the POVs.

If the MC is the “I” of the story, the camera person, let’s call him this way, the first person suits him well; however, since the other characters left are either the protagonist or passenger characters, choose a first person for them too would be tricky, because the temptation to investigate in their psyche would be too much, no?

And once you get into the psyche of a character, is not an object character anymore, right? It’s a main character…

Perhaps that is one reason why novels don’t usually use first person with multiple different characters. Although it is done sometimes (I noticed my daughter was reading a Rick Riordan book that had two first person narrators), but it’s possible that in those cases there is more than one storyform in play.

That’s something to consider too, that many novels will have multiple storyforms, with the potential for different MCs. So with “tight 3rd person” perspective, which can be almost as close as first person, some or all of your POV characters might each be an MC in a storyform! (Note that each storyform doesn’t have to be a full-resolution one; for example it could stop at the Domain/Concern level like the sub-story in Finding Nemo.)

On the other hand, tight 3rd POV characters need not be an MC, they may just be objective (OS) characters whose inner motivations you are describing. It would good to come up with a list of questions we could ask to determine whether a POV character is intended to be an OS character or sub-story MC. (Or possibly IC, though that really confuses me.)

I remember a background character in one series I read (Jim Butcher’s excellent Codex Alera) who was a friend to the MC & “good-guys”, but always in the background. Then there was a chapter from her perspective that suddenly explained how she was actually a spy, working for the bad-guys because they were keeping her daughter hostage. You could see this whole awesome character arc ready to play out, would she risk her daughter to do the right thing?, would the good-guys help her? etc. … And then I was totally let down because that character was put by the wayside, at the end of the book her resolution was just narrated away in a couple sentences. Plot-wise all the questions were answered about her daughter etc., but nothing was shown from her perspective anymore. I didn’t know Dramatica at the time but I now think it was an MC throughline that didn’t complete properly.


Hi @mlucas I was doing some digging into the art of having multiple POVs in a story. I’m currently reading the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. Great books so far, with an even more awesome magic system than Warbreaker. I’ve been able to make out two distinct storyforms there. One for Kip as MC and One for Gavin guile as the other. However there might be a third now that I think of it. What I’ve noticed is the resolution of the story told for the lesser characters is at the concern level.
My major question is trying to figure out how to tie these three storyforms into a cohesive “Work”. I’m working with two in my case.

Cool! Note that I no longer believe Dramatica imposes any fundamental limitations on novel POV characters. For example, I believe it’s totally fine to have the IC as a POV character, even delving into the IC’s personal issues from their perspective for a bit. Why? The storyform is at a higher level, and readers will still grasp it.

However, you do have to be careful not to confuse yourself! Also of course you do need to get across the MC’s personal issues in their POV. I’m not sure how well it would if you had multiple POV characters without one of those being the MC.

I don’t know that you need to try here. Not saying they won’t be tied together, but the process of it might be something your subconscious handles naturally. Trying to force something different (e.g. “let’s make the OS problem element the same between the two storyforms, like in Empire Strikes Back”) might not work for your story.

Did I tell you I think I found a substory in my book? It just sort of showed up. At one point I figured out the storyform for it, although I wasn’t 100% sure. But since then I’ve been kind of ignoring it because the timing of the beats in that substory is hard to predict.


Oh wow! That’s great news. For the substory you could just let it run parallel to the main story and then tie in at some point later on in the story. I think the guiding rule is not to let it become as significant as the main story. You could also use it a set up for a future story in your world.
Thanks for the insight Mike. Been cracking my head on this one.

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Good point, here. The writer should just cruise and enjoy the writing process. The audience will turn it into their personal experience. Another user, here, and I watched the same movie and walked out with completely different stories that we had enjoyed, opposites almost. But we were both satisfied and it remains one of our lives’ viewing highlights.