MC vs IC blurred lines

I’ve got MC 1 “Playing a Role” and IC 1 “Understanding.”
The story starts in a family whose youngest child has died. The eldest son is trying to fill the gap and repair the damage in the family after this tragedy.
MC 1 “Playing a Role” focuses on the eldest child throwing away the full ride scholarship to University they were awarded so that they can stay home and care for their dad who has been wrecked by depression. The mother is not available.
The eldest child does this by going joyriding in their teacher’s car knowing that the University would rescind the scholarship in response. This way, they can avoid endless arguments with family about whether to take the scholarship and they can avoid directly addressing their own survivor’s remorse.
IC 1 “Understanding” is currently labelled “An exploration of family, both as a thing which gives identity and a thing which takes that identity away, also the thing which gives initial context to all knowledge every gained.”

I think I’m confusing MC and IC a bit. They don’t seem to distinctly establish “I” vs. “you.” Am I wrong? If not, any suggestions to fix it?

Well the first obvious question to me is who is the IC?

If you MC perspective is I need to play nursemaid and peace maker in my soul crushed family
What is the you
You must understand, YOU can’t fix this/them? (Or you know whatever it is) Who is saying you to him.

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I think you hit the nail on the head. Your IC needs to represent a totally different perspective, not more of the same personal issues.

I think (from previous threads) that your main IC Boone is going to be introduced later. Is there a way that Boone can still arrive “in time” for IC Signpost 1 (i.e. before any Signpost 2s, which likely means before the Second Driver aka First Act Turn)? Or if he can’t arrive, can his influence be felt somehow?

e.g. could Boone be watching or checking on Luke early in the story? (maybe he’s just received intel on where Luke might be and comes to validate it, and in the process makes some comment to Luke or his dad that influences Luke in some way. But this would be before the big conflict that leads Boone and others to Luke’s house later.)

My current understanding is that the “you” is the viewpoint of the through line, not of the character. Given that, I think it’s open to interpretation. For example, does that mean that the MC can only see the IC when he comes into view. Does that mean no point of view scenes in the novel for the IC? Does it mean you have to have a separate story form if the IC does have first person point of you anywhere in the novel?

I think it is okay to write at the IC player’s POV as long as it is OS.

In fact, my current understanding is that the IC through line is the MC’s “you” view of the IC character.

Now that’s interesting. Confirmation, DSEs?

The structure of my story requires that I hand off the IC role a couple of times through the story. Right now, in IC Signpost 1, Tommy will be the primary IC. Tommy is Luke’s dad.

No, not at all. Nor is this the case in films/television. The story can develop the IC’s own issues (shown by IC story points) when the MC is not present. As long as those issues and the IC’s need to deal with them somehow end up influencing the MC (at least once per act i.e. signpost).

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This answers important technical question for me. Thanks. I guess what the “you“ point of view is supposed to mean in terms of the actual writing is a little unclear to me. When you say impact and influence, that’s easy to understand. So what does the second person point of view mean in this context, and what is supposed to constrain or promote? Unless I want to write bright lights big city? :slight_smile:

It means you look at them. Whereas with the MC you experience the story (esp. personal issues) from within them, from their perspective.

However, it’s important to note that these perspectives are best seen when you’re considering the story at a higher level than the words on the page. e.g. the level of an outline or detailed synopsis. Or, if it’s a novel you’ve read, when you’re thinking about it a week after finishing, and have some distance from those IC POV scenes.

Now I think there probably is some structural advantage to not have the IC as a POV character in a novel. However, I think most of the advantage is for the Author. I think readers’ story-sense can handle the IC in close perspective, seeing their thoughts and dreams etc. as long as at the higher synopsis level they are still the “you” perspective. But if you’re the Author writing the IC POV scenes in really close perspective, and you’re really getting into the IC’s mind, you might end up making things too personal at that higher level (synopsis level). I’m really not sure how much of a problem this would be; there might even be a trade-off between structure and storytelling, between a more memorable story vs. making it more fun to read in the moment. I really don’t know. But I think there is a fair bit of leeway.


As long as the reader/watcher understands that tension is being built up between the MC perspective and the IC perspective, then I would say go to town on how you deal with it.

As always, I’m going to point to “Let it Go!” as a very clear IC moment that feels like an MC moment. But we don’t suddenly get confused.


Totally agree … re-reading my last post it came off sounding too much against IC POV scenes. But I was actually trying to make the opposite point, that you really don’t need to worry too much.

The main thing is that when you’re envisioning the story as a whole, the IC should be more about that impact and influence. When you get to the scene level there’s a huge amount of leeway.

And this understanding doesn’t have to be conscious. To most people it will be a sense of “this is a good story” or “I want to find out what happens between these characters”.

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Knowing what you know of my story, do you have any suggestions for doing that?

One suggestion, because the MC personal issues are all caught up in his responsibility to his stepdad Tommy, don’t use Tommy as the IC here. See if you can find a way to use Boone (your main IC, I think) or what Boone represents.

It doesn’t have to be direct – like what if Boone makes some kind of inquiry into Luke, like even a phone call that Luke answers, which Luke misunderstands or afterwards tries to understand the purpose of.

If there’s no way Boone himself can influence Luke, maybe something along the same lines of what drives Boone can show up somehow in Luke’s life. Like in a book or something. Wait, isn’t Boone an ancient Norse god, Baldur? Maybe Luke could read something about Baldur, or encounter Baldur in a tabletop D&D game, whatever … and it gets him thinking.

I think I get it. Thanks for a very clear note. Pasting this one in notebook.

Anyone else read the James Wood book HOW FICTION WORKS. Great stuff on POV. I’ve audibled it too, it’s read by posh English resonant guy. Such post colonial authority!

Brilliant perception, that. Thank you.

oh, I LIKE that! :heart_eyes: It does double-duty by introducing the mythos early. I’ll be in my laboratory for awhile seeing what I can cook up with that.


cough, I’m Mr. Lucas’s agent. We need to sign a few things.