Posted on 02/18/2021 at 03:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Louise Harnby's new post on viewpoint characters versus protagonists reminds us of geometry class — remember how a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square? 

The analogy isn’t perfect, but it at least sets the stage, in our opinion, because while they can be the same, they don’t have to be, and there’s a key difference.

Harnby defines a protagonist as the character “whose experiences drive the story,” while a viewpoint character is the one “whose internal experiences drive a scene or chapter.”

So your viewpoint character can be the protagonist, but it’s not required — and, in fact, you can switch up the viewpoint character just like you can vary the lengths of the two sets of matching sides of the rectangle.

Okay, we’ll stop — head to Harnby’s blog for a less mathematical but no less analytical take on understanding the differences between a viewpoint character and a protagonist.

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