I have been busy writing a fantasy novel, which has gone very well. Indeed, it has gone much better than I had expected it to. I seem to have a story that has evolved quite naturally and that has given me a lot to write about. It is peopled by a large number of characters and that got me wondering; what kind of novel should this be?
What do I mean by this question? Well, the standard story has a protagonist who is faced with a predicament that they seek to resolve. Often this means going on a journey and meeting other characters, some of whom will appear only once or twice and others who will have a greater input to the development of the story. This is very much the standard approach to writing fiction.
There are some authors who have developed this method to include a number of sub-plots involving characters who may or may not interact at some point with the protagonist but whose own adventures have an important bearing on the outcome of the story. There are also books in which there is not actually a single protagonist, rather the author tells several characters’ stories at the same time and they are woven together to achieve a conclusion.
I believe that there is a great appetite for the standard template of main protagonist, an opinion informed by the huge number of titles that are still popular today. Books like Lord of the Rings employ the second version very successfully. The final version has fewer examples and yet has also proven very successful; Game of Thrones springs to mind.
When I set out to write my fantasy story I actually did not stop to consider how to develop the story, I just let it flow as I wrote. My current manuscript is very much in the Game of Thrones style, I believe. There is no single protagonist to be honest, but a number of people who have fates that are intertwined with each other. I am aware that this style of writing is not to every reader’s taste. I could probably change the template and elevate one character to the main protagonist role and, possibly, write a whole series of adventures based upon them. It might even prove rather popular, and yet I have a nagging doubt.
The thing is, behind this one story there are at least two others that are painted with a broad brush. The most obvious character to take the main protagonist role in the first book is more than likely not to have too much of a role in the following stories. One or more of the other characters could succeed to his place, but that does not mean that are going to continue either.
It is an interesting conundrum. I do not consider myself a genre writer and, therefore, the idea of writing a particular series of books does not appeal to me at all. I value the story more than anything else. On the other hand, attracting more readers to my work is always appealing. Then again, being different has its attractions also.
If I continue with the many protagonists approach then the book will be finished rather quickly, I expect. If I decide to revert to a more conventional style then that will involve a total rewrite, which would then delay finishing the project, obviously. At the moment I remain in two minds.