Selecting Your Story’s Main Character


Last week we covered the ongoing debate of round versus flat characters. Some say that all characters should be round, while others say you need a mix, but in the end, it takes all kinds of characters to support a story. This led us to the discussion of the main character of your story and their level of roundness or flatness, which is what we’ll address today.


Choosing the best main character can be the difference between a hit novel and a casual read. The main character not only guides the story, but also keeps your readers interested and coming back for more.

Why it’s Important:

Selecting your main character can be the difference between your story working or not. Knowing the why behind the selection of your main character will change how you and they interact with the story. The main character is the focal point of your story. This doesn’t always mean your story will be told from their point of view, but they are the reason the story is being told. You can find examples of this in The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird. The first is a story of Jay Gatsby and the latter about Atticus Finch. But to go any deeper would be a POV discussion, which won’t happen yet. The main character will often resonate with the theme or message the story wants to share. They will also be the most interesting individual(s) to convey your story. But how do you select the ideal main character?

Identifying Your Main Character:

Your main character is the first person your readers meet as they open the cover of your book. Like a first date, you want to make a good impression, and selection is key. What have you built in your story so far? Starting from the World-Building with PMESII-PT posts to present, you’ll have a world with a lot of room to fill, some characters, and maybe key events in mind. What are the key parts of your novel so far that stand out?

The ideal main character is researched, rounded, and has some form of arc. You can refer to any of the previous posts to dig into those sections. Use your favorite main characters as a reference. Why are they your favorite character? What made them memorable? What makes you want to read more about their story? These are all things to consider, and often we write a mesh of our favorite characters as our main character.


Take the characters you’ve created and place them in a time appropriate gathering. Whether that’s a high school party at the cool kid’s house, or at a grand feast in the King’s castle. Choose where you think each character will start, then press play. Focus who you’re drawn to the most as you write the story. Do you focus on one character in particular? If so, why? If not, who are the characters keeping your attention? Think of this as a free write session. This exercise works best if dealing with a large cast of characters. Though you can try this for a smaller cast if you want.

If you’re building a story with a single character in mind, place them in a job interview for the lead character position of your story. Ask them questions and work of their responses. If you end up discovering they aren’t the best main character, then interview another. Or create a new one if you must.


Someone once said, (I heard it on a DIYMFA podcast) that writing is spent 90% in your mind and 10% writing. This is true, and sometimes we forget how much work we’ve put into characters all while doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, or driving to work. Implementation that you’ve learned about selecting your main character won’t show right away. The process of writing the novel will change the character and yourself and hopefully sooner rather than later you’ll know if you’ve made the right decision.

Thank you for all of you in the Myers Fiction community who keep reading these posts. Please feel free to add any comments or insights in the comments below. I’ll respond as soon as I can. Keep learning, keep writing, and stay fresh my nugs.

Previous: Round Characters Vs Flat Characters

Next: Character Likeability and Reflection of Self

2 thoughts on “Selecting Your Story’s Main Character

  1. Pingback: Round Characters Vs. Flat Characters – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: Character Likeability and Reflection of Self – Myers Fiction

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