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Multiple protagonists

July 9, 2010

In my novel in progress, I have two protagonists, Bird and Timo, each with his own story. In January 2010, when I started this novel, my computer on my lap on the spotty blue couch in our living room, I intuitively wanted to tell the stories together, let them push up against each other and make a third, more interesting story this way. For me, they were, and are, compellingly linked–the characters are related by blood (one is the uncle of the other) and both, by the end of the novel, face death. While I haven’t created a scene outline, I think I know where the novel ends–at a memorial for the younger man, Timo, who has committed suicide.

In January, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about whether this dual protagonist approach would work, and, if it would, how. Between bouts of rapid typing, I looked out the window at the action on our street–deliveries to the small grocery directly across from us,  ambulances wailing past–wanting to keep my mind in the dimly lit, unconscious state that I need in order to imagine new material and try to write my thousand words.

While I want to keep that sort of blankly expansive mind as I continue to write forward, I feel it’s time, now that I’m half-way through the first draft, to consider how to make this novel with two protagonists work. How does one tell two stories well?

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