Like I said in my previous post, the protagonist isn’t always the main character and this would be dependent on the story that is being told.

The differences below should help you identify who they are in your story; if and only if they are different characters.

Definition:

  • A protagonist is a character used by the screenwriter to push the story/plot forward through the decisions he/she makes.
  • The main character in a story is the character that is affected by the decision of the protagonist.

Differences:

  • Protagonists have got goals, but the main character doesn’t have a goal.
  • The dress of the plot structure fits the protagonist when it’s worn, but doesn’t fit the main character.
  • Protagonists make decisions while the main character is affected by the decisions made by the protagonist.
  • Main characters don’t push stories forward; protagonists are the only character that possesses such power.
  • Audiences are more focused on the main character’s journey rather than the protagonist’s journey.
  • Protagonists can collaborate with the antagonist to inflict pain on the main character, but the main character can never collaborate with the antagonist as they are always opposite.
  • When the main character arcs, it’s always obvious to the audience, but the protagonist’s arc may or may not be obvious to the audience.

The differences listed above will help you when next you’re confused as to whom either your protagonist or main character is in your story or the story of other writers.

Read: Screenplay Structure.