Due to the evolution of modern media I prefer to depend on exposition through dialogue. I try to avoid telling the reader anything. With simple plots this is easily achieved (often through the romantic sub-plot):

A meets B. The characters are new to each other and therefore disclose a plethora of information; backstory, likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams etc.

With more complicated, multi-character plots this becomes troublesome:

Karen and Cindy are besties: they know virtually everything about each other - they've know tales to tell. Subsequently, I introduce a new character, Lisa. We can now learn 'everything' about Karen and Cindy because they need to bring Lisa up to speed. The problem this method creates is that Lisa is new, shiny, and features in the majority of scenes.

Lisa's domination can cause the reader to believe that she is the main character. My 'goto' method of dealing with type of character is simply to kill them, afflict them with some terminal illness, marry them off, get them fired, or otherwise despatch them.

Anybody got any better ideas?

  • 1
    Who is a Point Of View character here? When writing a dialogue, is the dialogue all that you have (like in a screenplay), or the dialog lines are interlaced with what the POV character sees and thinks?
    – Alexander
    Dec 16, 2019 at 17:51
  • I think I'm going to delete this question. It has nothing to do with POV characters or Power Rangers.
    – Surtsey
    Dec 16, 2019 at 20:49
  • I think it might have something to do with POV characters, though - the answer to your question seems like it would depend on whether or not Lisa is a POV character, whether Karen/Cindy are, where and when the narrator is situated in relation to the characters, and so on. Apr 26, 2020 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


A viewpoint character isn't necessarily a protagonist, no matter how ubiquitous. What marks a main character, even to the audience, is that they're relevant; they do things that matter. Lisa can be present in these scenes, but if Karen and Cindy are the ones with agency—if they're the ones driving the plot forward—then the audience is much less likely to mistake a mere observer for the protagonist.

If this is a film or play, or if Lisa is never a viewpoint character, consider limiting the number of layers you give her character. A character that's too flat, of course, will fall short in other ways, but a character with a few quirks, maybe a couple secrets that the audience can deduce relatively easily and then dismiss, is going to draw less focus in the long run than one who has obviously had a lot more thought put into them. One does have to do this subtly—any character that's too obviously an archetype will stand out—but our brains are naturally wired for pattern-matching, and we do it subconsciously. It's the characters we can't place so easily that are going to ping our main-character sense.


I'd look into the myriad of executions that "Power Rangers" brought in a "Sixth Ranger" over the years (as well as their Japanese "Super Sentai" series). Just so you know, Sixth Rangers denote an addition character who joins the core team at some point after the series start and doesn't necessarily mean that the team has six members (there are a couple with only five, including an additional member). Typically the stories initially surrounding the new member's acceptance into the the team deal with the core team adjusting to the new group dynamic the new person brings (often times, they are initially not working in sync with the team if they were never "evil" prior to joining, or there are some lingering trust issues if they were "evil".).

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