on Writing Forward:
In most stories, the protagonist is obvious: Harry Potter, Lisbeth Salander, and Katniss Everdeen are unquestionably the protagonists of their respective stories. But sometimes the protagonist isn’t so obvious.
In some cases, a false protagonist is planted to intentionally mislead the audience, but the story later reveals another character to be the true protagonist. In other cases, primary characters get dominant roles within a story, making the true protagonist difficult to suss out.
George R.R. Martin is beloved and infamous for killing off main characters in his series A Song of Ice and Fire, and readers are often mislead or confused about which character is the protagonist at any given moment in the epic historical fantasy tale.
If we’re not sure which character is the protagonist, how do we go about identifying them?