Usually when I come to write a story, the central character picks themselves. However, I'm working on a new idea where that hasn't happened. I could go with anything from a teenage boy to a married woman to an ageing widower. While the concept would be the same for each of them, the telling of the story would be completely different. And of course, this all assumes I write it from the point of view of one character instead of many.

How do you go about choosing your heroes? Do you do so with a target market in mind? Is there any kind of viewpoint character you wouldn't or couldn't write?

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I start out with the character before I even start the story. Having said that, the one I'm working on now is an ensemble cast where the main characters are two elderly ex hookers turned con artists. But the other cast members - including a pair of Glasgow neds, a hitman, and a Tibetan monk - are threatening to take over.I'm enjoing writing about all of them.

Vincent, your story sounds interesting - have you tried telling a part of it from each point of view and seeing which one works best? Maybe going with all of them is the route to take.
You've just made me realise that I'd already started off down the route of thinking I needed to tell the story from the point of view of one character. Most of my previous efforts have had one or two central characters, whereas this story - which concerns itself with a village, its residents and a series of curious events - might be more suited to a proper ensemble piece. Actually, the thought of doing that - doing something different to what I've done before - is quite exciting.
You should take a look at Laura Lippman's To The Power of Three for an example of how to tell a story from multiple viewpoints and be very effective.
Weird - I picture you in a different coloured hats when coming up with my characters. My last book starred you in a purple deerstalker. Predictably, it wasn't very good.

For the different characters I could see that going with a disaffected youth would find a quite different market to writing about a wife and mother, but you're right, you can't second guess what might be popular. I'll probably write about all of them. My most interesting characters usually form the supporting cast, with the protagonist acting as a kind of Hitchcockian everyman, so this would be an opportunity to jump inside their heads too.
I didn't even know such a thing could happen but in a way it frees you up immensely. I think the protagonist will make himself known to you when he/she's ready. I don't always like my hero but there he is, warts and all.
I usually plot out my stories quite thoroughly in advance, so I usually demand that my characters make themselves known right at the start. Though really all that requires is that they tell me their name (often a torturous process), because while I plot in advance, my characters seem to turn up fully formed without any kind of preparation as soon as I start typing.
The book I'm working on now started out being told from multiple points of view. Then I realized this just muddled things. But it did help me clarify who my protagonist was, and I rewrote the book from her POV. I also think that getting the voices and viewpoints from the other characters helped me to shape the story and to give it a certain depth that I hope I managed to carry over when I decided to tell it with one voice. I think Donna's suggestion is great -- maybe try telling parts from different points of view and see who has the strongest voice for you. Or, maybe it's a story that needs many voices to tell it.
First, I'm lousy at picking target markets. I think I prefer male characters but am not entirely certain of this. My series protagonist was male because his function in his historical time and setting required it. I know that people have cast females as detectives in Japanese historical mysteries but the handicaps suffered by a female there make it highly unlikely that she would get very far with her work. The exception to that rule is that nuns and prostitutes had considerable freedom to move about. There, however, one doubts that they would have been sufficiently dedicated to crime detection. I have written a novel with a female protagonist, but it is not a mystery and the woman turned out to be a complex character. I found myself becoming increasingly critical of her as the story developed. By the time the book was done, a man who was a professional killer had emerged as the most admirable character.
My main character took a sharp left, too. He was the hero as well as the POV when I first dreamed the story, but he turned out to be more interesting being dragged into events and doing things he didn't expect to. There is a different character who will give more of a sense of symmetry when he saves the day. I'm pleased with them for taking a hand in their own fates.


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