Help kids understand what a protagonist is with this definition in kid terms.
What is a protagonist?
A protagonist is the main character of a story. It could be a “good guy”, but it doesn’t have to be. A protagonist is whoever the story is mainly about.
A protagonist faces challenges in the story, and the main person or force getting in the way of what the protagonist wants is called the antagonist.
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You may be wondering why the protagonist definition says a protagonist “could” be a “good guy”, but doesn’t have to be. After all protagonist has the prefix ‘pro’ in it, which usually means ‘good’.
A protagonist can be a "good guy" when the story is mainly about a good guy, like in the movie, "Superman". Superman is the protagonist because the story is about his life and challenges. He also happens to be a good guy.
A protagonist can be a flawed guy too, like in the movie, “Cars”. Lightning McQueen is the protagonist in “Cars”, and he starts off as a selfish guy who isn’t too likeable. The story is about Lightning McQueen and how he changes, so he is the protagonist.
A protagonist can be a "bad guy" too, like in the movie, “MegaMind”. MegaMind is a super villain. The story is about his life, how he came to be evil, and then how he changed. Since the story is about MegaMind, he is the protagonist, even though he starts out as a "bad guy".
How the protagonist fits in our simple writing formula
A story is made up of a WHO (the main character) + a WHAT (what the character wants) and + a WHY NOT (Why the character can’t get what he wants). Whether what the character wants is “good” or “bad”, the main character (the WHO) is the protagonist. (See our simple guide to creative writing for kids.)