The other two-thirds of the Power Trio.
The song-writer that keeps the band together and feeds the front man his lyrics.
The hero of his own story.
The one that the lamplight always strikes.
Or the villainous antagonist that chews up the scenery.
Not quite the main character, but important enough to be upgraded from the surrounding supporting cast. Many an antagonist fits the role of principal character, since without their presence their would be no conflict and hence no story. But you can also find them in large casts where some pull more wait than others. They tend to have as much “screen time” as the MC, their actions/input helps move the story along (and one of the reasons why they exist, to fill the gaps in the MC repertoire). If done well, they serve to expand the narrative (takes more than The Chosen One to do villain in), introduce different points of view and show the character of the MC (by the quality of his companions). Done poorly and a principal character becomes an ensemble darkhorse, the guy/gal the reader/audience gravitate too because somehow they are either more interesting than the MC.
Well written love interest also fall into this category. A flat love interest is at best a supporting character, someone to pine for or after the MC, but as principal character the love interest stands on its own which makes him/her more attractive and by doing so make the romantic plot interesting even if they are not the primary movers of the story.
It’s tricky to separate a Principal Character from a supporting one (which we will talk about tomorrow), but if he feels like something more than just a sidekick, he deserves the title.
A bit of Cowboy beepop for you tonight: