If we imagine other characters in our story seeing the protagonist through a keyhole view, what would they say or write? If the story is written with a single point of view, the thoughts of the other characters can’t be used or we’d be head hopping. Their judgements can be revealed in dialog, directly in words or tone of voice, or in a letter/email the protagonist reads, etc.
The other characters have a limited view based on their interactions with the protagonist and their observations of his or her actions and emotions. How accurate is their character judgement? Is the bias partly the protagonist’s fault for not allowing others to get to know her or him and by hiding the true self?
In my multidimensional novel, Norman in the Painting, the protagonist, Jill, has a long time friend named Evelyn who owns an antique store. Jill freaked when Norman appeared out of the painting at the back of her shop. She wanted Evelyn to see the phenomenon, but Norman had disappeared again. Since then, Evelyn’s tone of voice sounds placating as if Jill is mentally fragile regardless of the topic Jill initiates. Ed, the knife sharpener at Evelyn’s, often gives Jill a look of total confusion and annoyance. He has seen her fainting, shouting, arguing, and causing chaos which Evelyn says he doesn’t like. Jill wants to have conversations with him but he ignores her attempts. The antagonist plays on Jill’s fears to control her but as she grows in the character arc, the limited assumption about Jill will prove wrong.
How do your other characters view the protagonist in your story?