Re: Fatal Flaw?
I was wondering when the "what have you written" question was going to come up. I have sold something, but I don't think that kind of accomplishment has anything to do with whether or not someone truly understands story structure. There could very well be someone on this messageboard who knows more than I about how to write complete stories, yet hasn't sold a thing. Likewise, there are those who have sold plenty, yet still write stories that simply don't work.
When I speak of great stories, I'm talking about complete stories -- stories where the author is using the form of narrative fiction to communicate a universal meaning that they hold true. These are the stories that you can watch or read over and over again because they are giving you something you can't get in real life: meaning.
In regards to Sherlock Holmes, yes I would say that quite often Watson is the Main Character and Holmes is the Protagonist - the one driving the efforts to solve the mystery. Some Sherlock Holmes' stories are complete, some are not. I would venture to guess that those that stick with you years after you have read them are complete stories (#1 in your example).
As far as answering the basic point. I'm not sure how classifying an animal as a hamster is similar to determining whether or not a story has true meaning. The current definition of protagonist is inaccurate because it can often come in conflict with a writer's intuition. The OP felt compelled to write a story where the character we experience the story through was not the one driving the efforts to resolve the problems affecting everyone. In clarifying the distinction between the two terms I only wanted to show that there was nothing wrong with his instinct.