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A teenage protagonist for older readers

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Amanita, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    In my often discussed story, the protagonist is seventeen and later eightteen years old. This age makes the most sense for the things she's supposed to do, especially at the beginning.
    The story isn't exactly young adult, though. (If young adult really meant what it sounds like, people between 16 and 25 it might fit, but as I understand it isn't.) I believe that many aspects of the story aren't interesting and/or suitable for people younger than about fourteen but (hopefully) interesting to adults. Would you see this as a problem?

    I've already considered separating the "training and growing up" part from the rest and make the protagonist older during the quest-like part of the story but I'm not really happy with that eithe.
     
  2. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Write your book to appeal to whatever audience you want and don't worry about labels.

    I find that books involving training, growing up often end up having a bit of a genre-shift halfway through the book, and I think that can hurt your readers' attitude towards the work. I think that's the bigger issue you will probably need to address, ensuring a tonal continuity between the early years and later in life.
     
  3. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    The author that got me back into fantasy routinely starts with a child main character being thrust into a new world.
    Usually the first book the MC is 9-10 yrs old, but the books are for adults.

    She gets alot of readers in these books.
    Write about any age for the age of the reader you target and the MC's age won't matter.
     
  4. I remember another discussion about readers age having to match the characters age...which I found to be something I disagreed with. How many books about 40 year old people out doing dumb dangerous things? Not a lot. Younger people are more prone to do things that are rash, impulsive, and allow themselves to be led by emotion. As people get older, they eventually gain some wisdom (usually) and put more thought into what they are doing prior to doing it.

    I've read harry potter, and I'm not young, and enjoyed ever bit of it. It isn't the characters age that really determines what the reader can enjoy, its the story and how it is written that usually makes that determination. I tried reading lemony snicket...gave it up after a chapter or two, it was to much for kids, and was written to be so. Plenty of stories range from young to old, and as long as the story is good, then it can be enjoyed by anyone fitting the style of writing you use.

    Good writing makes it easy for anyone who likes a good story to be able to enjoy it. Outside of that, it's really something you don't have to worry about.
     
  5. Seth son of Tom

    Seth son of Tom Minstrel

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    here's an example: jane austin; the girls in her books are usually late teens early twenties, but i think the readers are generally somewhat older. and as darkstorm said think about harry potter. people of all ages loved those books. age of the protagonist doesn't always matter if it is well written.
     
  6. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

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    In The Name of the Wind, which is epic fantasy, the protagonist ages from 12 to 16, though I guess he's also older because he's telling the story years later and has several scenes at his "present" age. Most of the book, though, he's a teen. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's considered adult fantasy.
     
  7. If the Name of the Wind isn't adult, Wise Man's Fear (book 2) is, and as good or better than the first.
     
  8. Digital_Fey

    Digital_Fey Troubadour

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    I think it's not the age of the character but the maturity of the writing itself that determines the audience. The way the story deals with issues such as religion, politics, violence, sex etc. already gives an indication of who it's aimed at - teenage fantasy is written so that young people will understand and identify with it, but the same tone would frustrate adult readers. The Name of the Wind and (to get a bit retro) Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy are both narrated by much older versions of the MCs, keeping the balance between a younger perspective and a more mature one.
     
  9. Wordweaver

    Wordweaver Dreamer

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    I agree with Digital. Age is just a number, but the maturity in the narrative tone determines how readable the story is for different age groups. I think if you keep the MC's personality consistent with their age, you can pretty much do whatever you want. For example, if your protagonist is 16 or 17, I wouldn't expect them to be wise to the ways of the world, or philosophically advanced in their manner of thought. Unless the story has covered how such early personal growth came about, it would seem unauthentic.

    To build on the question, though, what are your thoughts on age range among close but unrelated characters? For example, the common RPG set up: let's say protagonist meets up with other characters who end up being members of a close-nit traveling party. They fight together, the camp together, they quest together. But one is 16, one is mid-twenties, one is forty-something. Maybe one is even centuries old. Worked for Lord of the Rings, and Final Fantasy but is there really room for it elsewhere?
     
  10. Seth son of Tom

    Seth son of Tom Minstrel

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    like you said age is just a number so why not? if it worked for LOTR i'd say it could work again if used in an original way
     
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