1. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    At what age group do anthropomorphic animal characters become a tough sell?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Crimson Dragon, Oct 4, 2013.

    As the title asks. I love writing anthropomorphic animal characters but I do know that they are largely only found in the world of children's lit. While there is a large community of "furries" or whatever name you will give them who are older fans of such characters, they are a VERY niche' market. So, unless you're self-publishing you don't have a very good chance of getting your anthro-animal story out there unless it is aimed at children. Seeing this, I want to know if there is a rough age group at which anthro animal stories become a "tough sell" to publishers and readers. So, anybody think they could answer my question?
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    In terms of the children's market, I would say 10 is almost the maximum, and 12 is really pushing it. But really, any age is okay with animal characters in a book, as long as it's for a reason and done well, and what book doesn't need to be written well?

    Some famous books with talking animals, both for children and for adults, are: Watership Down, Animal Farm, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Oz Series, and there are loads more. And some examples, such as the Narnia novels, are read by everyone, regardless of their age.

    So what I'm saying is this - if you feel the need to have animals as your characters, then by all means, use them. Just make sure they are necessary, written and described well, and the readers sympathise or empathise with them in some way, even though they are animals.
     
  3. Sandfire
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    Sandfire Member

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    Hm...I hadn't thought of it before, but I probably should have since I have animal characters in a story intended for an older audience. They never talk as animals (well, except maybe the parrot mimicking speech) but they are shapeshifters that can become human and talk...if they take a few years to apply themselves to learning how. But with those qualifiers, none of my adult readers have had any issues with it so far.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Depends really on what you want to do with them, I would think.
    I mean you have the Redwall series, Watership Down as Thomas mentioned
    and Winnie The Pooh - there's a big stretch between Winnie the Pooh and Watership Down though both are in their
    own way sophisticated. One is definitely childlike the other, despite bunnies, isn't.
    For example if you wanted to do a commentary of World War 2 and the narrator was a anthropomorphic whale watching the gunships, depending on
    how you work it you could have an older audience. A niche audience but something slightly more sophisticated.
     
  5. Crimson Dragon
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    Crimson Dragon Member

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    But yeah, the stories in question are 100% anthro animals. Out of all the examples given only two had a totally anthro-animal cast.(Though both where excellent stories, IMO) The plot also is strange in that these are not just animals in a realistic-ish world that happen to be anthropomorphized. The story is set in a science-fantasy setting with advance technology such as robotics, laser weaponry etc.. as well as a form of magic. The story also meant to be like a sort of "animal farm lite" that takes some adult topics such as inequality, exploitation, corporate power gone to far and environmental degradation and handles them in a simple way that a young person could understand. That is largely the reason for the animal characters, magic etc..It takes some very real and dark topics and turns it into a fairy tale of sorts that is easier to digest then the actual reality yet at the same time reflective of it. Essentially, I'm trying to do what cartoons like "Captain Planet" and the animated film "My Friend, Martin" did for their respective adult topics.(Though I intend for it to be at least slightly less cheesy than Captain Planet.)

    However, while I can make the story something fit for children, as stated above, it also could easily be changed to fit a more adult audience since it covers themes that are not something only children would be concerned with. However, to do that, I fear I'd have to lose the anthro-animal aspect and if I did that the story would become less fun for me to write since this setting is so much more enjoyable for me with the anthro animal aspect.
     
  6. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    In a fantasy/sci-fi setting, you can get away with things like anthros, so long as they are properly explained and handled well. Are they the result of recombinant genetic experiments? Were they animals, altered by magic? Humans, similarly altered? Anthros, outside the niche "furry" market are primarily going to appeal to a younger audience, especially if the story is inhabited entirely by anthros. Adding humans ups the "sci-fi" element, making your anthros seem more like aliens (or mutants, etc). Then, if you can keep the anthros' origins believable, and keep the tone of the story from being too "Aesop"-y, then you'll be less limited in your audience.
     
  7. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    If your story is presented as an adult story, and anthro animals are presented as just part of your world, your readers will be OK with it. You'll be surprised how much suspension of disbelief people have.

    Try reading Maus, by Art Spiegelman - that deals with very dark, very adult themes, with an entirely anthro animal cast.
     
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  8. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    An don't forget Rocky and Bullwinkle. Much of their humor was aimed at adults.
     
  9. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    As I see it, there are two lines of thought here:
    1) There are a lot of serious adult books that for one or other reason have animals as main characters, and only self-important adolescents and/or complete douches without imagination think that anthopo-animals are for kids; but
    2) the fact that these books exist in not relevant, because those are published and your book is not... can't say that I get what that means, but you are going to get this answer very soon (maybe in the very next post)

    footnote 1: among the aforementioned douches there are some important pub-industry guys, like the guy who said no to The Animal Farm because "We don't read animal stories in US!" :)
     
  10. Tara
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    Tara Contributing Member

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    Like others said it's all about how you present it. I don't think a story for adults will sell much less than a story for children.
    Just avoid writing it for people in their mid teens to late 20's, they probably won't read it because many of them (I don't say all, but many) are trying too hard to be "grown ups" and mature and such.
     

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