1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    young protagonists

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Rumwriter, Jul 20, 2012.

    I have trouble making teenagers my protagonists, even though that is the age I am feeling for my characters. Somehow, despite knowing that it can work, and has worked for other stories, I have trouble putting my characters in truly leadership positions, or giving them enough initiative and courage to face the world on their own (it's an adventure fantasy story).

    I guess because we live in a world today where kids seem to really be sheltered, and don't even move out of their parents' house until they're close to 30 half the time, I have trouble picturing a 15 year old kid who is on a journey to battle evil. I know it can be done (look at Harry Potter, Narnia, what have you), but I have trouble visualizing it if I'm having to write it. Do I just not have the right motivation for my character? Is that required for understanding the rest of the persona?

    I guess I should say that, I know that a convincing and believable adolescent hero can be made, but I keep getting stuck by my own pre-concieved notions.

    Advice?
     
  2. DeepBlue10055
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    DeepBlue10055 Member

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    Some teens could do these things, others couldn't. It depends on personality. Say this is in modern times (i don't know if your story is). The teen could be a straight-A student, captain of the baseball team, works at the grocery store to help out his struggling family, etc, etc. Teens can be lazy bums (I would know, I'm 18 :p) but they can also be highly motivated and successful.
     
  3. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write a lot of young protagonists. I don't think the lack of independent teens means that teens cannot be independent in our stories. Also, I think a teen who still lives at home but fights evil is also possible. I see plenty of full-grown adults acting like teens and yet I don't hear anybody stigmatizing adult characters. Let's not let teen characters be treated any differently.
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I have a young MC in my Fantasy story who is 'up against evil' and all that stuff :p

    Despite being a young teen, she eventually learns how to adapt to situation even though it's highly stressful for her and also very different to her normal life experience. As DeepBlue said, it also depends on their personality and how they were brought up. It might take near the end of the story (ha xD) for a shy, sheltered teen to be become brave and have initiative. Meanwhile an outspoken one, will take less time.

    I say just don't let your MCs age limit what they can do in the story, it's fantasy after all. The same thing could be said about adults. (I have no better way to phrase that) Instead just use as it as reference to brainstorm what troubles they might have through out their journey.

    I hope that helped :3
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just remember we had teenagers fight in almost every war we had through WWII -- some would lie to enlist and they were actually as young as 16. The average age of the soldier in Vietnam was 19. So it's not impossible. Your fantasy world is presumably different from ours' (where many would argue we've spoiled our youth and made them way too soft, extending childhood up to 30 and beyond), so it certainly is possible that teens could take on leadership roles in a war type scenario.

    I am, however, a bit worried about you and your story if you don't think your characters can do this. Maybe you need to address this within the story. Have some sort of slightly older commander come in and whip them into shape? Have them start down this road but then have some sort of catastrophe force them to 'grow up' very quickly? I think you need to explore this more within your own story parameters to figure out a solution.
     
  6. jane elliot
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    jane elliot Member

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    Part of the reason why young people are less independent today is that society kind of forces them to prolong dependency in exchange for later success, at least in terms of things like education. More time under the reading lamp, less time in the fields. We learn how to think hypothetically, but lack the education that only experience brings. Not completely, but a little bit. If your story takes place in a world where you don't have to be in school until you're 25 to get the best job, then a fully independent teenage protagonist is more believable. Remember that the concept of the modern teenager wasn't really even a thing until the 1950s. Before then, you were a child, and then you were a working adult.

    I guess that doesn't necessarily address your concerns, though. Strength comes from a lot of places. Sometimes it arrives because it has to. A lot of immigrants to America arrived as young people with almost no possessions, and were forced to make their lives out of nothing. That's an adventure. That's a group of people making a way against the odds.

    If your character is a young person going on adventure, then he will either fail, or gain the necessary strength along the way. I would study up on your character a little more and discover how mature he is, then decide if he's the type of kid who would live and learn in the way that you want him to.
     
  7. introspect
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    introspect Member

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    I agree with you :)

    Perhaps, make you character more older. may be late teens or older.

    I can see where your coming from.
     
  8. NuttyStuff
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    NuttyStuff Member

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    Teens can be lazy and many of them are flat out ignorant, and see that everyday I go to my High School. I have convinced some of my friends gullible isn't in the dictionary, and whenever we play Texas hold'em it is very easy to clear the table. There is some that are very dedicated and many can easily beat me at poker, and you notice them because there isn't many. My one friend plays football, and during football season he doesn't eat junk food or drink pop. He also works out 2 times a day, and keeps a grade average above 95%.
    What I'm saying is some are insecure losers that will most likely become people who hold one dead end job for the rest of their lives, but there are a few that are dedicated and driven. I would prefer if people focused in on the teens that are dedicated and work to be talented instead of the ones that can be classified as losers. This may be because it takes attention off of me.
     
  9. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I don't think today's teens give full realization to their potentials in large part because of the details of our society, its creature comforts and its peculiar dangers, don't really permit it; but in the past, as Liz and the others point out, teens have had to do extraordinary things all the time.

    The growth that such trials impart will make your story even richer, opening up broader themes.
     
  10. Jack Montalto
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    Jack Montalto New Member

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    I get the idea of a young protagonist, I really do, but for my story I'm writing right now I feel like I want someone with a bit of age on them that has experienced some hardship already in their life and has finally settled into something. Before I ripped it apart that is >:) But really I think I have been tired of seeing main characters being teenagers in most stories I've read and like the thought of a different age bracket.
     
  11. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    Well as long as he has an older character to give him a hand at some point I can't see much wrong. (think about it, if Frodo hadn't had the help of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli etc. he wouldn't have made it to Mordor and destroyed the ring, now would he?) He might be too proud and independent to accept help at first, but he'd eventually see that he can't handle everything on his own, and that having a little help can be quite good. Use things like that for his character growth.
     
  12. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Reality is a brutal teacher with the power to make or break. It isn't about age, it is about character, the strength and the will to survive, to fight. Many of my characters are in their late teens to early twenties. By their very youth, their capability is called into question, making them have to work just that much harder to succeed. It is basic hero's journey.

    In almost any story, you will find the advice guy or mentor. They are there to point the way, but it is up to the protagonist to stay the course. And while a character may be young, it doesn't mean it is impossible. We have seen it countless times over the course of history.

    Many teenagers today have had the world handed to them on a platter, they haven't had to work for it, but there are also many who have struggled to make something of themselves. It is about circumstance and inner strength, so listen to your characters and follow your instincts. Age is merely a number not who or what we are.

    - Darkkin
     

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