1. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    Main character ages and intended audience

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by XRD_author, Mar 4, 2019.

    Here's my hypothesis: often, people like to read about people they'd like to be: wimps about badasses, middle-class about rich, and so on.

    If this is the case, then kids fiction would tend to focus on characters a little older than the target audience (seventh graders reading about ninth graders), and fiction for older adults would tend to focus on characters who were younger (60-somethings reading about 30-somethings.)

    Is this the common wisdom for age-related genres?
     
  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not so sure I agree with what you're saying. Personally, I'm not reading books with characters I want to be. I think it's more about characters you can relate to rather than idolize in any sort of way. The age of a character is somewhat irrelevant or at least not nearly as important as how the story is written. If you are writing for children, you write for children. And those same characters could be used in a very different way to tell an adult story. Though, I can see why kid books have kid characters. Kids don't know the adult world yet. But I wouldn't think the characters have to be older. I mean, they could be. I think it will really depend on your story and how you choose to execute it. Adult fiction, on the other hand, I don't think has any boundaries on the age of characters, and I certainly don't think people in their 60s are looking for younger characters because they wish they were younger. That's also not a very nice thing to say or assume about older readers.
     
  3. Paneera

    Paneera Banned

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    I read somewhere that kids like to read about kids their own age except for books with sex scenes. When it comes to sex scenes they want the "adult" version.
     
  4. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I wouldn’t think such a thing is hard and fast. There is certainly a level of escapism with reading, but I see it more as the author trying to invoke specific emotions and using age and time to get those.

    There are even plenty of books where you’re specifically not supposed to identify with the main character. A clockwork Orange or Zombie for example, or to a lesser degree someone like Chief Brody from Jaws. The movie made him an action hero but in the book he was a bitter drunk who was certainly nothing anyone wanted to be.

    I also don’t think adults ever really read stories about children unless it also puts the story in the same time period as when the reader were kids (like It.). Or if there are adult themes with a group that just happens to be children (lord of the flies.). Nostalgia is likely the emotion most adult stories with child main characters tend to go for. Ready Player One is a great example, where even though it took place in the future, the culture revolves largerly around the late 1980s. Everyine who lived then wanted to take a nuclear powered Dolorean to play Space Invaders while rocking out to Rush

    Of course there are plenty of characters who are purely meant to be a vessel to live vicariously through ala Captain Kirk/Picard.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Yes, there's a tradition in MG and YA circles that kids "read up". That is, they want to read about kids a bit older than themselves.
     
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  6. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    I disagree. I don't read about characters I want to be like, I don't want to be like Humbert from Lolita for Hannibal Lecture.

    I read about characters that go on a journey that maybe I can also learn from. I read to help myself better understand the psychology of human beings or because I'm interested in a certain subject matter. Or because I just what to get out of my normal world for a little while.
     
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  7. seira

    seira Member

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    There may be a tradition in YA that teens like to read older characters but I don't think I agree with the statement that people read who they want too be.
     
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  8. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    This is probably one of many successful formulas more than a general rule. People like to read about people they want to be. And they like to read about terrible people doing terrible things. And they like to read about elves and goblins and space pirates. There are a bunch of ways to entertain people.
     
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  9. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    I'm with @BayView on this one. I've worked with kids pretty extensively throughout my years, and one thing I can say about them, even across cultures and continents, is that kids age 6-13 don't at all want to be compared with anyone younger than them, even by a year. They're interested in who they're going to be, and like reading about kids older than them--characters that they, maybe in a few years, have the potential to become.
     
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  10. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    I agree with everyone else. I never read about character I want to be. I fall in love with characters I relate to in one way or another. There is some sort of escape fantasy going on when I read I notice I tend to want to read about families or situations or places that I really want to be in.
    But when it comes to characters themselves I just want to relate! And I get really turned off when at least one of the main characters is not like me in someway. The age does not matter that much but I tend to like to read about teens because I never went to school even though I always wanted to, and I know I'm going to die with this school fantasy in my head! :love:
     
  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    For most of my reading life, I tend to read Adult level fiction,
    and tend to read about things that help me escape reality.
    I think entertainment reading is to have that escape.
    Sure there are characteristics that one may identify with
    the characters, but I doubt everyone here can relate to the
    Captain of a starship, being the ruler of some made up land
    that has dragons/vampires/fairies/etc.., or even landing the
    super rich Guy/Gal that happens to be super sexy.

    Only one anyone could even have a chance (extremely slim),
    is on that last example. So you see it is about escaping reality.
    Some just so happen to lack enough imagination to escape
    outside of what they currently understand, hence why writing/reading
    about the 'Contemporary' time works for them. The farther you stray
    from the ordinary the more creative you think. That is probably why
    Fantasy and Sci-fi are much more interesting, cause they challenge
    the reader to see the absurd and obscure and treat it as 'real' in their
    escape in the pages.
    Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to be a Noir Detective
    or whatever, cause it is just a means of escape from what/who/where
    you are in the real world.
    So age isn't a factor as long as they are portrayed in a compelling way
    and are interesting. :)
     
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  12. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    :superyesh:Well said Cave Troll! I totally agree with this. you are right.
     
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