1. Hydraphantom

    Hydraphantom Member

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    Preferred character age?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Hydraphantom, Jul 29, 2018.

    In my books, my main protagonist will go from 19 years old all the way to 91 years old throughout the in-universe years. Old characters will die out and eventually replaced by new ones.

    I'm currently having four protagonists on separate time range and their respective most active timeframe in the plot are as follows:

    The 1st protagonist, 1788-1849, most active at 1805-1815.
    The 2nd and main protagonist, 1830-1921, most active at 1849-1921.
    The 3rd protagonist, 1854-1894, most active at 1890-1894.
    The 4th and last protagonist, 1891-1962, most active at 1921-1962.

    This made me wonders, what are your guys' preferred character age range? I keep feeling that aside from the first protagonist, all of them are not young enough when their part begins. I tried to squish the last one down to at least less than 30 years old since she's the only female among them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  2. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Why do you wanna know, huh?
    I generally prefer protagonist's age to be at least 21 but less than like 40.
    That way they're an adult, and can do adult things, but they're young enough to be quite active in the world and still developing as a person.
    Though there's nothing wrong with the older 50-60 character that is part of the old guard buts undergoes development as a result of changing circumstances.

    My MCs for my WIP, excluding my two leader/mentor characters, are between 24-30. Well, except Jade isn't actually 24.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    It kind of depends on what I need them to do, for the purposes of my story. If they are coming of age in my story, then they need to be older than children, but younger than adulthood. If they are parents of young children, they'll probably be in their mid to late 20s. If they have older children, they'll be in their 30s and 40s. Ditto a professional career. If they have grandchildren, they'll need to be over 50 at least, and probably older. And etc. If they need a lot of experience behind them in order to do what they need to do in my story, they won't be young people.

    As an older person (pushing 70) I think I could write all the ages I've been, but I also think I would struggle to write people significantly older than me. Which might explain why most young authors don't choose older people as protagonists. There is always the feeling of getting ahead of yourself, so to speak.
     
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  4. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Senior Member

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    When it comes to reading books, age doesn't matter much to me as long as the character and the story are written well. But I do tend to write younger characters, anywhere from teenage years to late twenties at the latest. But that also purely depends on the kind of story I am writing, and naturally I am referring to the age of the main protagonist. Side characters can be any age without issue.
     
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  5. RahnyJae

    RahnyJae Member

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    For main characters, I stay between early 20s to mid 30s. Supporting characters can range from much younger (like children as young as 8) to much older (like mentors or parent/parent figures in their 60s.)
     
  6. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I prefer characters not to remain the same age over the course of the story. My favorites cover the lifetime of a given character, from childhood to their deaths.

    However the "best age" for a given story depends on the context. A 40-something veteran of war makes a compelling protagonist as much as his 20-something son who's just about ready to discover why his dad is all jaded about war and politics... and maybe together, they can come up with a solution and actually solve their world's problem rather than ignore it in apathy.
     
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  7. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    Somewhere around 25-40.

    Too young - like kid or teenager and I wouldn't pick the book up on the first place.
     
  8. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    I prefer to write characters around my own age (teen/young adult right now)because that's what I know. I guess I could go much younger - since I've been there - but I'm not really into writing about little kids.
     
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  9. Cave Troll

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

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    Adult overall. But minor characters can vary widely.
    Oldest being 1000, an the youngest being 5-6.
     
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  10. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Depends on the needs of the story. The one I'm writing now has a twenty-somethings college student, paired off with a 60's something widow. They both need to be in that age range for the story to be what I want it to be.
     
  11. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    Is grandpa robbing the craddle or is a gilf tempting a precious boy (lol)?
    Or is it more of a mentor-mentee kind of bond? Probably the second thing but I'd be curious if the first... ;)
     
  12. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Actually both female. :p And it is closer to mentor/mentee than anything else.
    EDIT: Maybe even gets close to 'found family'? I haven't written that far yet.
     
  13. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    Well, it's hard to have a close bond with an old person without feeling familial. It's human nature, for the most part.
    I'm curious: what's the genre, basic plot? Romance (like old woman teaching young woman what not to do and what to do)? Coming-of-age (kinda like before but more focused on becoming a good woman versus immediately married)? Romantic-Comedy (like School Rumble)?
     
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  14. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Nooooo romance. At all. I'm- not sure what 'basic genre' it would even fit though. Coming of age, but almost inverted? The basic idea is 'young person encourages old person to go live the dream she didn't fulfill when young'. (Which no, is not romantic in any sense.) I'm trying to hit that 'it's never too late' theme.
     
  15. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    I can't help you then since, frankly, there is such a thing as too late.
    Of course there's a lot of context I don't know about--maybe the idea is a matter of business (I know of a famous old woman who became a billionaire sauce dealer in China after being a successful mother and grandmother) but if it's a matter of, for example, getting married and having children... Well, biological clock speaks for itself.
    However, I must again admit, I don't know exactly what's being encouraged by the young woman to the old woman. Like business is feasible, but family no longer. It's also a bit strange since it's hard to imagine a young woman being wiser than an old woman unless the young woman is a genius or the old woman is a fool.
     
  16. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Sorry, it's late for me and I'm being skimpier on context. Time for info dump. The kids/husband thing has been done for the old lady already, kids have moved out, husband has passed on, she's basically settling in to just live out the rest of her years before passing on herself.
    Younger woman is actually a time traveler. College student that got a grant to go back in time, and picks this instance. Comes back to tell the woman about this really important thing she did, and because of how time travel works in my story, younger woman's influence in the past is already part of her present, so this is what kick-starts the older woman into setting off to do the important thing.
    The 'important thing' is going out and getting a mountain build for the old lady to live out the rest of her life on. I'm setting this in a fantasy world, and this time is very early in the world's history, so one of the things I'm doing to have the world feel 'young' is it being very easily to mold the landscape. Each race has a specific type they generally go for, but neither one of them know how to do mountains. So they set off, get into some trouble, but eventually get to the people who do mountains. They make one, old lady gets to life a dream she'd given up on, and the young lady gets to go back home a little wiser than before.
    (I am aware there may be some logistical difficulties but I'm kinda in a 'rough draft' stage so figuring those out is coming second to figuring out the story.)
     
  17. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    Reminds me of Japanese mythology, actually.

    So, is the "mountain" effectively a hermitage as well as literal? Why does she want it (or could be made to want it)?

    Also, what do you mean by "races"? As in (to use real-world examples) English, German, Russian etc.? Or species like Human, Elf, Dwarf, etc?
    May or may not be that important, depends on your goals.

    I can't say I'm particularly interested though since it sounds a bit esoteric and the theme merely being "it's never too late" just doesn't appeal to me.

    However they say it's a sign of skill to get somebody to like something they normally wouldn't. Like a good teacher getting kids interested in, say, marine biology. I don't want to brownnose you, but I have to admit what you're aiming for is beyond my expertise. I wish you well though.
     
  18. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'm not sure what exactly you mean by 'hermitage'. I'm familiar with the word but the phrasing is confusing me. As for why she wants it, it was one of those things. An impractical, 'I wish I could have done this' that life just didn't support. So she gave it up, forgot about it, until it turns out that maybe she had a second chance after all.

    Re: races. More of Human, Elf, Dwarf type yes. Fantasy races, although I'm creating my own rather than using pre-established ones like the ones you've mentioned.

    Thank you for the well wishes! I am aware I'm going about 'out there' in my goals but that's most of the fun to me.
     
  19. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    Same, actually.

    Though if I had to pick a range... most likely late teens to early twenties... 15 to 25. Though I have written most of my MCs from birth.
     
  20. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Senior Member

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    As a start? Yeah, I'd say that's my preference since it's young enough to learn the big things about life while being young enough to not already know them. Formative years and all that.

    The book I said I'm writing actually focuses on the life of one man in particular as he becomes the "King of Kings" and resolves himself to end all war in the world through Universal Monarchy. His primary antagonist in the long run is a knight from a military family who represents republicanism and strives to do what he can to prevent his nemesis from achieving supremacy over Europe.

    The major differences in values being essentially "noble obligation" and "self-determination". The King of Kings seeks to pacify the world and do what he can to ensure that law and order are ensured, that justice and fairness reign, that the very best and most responsible rule the world. The Republican Knight seeks to ensure that everyone is able to determine the success or failure of their own lives, and wishes to preserve republicanism even if it means the people themselves voting for their own abolition of the republic or anything else of that extreme potentiality.

    I guess you could say, to sum it in as few words as possible, it's a generational struggle that culminates in Obligation vs. Freedom, with both obviously having their strengths and weaknesses morally and practically.

    The benefit of going over a lifetime is fleshing out these moral champions and everyone around them (as well as their adversaries) since you, the reader, will see them grow up from humble beginnings and slowly shape into legendary figures who champion their respective ideals.
     
  21. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    I lean towards preference for having characters remain the same age throughout the story also. Although I like to see characters grow from their childhood. In general I will not read or write a story with characters over the age of 30 I would say. But it also depends on the genre because fantasy for example usually requires more characters and a wider variety of ages. In the current fantasy I am working on my characters age range from 7 to over a hundred due to the content. But the usual ages I would read/write about would be between preteen to young adult.
     
  22. Privateer

    Privateer Senior Member

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    I've always preferred older main characters. When I was very young most of the books I read had child or teen protagonists- because kids' books are like that- but then I got into stories with casts of explorers and soldiers and scientists and detectives where everyone was in their 20s or upwards and found that I preferred that. They were easier to relate to, to see as people I could be like one day, rather than people I already definitely wasn't like.

    My own characters tend to be in the 'young enough to have an exciting job but old enough to be good at it' bracket, so mid-twenties up to mid-forties.
     
  23. Nariac

    Nariac Contributor Contributor

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    Child characters tend to have a lack of agency simply because they're children. There are, of course, exceptions - the entire cast of Harry Potter, Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. Very old characters run into the issues encountered by the very old - they're unlikely to be able to kick ass and take names, as the traditional hero character tropes would require. Again, this always hinges upon the type of story being told - Winston Smith in 1984 was old and unfit, but he wasn't required to be young by the nature of the story.

    I looked at my own story to check and it seems I've defaulted, generally, to young adults. My POV character roster age range is as follows: 23,27,30,30,33 and 55. The instigator is sort of a POV character and he is ... uh ... 317, but anyway! Yes, mostly young adults who have a journey we can follow as they make a mark on the world and advance their own lives and follow their goals and dreams. As for the 55 year old, he's had all that, but we discover it in reverse order - essentially he's had some sort of PTSD and is a fairly emotionless shell who's character development is more rediscovery rather than maturing as a person.
     
  24. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    My characters are almost always of a similar age to myself. I'm 31 now and my characters tend to be in their mid-20s, working but still young, but not with parents anymore :) It's just easier to write. I've never had much interest in exploring other age groups - not sure why. I've attempted writing children occasionally but meh. I find it hard to imagine what older people would be like - it's been my experience that people much older than myself will often have different takes on things, even if they once believed like me or would have reacted like me. They have experience and insight that only time can afford, and no amount of putting myself in one's shoes or being analytical about it would truly help me grasp that insight. I can take on the advice, but I often don't understand yet their point of view, not really. I'm just old enough now to know not to dismiss it as I might have once as a teenager, because now I realise there are things I do not see yet. I've become old enough to discipline myself into listening and valuing words I may not even agree with, but in terms of understanding, not much has changed.

    But how do you write things you neither see nor understand?
     
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  25. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Depends on my story. But after examining my characters over the years I've noticed a definite pattern -- a young person paired with an older person. I think part of me likes the culture gap, the contrast and because it's personal. When I was a lonely child I used to hang out with my grandmother quite a bit. Some of my most favorite memories are us going shopping. And there was also this interesting contrast between us because my grandmother had a very dark past which we didn't talk about but it was always there in the back of my mind. This is one of the reasons my books carry a contrary 'nice' tone with a very dark tone. The child is not as naïve as the adult would like.

    I usually stick within the early teen range 11 - 16 and my older characters keep aging with me lol -- they were 30 when I was thirty now they're forty.
     

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