Young or adult protagonists: pros and cons.

If any of you fellow writers are like me, you probably have pondered with the idea between creating a young or adult main hero or heroine for your story. Many of us don’t question this idea, and simply go with what comes to them (and that’s completely fine) – however I would like to take the time to highlight the qualities of both age spectrums,  and how it can greater impact your story. Let’s begin shall we?

The Adult Protagonist:


One of the common decisions to having an adult protagonist, is how much it gives a sense of maturity to the story and plot. If your character is an adult, it is likely he or she will come across the types of struggles and desires a real adult would naturally go through: love, betrayal, sex, scandal etc. This automatically resonates with adult readers (and young adults too), and providing your content is executed well enough,  readers will belive your story better.


(Image Left. A fine example of how an adult protagonist can impact a story is “Nier”. The story sees the father on his search to save his sickly daughter. Throughout his quest, the father experiences feelings of anger, loneliness and despair – the kind of feelings one might expect from a father who wishes to save a loved one. Although there was another version to this story where the main character was younger, many here in the west found the adult Nier better suited)

In many ways, having an adult character gives off a better sense of realism,  which may be suited to your story. However, this can be a risky thing,  for if you do not fill your adult with the qualities a real adult possesses, he or she will not be believable. If you don’t take your character seriously,  why should anybody else? It is also worth remembering the quest your adult is going through.  Because he or she is already grown, you would really need to focus on their inner growth more than the outer growth.

The Young Protagonist:


It is a common idea that creating a young character would be for the purpose of a lighter and softer story.
This is partly true, but not completely, for although there are many children’s stories that feature the main protagonist as a child,  their are many mature stories with adult themes that simply feature a younger hero or heroine. The story can also benefit from an unexpected growth,  if you’re creating a series or trilogy. One has the opportunity to show the child protagonist literally growing up into an adult, resulting in a far more broader story than if he or she started already as an adult.

Beware – if you’re an adult and wish to create a child protagonist, you may want to reconnect with your child hood in some way to remember how it feels to be a child. Dont assume that just because you were a child, you know all there is about children. You’d be surprised how much you have changed and how your childhood hopes and fears have altered or become non existent. In my previous blog titled: Breath of fire 3, a message like no other, I cover how important it is for some characters to physically grow up.

To sum up, it really doesn’t matter what you choose – just make sure your content is strong, and that your character is believable! Humans can easily see through weak qualities that do not represent what they were expecting.

As for me, my personal choice is younger characters, for I have a better scope to expand my world and story over a course of time.


Ciao for now.

Twitter: @writerrlbaxter


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