The Glory of Young Characters

I’ve noticed that main characters, even in adult fiction, tend to be young. Even when they are not young, they are often prone to teen/ young adult traits that foster conflict. Traits like impulsiveness, lack of censorship in dialogue, rebellion, and identity crises. All of these are universal traits that people experience to greater or lesser degrees throughout their lives but are distilled – exaggerated – in youth. This distillation, above all, is why I think books tend to use young people as protagonists. But these traits are useful and realistic in characters of any age, so take a look even if you write older characters.

English: Official Logo of Youth Jatra, a mega ...
English: Official Logo of Youth Jatra, a mega event on International Youth Day 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Impulsiveness:
    Teens and young adults are impulsive. They are more likely than their older counterparts (generally) to act before they consider the consequences. Many parents lament over the trouble their children (and not-quite-children) land themselves in because they didn’t stop to think. But for the purposes of a book or poem, this is a positive trait.

  • Conversations:
    This ties into impulsiveness. Young people (especially younger
    people) speak without censoring what they say. They say what is on
    their minds and they speak without regard for how their words will
    make other people feel. This is a valuable quality for generating
    conflict in dialogue.

  • Rebellion:
    Many teenagers and young adults question social conventions, take up
    causes, and find themselves feeling like outsiders. All of these set
    up conflict because they are not living in accordance with
    pre-established rules and expectations. At some point they will have
    to stand up for their beliefs. Conflict!

  • Identity:
    Many protagonists are in the process of learning who they are. This
    makes for juicy conflict with loved ones, society, and himself. Even
    the past and future are in conflict, with the protagonist’s present
    caught in the middle.

One thought on “The Glory of Young Characters

  1. I really like your post. I am currently writing a YA fiction story, check out my page when you can. I enjoy Young characters maybe because i am a teenager and i can relate to them. I love young characters because they are what you stated in your article. Young characters remind me oof me lol. Thanks and keep posting


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