How Old Should my Protagonist Be?
The process of writing varies among writers, but I found these four steps to be a good overview. These steps mesh with figuring out the age of your protagonist.
1. Have an idea
2. Form that idea into a plot
3. Create your characters
4. Outline your acts
5. Write draft one
Sometimes I have an idea for a protagonist before I come up with the idea for a plot. And other times, this works in reverse. But no matter what, once you have an idea, that’s where the fun begins.
You have an idea for a book, now what?
Now you need to figure out your target audience. Will you be writing for elementary readers, teenagers, or adults? Yes, many adults read teen books, but you can’t write a book without being specific with who you’re writing for.
If you're writing for elementary kids, then your story’s plot will be lesser involved than if you were writing for adults. And your protagonist will be a different age!
Five categories you need to distinguish between.
1. PB (Picture Book)
2. MG (Middle Grade)
3. YA (Young Adult)
4. NA (New Adult)
Once you figure out which category your books fits into, you’ll be able to figure out how old your protagonist (the main character) should be. The age of your protagonist is directly related to the age of your reader. Don’t write an MG book about a protagonist that is an adult female, and vice versa. I’ve seen new writers do this, and it’s NEVER a good thing.
What is the average reading age for books?
Here is a brief overview of age range, per category. Your protagonist should be around the same age as the reader. By understanding this fundamental aspect of writing, you’re already starting in a better place than most aspiring authors.
To understand more about categories, purchase A Wordy Woman’s Guide for Writing a Book on Amazon. In the book, I dig deeper into category, audience, and protagonists!
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10/12/2021 10:14:00 pm
I agree. I (as most avid readers) tend to imagine the main character as myself or the people I know. It definitely is easier to relate when you can see the MC as yourself, so making them around the age of your target reader makes sense.
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