Tag Archives: age

Diversity in Fiction

You often hear complaints about the lack of diversity in lead roles in Hollywood movies, that it’s too white. Yes, I agree. Though African-Americans are gaining more lead roles these days, so it’s getting better. There are very few Asians, Native Americans, and Middle Eastern people who have lead roles, though. But I think we have to make sure we aren’t making movies, TV series, and books diverse just for the sake of being diverse. They need to be appropriate.

I once saw someone arguing that Disney movies were all white princesses. Since when? Mulan is Chinese, Pocahontas is Native American, Tiana is black, and Jasmine is Arabian. I’ve heard there should be black people in Frozen. Why? The story takes place in Scandinavia during a time when there were likely no black people in Scandinavia. It would be historically inaccurate (not that these stories portray historic accuracy), but also, I have to wonder if Hans Christian Andersen ever even met a black person. Maybe he did, I don’t know. You’re unlikely to have a samurai movie with an Australian aboriginal. You’re unlikely to have a cowboy movie with an Inuit. You’re unlikely to have an Aztec story with a Russian. I like stories that are appropriately well-cast.

But this isn’t just about ethnic groups. There’s also gender equality, gay and lesbian, and age considerations. Why are so many animated stories about kids who are great warriors? That seems rather unlikely.

In Journey to Ariadne, I do have a diverse cast of characters. The leader of the project is a middle-aged Brazilian man. His second in command is a middle-aged Japanese woman. In fact, a lot of the characters are middle-aged, but there are younger ones coming up in future parts. One of the main scientists is Jordanian. There’s an Italian, a French man, a German, and so on. In the A to Z Challenge I did in April, I wrote brief stories that took place after the colonisation of Ariadne. It was also a very diverse cast.

In my first novel, the main character will be a teenage girl who has to deal with the adult government. Maybe it’s kind of a coming-of-age story, but that’s not the point. Only in this book is she a teenager. In future ones, she’ll be an adult, and she won’t always be the lead character. However, the ages will be appropriate to the kind of stories I’m writing. The target audience isn’t necessarily teenagers. I’m not trying to be a YA author. My intended target is adults, though teenagers are fine, too. I will be working with a variety of ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and genders. Not because I want to have diversity, but because it is appropriate for the world that they live in. A colony in another solar system would likely be an international effort, and that’s what’s reflected on Ariadne, as well as Mars.

But then, my solar system series of novella-length stories really has just one character and a few minor characters. The protagonist is an older man who is fighting a terminal illness. It just seemed appropriate.

I don’t try to be politically correct in my writing. I’d rather reflect reality. How do you feel about diversity in fiction, movies, and TV?


The age of the protagonist

I’ve read plenty of fantasy novels where the main character is usually a teenager who goes on a journey, discovers themself, and becomes an adult.  This is a very common theme of epic fantasy stories.  I’ve read some in which the main character is an adult, as well.  However, a lot of fantasy stories are about self-discovery, and it’s usually teenagers that go through this process, both in literature and in reality.  Teenaged characters may also appeal more to younger readers.

So, this is what I’m wondering, how old do people prefer to have their protagonist? For me, it depends on the story.  Young characters are often needed, especially for self-discovery stories.  Adults can go through this, too.  But adults are usually less adaptable and more set in their ways. The two fantasy novels I’m reading right now are quite different.  “A Game of Thrones” has an ensemble cast of characters of many different ages.  There’s no particular lead character, as the point of view changes between several adult, teenage, and child characters. The other is an eBook I’m reading called “Voidhawk” where all characters are adults. But usually, I read fantasy novels with a teenaged lead character.

As for my planned trilogy, the main character starts out as a teenager for reasons I won’t get into now.  However, he is nearly an adult.

What age do you prefer protagonists to be?