Definition: a strong level of mental development or wisdom, often beyond one’s years
Characters in Literature: Hermione (Harry Potter); Katniss (Hunger Games); Hazel & Augustus (The Fault In Our Stars
Common Portrayals: Older siblings; youths facing survival situations; leaders bearing great responsibility
Clichés to Avoid: The brainy teacher’s pet; the haughty older sibling/neighbor/classmate who acts better than everyone around them; the joyless and dour adult or elder, weighed down by responsibility
Twists on the Traditional Mature Character:
- Maturity is a trait most main characters have to some degree, because it helps them face challenges ahead. Show us an immature character who must evolve in order to succeed.
- One large cause of maturity is growing up in an environment where maturity is the expectation. Show us a character who is mature despite an irresponsible or laid back upbringing. Be sure to show what made them that way.
Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.
This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form. Together, the bestselling NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating memorable, compelling characters. Each entry contains possible causes for the trait, as well as positive and negative aspects, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict, and associated behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.
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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Susanne Drazic says
CONGRATS to the winners!
I like the youthful yet mature characters because it allows the writer to take those characters into such challenging situations and let them rise to their highest potential. I think that’s very satisfying for readers as long as the challenges are huge and daunting.
Thanks for this post. It was interesting.
Staci Troilo says
I think it’s great that your focus on the mature character was on Hermione and Katniss and young characters like that. Often we immediately think “wise” and “old” when we think “mature” which can go hand in hand, but certainly don’t have to. Kudos for reminding us that maturity can be found in youthful characters.
Girls are often portrayed as being more mature than boys in YA, which has some basis in fact. But maturity is an odd mix of experience and innate wisdom which sometimes can fail when confronted with something completely unexpected.
Leslie S. Rose says
Maturity is something I’ve tried to avoid personally at all costs even though I’m the oldest child in the family. I think of Wendy in Peter Pan.
The Golden Eagle says
I love mature characters, or ones that become mature through their experiences in the story.
Interesting post! And I love your example of Hazel and Augustus.
Traci Kenworth says
Good one, but I’m not sure if they’re my favorite type of character. They’re less likely to risk something and my type of stories require lots of that. Lol.
ABSOULUTLY LOVED your post! Expessialy the pros and cons part. 😀
Bethany K. Mattingly says
Great post, love the pros and cons!
Jemi Fraser says
Great choices to show for maturity! I do enjoy watching characters gain maturity throughout the story!