Character Trait Entry: Mature

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.

Love working online and having your favorite description resources in one place? We’ve got you covered. The entries from the Positive Trait Thesaurus book have been integrated into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Now you can search and cross-reference between all our thesaurus collections quickly and easily. Interested in viewing a free sample? Register at One Stop and see all that this intuitive library for writers has to offer.

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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, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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Susanne Drazic
8 years ago

Great post!

CONGRATS to the winners!

8 years ago

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
8 years ago

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.

8 years ago

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
8 years ago

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
8 years ago

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
8 years ago

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.

8 years ago

ABSOULUTLY LOVED your post! Expessialy the pros and cons part. 😀

Bethany K. Mattingly
8 years ago

Great post, love the pros and cons!

Jemi Fraser
8 years ago

Great choices to show for maturity! I do enjoy watching characters gain maturity throughout the story!