Thursday, October 7, 2010

Loner Main Characters the Norm?

When I was typing up the back summary for PERSONAL DEMONS, a question popped into my head.

Why are almost all main characters loners?

Think about it. Most of them only have one or two friends at most. They don't involve themselves in a lot of activities. They don't have a lot of dates. They don't run around texting twenty people at once, or even a few.

Is that to cut down on the number of characters that have to have a purpose?

Is it to keep the story from getting too bogged down in unnecessary day-to-day activities?

But the truth is, a lot of teenagers aren't like that. Teenagers don't just have one or two friends. They might have a few best friends and then a long list of extended friends and acquaintances. A lot of teenagers go out on dates, good ones and bad ones. They flirt, they fight, they date, they make new friends and enemies. It's all part of the teen experience.

So, where is it in books? Am I just reading the ones with loner main characters (which seems to be a requirement for fantasy these days) and there's a whole other world of non-loner MCs that I'm missing out on? Or is this becoming the norm?

Is there something especially sweet about having a loner MC that suddenly finds herself attracting the attention of (insert paranormal creature(s) here)?

What do you think?


RuthEDay said...

This post made me smile just because one of my main characters (from a fantasy novel I'm writing) is anything BUT a loner. She has three "best" friends, one proclaimed "enemy", and knows pretty much everyone in her community.

That being said, I see what you mean, but I think the answer is simple: most writers are loners so we feel more comfortable writing about other loners. I've only ever had one or two close friends at a time and I've only ever really been in one serious relationship and never really "dated" much at all. I think most writers will have similar personalities because the more social people probably won't have the patience to lock themselves in a room for hours at a time to finish a novel.

That's just what I think, anyway.

Amie Kaufman said...

I think there are a variety of reasons. I think you've definitely hit on one--that it allows us to cut back on the number of characters who need a purpose! I think another is that a lot of YA books explore the place the protagonist has in the world to some degree. To do that, we have to observe the world, and those who stand a little outside it are often well placed to do so.