forum Thoughts on a Fantasy/Sci-Fi story with characters in their 20s?
Started by @Imagine_Logic

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I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and even now, as a college-age adult, I still love reading fiction stories. But something I’ve come to realize over the last couple years is that there’s a huge gap between YA fiction and adult fiction. YA fiction tends to have a much broader selection, ranging from romance, contemporary, “slice of life” stories, to fantasy, science fiction, superhero, dystopian, post apocalyptic, and more. You can usually find at least a small variety of options under each category. With adult fiction, there are a few sci fi and fantasy stories out there, but the selection seems much more limited. For the most part, adult fiction is made up of romances, dramas, historical fiction, and crime thrillers. There does now exist the NA genre— New Adult— but from what I’ve seen it’s mostly contemporary romance or something of the like.

In my opinion, most adult books seem like they’re aimed for an audience that doesn’t involve me, despite me being an adult. Personally, I would love to see some stories written more towards an audience my age, with themes and protagonists suited towards their 20s rather than their teens.

I’m a writer and aspiring author in my early 20s. Currently, I’m working on a concept that is a bit hard to define in one specific genre, but it has elements of sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fantasy in it. The storyline itself is pretty dark, and while I think it would be tame enough for older teens to enjoy, I personally think the story itself works better with older protagonists— and an older audience. Early to mid twenties.

There’s a bit of an issue, though, which is why I’m here, asking for your opinion.

Apparently, according to some people on the internet, publishers don’t want those kinds of stories unless they’re targeted towards a YA audience, with protagonists usually around 16, definitely no older than 18. Now, as much as I would like to be traditionally published, I’ll probably go the self publishing route— but even so, I’m assuming there’s a reason that publishers avoid speculative fiction aimed towards people in their 20s, and I’m assuming that’s because they think it’ll flop.

I personally would love a book series targeted towards my age range instead of someone in high school, because to me it seems like the college-age audience is neglected in this regard— but is it just me? I would hate to pour so much into this story that is so near and dear to me, only to have it fare poorly just because I chose the wrong age for my protagonist and had an audience in mind that didn’t really exist. But, if there are very many other people like me out there looking for cool stories suited towards their age range, I would much rather tailor my books towards that demographic.

So, I present to you these questions.

If you are age 20 or older—
Do you think that good fiction stories marketed towards your age range are neglected? Have you ever noticed this neglect? Would you be interested in reading a book series that targeted an audience older than most YA books? Do you think others your age feel the same?

If you are younger than 20–
Are you less likely to read a story if the protagonist is in their early twenties rather than high school? Would you still read a story geared towards college-age students if the premise interested you?

Overall— are you more likely to read a story with protagonists and themes suitable for ages 14-18 or 20-25? Particularly in a broad variety of speculative fiction genres like fantasy, sci fi, superhero, paranormal, etc.

Deleted user

I'd be more likely to read about a twenty something year old protag than a teen because of how hard books with teen protagonists (sometimes) try to appeal to today's kids. Honestly the closer to 30 the better, they try less hard around that range if at all. That's not to say I won't read about teen protagonists, but it's a generalization I make when looking at books- I won't drop something with a good plot just because of the age range of the main characters.
Themes, probably somewhere in between. I don't like explicit stuff very much simply because that's not where my interests lie, but I do like heavier plots and themes.

By the way, if it's of any use to you, you could try having your characters' ages undefined, if possible.


I would say a lot of books that are labeled as "YA" are actually adult or NA books. YA should not have any sexual content. It could be hinted towards it but overall should be fade to black. Now, a lot of YA books are not fade to black, though they range in spice. That is NA being marketed as YA for some reason. But NA is becoming more popular because of authors like SJM who's books don't fall into YA or Adult categories. Which is why there's only so many in that category.

As someone who has been an avid reader all her life, in high school, I preferred to read books about older protagonists and I still like to read books where the protagonists are older. Twenty+ is my preference, because a lot of stuff people are wanting in books (aka spice) really isn't intended for the age of the main characters.