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December 18th, 2002, 07:47 AM
To start, I will say that I am young (22). I am in the process of writing a novel, and in doing so am thinking a lot about what I like (and dislike) in books that I have read. I've found that I mostly relate to the younger characters who are coming into adulthood and finding out who they are and how they fit into their world. This is always obviously a good way to introduce a character and have the story grow with them, gaining and keeping the readers interest. Perhaps that is why I usually don't enjoy later sequals when the character has grown older and found his place in society and simply has to accomplish some universe saving task. I find that the younger characters are easier to relate to and once that stage of the book is over it reads like a bunch of crap. Is this because I am young or do older readers who have already found their station in life and solidified all of their ideas and beliefs also relate more to the young characters in a reminiscent way? Do any adult readers dislike the focus on young characters in books and read over them as quickly as I read over the sections on old characters? Maybe I just find it hard to write from an adult perspective that I have little understanding of, or maybe I am already an adult but I don't want to accept it and am a kid at heart. I would love all of your insights into this matter, it is troubling me deeply. What would you think of a book in which none of the characters' ages were mentioned? Would it make it easier for people of all ages to relate to all of the characters, or is age simply what makes a person relate to a character, thus leaving them nobody to relate to and no reason to want to read the story? ideas...

December 18th, 2002, 08:14 AM
for me it's sort of the same.

i'm 21 and also writing a book, well, my third actually. the first one i began when i was 17, so as you can imagine it was about a teenage prince. i found his awkwardness in his growing up to be an easy way to write the story,a s well as characterise him.

younger kids i also write well, probably because i am a big kid at heart. i still watch cartoons and kids shows with my little cousins, and help them build legos.

adults i find writing is not so much fun, as it is challenging and more fulfilling. but i get what you're talking about. you're talking about when you read a young character in a book that you liked, who grew up into someone you didn't. well, i think that sort of simulates life. there are people i knew in primary and high school that are total *insert derogatory term here* now.

plus, i think that when a writer makes a character grow up, especially in fantasy, they tend to place great burdens on them. then the character gets all sorry for themselves and doubts himself, but realises his responisiblity, all that jazz.

i don't think age hampers the relation to a character, at least not for me. i like arya stark in asoiaf, and she's what, ten? but i also liked gandalf from lotr, and how many tens of thousands of years was he?

and i also think that young, innocent and unworldly kids are usually the best tools for world-building, thats probably why they're used so much. because they know very little, they are enlightened at the same time as the reader. when they grow to adulthood, they know everything, or theyn think they do.

regarding your own writing: do what you like. if you like writing younger characters, keep them young. there's no rule that says characters have to grow up, unless you're writing a series that spans a few years.

oh well, thats it from me. in the immortal words of forrest gump: "thats all i got to say about that"

December 18th, 2002, 10:10 AM
I think it's about personal taste, not about age. I'm about the same age as you, but I never --no even when I was younger-- liked to write about young/teenager characters. Even now, that I write about many people, only 2-3 of them are 15-17, and the others' ages are 20-60... Most of my characters, though, I think, are 30-40.

So it's not about writer's/reader's age, IMHO.

It's the same thing like when people are saying that if you are male you'll most likely write about male characters, and if you are female you'll write about female characters. I'm male but most of the characters in my work are female. And I hadn't even noticed, 'till one of my friends said to me: "Hey, you've got more women in your stories, than men!" It's because, when I write, I don't think about these things; I just think about the story; only that.

I, Brian
December 18th, 2002, 03:43 PM
Age isn't an issue - I simply want a work of fiction that will make me think.

fluffy bunny
December 18th, 2002, 07:33 PM
I think as we get older, we become more selective in our tastes. Also our tastes change with time depending on our experiences in life.

We get to know what is 'good book/film' as a pose to 'bad book/film' by reading/watching a lot of books/films from which to make a judgement. As we age, we've read more and experienced a wider range of literary styles and forms. And it's harder to keep us happy with the same old stuff regurgitated over and over again.

I know for a fact, that there are books I'd have read quite happily 10 years ago as a teenager that I would put straight back on the bookshelf today (mainly books churned out as part of a franchise- cash ins that rehash the same old dull plots and aren't written that well to begin with).

We all change over time, and there are certain books that appeal more to older people than yonger people (some of it to do with nostalgia, some of it to do with experiences such as those of getting a job, the responsibilites of parenthood etc that we didn't appreciate so much when we were younger).

As to what age you put your characters, I don't see how much that matters in literary form. Write about an age group you feel comfortable with, and one which you feel you tells the the story best. If you feel that age isn't appropriate, don't mention it so often, and don't play on it. If you want to write about the problems asscociated with age (problems asscociated with memory, the weariness of a lifetime of war etc), use age to add an extra dimension to your story.

December 18th, 2002, 08:19 PM
Firstly, I agree with most of what fluffy bunny has to say. Our tastes change as we get older, and your writing will also reflect this. You should write what you feel comfortable writing, since otherwise the characters will come out forced, and will read poorly. Don't feel you must adhere to any particular convention - fantasy is most definitely flexible, and getting more so every day, so do what you want.

But IaNO, one thing interests me. You said:

older readers who have already found their station in life and solidified all of their ideas and beliefs
Do you really think this happens? You may find your station, if such a thing exists, but I don't believe that we ever solidify our ideas and beliefs. Whenever you become convinced that you'll always think a certain way about a certain topic, life will step in and teach you a lesson!

December 18th, 2002, 09:41 PM
Yup, age certainly changes taste. I remember when I was five all I'd read were the Berenstein Bears, now I'm reading Dune and Les Miserables!

December 18th, 2002, 10:05 PM
I enjoy reading novels with a wide range of ages. It feels a little more complete. As I get older, I get something different out of a book every time I read it.

However when I am writing I tend to have little confidence in the accuracy of any characters that are older and younger than me. I forget what I thought as a child, and my outlook is not mature enough to know how a 40 year old sees the world. But obviously there must be a way around this, since no author writes exclusively about his own age.

I wish I knew how to do this though :rolleyes: Straying a little from the original thread question, does anyone have any particular technique for writing from a different age POV? Particularly writing from an older character's POV.

December 18th, 2002, 11:58 PM
To put it simply, imagination and empathy.

December 19th, 2002, 12:11 AM
Originally posted by Valada
Do you really think this happens? You may find your station, if such a thing exists, but I don't believe that we ever solidify our ideas and beliefs. Whenever you become convinced that you'll always think a certain way about a certain topic, life will step in and teach you a lesson! [/B]

lol. I was thinking just that when I wrote the statement you quoted! I, like you, don't believe it, but you would be surprised how many people out there do. Many older people, and characters in books, do have solid unchanging beliefs that will never ever change no matter what contrary evidence is thrown in their face. I guess that's why I like reading and writing about younger characters, they are more open to change and changing their societies.

I think I do a fair job of writing adult characters, but i find in general, in most writing, that the younger characters are always the most interesting driving characters in the story. Perhaps it is the same way in life.

I thought it was funny when thinking about this thread that i started when i read Asroloth's post about gandolf being tens of thousands of years old. I guess, in fantast, age really doesn't matter. THere can be infants that think like old men and ancient creatures that are still children. something to think about. sorry for the useless thread then! lol