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Age of main characters

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Something I've noticed lately, which kinda bugs me too, is that my main characters are rarely below 19 or above 30. They're mostly around 20-25 (and it was quite some time since I was that age), and I don't really have a good reason for it. I don't write New Adult or anything like that, just adventures. My characters might as well be middle-aged people. Middle-aged people are great, they have life experience, plenty of back-story, they know we fail and get back up, and that life doesn't always turn out the way they planned it. They have doubts, fears, problems, identity-crises and hopes for the future; all stuff that makes good characters. I definitely want to write older people, but it doesn't really come out that way. So I was wondering if it's common to write younger characters than yourself, or if it's just me. Maybe I just wanna feel younger. 😄 

So, age of main characters. Why are your main characters the age they are? Did you choose their age specifically, or was their age just how they appeared when you got the idea? Is the age decided due to a genre thing, an audience thing, a series thing, etc.? Do you mostly write MC's your own age or not? In your experience, are older protags rare in fantasy? Any other thoughts on this topic when it comes to fantasy literature and age of main characters? 

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I think fantasy tends toward younger protagonists, even ones written for adult readers (adult as opposed to MG/YA/NA). There is usually a lot of information that has to be relayed to the reader over the course of the story and having a protagonist who is ignorant of much of that information makes it easier to reveal. The reader learns it as the character learns it.

I usually have younger protagonists, but I'm making a conscious effort to include older characters as well. Some stories require characters of a certain age. In one story, the MC is a prince and has been confined to the palace his entire life to protect him from his father's enemies. His father has also kept a secret from him that is common knowledge to pretty much everyone else. For that to be believable, he has to be young, but not so young that he can't do the things he will need to do. I do have some built in time skips to advance his age, but It's something I've had a hard time balancing. In another story, the FMC has to be young because girls in this society are expected to start conceiving once they turn 16, and I need her story to begin before that happens. There are other characters in that story though who have their own story lines, and they will be older. One will be in his late 20s/early 30s and the other will be even older, maybe late 40s or early 50s. I haven't totally planned out those story lines yet.

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In my heist story the characters are a bit older, late 20s - mid 30s for most of the cast, with the ring leader being in her 60s. I want them to be experienced thieves, and I find the trope of 'young super thief' a bit of a stretch at times. In the Star Mirror the protagonist is late teens, its got a bit more standard 'becoming your own person apart from your family' theme as opposed to the 'found family' theme of the heist.

I think I default to that late teens/early 20s when thinking about stories, mostly because a lot of them are at the beginning of their careers/life paths, but I'm not afraid to age up where appropriate.

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My MC is in her early thirties as is my MMC (he's older by a year or two), I have two 40 year old MCs, and 3 18 year olds. I picked it because of the fact everyone went on about fantasy MCs being in their 20s... but this was a few years ago and now I have caught up so my MCs are nearly my age 😞

My MCs do tend to be on the younger side, I dont write older people often. I think it's partially a young writers thing? Maybe a fantasy thing?

(My 18 and 40 year old are in my signature pic 😄 )

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3 hours ago, Banespawn said:

I think fantasy tends toward younger protagonists, even ones written for adult readers (adult as opposed to MG/YA/NA). There is usually a lot of information that has to be relayed to the reader over the course of the story and having a protagonist who is ignorant of much of that information makes it easier to reveal. The reader learns it as the character learns it.

That's a good reason for picking a younger character, to have the main character as a reader stand-in. An older protagonist who knows a lot more makes the learning-curve steeper, that's for sure. And, like in your story with the prince, it definitely makes sense to keep an MC younger if something very well-known is being kept from him. It's easier to make it believable that he hasn't found out the secret. 

 

53 minutes ago, Sheepy-Pie said:

My MC is in her early thirties as is my MMC (he's older by a year or two), I have two 40 year old MCs, and 3 18 year olds. I picked it because of the fact everyone went on about fantasy MCs being in their 20s... but this was a few years ago and now I have caught up so my MCs are nearly my age 😞

My MCs do tend to be on the younger side, I dont write older people often. I think it's partially a young writers thing? Maybe a fantasy thing?

Yeah, I really can't find a real answer for why it's so common that fantasy MC's are so young. Maybe it's because fantasy became such a part of YA and the coming of age-story and figuring stuff out was a part of that genre. But I do hear complaints where older characters are more in demand, so maybe we're getting a bit of fantasy diversity age-wise now. But it sounds like you have a very broad age-range, and it seems like a great way to explore characters in different ages more in depth. :)

3 hours ago, Penguinball said:

I think I default to that late teens/early 20s when thinking about stories, mostly because a lot of them are at the beginning of their careers/life paths, but I'm not afraid to age up where appropriate.

Adding to the story problem with a lot of internal stuff at that age is a great way to add conflict. Things just doesn't seem as stable then, as it might be later, because there is a certain kind of "knowing who you are" later in life compared to the early 20's, when things are up in the air on all fronts a bit more. 

 

I'm kinda itching to write a real adventure for an older character now, and just drop them down into something unbelievably fantastic and fun, and get to re-invent themselves or just find new sides to them. Bilbo was like 50 when he was crowbar-ed out of his comfy chair and ran into the wild, so there are role-models out there. :)

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My protagonists tend to be twenty-somethings, often around 25. That's probably because I see that as the "just right" age. Old enough to possess some maturity and skill at whatever they do, yet not so old that their good looks and fitness have started to weather away. Of course, it probably helps that I'm still in my twenties as I type this.

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Couple of things:

- young protagonists can have less attachments (ie. they're not settled down yet). there's a sense of being open to possibilities. so perfect for Adventuring! double bonus points if they're conveniently orphans!

- as was mentioned, the naivete of youth is a good justification for exposition and puts the reader in the character's shoes

- young protagonists are a natural fit for stories of coming-of-age (as mentioned), which tends to fit well with the whole Hero's Journey model, finding yourself, the power is within you etc.

- younger protagonists (say, 20-30), can be considered more action-y, cooler, more glamorous etc. due to their youth

- in addition there's sometimes this general belief that old people are past their prime, that people stop doing stuff and being exciting after a certain age. this is, of course, not true, but it's a pervasive thing.

- you can't just up and leave at the first Call of Adventure if you have kids

My MCs have tended to be roughly the age I was (ie. when I was a kid they were kids, when I was a teenager they were mostly teenagers, and so on.) I guess this is a form of 'write what you know' where I was writing to the experience I had - it's kinda hard to write about the complexities of being a grown-up if you're not quite there yet!

(On the flipside, I always find it striking how few child characters are well-written, or the way you sometimes read YA where the characters don't feel like teenagers. It's like sometimes adult writers forget what it was like to be a kid.) 

Recently I've tried writing a broader range of characters and I find the idea of adult and older characters to be far more interesting (especially as I get older, obvs). Those very "issues" I mentioned above that tend to get in the way of the plot (kids, significant others, a day job, prior commitments, a History) also have potential to be interesting hindrances or motivations. Plus I just think it's interesting and important to explore people's interior lives, especially people who's stories aren't always told. I like the idea of pushing against the idea that people stop 'existing' or having goals after a certain point. Elderly characters, for example, can have a rich backstory. (See: my icon.)

For my current WIP some of my main characters are in that 'younger' range but others are well past that, for example, a former Chosen One who's now older and has a history and some hidden motivations. That sort of thing.

ETA: I know I probably reference Discworld a LOT, but Granny Weatherwax and Vimes are two of my favourite examples of older characters.

 

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1 hour ago, roadmagician said:

Recently I've tried writing a broader range of characters and I find the idea of adult and older characters to be far more interesting (especially as I get older, obvs). Those very "issues" I mentioned above that tend to get in the way of the plot (kids, significant others, a day job, prior commitments, a History) also have potential to be interesting hindrances or motivations. Plus I just think it's interesting and important to explore people's interior lives, especially people who's stories aren't always told. I like the idea of pushing against the idea that people stop 'existing' or having goals after a certain point. Elderly characters, for example, can have a rich backstory.

You highlighted a lot of common reasons for picking a younger protag very well, and sociologically speaking, an older person is often more tied down to their life. But like you said, those things could act like hinderances or motivations, which are great ideas. It also got me thinking that a lot of writers choose main characters standing a bit to the side of the masses anyway, so there really is no reason not to pick an older character without children or a mortgage or a steady job (that seems to be a lot more common in the last few decades too, so it would fit nicely into contemporary fantasy). I think maybe the relatable thing is a reason too, that most people above their 20's can remember what it was like to be young and have the same kind of troubles with school and life, viewing the experience in some kind of nostalgic light, and sometimes forgetting how stressful it really was. 😄  It's a strange thing that young inexperience is so valued in book characters these days when in many instances it's a disadvantage (maybe that's a reason actually. To give an equally inexperienced reader a feeling of growth - you kinda said that with "the power is within you"). Because the reader stand-in reason is not always valid. An older character would be just as inexperienced if encountering something new and fantasy-related, and would work as a source of reader-information in the same way. 

I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote about the general belief of mature adults, that it's a kind of stereotyping, because they've often experienced a lot more and have more perspective on things, and so they should be more interesting and more exciting in that sense. Not saying all are, but logically they should have more to bring to the table character-wise, so to speak.  By the way, I totally love the sound of your former chosen one who is older now. I'd read that.

Oh, and you're not the only one referencing Discworld all the time. I'm also a bit of a stuck record when it comes to that. I completely agree about Granny Weatherwax, and I find Nanny Ogg also a really awesome character. We owe Pratchett a lot when it comes to older characters having some pretty action-filled and fun fantasy adventures. Actually, Tolkien too. A lot of the fellowship were extremely old, and they weren't any less exciting to follow than any young character. That's it, I'm gonna stop picking the young character just by habit now. :)

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Great question. My MC starts out at 20 (she notes that it is her 21st at one point), and while I was conscious of this bias such that I included several key supporting characters aged 40~ish and 51, and older, the MC and her allies tended to be young. I really don't know why this is and need to dig deep a little. Is it because they're better looking? Because they represent some innocence within us? Because a typical 40-something yomping through fantasy dragonland is a hard aesthetic to pull off? Maybe. I dunno. My MC's age just seemed right. The person it was based on was about that age at the key time anyway.

 

Challenge accepted, I guess 🙂

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6 hours ago, bdcharles said:

I really don't know why this is and need to dig deep a little. Is it because they're better looking? Because they represent some innocence within us? Because a typical 40-something yomping through fantasy dragonland is a hard aesthetic to pull off? Maybe. I dunno.

Since we create the aesthetic, it shouldn't be an issue... unless the writer has a problem imagining it. Maybe that's the reason. I'm starting to think it's some kind of psychological thing and most likely cultural age-stereotyping, or that the ultimate happy ending is not only that they saved the world at 25, but that they have 60+ years to rest after that feat. It is interesting though, because some of my favourite characters out there are older, and I thought it was worth a self-check on why I don't write them since I don't write specifically for young people. Maybe it's just harder work to put together a character with more back-story than school? Ugh. I think I'll steal your line right now: I dunno. :)   

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I have a wide range of ages for my characters.  I write multi-generational family sagas, which by their very nature have to include more than adolescents and twenty-somethings.  Using older characters to explain traditions, rituals and other issues is a neat way of avoiding the dreaded info-dump, since it can be dealt with in dialogue, giving insight into characters along the way.

I love my older characters.  Some of them have lived multiple lifetimes and have great wisdom and knowledge to impart.  One of my main historian characters teaches his students the "real" version of history which he has lived through, pointing out the discrepancies in the santised version which appear in history books.  Also older characters have some great eccentric habits and quirks which can be fun to write.

I often take a character from birth or early childhood and chart their life into adulthood.  I like to show how they develop their personalities, preferences and moral stance, also how they react to certain situations and learn from them.  Or don't learn, as the case may be.

I also try to stay away from the "young and beautiful" cliches of fantasy characters.  Not all of them are classically attractive.  Many have flaws and scars and I make sure they're not all slender and elegant.

To me, variety is the key to creating interesting and memorable characters. 

 

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11 hours ago, Xanxa said:

I often take a character from birth or early childhood and chart their life into adulthood.  I like to show how they develop their personalities, preferences and moral stance, also how they react to certain situations and learn from them.  Or don't learn, as the case may be.

I also try to stay away from the "young and beautiful" cliches of fantasy characters.  Not all of them are classically attractive.  Many have flaws and scars and I make sure they're not all slender and elegant.

To me, variety is the key to creating interesting and memorable characters. 

I love this. We change all through life, and encounter things that alter previous preconceptions, our moral stances and we have our idealism dented... so, yeah, there's a lot of stuff that happens along the way. Humans are very dynamic, even if they don't always show it. And you're so right that the "young and beautiful" fantasy character is a cliché, and those aren't the things that create interesting and memorable characters. I've recently cut down a lot on physical descriptions because the brain has an amazing way of filling in the blanks. I think it has to do with seeing a lot of fan art. It's clear that fans envision characters that are not described in great detail (like from books or podcasts) very differently when it comes to all manner of things, from body-type to facial features to skin-colour. Even when the age is spelled out, it seems some fans picture them somewhat older and some picture them younger. They seem to turn their favourite characters into whatever they need them to be, and that is amazing. :)

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On 2/14/2019 at 1:44 AM, Xanxa said:

I often take a character from birth or early childhood and chart their life into adulthood.  I like to show how they develop their personalities, preferences and moral stance, also how they react to certain situations and learn from them. 

So do I.  Sometimes, in my youth, I wrote main characters of my age. Now I write them all age ranges, as requested by the story I want to tell. Most of them are young because I write YA and historical adventure genre. Now, let's see in my already written novels (and the Mercenary part of the short stories collection, which stories are related one to the other):

The wanderers of the seas - Marina is almost 18 when the main part of the story starts. Sigurd and Rholf are in their late 20s. Little Lars is 13. These are the appropriate ages for the characters to make the story happen - for the Viking warriors to be already warlords, for Marina to be still in the monastery school where she was kidnapped from. The main story ends about 6 years later, but in the epilogue a letter talks about their lives up to in their 40s. I had older secondary characters too.

Lives in turmoil - Roxana is starting with her childhood, but the main part of the story happens since 1796 or 1797, when she is about 18. Her commander is in his late 20s or early 30s. Luigi, her husband-to-become, is in his mid 20s. The first volume ends in 1802, when they decide to emigrate to the US. The second volume covers about the years 1802- 1810, with a few hints to 1830 (but only a few hints in the final chapters), so that we see them mature and their children growing up.

Other turmoils of life - the quote below applies, as Roxana and Luigi are followed until they are grandparents, and the story ends in 1849:

On 2/13/2019 at 12:19 PM, roadmagician said:

Couple of things:

- young protagonists can have less attachments (ie. they're not settled down yet). there's a sense of being open to possibilities. so perfect for Adventuring! double bonus points if they're conveniently orphans!

- as was mentioned, the naivete of youth is a good justification for exposition and puts the reader in the character's shoes

- young protagonists are a natural fit for stories of coming-of-age (as mentioned), which tends to fit well with the whole Hero's Journey model, finding yourself, the power is within you etc.

- in addition there's sometimes this general belief that old people are past their prime, that people stop doing stuff and being exciting after a certain age. this is, of course, not true, but it's a pervasive thing.

- you can't just up and leave at the first Call of Adventure if you have kids

Actually this above is what Roxana is thinking when her husband is out on new adventures, and she remains behind, caring for her children (and the whole village's school children, since she is the school teacher!) She wishes sometimes that she was able to go with him...

The crew - The story starts when Marina is 13, most of it happens during high school and some in Uni, with 2 final chapters showing her mature.  It is a coming of age YA story, so the age is appropriate.

The second shuttle boat (sequel half written now) - it starts about 2 years after the final chapter of The crew, with characters in their late 30s to mid 40s. I would say it is the appropriate age for the story I want to tell - a second chance to love after disappointments and battling their own demons.

Rightness' friends - The story starts when Em is 14, most of it happening during high school. The last chapters are while they are in Uni, including their wedding.  It is a coming of age YA story, so the age is appropriate.

The charm of the seas - The story starts with Marina's childhood, but the main part of the story happens about since she is 15 to 25. Her brother Andrea is almost 2 years older, her sister Lemoni is 6 years younger. This is the right age for the adventures to happen in the story. The story ends with an epilogue 15 years and a couple of wars later, when the families have to return to the sea again.

The mercenary's fate - The main part of the story follows the mercenary between 20 and 30 years. OK, 32 or 34, maybe. And then he dies executed for a crime he had been framed for, and he was innocent of. Again, I'd say this was the appropriate age for a swordsman who was first in the Army, then freelancer mercenary.

 

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On 2/12/2019 at 11:10 AM, Pinchofmagic said:

So I was wondering if it's common to write younger characters than yourself, or if it's just me.

Nope, definitely not just you. XD I'm totally guilty of it. In the past I've probably had characters who've been more in their late teens to early-to-mid-twenties. For a while I thought I actually wrote young adult because I tend to fade-to-black when it comes to anything involving romance that might lead to sex scenes, or when it comes to really violent/descriptive scenes (though I've never actually written anything super violent/descriptive like that). Turns out I was totally wrong, because of the fact that my characters lean more towards being in their early twenties, which technically makes it "new age," I guess?

For my other project, Storms of Magic, initially I was having my characters be in, like, the early-to-mid-twenties range, but timeline-wise it made more sense to actually up their ages to late-twenties-to-early-thirties. It helps that I'm actually in my early thirties, so it's easier to relate and think like a thirty year old generally would (although the two main point of view characters in that are male, so that makes things a little harder I suppose...but writing in an opposite gender's point of view is a totally different ballgame for a different post 😛

On 2/12/2019 at 11:10 AM, Pinchofmagic said:

Why are your main characters the age they are? Did you choose their age specifically, or was their age just how they appeared when you got the idea? Is the age decided due to a genre thing, an audience thing, a series thing, etc.? Do you mostly write MC's your own age or not? In your experience, are older protags rare in fantasy? Any other thoughts on this topic when it comes to fantasy literature and age of main characters? 

Hm. It's not usually really a conscious decision I make? Though I suppose it depends - i.e. when I made the decision to up Arris and Merek's ages to being in their late twenties/early thirties. Sometimes it's very obvious how old I want a character to be, and sometimes it's not. For example, in Court of Shadows, I still have no real idea how old Alana is, other than that she's at least 18+ years old (I'd say probably early twenties, but I haven't decided for sure, really). With Harrow, I didn't know immediately that he was going to be a lot older, but I also didn't know certain things about who he is which affect his age (SPOILER ALERT: he's half-fairy, which means he's older than he looks, but not thousands of years old 😛 ). With Ivar, he's a full-born fairy so he's also going to be older than he looks, so I knew that already. I had a vague idea that I wanted Alana and Ivar to have romantic feelings for each other, which meant that Alana needed to be old enough for that to make sense (and they'll also eventually have to deal with the whole longer lifespan thing on Ivar's end).

I haven't figured this out any further, but for Ivar, for example, I have it that being 300 years old has him being 17 or 18 years old and 500 or 600 years old is 35 years old. I...wish I could remember more about my train of thought with this, though, because I think Harrow is supposed to be in his 40s but I don't think I've figured out how it works for half-fairies yet.

I didn't decide on character ages due to genre/audience or anything like that, it's just...how I imagined them in my head.

I usually don't specifically make a massive effort to think about character ages, but when I write them I guess I imagine them to be closer to my age, though it depends on the character. Like I said, Harrow is in his forties! I have no idea how to write a forty year old man, really, because I'm not (that) close to that age and I'm not a man, so I'm not sure if I'm actually conveying his age that well at the moment, but...that's what beta readers/potential rewrites are for.

I haven't really read enough fantasy where the characters haven't been young to really be able to answer your last questions. I mean, the main character in the first book of my favorite book series is like...twelve? in the first book (and each of the books has a different narrator, 'cause it's basically generational (granddaughter, niece, etc), so I've definitely read at least one book where the main character(s) were young. I can't remember how old the main character in Graceling is, but I honestly don't even know if her age is ever really defined. And I think that's the thing...depending on the plot, and who the character is and what they do, I kind of wonder if maybe it's okay to leave the age up to being guessed by the reader? The same way you'd do so with how they look physically, while maybe giving vague ideas but not giving an info dump-y description.

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6 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

In the past I've probably had characters who've been more in their late teens to early-to-mid-twenties. For a while I thought I actually wrote young adult because I tend to fade-to-black when it comes to anything involving romance that might lead to sex scenes, or when it comes to really violent/descriptive scenes (though I've never actually written anything super violent/descriptive like that).

omg, yes! I also had this idea that because of the style of my stories (fast-paced fantasy adventure), they could possibly fit a young adult-reader, even though I imagined readers of a wide age-range who just liked that stuff, like I do. There was also this idea online that teenagers won't read anything about characters younger than them or a lot older than them (which I think is bullcrap), and you made me remember that I adjusted to that when I started writing my first novel. But I never cared what the character's age was when I read books as a kid. Other things mattered more. Like yay, a book! Fun! I read everything and anything.

For that other topic, about writing a different gender: I've always lived and worked in male dominated environments, so to me gender differences are not as big as our collective consciousness/culture try to make them. From my experience it's definitely more of a background/personality thing combined with slightly different societal ideals than women (but those ideals seem to fade more and more now, thankfully). Instead I can get insecure about writing someone who like traditionally feminine things, appearance-wise. I am still completely mystified by some really common ones, and I couldn't really write a POV from someone wearing high heels (without breaking an ankle) or nail-art with any authenticity, so we all have our areas of writing insecurity. :) But yeah, that's a whole different topic. 

 

7 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

And I think that's the thing...depending on the plot, and who the character is and what they do, I kind of wonder if maybe it's okay to leave the age up to being guessed by the reader?

Yeah, I wonder that too. How many readers would be bugged by not knowing the exact age, really? Because I find it kinda boring deciding on a specific age, so for leaving the age open, I'm all for it. But my beta-reader notices my sloppy timelines (she's a completely different personality from me), and ask: "when this did happen, is it like a week later, or two?" and "Wasn't she 24 last year, so has she not had a birthday yet?" I don't always get why it matters, because like you say: what the characters do and think is more important. But some people really care about those kind of details and are gonna ask those questions, so I force myself to put down an age. 

Writing really old characters, and I mean like 700 years old, that always scares me, probably because it's so hard to imagine remembering so much and have all those references. It would be a fascinating read though. I do have immortal characters sometimes (mostly secondary), but they seem to be exactly like you describe, that "their" years could be equated to a more relatable age for us humans, or that their time is felt differently. But I find it really fascinating for those who do imagine characters having a thousand years of life behind them, and remember all that time the way we do. It would be fun writing an immortal character who's wasting a lot of time (if "wasting" is the right word), because he could always do it later. Or just be unknowing about a lot of stuff: "Just because I'm an immortal doesn't mean I'm interested in absolutely everything." 😄

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13 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

How many readers would be bugged by not knowing the exact age, really? Because I find it kinda boring deciding on a specific age, so for leaving the age open, I'm all for it.

I mean, generally it doesn't usually bother me, although I suppose it depends on other factors. Like...the plot and occupation of the main character. Is it a story about a girl who's being forced into an arranged marriage and dealing with the politics of that? Then age is probably a factor I should know, because I'd like to know the ages of the two characters who are being forced into the marriage, whether they're adults, etc. I'm actually trying to think of a scenario where not knowing the age would be okay but I can't think of any, although part of that might be because I'm tired. I was going to say that adventure-y-type-stories might be okay for not knowing the ages (or at least an age range), but to know if the story is realistically written, it's probably better to know what the main character's age is - i.e. you wouldn't expect an eight year old to go off on some adventure by themselves through forests and mountains, and it would probably be unrealistic to write that being the case (unless they were a species where that kind of thing was accepted, so it's also a cultural thing). So then you'd be wondering if they're actually more like sixteen or seventeen years old, where it's a little more acceptable (but you're still left wondering where the heck their parents are and why they're letting their kid go off on this adventure, assuming they're not orphans and don't have caretakers).

13 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

Writing really old characters, and I mean like 700 years old, that always scares me, probably because it's so hard to imagine remembering so much and have all those references

Hmm, I honestly hadn't even thought about this. This is definitely going to be something I'll need to keep in mind, more so when I write the prequel since I imagine it'll be a little more relevant/more of a theme in that story compared to this current story.

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7 hours ago, Jedi Knight Muse said:

I was going to say that adventure-y-type-stories might be okay for not knowing the ages (or at least an age range), but to know if the story is realistically written, it's probably better to know what the main character's age is - i.e. you wouldn't expect an eight year old to go off on some adventure by themselves through forests and mountains, and it would probably be unrealistic to write that being the case (unless they were a species where that kind of thing was accepted, so it's also a cultural thing).

I think I have heard other ways to measure time, but I can't remember if it was in a book or a movie, but yeah, it's rare though. There's definitely a relatable issue when measuring time and age, but it would be fun to see other ways to do it more often, and fantasy has that opportunity. Like, we could add extra seasons, and just not bother with birthdays because they don't have that precise way of identifiying the days. Especially over the age of 20, the could be chunks of about ten years being called different things, like: As she entered the cycle of glass it was time for her to forge her own axe. But like you said, there is a matter of realism, and that is up to the author in which way they want to achieve that. :) 

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On 2/17/2019 at 7:12 AM, Pinchofmagic said:

For that other topic, about writing a different gender: I've always lived and worked in male dominated environments, so to me gender differences are not as big as our collective consciousness/culture try to make them.

I completely agree with this. We are all just people, why do we have to make such a big deal about what bits a person has. Yeah, there are some culturally ingrained differences between genders, but at the end of the day a person's adherence to those differences varies so much that we might as well write person first, gender second.

 

On 2/17/2019 at 7:12 AM, Pinchofmagic said:

Writing really old characters, and I mean like 700 years old, that always scares me, probably because it's so hard to imagine remembering so much and have all those references.

This is something I've thought about a lot, especially in regards to my gods and dragons. They would just have to think differently than humans on some basic level I think, otherwise they'd run into problems like elderly humans do, like forgetfulness, inability to adapt to change, um... inability to give a f*ck?. Like, a human granted immortality. I would think the granting would have to change them, grant them a more elastic, youthful brain or something. Otherwise you'd have a 700 year old who just doesn't give a flip about conventions, and complains about how things were done back in the back (back in the day you died of the plague at 40 at were HAPPY about it). I mean, that could be funny, but if you are going from a more realistic/hard science approach to your fantasy...........

Okay to summarize, I vastly overthink character age, which is why my human protagonists are mostly young.

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On 2/19/2019 at 8:33 AM, Penguinball said:

(back in the day you died of the plague at 40 at were HAPPY about it)

That's another reason, possibly.  In a 'classic' fantasy adventure story setting, the ties to medieval times are strong, and back then lives were shorter.  Every passing year means another chance for famine, plague, war, accident, or the vagaries of a tyrant to kill you.  Or make you infirm.  Perhaps only the younger people were seen as vital and/or reckless enough to adventure.

Even if we aren't in that specific type of setting, there's still the conceit of vitality equated with youth.  Aching joints, declining eyesight, weaker bladders, weight gain shifts, and stress markers make for different kinds of heroes.  Not that these aren't interesting, but age does things to a body, at various times depending on health maintenance, and it might be that many authors don't wish to deal with these issues.

But I agree with the previous ideas in this thread, largely the concepts if youth ignorance, the coming of age effect, and the wish many people have to be younger.  Younger characters are seen as less fixed in their ways, are more open to changes, theoretically.

I'd have to look through my own stories to see an age range though.

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5 hours ago, Mynoris said:

In a 'classic' fantasy adventure story setting, the ties to medieval times are strong, and back then lives were shorter.  Every passing year means another chance for famine, plague, war, accident, or the vagaries of a tyrant to kill you.  Or make you infirm.  Perhaps only the younger people were seen as vital and/or reckless enough to adventure.

Yeah, the author's individual choices for how they build their faux-medieval fantasy world (which aspects they wanna change and which they don't) comes up a lot when people discuss diversity. It's interesting how the "cult of youth" in our western culture is influencing all kinds of media, with the dominant thought that there's nothing young people can't do, and apparently a whole lot of things a middle aged person can't. I think you're right that a lot of writers don't wanna deal with some of the aspects of getting older, or just having your body not work perfectly (far from every young person is healthy and perfect, and health is so incredibly individual), so it seems it's a kind of wish-fulfillment in play.

 

When it comes to diversity -where race, gender and sexuality is very much talked about- age is discussed very rarely in comparison, so it's interesting to see the thought-processes behind that. Thanks everyone in this thread, you all gave me insight into that. :)

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7 hours ago, Pinchofmagic said:

When it comes to diversity -where race, gender and sexuality is very much talked about- age is discussed very rarely in comparison, so it's interesting to see the thought-processes behind that. Thanks everyone in this thread, you all gave me insight into that. 🙂

I think the reason for this is that physical age inexorably moves forward.  A person's gender may be fixed or fluid, and preferences may change, or it might take someone a while to come to grips with what their preferences are, depending on time and societal norms. Their race is fixed, but culture may be changed.  If someone gets a year older, they are a year older and there's not much that can be done about that, apart from magic/weird science.  And everyone gets to a point where they realize they're never going to be quite as healthy/vital as they once were.  To many people this scary inevitability is too much at odds with the escapism of many fantasy stories.

That being said, it would be interesting to see a bunch of older adventurers that complain about their aches and pains.  

And you're right, there's definitely a level of wish fulfillment there.  Why else would there be so many stories about chasing eternal youth.  We all have to face our own mortality some time.  As the saying goes, everyone dies.

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3 hours ago, Mynoris said:

And you're right, there's definitely a level of wish fulfillment there.  Why else would there be so many stories about chasing eternal youth.  We all have to face our own mortality some time.  As the saying goes, everyone dies.

Oh, absolutely. Dealing with mortality in fantasy is rarely shown as a part of an MC growing old, more like "is that dragon gonna kill our whole team of teenagers?", and that's strikingly obvious in fantasy books from the last couple of decades. I found Terry Pratchett's protags incredibly liberating, because he used older main characters in a positive way, which felt like an incredibly therapeutic idea for combating the fear of getting older, and at the same time kill off some disturbing stereotypes. So I'll definitely aim to write older protags after this, and hope to see more much needed representation, because like you said; age is something that happens to most people, regardless of gender, race and sexuality. :)

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Looking over all my story summaries, I've concluded that the only main characters of mine that are over 30 are vampires, or Gods, or other things with a non-human life-span.  Everyone else seems to be between 16 and their mid-20's.  One character started out as a five year old, but during a time skip she ended up around 16 or 17.  Side characters can be of a much more varied age, but I'm terribly guilty of writing a bunch of young characters in.  Perhaps this is because a lot of these stories were originally written while I was a teen.  A lot of them are based off of dreams I've had, so it makes sense that the characters would be close to my age.

Verdict: Whatever it is that makes people write young characters, I'm afflicted with as well. 🙂

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