Of Ages and Birthdays

01 Feb

How important are your characters’ birthdays?

Is there a certain religious celebration that comes with a certain age? Perhaps your protagonist must pass a test on their birthday before they “come of age” in their society? Maybe your antagonist had failed their test, stirring up bad feelings?

Harry Potter turning 11 way back in the Sorcerer’s Stone marked one of the most important turning points in his life — finding out he was a wizard. Many YA novels tend to have sixteen be an important birthday for the protagonists and Chosen Ones.

A handful of my protagonists’ ages tend to be, “Ehh, they’re probably in their early to mid-twenties,” and I leave it at that until the characters’ age needs to be concrete. Ages, of course, can be very helpful when figuring out a character’s mentality and physical limits.

How much time do you put into figuring out a character’s age?


Posted by on February 1, 2017 in Home


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2 responses to “Of Ages and Birthdays

  1. Skye Hegyes

    February 2, 2017 at 12:25 am

    I generally know the approximate age of characters in my novels (she/he is [insert age]) but that’s about it. I have never really figured out characters’ birthdays. Puck’s Choice was the first, and even then it wasn’t important (to me) until editing Jenna’s Story almost two years after Puck’s release. It’s the first novel I’ve really thought about all that stuff, and I already know some of it doesn’t exactly jive with each other based on when school starts/ends and all that.

    For the most part, all my characters seem to be on the higher end of the teenage scale. That said, the contemporary romance I’m working on as well as the next romance series I have planned, the youngest character is in their mid-twenties (where I’m at now), and the characters I’m working with now are almost forty. It’s weird. In this contemporary, the only reason I know her age is because I know when she started publishing books and I know how long she’s been doing so, but her age hasn’t ever been said. Her love interest has only been mentioned as being a couple years younger than she is in passing, again with no definite.

    So I think it’s safe to say that age isn’t absolutely important to me as long as I can make everything work in the story, but sometimes the characters’ ages can be figured out based on other context clues in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kris P.

      February 5, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      That all sounds great — I’m glad it’s working out for you! Ages tend to just be a passing thought, even when reading, but it can be a little jarring for me to, say, believe that a character is in his/her/their later teens then the author reveals later in the story that he/she/they are 32. It all comes down to perspective, I suppose, and how/if it works with the writing.

      Liked by 1 person


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