Friday, October 2, 2009
First Friday... Poll!
Okay, I was starting to get sloppy about how I handled my fiction contests, so for the First Friday of October, I'm going to do a poll instead. Writers, HOW OLD ARE YOUR CHARACTERS?
The survey is over there => in the right-hand column, and you can answer more than once if you have multiple books or multiple main characters of differing ages in one book. Answer as you feel best represents you and your work.
(And yes, I know it should be "older/younger than I [am]" but I've abandoned technically correct grammar in favor of the colloquial phrase that simply sounds better.)
I first starting thinking about this question back when I wrote my Class of 2013 post. I suspect that most of us write about main characters who are the same age as ourselves or younger, simply because it's easier to put ourselves inside the heads of people who are at a life stage that we've actually experienced. It's the same reason that many writers write about characters who are the same gender/sex as themselves -- it's always harder, and therefore riskier, to portray a point of view that you've never actually had.
Obviously there are exceptions. I love Nick Hornby's How to Be Good ( first-person p.o.v., female) and Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box (third-person limited, male character about 20 years older than the author). And I didn't pick my main character's age because I thought it was easy, I picked it because I felt it was suited to the moment in her life that I wanted to capture, and because it was suited to the events she experiences in the book... but I did choose the story in part because of my own ideas about the importance of learning about oneself at a certain age (mid-to-late 20s)... and I have those ideas because I myself have already gone through my 20s.
Writers, tell me more about your own work! Who do you write about? Why did you choose characters who are old/young/in-between? Was it easy or hard? Do you think your audience will be the same as as those characters?
And for everyone, do you like to READ about people your own age? Younger? Older? Do you like characters who mirror some part of yourself, or characters who have nothing in common with you whatsoever? Or does it just not matter?