4/5/07

Age is Relative

I recently attended the LDStorymakers Conference and received a recommendation from a couple of authors that I increase the age of my main character (it is a romance novel). At the beginning of my book, she is 19 but the bulk of the book transpires when she is about 23-24. What age range would you recommend? Is 25 still too young? Thank you.

I generally don't like to have a character introduced at one age, then jump forward in time five years to where the story actually takes place. You can sometimes get away with this in fantasy by using a prologue, but prologues aren't really the "in" thing right now. Maybe it's tolerable if something happens to the character as a very young child, and for some reason it needs to be described in real time, and then you jump ahead 20 years. But even then, it usually is going to be better to start the story at her current age, then fill in the backstory at appropriate intervals.

As to what age your main character should be, it depends on the story you're writing. Teen romance is fine, if it's not explicit or too sensual and follows LDS dating standards and guidelines. Romance in your early 20s is fine, and generally this is when most LDS girls fall in love and get married so I don't see a problem with it.

Not knowing anything about your story, I can't say why the authors thought your character needed to be older or if they are correct in that advice. But if those advising you are successful published authors in your genre, I'd probably listen to what they had to say.

2 comments:

Sariah S. Wilson said...

I probably shouldn't have an opinion since I've never seen the manuscript in question nor know the question asker, but I royally hate romances where the women are older.

I know there are lots of people who enjoy romances written about women in their late 20s, 30s, 40s, on up, but it doesn't interest me. I like the fresh bloom of first love.

So know that you will have an audience even if you keep your heroine on the younger side. There are people like me who want to read it.

Josi said...

I've always heard that teenager girls want to read about a girl a few years older then themselves, anticipating what's ahead for them. but once they hit 17, they skip right to adult romances. Adult romance readers don't generally like reading about younger heroines (unless it's like Regency, where women were married at 17). And the trend I've heard lately, from American Romance Writer's of America and other authors is that women are generally wanting older heroines--late twenties and above. The reason being that lower twenties women have a tendency to seem silly and don't have as much life experience behind them. But a woman in her thirties has been independent, has learned about the world yada yada.

I am one that prefers this trend, I'm in my early 30's and don't have a lot of interest in twenty one year old college kids--UNLESS the story if fabulous. There is an exception to every rule, but the important part is knowing why the rule is there in the first place so that you break it the right way.

I think the point is to know your audience--who are you writing for and what do they want to read about? Some stories can't be changed, you need a certain age, and other's can be. So it's just whatever works for you and your story...and your audience.

I taught the Romance class, and I did bring this up. If you were in that class and I didn't explain it well, my apologies. I'd be glad to clarify more if you'd like. Best of luck.