Nancy Drew was forever 16 in the original series – over 50 books! In reality, there wouldn’t be enough days in the week for her to solve all those mysteries; but what the heck, it’s fiction, after all. And the choice of whether or not to have your characters age when writing a series is strictly up to you.
Author Janet Evanovich chose to have her famous sleuth, Stephanie Plum, remain a constant 30 years old. (Wish she could have done that for me). But other authors didn’t see it that way.
Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling) grew up in seven tomes that took readers from his childhood to young adulthood before letting us meet him briefly as an adult. Vampire lovers Edward and Bella grew up in Stephanie Meyer’s trilogy as well. Same for Katniss from The Hunger Games. And what about “Anne of Green Gables?” She grew up, didn’t she?
When writing “The Light Rider” time travel series, I chose to have my characters age as well. Aeden was 12 and her brother Ryn was 13 when I first introduced them in Light Riders and the Morenci Mine Murder. I needed to establish their innocence and sense of awe at the whole concept of time travel. But two years later, when they were 14 and 15, awe was replaced by bravado in Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder, ultimately resulting in narrow escapes and harrowing adventures. At 15 and16, my characters were just beginning to understand what they wanted as they headed toward adulthood, creating internal and external conflict in Light Riders and the Missouri Mud Murder. *
I could not have accomplished those things had my characters remained the same age. Sure, they would have solved mysteries but they would always be seeing the world the same way. Age has a peculiar means of changing us. What we thought hilarious when we were 13, we find idiotic at 21. And the risks we are so willing to take as young adolescents are tempered with reason and experience as we get older.
By aging my characters I was able to create more depth in dialogue and a deepening perspective of human nature. Frankly, it’s all about what the author wants. And there’s no right or wrong. Janet Evanovich summed it up in her formidable book, How I Write. (St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 2006 ):
“I’m not interested in creating a realistic portrayal of someone going through all of life’s changes. My goal is to entertain my readers, to make them laugh, to make them think about certain situations and values.”
I’d like to think that I do the same in my novels. But the situations and values change as the characters get older. And that’s a challenge unto itself.
But whatever you decide to do, as long as your characters are believable and well-developed, you won’t go wrong!
· 2013 Summer/Fall Release – Two Cats Press