Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Characters, can't live with them, can't kill them all...

Morgan's post yesterday about perspective got me thinking about my own characters and their unique perspective.

And, a lot of times, their perspective changes base on their age.  Or, for the politically correct, their generation.

In the day job, I work with a lot of different age groups.  One of the trainings given by our human resource people was on generational differences.  Of course, as I'm learning about Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, I'm thinking about the characters in my story.

My small town stories tend to have a traditionalist character, usually the grandfather or father in law, who gives the main character stability and is loyal and hard working, and a little tech challenged. My grandfather never believed a man walked on the moon, especially after he visited Idaho's Craters of the Moon state park.

My main characters tend to fall into the Gen X generation.  Latch key kids who value work life balance, know their way around a personal computer, and don't worry about job stability, because they know it's a fairy tale.

Why is it important for you to understand the generations while writing your story?  Because these broad categories give your character a shared history you can tap into for material.  Ask who remembers where they were when the Challenger blew up.  What about when Kennedy was shot?  Or who liked Ike?

Your 25-30 year old character, probably can't relate to these events unless it's through a historical lens.  But they can give us an extensive list of The Simpson's episodes or where they were on 9-11.

So, are your characters acting their age?


Morgan Mandel said...

It does make me feel old when those younger than I am have not witnessed a lot of what I consider important events in my lifetime.

Morgan Mandel

Lynn Cahoon said...

Yes, but think of all the ways you can torture your characters with the historical differences. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

My protagonists are usually 30-somethings, and sometimes I have to stop and think to remember what exactly history is to them. Great post.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Carol, I think being aware of the differences you can use the material.

Thanks for stopping in!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

H'mmm, never even thought about the history angle except maybe subconsciously.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Funny, the things you learn about writing at the day job. LOL

Kathleen Kaska said...

I taught adolescents for years; what an education for ME. They taught me to look at the world through their eyes. It was so rewarding when I was able to broaden their prospective on life. However, I must admit they broadened mine much more. The Kennedy assassination for me was their 9-11. The incidents were different; the feeling the same. Thanks for making me think this morning, Lynn.