Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Characters, can't live with them, can't kill them all...
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?