Assign ages to your characters with the greatest of forethought and care. Character age is
critically important, down to the specific year, especially for females. One or two digits say
more about your character more economically than any other single thing. Consider the difference
between introducing 'DEBRA, 12, . . ' and 'DEBRA, 13, . . ' Every woman who remembers being
twelve and thirteen, or has a daughter that age, knows the world of difference this represents.
The laws of physics keep changing as Debra goes 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. How different is each of
these years in terms of her development, relationship with friends, parents, boys, and her
ambitions and limitations? Consider the years 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25, particularly with regard to
emotional maturity and the biological time clock. Then we have the ultra critical years 27, 28,
29, and then 39, 49, 59.
Each year contains major importance, and should play out in the story as such. The importance should be attached to the phases of a man's life, of course, though the striations seem fewer and farther apart.
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