1. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    Age limit for characters in a romance novel.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GoodTweetyBird, Aug 6, 2013.

    Here’s some quick background on my story:

    Christie (40) works at a high tech company with John(51) and develops a friendship with him. John helps her through some rough times when she divorces and in the meantime gets to know her parents. Christie becomes attached to John but he and her parents convince her to seek a younger companion. After all John is closer in age to her mother, Charlotte (59). John maintains a friendship with Charlotte and her husband. Charlotte’s husband dies and John visits with Christie and Charlotte for a while immediately afterwards but feels he should become more scarce after a while. Several months later Charlotte and John start dating and conflicts and triangles weave their patterns.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Now I read that romance novel characters should be 18 – 24 years old. Shifting everyone’s age down does not seem to work very well. So is it true that a story with characters of these ages is DOA?

    John
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If the answer is yes then that is certainly a sad indictment of our culture. I think a love affair with older characters would have so much more room for complexity given that the players have more history, knowledge, growth and experience.
     
  3. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    Yep, but one of the how-to sites says that ain't where the money is. I know my chances are 1 in 10000 or less but still we aspire.
     
  4. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    There are different categories for romance based on the ages of the characters too. While "normal" romance back be young twenty-somethings, there are mature romance books and even senior ones. If you want to write for the markets, do what the markets say. I bet there would be plenty of middle-aged women who would love to read about romance at their age though.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I realize that writers who aspire to be published (and I'm one of them) want to tailor their submissions in a way that gives them the greatest chance of success. So, we limit our word count, minimize backstory, condense our descriptions, etc. But here the suggestion seems to be to wall off whole realms of storytelling just to fit a marketing niche. My advice is to write the story and, if selling it becomes a problem, call it something other than a "romance".

    I'm also with [MENTION=3885]Wreybies[/MENTION] on this - the notion of a mature romance opens up a world of different dramatic possibilities. It would be criminal to simply lop that off the writer's menu.
     
  6. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    I am with you two, et al. I was really deflated (don't know if men are allowed to be 'crushed') when I read those limitations last night. I can't write the young stuff and sometimes we like a story where we can fantasize and put our self in one of the roles. So I can see the possibility of appealing to my age group. I suppose the title "Caught in the middle" has already been used...

    Thanks all for the uplift.

    john
     
  7. NeonFraction
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    NeonFraction Member

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    I'd say, write the story without ever specifically mentioning how old they are, their wrinkles, etc. But other than that, don't pull any punches. Don't change the characters or their families or jobs or history. Just... don't shove their ages in the reader's face, allow them to think to visualize how they want, and write the story you want.
     
  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, people of that age also read romance, so I can't see why at least they wouldn't be interested to pick something up that doesn't depict the romantic undecidedness of twenty-somethings. It'd be a big audience, I wager. If that's what you are inspired to write, you should definitely go for it. If it's well-written, it'll find a publisher and an audience :)
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    In fact, wouldn't it be at least as big an audience as the twenty-somethings?
     
  10. GoodTweetyBird
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    GoodTweetyBird Member

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    NeonFraction may have a good point here. I could use relative ages, in fact not even use numbers, adverbial phrase modified adjectives "a bit older", etc. I am a bit anal retentive and I gotta have numbers, but what do you think. Will readers want ages to help define the characters. They seem more concrete with actual ages to me. Hah, listen to me. How concrete can a novel character be anyway?

    What would mammamaia say?

    Thanks,

    john
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know that I've read a novel in the past two years that was primarily focused on a romance between a British ex-military man and a woman from a family of Indian (continent) immigrants, who were both at least middle aged. It was by a first-time author, was relatively new when I read it, and was, I believe, very successful. The title contained the man's name and, I think, his military rank. And I can't remember the title; it's maddening.

    But, anyway, that's one example. :)
     
  12. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Go with what you feel fits the story. My current piece, my MC is 28 and her girlfriend is 23, but who cares, they're in love and written well, the ages disappear.
     
  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Possibly, but I don't really know (I have a suspicion older people read more, but got no way to substantiate this).

    That's not a particularly significant age difference, is it? If you think about real life (at least in my case, most couple I know have a bigger age difference than that).
     
  14. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    I just read, on Facebook, that the number one searched term on Adult sites is [MILF] followed by [TEEN].

    So it sounds like the only age bracket for romance that would be *un*popular would be that involving 28-35 year olds. :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  15. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    "These Foolish Things", published in 2004, did rather well - the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" is based on it. So, there is certainly a market for older stories with Romance.
     
  16. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree. The last gent I was with was nearer my parents age than mine.


    I'm a sucker for romance but I admit I probably wouldn't be interested in this story. Not for the protagonists age, but more for John and Charlotte's ages. I guess I consider around 40-45 to be my personal limit with character ages in romance stories - but I'm only in my 20s, so I doubt I'd be the target audience for your story anyway.
     
  17. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    The point is, if the characters are well written and their romance significant enough, the ages, age differences, gay, straight, fat, thin, whatever, should be moot and disappear in the readers eye. Some won't get past it, though. That's on them and their loss IMHO.

    Take my current piece for example. The MC is a lesbian and is involved in (what I think) is a beautiful relationship with another woman. Some people I've shown it to love it. Others are bigoted and hate it. Long story short, just as I stated in my OP, go with what fits the story you are trying to create and don't worry about it.
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson? Wonderful novel.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes! Thank you! It drives me crazy when I can't remember a title.
     
  20. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    The first time the 20-something takes off the 70-something's bra?

    You'll lose 99% of your audience.

    My advice is to be as vague as possible in regards to "suppleness" of skin and the presence or absence of stretch marks and sagging. NO LIVER-SPOT KISSING!

    AT ALL!

    This lady (the one on the right) just turned 70 and has "had some work". You can tell because she told me her boobs just turned 20!

    [​IMG]
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the lovers in the mega-bestseller 'bridges of madison county' were 'middle-aged'... it was not published as a 'romance' genre, but as a mainstream novel...

    'the notebook' takes the lovers up to their 80s...

    write what you want... if the writing is good and the story compelling, it can find its own niche...
     
  22. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't see how you could write a mid-aged character but keep it "age-light" so you can easily switch them to mid-twenties? I mean, you have different set of life issues when you are fresh out of faculty and when you are expecting grand-children... when you are in the high point of your reproductive cycle and when you're on the brink of menopause.... however fit you are and no matter how much botox and silicon your body "contains"... A character written this way is hard not to seem shallow, an empty shell...
     
  23. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry [MENTION=53398]JetBlackGT[/MENTION], my friend....so wrong, so wrong, because as we all know this is the greatest film ever made:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKGze_1DWbE

    Imagine, parchment flesh soft-brushed against the down of your cheek? You take her in your arms, and sing - twirl, dance with the woman of your dreams?

    'Stop, stop,' she says, 'Eugch, eugch, Marlboro, get my Marlboro,' etc
     

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