1. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    From Child to adult

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by kingzilla, Apr 19, 2012.

    In a number of successful young adult series(Harry Potter being the most successful), each book represents a year or something similar. They might start at age 12 in the first book and the last book they might be 17 after five books after finishing the main plot. Has this been used too many time to be successful or is it the other way around -- perhaps it is a way to be successful. I am using something kind of similar, not exactly the same, but I wanted to hear some thoughts about it.
     
  2. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't write something in those lines, personally, but if you are up to it, everything counts as long as it is well-written. Just make sure you will stick with the brain and emotional development of whatever aging characters you will use in your book series and you don't really have to worry with anything else.
     
  3. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Coming of age drama is a well-used plot device because it allows the reader to trace the character development arc. Make sure there is a character development arc if you are doing so.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An important feature of coming of age stories is a crisis point that brings about an epiphany.
     
  5. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    Thanks for the tips, I appreciate them. One queston though, to you Cogito, can you explain what you mean by having a crisis point that brings epiphany.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A major event that tests the character's principles, or places the character at risk, or places the character in a moral dilemma (two or more conflicting priorities). By resolving, or even by failing, the crisis, the character is changed substantially.
     
  7. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    That makes sense for that kind of novel. Thanks for the quick reply.
     
  8. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Series often work well if each book represents the same amount of time, whether it is a year, a month, or a week. It could also be six months, or four, etc. It gives the reader a sense of consistent passage of time. I haven't seen it, but the TV series 24 makes great use of this concept; each episode is 1 hour and each season is 1 day.

    As far as coming-of-age series go, one year per book works really well for many reasons:
    1) Each year of our lives kind of feels like a chapter. It has it's own theme, it's own moral, etc. This is especially true with children because each school year brings new teachers, classes, etc., and is segmented so clearly by 3 months of summer. They grow up considerably on a year-by-year basis.
    2) The adolescent ages, about 12-18, are crucial to identity formation. These years are critical for any coming-of-age story, and are emphasized by stretching the series over these years.
    3) It takes about a year to get a book in print (if you are on schedule, that is). This means that, as the character grows up, your readers are growing up as well. Since I was about Harry's age when his first book came out, I kind of feel like I grew up with him.
    4) Along those same lines, if your series ever gets adapted into a movie, it takes just over a year for a movie to be made. This means the actors will grow up congruently with the film production. (This was a big problem for the TV show LOST. The story wasn't progressing alongside the character's ages, and the child character 'Walt' was written out of the story primarily because he got too old.)

    I'm not too worried about my series ever being made into a film, so I'm fine making each book about a month time. It's a time frame that really works for my story, which is the most important part.
     
  9. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I hate coming of age stories. Real people don't grow up in epiphanies - they grow up gradually, often not realizing they've grown a certain way until several months after it's happened. Most coming of age stories come across as really fake because they suggest that people go from child to adult in the space of a couple of months.

    But what you're talking about is not a coming of age story. It's a much more slow and realistic kind of portrayal of growing up. If you go with a lengthy series where one year = one book, you have room to portray someone gradually getting more mature, so gradually that people may not even notice until they reread the early books and see how immature the character seemed. (I know rewatching the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was amazed that I hadn't noticed how much she'd grown over the series.)
     

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