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  1. Some_Bloke

    Some_Bloke Active Member

    Oct 14, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Northern Ireland

    A bit of help determining a character's age

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Some_Bloke, Jan 28, 2015.

    With most of the characters I write, I'm never really completely accurate about their age offering descriptions like "mid-twenties" or "His face was covered in wrinkles and his hair completely grey" instead, at least when it comes to human characters. Aliens and supernatural creatures are different.

    I'm only being specific this time around with a human as it's important to the plot. For my zombie story that's set in Northern Ireland, the closest thing the story has to a "hero" is a single father trying to protect his daughter, who is the only person who gives his life meaning.

    The single father is a determined and paranoid son of a bitch who'll do anything to protect her apart from kill another human being (the undead are fair game though) as he still has hope and does not want to sink to the same level as the undead.

    Her age is important though. The first concept I had for her character was that she was an infant but I decided against it. Babies are boring apart from that extra factor of vulnerability, at least in post-apocalyptic stories

    At the moment I'm thinking she's probably 5-7 years old. My only problem with this is I want a theme, or rather part of his character to be a kind of guilt. He feels guilty that he can't raise her in a more civilized world and that she might not remember her mother.

    "At least she'll never have to pay taxes" - Currently unnamed single father character (he's still in development too)

    Yeah, I know this all sounds cliché' as hell but it's a zombie story. Zombies in themselves are cliché' at this point, that and this story is only a side-project. Anyway, at that 5-7 age there's a bit more potential for an interesting character and an interesting father-daughter relationship (or at least as interesting you can get in a ruddy zombie story).

    I'm against the idea of making her a teenager as I already have a few teenage characters, so I'm keeping her as a child under the age of 13.
  2. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    May 8, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Hmm. You probably have a workable age range there - although given his feelings of guilt I would definitely make her old enough to be able to start articulating what her father would consider "uncivilized" behavior but young enough to not really remember the world before the zombie apocalypse. I would veer on the older end of your range - I'm thinking 7-10 - but it really depends on how long ago the apocalypse was. At first I was thinking that she'd be better off at about 12, but thinking on it further, I think you have an opportunity by making her younger...and slowly watching her emerge from childlike innocence, except that instead of emerging as the little girl her dad expected, she's becoming something her dad sees as monstrous or amoral or unbefitting a young lady or whatever he would think. 5 to me is still a bit young for that but I think 7 or 8 is good, she's coming out of that toddler stage and instead of playing with Barbie dolls she's playing "behead the zombie".
    Some_Bloke likes this.
  3. Wild Knight

    Wild Knight Active Member

    Mar 11, 2013
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    ^ Or better yet: she's playing "zombie head soccer"!:twisted:
  4. J Faceless

    J Faceless Active Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Likes Received:
    New England
    5-7 you pretty much have to watch constantly. They can't do much, like even hold a broom. But at 8-9 you can give more responsibility. He could leave her at home for short periods as he went out, and she could even do things to help out. Like sewing or making food. I mean it depends on how self-sufficient you want her to be,but i WOULD NOT want to be in a zombie apocalypse with a 5 year old.
    Mckk likes this.
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    I'm now imagining certain kids from my first grade class (they're 6-year-olds) and my goodness... yeah. Neither would I. You're bound to get a few who think it's really hilarious to run out just when the zombies are around. That or crying their eyes out.
  6. Bryan Romer

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 26, 2014
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    Child soldiers in Africa can be as young as 7 to 10.
    The youngest soldier in WW1 was a Serbian soldier who was 8 years old.
    The youngest soldier in the US trained Nationalist Chinese X-Force in WW2 was 10.

    So children of a fairly young age can learn to fight and survive if they have to.
  7. Renee J

    Renee J Contributing Member

    Oct 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Reston, VA
    I think any child that survives the initial outbreak would learn to be cautious and quiet. Kids are good hiders, too.
    Some_Bloke likes this.

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