Tags:
  1. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    274
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow

    Let me peek into your (old) minds

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by MusingWordsmith, Sep 16, 2018.

    Hello! As some of you may have seen me talk about here and there on the forum, I'm writing a story where one of my two MC's is elderly.

    Now I'm a sassy young whippersnapper a lot closer to my POV character, but that doesn't mean I want to end up writing an 'old person stereotype' on my other character either. Some advice on how to accurately write an elderly type would be welcome.

    More details about this specific character: Her name is Mahuru, she's a widow, and all her kids have grown up and found their own places. She's also a fantasy race I made up (and then found out Skyrim beat me to it). A cat-like race I have dubbed 'apumet'. She lives in a 'prehistoric' sort of time, and my second MC (Sharon, also an apumet) has come back in time to accompany her on a Quest. The Quest has hugely important ramifications on their race's culture even up through second MC's day. (I'm using the 1980's as inspiration.)

    I would like them to be mirrors/foils to each other in some way. The younger time-traveller is the free-spirited type, and I think it'd be fun for the older one to also have that character trait, but a bit- suffocated under the weight of her years? Either way, I'd like to give them a dynamic where they butt heads initially, but eventually they grow and learn from each other.
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    22,439
    Likes Received:
    16,584
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Mahuru will be more able to see the patterns of life, of behavior, than the younger character. People experience time differently as they age, and the short explanation of why is that when more completely new things happen in a given period, this will make that period seem longer to us because of so much new data. As you get older, "completely new" is a harder dynamic to encounter.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-time-seem-to-speed-up-with-age/

    I think Mahuru will also be more open to engage things as broad ideas and not dwell on the highly specific. As you get older, so many things you thought were immutably true turn out to clearly be very mutable or just not true at all, so minutia becomes something you stop caring about (investing in?) so much. You look for larger things in life, which can also equate to simpler things.

    I'm not elderly, btw. I'm only 48. But those would be my personal observations of older me vs younger me.
     
    jannert likes this.
  3. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    5,776
    Likes Received:
    3,543
    I think as you get older, you are more precious with your time. You have more responsibilities, and just less time to waste. You have less energy too, and the things that used to entertain you no longer entertains 'cause they're all "just the same things again", as it were.

    I once read how as you get older, you start having friends for specific purposes - a tennis partner, someone to go out for drinks with, a work colleague, etc. Your relationships become more defined by purpose and less "let's just have fun" type.

    I'm only 31 by the way, so hardly old :p While I still enjoy hanging out with teenagers, the most insufferably age is probably those in their early 20s. Just because they've got a job, they believe they're truly adult now and know the world, but their attitudes are as generalised as adolescents', but without the openness and flexibility of an adolescent. They still have this "Aren't I so smart?" smugness about them, where they say things with this glint in their eye like "How amusing that you disagree with my complete smartness and infinite knowledge. Now I've proved you wrong." But because they're not 15 anymore, you find it way less forgivable. Ugh...

    My apologies to those who read this who're in their early 20s...
     
    BayView and Iain Sparrow like this.
  4. prettyvisitors

    prettyvisitors New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2018
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    8
    My current WIP has an old person/young person duo too, I find that the natural option is that the youngest person is more excitable but more insecure while the other is hardened by a long life, but more confident in their opinions than the kid. This is where they would butt heads IMO
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    14,149
    Likes Received:
    11,248
    How old?
     
  6. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    Messages:
    885
    Likes Received:
    717

    I read an article some time ago, about how the mind deals with the passing of time, that is recording new experiences while largely ignoring the mundane day-to-day replays. He said that we live 75% of our lives in the first 25 years or so. You don't ever again fall in love for the first time, or score your first goal on the soccer pitch, or recall anything so vividly as the first time it was done. The best parting-gift of youth, I think, is that you would never, ever want to go back. I like being older.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  7. Dolphin laughter

    Dolphin laughter Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2018
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    55
    Although the body’s physical abilities may be limited with the aging process, the inner consciousness of an elder is, IMO, ageless...of course providing the mind is still sharp without debilitation. With that said, Mahuru may match Sharon on the same ‘spirit’ level. One may be in their sixties or seventies and still feel ‘within’ like a 30 year old, but with decades of knowledge from life experience to draw upon when confronting life. Mahuru has fulfilled her obligations as a mother which may have been a huge sacrifice of personal goals and dreams. Those dreams had to be shelved until the kids were grown and out of the nest. Now Mahuru is free to pursue whatever she chooses. I applaud you for throwing together two characters of very differing ages. Wisdom and youth working, playing and learning from each other is a dynamic and potent mix.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,091
    Likes Received:
    11,735
    Location:
    Scotland
    There is something to be said for still being the age you always were, in your own mind, anyway. I'm 69 years old, and so many things about me feel the same as they ever did. At least in my own head. I look in the mirror and do get a bit of a shock.

    I have to say that while my life has had ups and downs, in general I'm happy with it. I have done a lot of things I never thought I would do, including move to another country, become a citizen there, and begin to fit in and lose some feeling for where I used to be. I've become more confident in many ways. However, I also think the core 'me' is the same as it ever was.

    In my case, anyway, the older I get the less I give a shit about what other people think of me. That doesn't mean I'm rude, but I do find it easy to not take criticism or personal attacks to heart any more. I do worry about some things, and I've become more security conscious and set in my ways, because I know my ability to bounce back isn't as agile as it used to be. Constant change is also beginning to irritate me. Change often feels like re-inventing the wheel, which seems to me to be a waste of time, especially if the change results in something less pleasing or less efficient than what I have or do now. However, if somebody doesn't like me, or doesn't like what I do or say, or how I keep house, or dress ...tough. Life is definitely getting shorter. Even if I stay in perfect health, I've only got about 20 years left. So there's not only the feeling that if I want to do something I'd better do it now, but also if I DON'T want to do something, I don't have to.

    I don't think of myself as 'old.' However, when I was in my twenties, I would have thought of somebody pushing hard at being 70 was 'old.'

    One of my favourite memories, from back when I was still in the USA and in my early 30s, is meeting up with an elderly friend of mine on the street one day. She was 86 years old at the time, and trotting along the sidewalk (in her Birkenstocks) with a book under her arm. I asked her where she was headed, and she said: "I'm on my way to read some stories to a little old lady on Fessenden Street." :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
    Wreybies likes this.
  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The Caliph of al-Abama Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    8,055
    Likes Received:
    13,159
    Location:
    Seat 29e, Air Gradia 452
    One thing you notice as you get old(er) is the way time compresses on you. For a child, a year is a double-digit percentage of their life, but as things progress the years get shorter and shorter. 15 years isn't enough to get ready for retirement, how could 9/11 have been seventeen years ago, have I really lived in this apartment for over a decade, have I really been married for nearly a third of my life?

    And that's at 47.
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    10,135
    Likes Received:
    10,659
    I'm only in my forties, but I definitely agree with @jannert that the older I get the less I care about what other people think of me. I spent a lot of my younger time worrying about dressing the "right" way or impressing my friends or whatever other nonsense, and I just can't be bothered with any of that anymore. It's a kind of self-confidence, I think. I know who I am, I know my strengths and weaknesses, and it would take a HELL of a lot for someone else's opinion of me to shake my own self-knowledge.

    And I definitely agree with the time-compression. I'm thinking in decades, now (in my thirties I did X, in my forties I'm doing Y, and in my fifties I plan to do Z...) where I used to think in years or even months.
     
    jannert and Iain Aschendale like this.
  11. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    274
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Thanks ya'll for all the replies! I've been mulling it over and might be severely switching up this dynamic now. Now I'm liking the idea that Mahuru was a younger widow, and her last kid has just taken off. So she takes off on her journey, with Sharon coming in a few days/week into it. Mahuru isn't happy about this overly-smug twenty-something crashing her Quest. Sharon doesn't care, she's off on an adventure with her hero!


    Thank you for the insight! That does make sense to me, I'll be working to include this in Mahuru's characterization.

    I'm in my early twenties. :p But I think I know what you mean. That sounds like a fun way for my two to clash, actually. As for the other part- I suppose I'm trying to characterize Mahuru as someone who's free from responsibilities and has decided to take off to do this thing she's always wanted to before she runs out of energy too.


    Yeah this makes sense, I've adapted a bit. Thanks!

    I- probably need to nail this down better. I have a terrible time-sense, and no solid idea what would be a good age for the 'stage' I've decided on. Maybe late fifties/early sixties?

    That makes sense. Thanks for the input!

    Thank you! It felt right for this story to have this sort of age gap going on. I do want Mahuru and Sharon to match on some level- probably some free-spirited trait. I do see Mahuru as having had life swamp some of her dreams. Oooh maybe this Quest was something her husband planned to do with her but kids happened and then he died before they could. She knuckled down, took care of her responsibilities, and then when they were all finished she went back to where she'd left off.

    Thanks for the insight! This is really helpful. The confidence thing was something I don't think I'd grasped but it does make sense, and I'm adapting the characterizations and dynamic to suit that. The security/change thing- I'm having to think about it more but I think I've gotten a characterization in mind to work with that. Her age can add on to how grumpy she is this young whippersnapper showed up and crashed her quest.

    Thanks for the input! Time compression seems to be a big theme. I'll definitely look for ways to include that.

    Good to hear more thoughts! Appreciate it!
     
    jannert likes this.
  12. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    11,091
    Likes Received:
    11,735
    Location:
    Scotland
    I forgot to mention, as an older person I think you become more realistic about what you can and can't do, and what you can and can't accomplish. However, this can go overboard a bit, in that it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you're too old for something, or will struggle to do something that you can actually do.

    I was worried that as an older person I had lost the ability to 'study,' when I applied for my UK citizenship, back in 2014. The UK government sets an extremely rigorous written test you must pass in order to get citizenship these days. They only give you 20 questions on the actual test, but you're only allowed to get four of them wrong. If you miss more than four you have to re-apply and resit the test—and each time you apply it costs a fair bit of money. So there was an incentive to study hard, and I did it.

    The test is all about British history, British culture and civic affairs, geography, and the workings of government, and it was anything but 'easy.' It was peppered with statistics, dates, etc. (What is the population of Birmingham, etc.) I first thought I probably was going to struggle, then I got down to it and discovered that not only could I do it, but I could do it to a high standard, as long as I studied hard. I passed first time with no misses and no guesses—and I was the first person in my group of 40 people to finish taking the test that day. As an older person, though, I took no chances. I had practiced every day, answering ALL the potential questions I might be asked, until I knew I had every one of them down. As a younger person I might have been tempted just to wing it.

    However ...I do accept I will never do speedskating again. Nor will I ever be a ballerina.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  13. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    274
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Thanks for this additional input, this actually sparked an idea how to re-introduce a plot point thing I liked. My whole book is centered on having these two go on this Quest, but I could have it to where it seems 'small' at first. Just a short journey. But then it turns out to be bigger than that, and Mahuru is seriously considering giving up and going home, but Sharon talks her into continuing.
     
  14. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Active Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2018
    Messages:
    334
    Likes Received:
    278
    Looks like you got this figured out, but let me say that this story sounds really interesting! I might even be interested in checking it out if you ever share any of it someplace!
     
  15. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Lively Fred

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2016
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    274
    Location:
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Right now I need to write it, but I'll keep you in mind when I'm at the beta-reading stage!
     
    BlitzGirl likes this.

Share This Page