Watching Your Characters Grow Up

growingoldOne of the exciting things for me as both a reader and a writer is watching our characters evolve, grow and most importantly, grow up. It’s rewarding to experience their growth. It’s also a little melancholy.

Take, for example, the Harry Potter series. We readers get to see Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest get older, smarter and more accomplished with each book. We enjoy their successes, lament their failures..and mourn those characters that die over the course of the series. When the books were done, we knew that the adventures we lived vicariously through the characters were over. At least that series of adventures.

And nothing would ever be the same.

It’s very much like being a parent. We celebrate when our children hit those big milestones: learning to walk, talk, going to school, graduating, having their own families and so on. As we celebrate, we also are sad that things will never be the same again.

I know – putting on my writer’s hat for a moment – the day will come when my characters outgrow their books and the series (I’m thinking specifically of Mik Murdoch, right now) will be over. I both look forward to that day and hope it never comes. But, because I am aging the character with each book, unless I want to eventually write, Mik Murdoch, Geriatric Superhero the end must happen. Perhaps I should some day do that. Imagine a wheelchair bound superhero wreaking holy hell on the nursing home. 🙂

At the moment, I don’t think I’m quite ready for that.

I also think (again, writer’s hat is on) that avoiding growing the characters up so the series never ends is doing the characters and the readers a disservice. Life is about growth. Sometimes that growth is because of things we’ve learned from mistakes we’ve made and sometimes it is simply the passage of time. Either way, it is natural and should be pursued.


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