The Concept of Aging and Time in Novel Writing


Cute, eh? That’s me, more years ago than I’m prepared to acknowledge. I think I was barely two.

Then I was five … 

… and suddenly eighteen.

And now? Let’s not even go there! I’m looking back through the years since then and shaking my head at all the changes they’ve brought. Aging means more than accumulating a few grey hairs (okay, so it’s more than a few), and arthritis. I like to think there have been significant accomplishments and contributions along the way, and perhaps a smidgeon of wisdom gained, too. One sure thing is that time doesn’t hover motionless as the calendar pages flip.

Authors are confronted with the need to provide realistic aging in stories and series that span large periods of time. Consider Alex Haley’s ROOTS, a multi-generational family history written in 1976, and the Cleary family saga, THE THORN BIRDS, written in 1977 by Colleen McCullough. The latter covers more than sixty years while four-year-old Meggie transitions into a mature woman.

J.K. Rowling didn’t face that dilemma to the same extent, but when it came to filming her HARRY POTTER series, the actors were challenged to retain the aura of school children over a period of several years. There’s an interesting video here that shows the ten-year aging process of Daniel Radcliffe.

Historical fiction may take us into a previous era, but a contemporary series must deal with the element of time, too. Which brings me to ask if you’ve written novels that require you to cope with the passage of time, be it in a character or a community.

What things would need to be taken into consideration when writing a saga or series?