As an avid reader of series books, I find myself wondering about the aging of characters. Authors: Do you age your characters over the course of a series of books?
Let's start with Nancy Drew.
Every book in the series had Nancy at about the same age. She was able to drive so she was at least 16 and later books aged her to 18. Her style never changed until the publisher tried to revive the series in the 1990's, and the original Nancy never entered the age of cell phones and computers. (Later attempts to revive the series in 2003 and may have given her a cell phone but this was not the original Nancy.)
As a young reader I never gave much thought to the issue. Now, in my old age, I tend to question how many adventures can a person have within the context of their age and over what period of time do these adventures take place? If you look at Nancy Drew, she had some 150 mysteries to solve between the ages of 16 and 18!
It also took me awhile to realize that Sue Grafton's character Kinsey Milhone never ages either. According to Sue Grafton, Kinsey was born in 1950 but she never gets out of the 1980s. In fact she states right up front that she is 38 years old.
I got all the way to book S in Grafton's alphabet series before I realized this. The clue was that she was still referring to Kinsey's neighbor Henry as being 90 years old.
Is there any advantage to writing for a character who always stays the same?
I guess it would be hard to give a character like Jack Reacher his physical capabilities to fight off bad guys if Lee Child kept adding years to Jack's age!
Hetta Coffey in the Jinx Schwartz "Just Add..." series mentions turning 40. It will be interesting to see if future books in the series keep referencing her advancing age.
That's something us beta readers look for--how old was the character before and how old are they further into the series? Are there inconsistencies in the story with regards to their aging? How does the author help the character keep up with changes in technology and current events?
If you are creating a life for your characters this can be a critical decision in the life cycle of your characters development.