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Do Your Characters Think About Their Birthday?

September 12, 2019 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as , ,
Blog Title for Denise M. Colby Do your characters think about their birthday balloons and clouds in sky

So do your characters think about their birthdays at all?

Given that this month is my birthday month and it’s a big one for me, I thought I would go with a birthday theme for my post. I actually woke up on my birthday with a million thoughts racing through my head and one of them was my to do list and the need to find a topic for this post. And then the next thought that came into my mind, was what do the characters we write about feel about their birthday each year?

Then I wondered, if writers thought about their characters birthdays at all and if they addressed anything related to birthdays in their stories.

I’ll admit, it certainly hadn’t been something I’ve thought much about.

Questions such as:

  • What do they think of as their birthday approaches? 
  • Do they have memories of certain years and milestones? 
  • How often does someone write a scene that includes a birthday? 
  • And would it be different if we were writing historical or contemporary?
balloons and clouds and blue sky background have you ever written a birthday scene? blog post graphic for Denise M. Colby

I read a lot of books and I cannot recall any of recent talking about birthdays or their age that much. Not that that topic alone would be a fasinating read.

But as I had my fiftieth birthday dangled in front of me most of this year, the way it affected me was an interesting struggle. One I wasn’t expecting or knew how to deal with. I would think those parts might be interesting to incorporate some how in our character’s backstory.

I find it an interesting perspective to include your characters thoughts about birthdays and ages. Maybe no one ever celebrated their special day before. And all of a sudden they are thrown into a family that does. Or every year was made out to be “the one” special event of the year and now they’ve lost loved ones and it isn’t the same.

Also, milestones and how we celebrate them have changed. We grow older than people did a century ago, so there are more birthdays to celebrate. Or large families with ten children did not have a lot of extra funds, so gifts were not as plentiful as they are today. And today families live further away from each other than they did a century ago.

So it would seem the year our book is set would impact how our characters may look at birthdays.

Blue sky and clouds background with balloons with question do you think birthdays have changed much through the years

Do you think the emotions over turning, say, 50, has changed much? What about 18? Or 21? Young adults married at a very young age a century ago, but now most young people wait till they are done with college. So, the focus on what the number means has changed over the years. 

For me, this year has been full of trepidation, reflection, and assessment. Having health issues there have been several times I’ve wondered if I’d passed into a new normal. Low energy, unable to eat certain foods, has made me wonder if I was aging out of my prime. It’s quite comical, actually. What if this was the beginning of the end? I know . . . dramatic, but hey! I have felt it a bit this year. 

So as my birthday approached, and I was trying to answer my husband’s question of what I wanted to do for my birthday, a part of me didn’t want to even address it. A few friends had felt that way as well, and I laughed it off, but when it hit me that way too, well, that was an interesting perspective. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t want to burden anyone or put anyone out. But why? Why did I feel this? 

And my husband, being the gem he is, read between the lines and very patiently walked through question after question, just to make sure he understood. Which was something I really needed. Bless him, he didn’t want to get it wrong!

Birthdays come and go but I don’t think the emotions behind them have changed much.

Some people dread them, some want to celebrate them big, while others try to find something in the middle. Maybe we can take some of the birthday experiences around us and put them in our stories. Maybe not a specific scene, but knowing your characters perspective about their special day in the background may not be a bad way to incorporate why they are the way they are.

Happy Birthday graphic with balloons and blue sky and clouds in the background

P.S. I googled “celebrating birthdays in a romance novel” after I wrote this post and did you know there are actually several stories that are centered around birthdays? I might just have to find a few and read them.

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