How does spiritual growth relate to the age of a character?
In Creating Unforgettable Characters, Linda Seger points out that older characters in stories experience a deepening engagement with values they might not have entertained during their younger years—values relating to spiritual growth.
Forty and Beyond
Maturity often brings with it a tension between the spiritual and the material in our own lives. Stories about evolving characters, therefore, tend to explore issues that have become more pressing because of the wisdom individuals have earned through experience.
Having achieved successful careers, sometimes at the expense of the inner life, some are ready to shift focus from material pursuits to a more spiritual approach, concentrating on such values as integrity, social conscience and enduring relationships.
”Spiritual growth in a character often, although not always, goes hand-in-hand with a growing maturity associated with age. The stories we write containing such characters should reflect this possibility.”
Some characters even factor in self-sacrifice for the greater good as a viable course of action. Films such as Seven Years in Tibet, Ghandi, Erin Brokovich, and Norma Rae touch on this directly.
The point is that as we mature so does the focus of our attention—from the visceral pleasures granted by material success to the more selfless rewards of value-driven action: from receiving to giving, from competing to sharing, from holding grudges to forgiving. The value system of the characters we write, therefore, ought to reflect this age-related shift. Stories containing such characters will resonate with more mature audiences who recognise these values in themselves.
Stories about maturing characters explore themes that weigh up spiritual growth over material gain.