Can you guess my character’s age?

Brenda Drake has this awesome blogfest contest going on over at her blog. The topic: Can we guess your character’s age?

Being the contest nerd I am (and a huge fan of Brenda Drake’s site), I’ve decided to participate. I’m posting the first 250 words of my novel,  and I am excited to see if I’ve managed to get my MC’s voice right.

I’m going to pop over to everyone’s site to participate. I think this is a fun contest and a great way to interact with other writers. It also lets you know if you’re on the right track with your character’s voice.

So, with that said, here are my 250 words. *rubs hands and smiles really big*


David Heiland leaned over his desk and blew the eraser crumbs from the cat-like eyes staring back at him in his drawing.  Just like in his nightmares, the dragon clung to the castle’s battlement, a lifeless body clutched in one talon. Small horns jutted from the top of the creature’s head and two leather-like whiskers protruded from both sides of its snout. From its neck hung a pendant on a braided chain – a reptilian eye embedded in a swirling web.  Crouched in the shadow of a turret were a man and a woman, their arms raised like shields above their heads, terror etched into their eyes and mouths.

Charlotte closed the bedroom door and tossed her coat on the bean bag chair, burying the gaming controllers.  She peered over David’s shoulder.  “Wow, that’s amazing and creepy.  I can’t get over how real it looks.” She kicked off her sneakers and climbed into the center of his carved, four-poster bed. “Who are the people?”

“My parents,” David said, examining his work.  “You know, it’s funny.  Up until a few years ago, all I ever dreamed of was them being alive.”  He brushed his thumb over the woman in the drawing.  “I used to pretend the front door would open and they’d walk through it, and all would be right with the world.  Now all I dream about is this,” he said, smacking the picture, “and some woman’s voice whispering to me, ‘Your time is nigh.  Be brave’.”  With a flick of his wrist, the drawing pad sailed across the room and landed on the foot of the bed.  “It’s driving me nuts.  I can’t take it anymore.”  He leaned back in his chair and ran his fingers through his hair.

“It’s just a dream, David,” Charlotte said.  “It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Oh, yeah?” David said.  “Then why can’t I get it out of my head?”

“I don’t know,”  Charlotte said, twisting a loose thread in the bedspread.


Don’t forget to hop around the other participant’s sites and leave your comments!

41 thoughts on “Can you guess my character’s age?

  1. I’m guessing a college aged rich kid? The bed makes me think he’s living at home in a bed someone else picked out for him (or that he’s older), but how he moves make me think he’s younger. The idea of his time coming makes me think it’s a coming of age story, but he could be older. There aren’t many clues other than his comment about when he was younger. At this point, game controllers could mean any age (unless they’re an N64 or older one, at which point he’s in college or older).

    This is an odd comment, but depending on the age and game system, ‘the gaming controllers’ is an odd phrase to use. Is it some new, fancy game, or is it a general PS3 (or similar)? I guess my gaming roots are showing.



    1. Oh, David is a very rich kid. interesting you said that about the controllers. He actually has a XBox 360 and PS3 controllers on the floor. Couldn’t think of another way to put it, but I really don’t like the way I have it. Hmm…


  2. I like the beginning, too. The drawing is a great way to sneak in the backstory. Part of me is wondering how he would have a carved four poster bed (pointing to the past) and game controllers (regular today’s teen stuff), but maybe he’s just rich and the bed is part of his parents’ estate? Whatever, I like this a lot. I’ll put him at 17, almost 18, as I’m guessing his time comes right at 18.


  3. I wanna say 20. He seems a bit more adult, not sure why though. Just the vibe I got from it.

    I love love love your opening lines with the eraser bits. I totally pictured it all, actually I blew on my keyboard, no lie as I read cuz I experienced it with him. Great job on that!


  4. Wow I can’t believe how much you have changed your book, I mean the first chapter anyway. I wonder if you have aged him a little bit but then ….I am keeping to 15 – 16…
    I love your blogs by the way, I always read them and enjoy keeping up with your life. I don’t answer them but I do read them. I am not a writer but I am a reader and I would like to continue reading this story. xxx


  5. Judging by the voice, I thought late 20’s and possibly married to Charlotte… But then the gaming controllers and the fact that your blog has lots of buttons devoted to YA, I’m guessing its a YA novel and maybe he’s 15-17. ?? Loved the writing though, and I would read on.


  6. I actually thought he was definitely well into adulthood as well. 30s or 40s. The voice and language sound self-assured and more complex than most YA characters. (Maybe that’s just because of the books I read. 😉

    You have some really good comments already about edit-y stuff, so I’ve nothing to add there. I’m intrigued! Oh, and the rules did say to *not* mention the title either. 🙂 I don’t know if they check up on that. Or maybe that was just in the entry email? *confused now*


    1. Wow, I’m such a ditz. You’re right, the rules did say no titles…I fixed it and now I hang my head in shame…:)

      Thank you for dropping by and guessing at my character’s age. This contest is such an eye-opener.


  7. I’m guessing very late teens to early twenties. So…19 or 20. =)

    As for the writing itself, I felt that Charlotte came out of the blue—we’re looking at this scary picture David’s drawn, and then we have a Charlotte, and I’m confused until I get my bearings again. Maybe have David notice her come in, and then we know we’re still with David, but Charlotte has entered? And Charlotte’s ‘major creep out’ sounded very dated and goody-two-shoes-banter to me, so I might modernize/make it a bit less date-specific. I don’t know…her whole first line feels like it’s trying too hard to portray a young voice, rather than just being a young voice. If that makes any sense, I hope it helps, haha! Good luck! =)


  8. I get the sense of an older man, possibly not even in his 30’s, although if he’s past 40, it isn’t by much. Hope he isn’t only in his teens as he sounds very mature. That could just be because he lost his parents at a young age, hard to tell. I do really like this, though.


  9. Ooh, I am intrigued. I am thinking maybe his parents really are in some other world and he’s dreaming about it, or something that happened to them, or what will happen to them.

    I’d guess he’s in his early twenties. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact age beyond that guess. Maybe 21?

    Two edits my picky editor self noticed:

    Now all I dream about is this” he said, –There should be a comma after “this” and before the quotation mark: Now all I dream about is this,” he said

    “Oh yeah?” –And there should be a comma between those two words.


  10. First, I really liked this and would read more.
    I’m going against the grain here and vote early 20s. He sounds more settled in his skin than a mid teen. I’ve read over and over it to try and decide why, and I can’t put my finger on it. Sorry, wish I could give a better reason.

    And I loved your description of the dragon. The pendant necklace was a nice touch. I immediately wondered what the eye in the web represented.


  11. I’m guessing 15. And ditto what swiftscribbler said–the body cues were a bit off. I also thought David was on the bed at first & the same confusion with “Her arms folded across her shoulders”.

    I like the voice a lot, but I found the description of the dragon a tiny bit cliché. Are there other details you can give us about the dragon that make it original, frightening, even? Keep up the good work and good luck! 🙂


  12. Hi J,

    I’m gonna guess 17.

    I really like your entry. I love Jennifer’s suggestion, and my only other comment would be to neaten up the clues to their physical location. With him drawing, I imagined him sitting at a desk, then when she kicked off her shoes to get on the bed, I thought he was on the bed, since she didn’t walk anywhere. Then I was really confused because she had “Her arms folded across his shoulders” because the bed’s a “carved four-poster” so I assumed he’d be leaning on the headboard. Then at the end he’s in a chair. I was totally confused! Also, I don’t know what “Her arms folded across his shloulders” means.

    I thought the dialogue was great though and really loved your description of his drawing–I could totally picture it!

    Good work and good luck!


  13. Great job on the voices, Jenny. The only big thing I see other than minor editing is that it could use a dramatic break in David’s speech between “My Parents” and “I can’t take it anymore”


    “My parents,” David said, examining his work. “You know, it’s funny. When I was little, all I ever dreamed OF WAS THEM BEING ALIVE.” HE BRUSHED HIS FINGERS GENTLY ACROSS THE DRAWING OF THE WOMAN. “I USED TO PRETEND THEY WERE ALIVE, AND WOULD WALK THROUGH THE DOOR ANY MINUTE.” HE SLAMMED HIS FIST ON THE PICTURE. “Now all I dream about is this and some woman’s voice whispering to me, ‘Your time is nigh’ and ‘Be brave’.” With a flick of his wrist, the drawing floated to the foot of the bed. “It’s driving me nuts. I can’t take it anymore.”


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