WHY AREN'T THERE MORE OLDER PEOPLE // OLD SOULS IN FICTION?
From where I'm sitting, movies & books are chockablock with KIDS. I got stuck under a salon dryer in front of a TV playing "If I Stay," & basically the entire time I was half-angry that the girl COULD NOT SEE that the boy was no good, & half in awe that people could get away with making an ostensibly engaging film (??) composed largely of just two teenagers making out & fighting & making out. This is what kids watch? This is what kids read? A bunch of OTHER (thinly fictional) kids blundering around like everything is normal + okay when everything is so obviously NOT normal + okay, without a sensible individual in sight.
1. GET YOSELF TOGETHER
I just finished "Sense & Sensibility," & yes I loved it! I am yours truly too much like Marianne but the fact is I appreciate Elinor & strive to be more like her:
not cast about by every wind + wave of emotion
capable of swallowing my pride for the sake of reason
attentive to the distresses of others despite what i may be suffering myself
In short, MATURE. And guess what? Elinor was only, like, nineteen or twenty years old. Oh em gee, she's just a kid, she's just discovering herself, she's - I can't keep this up. No, Elinor Dashwood, although a fictional character, was written by a young woman basically the same age, & provides proof that YOUNG PEOPLE CAN BE MATURE. The problem is, all of the role models I see snogging around are basically worthless.
2. MATURITY COMES WITH AGE
It's just that, for some of us, it comes faster...or slower...depending on how much you push yourself. You don't have to turn thirty & then suddenly get your act together because now you're an "adult." Nope, you can start much earlier, & it makes an otherwise confusing process just a little less excruciating.*
IF your main character is in that most trying age of being a "young adult" // teenager, why not, for the sake of healthy novelty, SKIP the highschool drama & the boyfriends & the Pinterest & the "adventure is out there" tropes. Instead, you could actually have a sensible, well-balanced, SANE character who is trying to navigate your plot + life & trying not to make too much drama for himself in the process. If your character needs a mental leg up, there's always Mr. Miyagi as a role model additional character. People with sense get better with age, so don't discount the importance of older people helping your stupid clueless teenagers. Because TEENAGERS ARE STUPID.**
(* i look back on my teenage self & think, "...you were an IDIOT.")
(** this is an offensive, broad-brush statement & i hold to it so you can try to avoid being stupid if you are in fact a teenager. forewarned is forearmed.)
3. WE'RE PUTTING THE FATE OF THE WORLD IN //WHO'S// HANDS??
Did nobody think this through? Out of everybody - everybody in the world - the fate of our country / continent / world / universe rests on the shoulders of someone who isn't even old enough to legally drink?? There has been some SERIOUS mismanagement here. Oh, we ALL gonna die. This kid doesn't know how to file tax forms, & he's going to save us from certain destruction? We //ALL// gonna die.
4. OLDER PEOPLE // OLD SOULS ARE NOT BORING
You think maturity is musty & dull? You think "settling down" is the worst thing to ever happen to you? Then you have been delicately sheltered from one of life's greatest truths: BEING MATURE IS AWESOME.
not wrecking your body with drugs + alcohol?
not dealing with hormonal school drama?
owning a house?
having a comfy bed with an actual, dependable bedtime routine?
eating healthy, home-cooked meals that your body will rejoice to eat?
How is this NOT awesome? People who say being wild + crazy is better are either lying or they don't know better. I'M HERE TO TELL YOU BETTER. Sensible, mature people take care of things (laundry, bills, the mysterious prophecy which dooms you to save the world). They know how to handle responsibilities (shopping for groceries, mopping the floors, making sure you don't get stabbed by shadowy brutal enemies while you try to save the world). They have lots of wisdom to impart which you would probably die before attaining on your own (change the air filters in your house, don't turn on your car in the garage without opening the garage door first, never split up or go out at night when something is trying to kill you).
5. YOU DO NOT SEE THE WORLD CORRECTLY
Little young adult characters, don't lose your dreams + ambitions. They give you motivation & help make the world a better place (assuming your dreams don't include becoming a terrorist). But let's face it, you don't even know. At the same time you're dealing with hormonal trauma & you think your life is awful, you also think life is magically hunky-dory & everything will pan out. Well, NO, not if you don't man up & take care of things.
Maturity + responsibility make people STABLE. Your same-age friend is going to freak out & stress along with you (not helpful) whereas a mature adult will give you straight-up common sense advice (very helpful).
6. GROW UP & GET OVER YOURSELF
The teenage years, my little young adult characters, are NOT your golden days. Nope, they're basically a blundering mess & I'm only 26 but I am appalled to see highschool students allowed to drive massive constructions of metal at insane speeds down public roadways. Guess what! If you have any sense of self-betterment, you will seek out maturity, save the world, & have minimal love-triangle drama scars to show for it (they are not a badge of honour, they are just proof of your stupid). Not sure how to be mature? Find someone who is! Trust me, you & your novel will be glad.
+ BONUS COUNTER ARGUMENT:
"But young adult novels with teenagers are so RELATEABLE."
We have friends. We have the internet. We have people who relate to us by the BUCKETload. But if you actually want to improve, you need role models who are BETTER THAN YOU (see, Elinor Dashwood). Drama, heartache, struggles, obstacles to overcome - they happen to mature people too, you know, & mature people JUST GET BETTER. Wouldn't that be a worthwhile type of character to present to the reading populace?
yours truly, 100% tired of seeing reviews exclaiming that the mc was just so dumb