Seventeen is a wonderful age, so is eighteen. Why? Because you’re ready and rearing for action. You have the freshness of youth but you’re mature enough to know you’re alive and make your own decisions, (if your parents let you). You have the security of a home and money, (unless you’ve already left home) but should have enough freedom to go forth from that base and try new adult-type things. You’re about to leave school (which most of you are over by then), have your whole life ahead of you (provided you don’t crash your car tomorrow) and almost everything is possible, at least in your mind.
Even if you don’t have the grades to be a rocket scientist, you can visualize what it might be like. In your mind, you can try your options out for size to help you decide which direction you want to go in. Once you get over the scariness of choosing a path and the sadness of leaving school, and, for many of you, moving out of home, (even if you hated it, it’s kind of sad when you realise that that time is over), you’ll find your feet itching to get going. You’re ready to embrace the future.
As a fantasy writer, I can throw anything at a seventeen or eighteen year old and know that they’ll handle it one way or another. They’ll even laugh in the face of danger and turn something boring into an absurd game. They’re more likely to accept and adapt to the weird and wonderful, and they have a natural curiosity about what’s out there in the big wide world. Some days they feel invincible (which is great for heroics) and other days vulnerable (which is great for reflection) and they’re not too experienced in hiding their vulnerability (boys try hard but we can still see it) which makes other characters want to care for them. They experience everything very vibrantly, especially the buzz of relationships with the opposite sex and that makes for exciting writing.
Adults can be too close-minded to see what’s in front of them, and refuse to accept things (like my little girl is all grown up) even when it’s thrust in their face. So if you want them to crossover from reality to fantasy, they’re more likely to be boringly resistant. They are more set in habitual ways of reacting and more reticent to try new things, so they may actually refuse to pick up that sword, until it’s too late to save themselves. They also tend to be a lot more serious.
Teens are also more likely to have déjà vu and other senses of being somewhat outside of reality, and people with these sort of experiences are more likely to accept that there’s more to the world than meets the eye. Like Ariel, as a teen, I had a suspicion that we were only seeing the surface of life, and now, like her, I know it’s true.
That’s why the Diamond Peak series evolved around a seventeen year old. Ariel is sick of school, she wants to get out into the world, but she doesn’t know where or what she wants to do. She does know that she wants some excitement in her life though and that makes her a perfect candidate for accepting the challenge of going into the hidden realm to rescue her mother. Yes, she’s scared, but she’s also excited, and trepidation and excitement is a heady mix. Seventeen and eighteen year olds often show that mix of emotions and it gives them a beautiful vibrancy. It can also be exhausting.
Do I have the qualities of seventeen and eighteen year olds right? What else can you tell me about being seventeen?