Q&A: Can an Adult “Come Of Age?”

Q: Your Q&A article on “Coming of Age Stories” was a great help. But is it possible to have a coming-of-age story for a middle aged man? Perhaps a part of his growing up was taken from him and he still has to learn to carve his own path, even though he’s well beyond the age you describe in your article about these types of stories.

A: Technically, no. A middle-aged man would already be “of age,” so he can’t just now be leaving his childhood. But that really shouldn’t matter to you, because lots of stories involve heroes who must overcome the wounds of childhood, confront a hostile world, and ultimately define themselves and determine their own destinies. This would certainly describe the heroes of Good Will Hunting, About a Boy, The 40-Year Old Virgin, and Frozen, among many, many others. (I explore the nature of wounds and character arcs in much more detail in The Hero’s Two Journeysand in the article “Revealing Your Hero’s Wound” .)