As I grew up the majority of my characters grew up with me. When I was 16 my main characters were 16. When I was 18 they were 18. Now I am at a point where my characters are a little bit older than me. Their ages are also more varied. I am now 19 turning 20. My main character is about 23. Her friend is 20. My two other characters are 21 and 24. Any side characters are the age that makes the most sense to them.
I think the reason why my characters were always the same age as me was because I was making them who I wanted to be. I made them not lonely. I gave them friends and people to talk to. I made them strong in a way I could never be. I think this because the time period when I did this was when I was in high school. Before then my characters were different from me but they were not who I wanted to be. Zach who was my earliest actual character was a delinquent. I was not and never wanted to be one. Now after high school is the same except that now I see myself reflected clearly in my characters. I also try to make them more realistic within their setting.
How I have created my characters has changed a lot since high school even though it has only been little over a year since I left. Now I take my time and write out who my characters are before writing their story. Before I would just write without planning and my characters would be too perfect. They were strong warriors who were afraid of nothing. They were as different from me as they could be but the same could be said about them being compared to any other person on earth. The fast that I added strength that I could never have made them unrealistic. I am glad that I have changed my character creating habits.