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Creative Writing/Estimating ages of characters


Hello, and thank you very much for being willing to answer questions. The part of my brain that is in charge of recognizing and analyzing faces is substantially impaired by  the disorder known as prosopoagnosia. This messes up several important things, age estimation -- not only when it comes to real people, but also when it comes to portraits of fictional characters.

You see, I write science fiction, and in fact some of this includes "fan fiction." I can't guess the age of the character who in the picture attached here, as the character's age not stipulated by the source material.

I feel as though he was my friend, even though he was "just" a fictional character, and was never "real" in our universe.

I know the exact date and place of death of this character. I have even written a  eulogy poem for this person. What is more, I know it to be a superb and moving eulogy. Yet, I have no clue how old the character was at the time of this picture. All I know is that the picture is portrayed as having been taken in 2185, and that 26 years before, this character's grandfather was of military fighting age.

I know it is a very unusual request, but can you help me estimate the age of the character in this picture? I would also welcome any advice on how to estimate the ages of real people just by looking at them. This human capability has always appeared to me to be like incredible magic.

Thanks very much.

Hi Julian!

Interesting request.  Sure!  I'll do my best to help you here.

Well, for starters I can tell that because of his baldness, white hair on the sides of his head, as well as wrinkles forming on his brow and under his eyes, he's definitely not very young.

Men generally start to get gray hair in their 30s, white hair in their 40s or later, if at all.  Balding typically starts between a man's 30s and 60s, more commonly later than earlier.  Wrinkles start to appear so pronouncedly around a man's 40s or later.  Given all this, I would estimate this man's age between 45-60.

So I hope that helped, and I hoped that last bit of info was helpful in determining a person's age.  Unfortunately, things like hair loss and graying can vary quite widely.  However, on average graying and balding start in a man's mid-30s, and the more bald the man is or the whiter his hair is the older he is likely to be; complete balding usually doesn't start until a man's 40s and whiting until a man's late 40s or 50s.

Wrinkles tend to be more consistent; it's virtually unheard of to see wrinkles in someone in their 20s and very uncommon in a man's 30s, and they usually aren't especially pronounced until a person's 40s or later.

Also, ethnicity plays a part.  Asians tend to develop these physical features later than Westerners.

Take care!

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Brian Connelly


I can answer questions about how to start writing creatively, how to keep motivated to finish a creative writing project or write creatively on a consistent basis, how to come up with creative writing ideas and how to improve creative writing in general.


My university major was English literature, and I've been a (mostly) amateur writer for about 20 years.

Quill Books Poetry Anthology Local Alaskan newspaper

Bachelor's in English Literature (North Carolina State University)

Awards and Honors
Editor's choice award for one short story and one poem Three published poems in national anthologies

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