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Writing for Gen Z

One thing I never forget when I write is my audience. Of course, I want to write the story I am meant to write, but I don’t think, as a writer, I can forget about my readers. Who are they? What are their attitudes, beliefs, and values? Likes and dislikes? What is important to them? What do they do for fun? These are all things I believe important for anyone conveying a message. Why is this topic important to me?

Well, because of my day job. In addition to writing novels, I am a professor of communication studies. I am currently on a sabbatical for research, program development, speaking, and writing. Through my writing for young adults and on the subject of technology, I have become increasingly interested in Generation Z (Born after 1995) or, as they are often called, Homelanders. Plus, as a professor, I spend more and more time with Generation Z students.

Here are a few interesting facts about Gen Z:

  1. Their attention span is the shortest of any generation down from 12 seconds for millennials to 8 seconds for GenZ.

  2. They are the most culturally diverse generation in our history.

  3. They also care about the environment more so than their predecessors.

  4. Oh, and did I mention digital?

I became fascinated by the interesting nuances and characteristics of this unique generation and the role they will play in my lifetime (I am from GenX, the parents of most GenZers). I also noticed a difference in their reading choices–they love characters they can relate to and identify with, genre fiction, excitement, and above all else, fast pace. Which, as I’m sure you can guess, has something to do with that shorter attention span. I decided to write my first book geared toward Gen Z.

Fast forward to my completed first novel, Fireflies. Being the theoretical nerd that I am, I tested out my YA novel with some GenZers. I approached a twelfth-grade creative writing teacher about having his class read part of my first book. He agreed! He had his class read the first five chapters of the book and write feedback. Many in the class zipped through the first five chapters quite easily. Some even finished the book. One student read the entire book the same day it was assigned! But the one big take away, the big standout, was what I learned in the feedback. Time and time again the students praised that the chapters/book kept their attention and moved at a fast pace.

The bottom line? If you write, you might want to consider your audience. I know that I do. 🙂


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