The Generation Y Writing Style

Molly McKitterick is on vacation this week, and handed the reins of her blog over to me, the Word Process Intern, for the time being. Earlier this month, Molly addressed the social networking website Facebook to illustrate the importance of building suspense and leaving things out as a way to make the reader want more. As an avid Facebook user and aspiring writer, I would say that Facebook demonstrates another element that is especially relevant to today’s writing world – it caters directly to the major stereotype of my generation: short attention spans and the need for instant gratification. This style of writing, characterized by short, to-the-point spurts, is popping up all over the place, from the rise in graphic novels, to Twitter, to blogs like this one. Don’t want to watch a whole movie? There are millions of 30 second video clips designed for our entertainment on Youtube. Interested in a new subject, but don’t want to comb through textbooks to get the basic idea? Get the highlights off Wikipedia. Just plain bored? What’s particularly interesting is the rise of prestige these mediums are receiving. Literary humor website McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, started by writer Dave Eggers, has both jump started careers of new writers, and been graced by contributions from established and respected veterans. And none of the pieces are longer than 250 words. So what does this mean for my generation and reading? I hardly believe the internet will give rise to the death of novel, as many pessimistic literary figures have prophesied. Successful novels will adapt to their audiences, as they have for centuries. An original voice and a story that drops those captivating little bursts of what the reader craves – plot lines, character development, interesting dialogue – like breadcrumbs into a forest will have its audience committed for hundreds of pages and hours of attentive reading, even if the reader is under 30.