Characteristics of “Millennial Fiction”

Here are some of the themes we can expect “Millennial Fiction” to tackle, based on the many nonfiction studies that publishers, magazines, newspapers, and blogs have thus far unleashed.

Click on each for a more detailed exploration.

  • Purpose: In contrast to many other generations still living, Millennials struggle with a sense of purpose, a single unifying experience to bring them together in a noble way.
  • Over-Programmed: Millennials are overloaded with programming (call it “hypertext syndrome”), and are often overwhelmed by options.
  • Expectations of Identity: Millennials suffer under inflated expectations of identity, and have been raised to feel “special” and “unique” as individuals.
  • Generational Studies: Millennials have been studied and categorized as a “generation” their whole lives, and are also accustomed to public debate about who they truly are.
  • Conformity: In contrast to the loners and outcasts of Generation X, and the counter-culture of the Baby Boomers, Millennials have been raised to be conformist, even when they are rebellious.
  • Values and Priorities Re-Defined: Despite commentaries that suggest this generation is “dumb,” they are not. In fact, they’re the smartest generation to ever walk the planet. But they have certainly re-defined what they need to be smart about, how they feel they should spend their time, and what values they find important.
  • Mixed Media: The characters inhabiting Millennial Fiction will likely have a strong reliance on technology and other media (blogs, cell phones, computers), and stories will acknowledge this dependence.
  • The Irrelevance of the White Male: Expect not only to see a canon strongly embrace minority writers and women writers (this has been happening for decades), but now to see white male writers lament their irrelevance, or assert defiantly that they are indeed important.
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3 responses to “Characteristics of “Millennial Fiction”

  1. I find this post really interesting. I’m currently working on a coming of age story about a millenial girl. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be raised by baby boomers, especially the type who tried to be noncomformists but eventually weren’t. It makes relating to authority very nuanced. Not sure if this is a common experience for millenials, but wanted to reach out.
    Cheers, Katherine
    P.S. Love the idea that white males will be irrelevant, but I think there’s a long way to go before that’s the case.

    • Thanks for reading and posting. Hope the story works out well.

      I’m still working on a more detailed explanation of the “Irrelevance of the White Male,” but I do agree with you. My claim might be a bit hyperbolic; it’s more of a comparison between the first two centuries of American literature, and the last 20 years (and obviously, the next 20 years). White males will always be published, certainly, and will for a long time hold many of the best editorial and publishing positions in the business, but the public’s taste for literature about the lives of white men (i.e. the standard John Updike novel, or Ernest Hemingway novel) seems to have faded in favor of “middle-class guilt” literature (the Oprah novel: books about marginalized cultures and marginalized lives). There seems to be a general sense in the reading public that white men just aren’t interesting; we’ll see if this grows to be more than a “general sense,” and if the books that come to define the Millennial Canon include the white male, or if they more heavily favor other cultures and nationalities and sexual orientations.

      Thanks again for reading!

  2. The Millenial Generation really is from 1978 – ’95 because:
    1. Those born from 1978 – ’90 voted 66 – 32 for Obama.
    2. A 2003 survey showed 53% support for gay/lesbian marriage among those who were 15 – 25 back then (those born from 1978 – ’88).
    3. People born from 1978 – ’95 either just entered this life or were just about to come of age when the internet really started to become popular.

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