Thinking about the Generations, and Characters

What generation does your main character belong to? What constrictions and benefits might this generation give your character and her friends and colleagues?

I’ve been thinking about this lately.

In April whilst doing the A-Z Blogging Challenge, I put up a reasonably successful series on Serious Crimes – serial killers, psychology, some forensics, etc. This series was posted on my website, here. When coming to X,Y and Z of the challenge, like many people, I struggled to come up with a topic (especially since I couldn’t find a real life Xylophone Killer). I also wanted to look a little more positively into crimes in general.

So, for the series, I ended with X for the X Generation, Y for Gen Y and Z for Gen Z. I took a quick look at the crime statistics for each generation since the baby boomers, and the news was actually quite promising – Gen Z who are confusedly also called “The Millenials” (but can be born in the 1990’s), have some good news in front of them – crime overall has been dropping each decade. So saying that, Gen Y and the earlier Gen Z’s also face sky-rocketing housing prices, more unemployment, and can find it difficult to start to make a living once out of all the educational pathways nowadays available to them.

The later millenials – kids like my daughter born in the 2000’s – have both a huge world of technological and educational advances before them, and some onus on them to better the generation before them – stereotypically thought of as being “the entitlement” generation.

My generation – I sit as what the local media suggested recently – a “betweener” stuck in the middle of the cross-over between the baby boomers and Gen X — is known to currently hold the domestic and therefore the nation’s spending power. Producers of consumer items and advertisers are only just beginning to cotton on that women of mid-late 40’s hold the nation’s budget strings, and may be worth identifying. We are also the between generation that is most likely to be sitting over the Millenials as regards paying for all that education and technology, and contrarily, sitting on family homes worth too much for those looking to make a start in the property market to be able to afford.

We sit at a cross-roads, all these generations. And it’s in this environment that I begin to realise I am writing.

My main character for my series of novels and short stories is a 25 – 30 year old woman, highly educated, single-ish, and thankfully makes just enough money to sustain renting an apartment. Technically, she sits as an older Generation Y – the 18-30 year olds.

However, Blue Finchett has also been studying for years and years. In between, she’s taken temporary employment in various areas to help with her qualifications. So, like the older Millenials, Blue has faced looking at a world where jobs are hard to come by and hard to keep, even after graduation, and she lives in a world where close friendships are qualified by how many relationships are also maintained at a distance – via Facebook and Twitter, and mobile phone texting.

The friends she made whilst studying have all moved away – they had to – to find jobs, or to move to communities where they could get a foot in the door of the property market. Others that did stay around may have also had to move back into their parent’s places to start saving for their own first house. Blue knows couples who are forced to live apart because of the economic recession. She also has a close friend who dropped out of university, and makes a living in ways Blue isn’t too happy with.

The world I knew as a 30 year old, only a decade or so back, is a very different world from the one Blue Finchett and her non-fictional equivalents are living in. I have to be mindful of that now, when writing of her world, her conflicts and the antagonists providing these. They are very different from my own.

These thoughts were kicked off by a company sending me another infographic. During the A-Z Challenge I began some extremely successful Follow Me on Pinterest Pinboards at : Pinterest – I plonked down all the infographics I could find on crime, in general, and on writing. Every day now my email is filled with Pinterest notifications telling me that so-and-so repinned such-and-such or is following my boards. From this, I now have companies marketing their new infographics at me. Some have a relevance to the niches I am interested in, a few don’t. Over the weekend I was sent this one – After Graduation. It tells us about the sad statistics towards the prevalence of depression for Generation Z or the Y’s also.

Take a look, and consider what generational antagonisms (and benefits) your own fictional characters might be driven by also.

Life After Graduation

Brought to you by USC: Masters in Social Work

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