Many authors write in a genre that targets a particular age group. We have pop-up books for pre-schoolers. There are slightly more advanced books for new readers. Middle-grade fiction is next on the age progression scale, followed by young adult. There is also, I believe, a genre or sub-genre known as new adult. I have no idea what this is or how it could possibly differ from young adult.
What about books aimed at the vast number of seniors out there? Where are they? I think we need a new genre – I’ll call it OA for older adults – written to appeal to a generation that actually grew up reading. I can’t speak for my entire age group (I’m 68 years old), but I can tell you some of the elements I would like to see in any OA novel.
- Brevity – Longer is not always better. Read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 if you don’t believe me. Keep the action moving, and spare me the physical discomfort of wrestling with a six hundred page novel. That’s right – I still read print books. A lot of us do, and we don’t all hate trees.
- Font Size – No, I’m not ready for the large print edition yet, but I will not read a book with small print. This isn’t the Civil War. There’s no paper shortage, so give me a break.
- Strong Characters of a Certain Age – If you’re not a reader, think Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, or Meryl Streep. Our youth may be gone, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of brave or even heroic acts. Don’t patronize us with doddering stereotypes.
- Romance – It’s not just for the young. I happen to like steamy or sensual scenes between older characters. No, it’s not gross.
- Pace – Nobody likes a narrative that drags. That said, I don’t like a story that barrels along at breakneck speed. I need time to digest and savor the action. Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey, two excellent Florida authors, used to be at the top of my list when I was younger. No more – the pacing in their novels is too frenetic for my taste nowadays.
- Vocabulary – Stay away from fifty dollar words, even if you’re writing literary fiction. Yes, I occasionally read literary fiction even though I dislike the genre. If I want to read something that requires a dictionary, I’ll pick up Ulysses. On the other hand, let’s say I’ve picked up an urban fiction novel by mistake. I’ve never been hip or cool, and if I have to go to Wikipedia or Urban Dictionary to understand the dialogue I won’t continue reading.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. I like the idea of an OA novel. Maybe I should write one.