Fill in the blank. Writing to the trends is….

383519_3609534326344_1809794031_nAll you’ve heard is how hot-hot-hot YA is and how Fantasy is driving the industry.  So, your new novel will be a desirable commodity in the current market. Then five minutes after you’ve typed the last word in your manuscript, vampires are old news, NA is the  genre of the hour and agents are wishing they could read more Contemporary Women’s Fiction and less Fantasy.  I suppose this is why they tell us not to write to the trends but then again, how many authors have soared to stardom on the residual waves of a breakout genre

write-what-you-love

One truth we should always hold to is to write what we love; but what if you love to write what’s popular? What if the challenge of writing to the trends and doing it well is what excites you? Is there anything wrong with that? This message won’t apply to everyone. Many writers have labeled themselves (myself included) as a genre writer. I write YA or I write Historical Fiction. It’s not often that we hear someone say, I write what’s popular. I suppose this would be a truly exposing statement that could be considered an exploitation of the craft. However, it could also represent an artist who doesn’t want to be boxed in by a label.

genre

Does our genre define us as writers? 

Let’s face it, the genres we write say a lot about who we are. I will probably never write middle grade or historical fiction but I’ve been cursed… I mean, blessed with the burden… I mean, joy of perpetually co-existing with Junior High students (No. I am not speaking of my husband or my in-laws.  I teach Middle School Science.) And therefore, must make a connection with these somewhat complex and otherwise primal beings. They are fascinating and exhausting all at the same time. You can see yourself in them clearly when you speak to them and it’s frightening. AND SO…. I write YA. Will it always be that way?  No, I’ve experienced a new burning to write NA and will in the very near future. Which brings me to the question: Is it wise to label ourselves as genre writers if we are not truly committed to the genre forever? Is  genre jumping considered writing to the trends?

So, fill in the blank: Writing to the trends is…despicable? A practice acceptable for some but not all? A talent? The only way to make it in the market today? Or, a dangerous practice that can leave you one step behind the game. Maybe it’s all of these. What do you think?

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19 thoughts on “Fill in the blank. Writing to the trends is….

  1. Writing to the trends is good work if you can get it.
    That is, if your writing gift is in line with a trend – write.
    If you writing gift isn’t in line with a trend – write anyway – you never know when it will be trendy again.

    • I agree! I think there is some adaptability and talent involved. Something tells me that it is easier to write to the trends when you already have an established fan base too!

  2. Writing to the trends is… a calculated but risky move.

    The question being whether one is writing for the love of writing, with a story burning inside that needs to be told or whether one is writing to appeal to a specific commercial market and ride the wave of literary fashion.

    Of course, the answer could be “both”, in which case I’d say a writer needs to be fast and prolific before the current trend fades. Generally, by the time a trend becomes a trend, the wave has almost broken. Write not to the current trend, but the next big trend, I’d say.

    Time to get the crystal ball out.

  3. I definitely say it would be a talent. I can’t imagine writing in a genre that I don’t love . I read any paranormal romance I can get my hands on and half of my shelves are filled with YA novels. It’s inevitable that I write paranormal romance and YA. If both of those genres stop selling, then I guess I would stop shopping my novels around. I wouldn’t stop writing, I don’t think I could ever do that, just like I don’t ever see myself writing a historical romance or horror. To me any author who can write a good book out of their genre is talented. -RB Austin

    • Oh my Gosh, it makes my heart hurt to think of my favorite genre going extinct. I think I would have to adapt and learn to write something else no matter how excruciating!

  4. Writing to the trends is . . . okay if that’s what you REALLY want to do; where your heart REALLY lies. I tried writing a vampire novel when Twilight was hot. Failed miserably, because my heart really wasn’t in it. I am a fantasy writer, however, and have taken time to build my world. This is where my heart is. And I’m pretty much MG and YA.

  5. Writing to the trends for someone like me who treats trends like the worst kinds of infectious diseases is pretty akin to death. Yeah, I’m probably overstating myself, but I’ve found that writing to “what’s hot” just doesn’t work for me. I believe in writing something I’d want to read, not what some lazy agent wants to quick-sell to a publisher looking to make a quick buck on the “What’s Hot!” market.

    • An author’s motives for writing definitely shapes their opinion of trends. If you are an artist with a passion for honing the craft of writing then you likely abhor them. On the other hand, if you are an entertainer you embrace them. There’s a whole psychology behind what drives trends and they will never disappear. Trends are what people are interested in at the time usually due to the economic condition of the culture. Sure, we’re fickle but that’s the nature of humanity. Someone will always cater to the needs trends create. However, you sound like someone who is sound in your artistic perspective of the craft and that’s an awesome place to be as an author. One should never take on a project just to please the masses. A passion to entertain should be the driving factor.

  6. Write the story inside you that is dying to break free. If it happens to be a genre that’s trending then that’s a bonus. I think if a writer forces themselves to write what’s popular then it will feel forced and will be evident to the reader as well.

  7. Impossible. For me, anyway. I am still unable to come up with a solid genre description for what I write. I consider it science fiction, but modern science fiction seems so formulaic and I don’t fit any of the formulas. There seems to be more latitude in urban fantasy, so that’s what I’m calling it.

    I’ve tried to make my work fit into a specific category, but I can’t do it–I don’t care about writing those kinds of stories, and it shows.

    • My current work could be considered SciFi. At one point I really wanted to force it to be Fantasy but Fantasy requires elements of supernatural or magic which my MS does not have. SciFi stories have an elements that are caused by scientifically explained events. If the science element is not the forefront of the story and something like romance is then it’s likely a Romance/SciFi.

      • Where I run into problems is that I don’t make the distinction between supernatural and scientific in this work. There are things that are not from our world, and these things can do things that human beings don’t understand. In practical terms it really doesn’t matter if it’s magic or science–it’s outside of human experience. The Outsiders themselves lie about what they are–they claim to be aliens to some people, or angels, or demons, or whatever a particular person seems most likely to believe.

        Keeping the origin and nature of the Outsiders ambiguous is a big part of the story. It seems to me that labeling the book “fantasy” rather than “science fiction” better prepares readers for questions that won’t be answered.

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