Friday, May 14, 2010

Be Careful of Trends

Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal.

Jeffrey A. Carver

Writers watch book reviews and articles on all things literary in newspapers, book publishers news releases, TV news shows--anywhere that the written word is discussed. What's hot? That's what they feel they must write.

Books and short stories move along a roller coaster of trends. Look at the Twilight series of books for young adults as an example. No sooner did it break the bestseller list than thousands of writers sitting at their computers in their jammies said to themselves, "Eureka! I've found it. I'll write a vampire story, and it will sell immediately." Consider one small problem. If thousands are thinking the same thing and thousands are writing these stories, how many are going to be picked up by publishing houses? Only the very best which boils down to a precious few. And even these tend to be copycat stories of sorts.

As science fiction writer Jeffrey A. Carver says in the quote above, "...the market is fickle." Here today and gone tomorrow. What's hot now may not be by the time you finish a complete novel. A novel is not written in mere days or even weeks, so the marketplace may be promoting something entirely different by the time yours is finished. So what should you do?

Instead of writing trendy things, do what Carver suggests, write from your soul. Write the kinds of thngs that you want to write, the ones that bubble up from deep within you, the ones you can no longer keep hidden away. Maybe your special novel or short story will begin a trend all its own. Don't follow the leader, move on a path all yours. The writing will most likely be superior to the copycat kind. And don't kid yourself, even though your vampire story is totally different, it's still followint the Twilight trend.

I remember some good advice given to me by my parents when I was a gullible, dying to be like my peers, high school student. The advice was simple, only two words--Be yourself. It works in the writing world, too.


  1. Well said. At my age, there isn't time to worry about trends, although there was a time when I thought I should. Now I merely write what gives me pleasure. If someone else wants to read one of my stories, that's great, if not, at least I've had fun writing it.

  2. You're doing just what I said, BJ. You're being yourself, true to yourself. Good job!