Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trends in Writing

This is a frequent question that shows up in most writing circles. Editors and agents are always being asked what we see as current trends in the market.

Now I have to say that for many writers, they are asking this question in the hopes that they can jump on that trend, or more accurately, try to write to the market. The best analogy of this I can use comes from the education system when teachers are attempting to teach to a standardized test.

I have to say that in both cases, the result is always disasterous.

I think in the romance industry, writers are always trying to "follow" what they believe is hot right now. They go to the book store and dig around for the current books that are piling up on the shelves and try to write in that style. What they seem to have forgotten is that these books were in the works over 2 years before. What they also seem to forget is that the editors and agents already have a pile of stories on their desks from those established authors in that style. Why would they want to find another author when that person is doing it already.

But, regardless of all that, we all attempt to tell you what we think might be the coming trends in the market. I will say that it is easier to highlight what we don't want to see and narrow it down from there.

So, this is what I think is happening.

- The erotica pendulum is swinging back to normal. I had always said that when it started out, people were writing the most off the wall and wild erotica out there for a shock factor. I think that writers are now keeping it hot and steamy. but making it more real. Sure there will still be a market for this, but I think it will really be limited to the e-pub market more than anything.
- I think we are going to get a split in the market with 1/2 of the writers heading to a more literary fiction tone and the other 1/2 really dumbing things down. Think of the historical market. There is a group really wanting to lean in the direction of Philippa Gregory, and the Darcy books from Source books. There is also a move on the other end of the spectrum to have "easy fast reads" with very little depth in terms of the history.
- I think the paranormal market is really in the middle of having serious growing pains. The vamps and werewolves are worn out and the psychic thing just isn't enough. Until we find a new twist, I think it will just be a bit stagnate.
- Serious vs. lighter is a big thing. Again, this is a pendulum shift from the huge influx of the chick lit market. We want real issues now and not just cute jokes about shopping. We're seeing this even in the YA market. Gossip Girls and The Clique series are dealing with more serious topics.
- Cross Genre is still going to do well, but it has to be done well. I think too often we are seeing people trying to mix genres but really are writing in one genre with a hint of the other. This is the biggest flaw with time travel. In most cases, it is nothing more than a historical with a modern person.

In the end, the writers and the buyers make the trends. If the publishers are seeing a big pull in one direction, they will run with it with their established authors. For you new authors, I would just recommend being able to tweak your stories when the editors and agents start looking for something.



  1. Believe it or not, I hadn't read a large amount of historical romances before I started to write one...that being said, revisions have been horrid, considering the amount of reading I have done since that first day (extensive).

    I know when I read a book if I , as a reader, think it's good, and I also know if I, as a writer, want to go in that direction, or stay FAR FAR away.

    I was told by my first writing teacher that I was writing a "fiction" or "historical fiction" novel, which took my chances of EVER publishing it down to slim to none. I wanted to kill off too many of my main characters, and that made it NOT follow the romance "formula".

    In my infinite wisdom, I did eventually listen, and even in doing that, I have often wondered if the whole "Scottish Highland" historical romance market isn't just over saturated.

    Thanks for more of your insight...it always makes me think, or teaches me something new!

    :) Terri

  2. I love an outside perspective. I know trend predicting is hard--it's like chess--but it's good to see the broader picture from someone else's pov