Monday, January 16

Following the trend...

I’ve come late to the Word Wranglers show. This means sometimes I’ll probably write about things the others have covered and I—though I’ve tried to keep up—have missed. Which brings me to what I’m thinking about here in my rocking chair on Monday morning when this blog should already be posted but hasn’t even been written yet.

There are limitations, of course, in romance as in any other genre—you’ve heard them over and over. Get the hero and heroine together fast. Avoid sports and entertainment. (Huh? Can anyone say NASCAR?) Don’t let the story be bound by issues (like world peace, not personal angst) because it needs to be about the romance first and foremost. Like I said, you know those rules, know that most of us like to bend them all out of shape if not break them outright. But it’s not the rules I’m talking about today.

It’s vampires. And steampunk. And naughty Regency. It’s cowboys and secret babies. It’s western historicals. Futuristic. Angels. Ghosts. Small town. Big city. Teenage children. No children at all.

I’m talking about trends. From what I’ve read over the years, editors and publishers say they don’t subscribe to them. They don’t last, after all. By the time the book is written, the trend is over. Write your own story, in your own voice, from your heart. This is what they say, but the books being released don't reflect that.

I remember, from having been in this business a really long time, when historicals were dead, especially western ones. When hardly anyone wrote Regency and even fewer published it. When paranormals were unusual and so was romantic suspense. When no one—okay, I—had never heard of steampunk. When there were hardly any inspirational romances and the ones that were there were so evangelical in nature, they were difficult for many of us to read. Yet now most of these things are popular. I hesitate to say “all” because the only research I’ve done is looking at titles and blurbs of new releases. How long will it stay this way?

My own reading and writing has veered—I think maybe inexorably because I don’t see myself coming back—toward women’s fiction. I’ve had two publishers in the past two years, and neither of them wants women’s fiction. I’ve loved writing for both of them, but I find myself spending time looking for publishers who want what I have to offer. I remember when I couldn’t find a small-town or rural setting romance to read, yet just the other day, I read a sort-of-wistful blog by a reader wishing there were more stories placed in cities.

I know if I wait long enough, the trends will change. Women’s fiction will find more homes and city settings will gain in popularity. However, I have to admit that it annoys me that we must follow trends at all. There are enough monthly releases that we should all be able to write what we like because readers—I think—want variety more than trends. Although I don’t care much for city settings, way-sexy-Regency, or romantic suspense, I still want them to be there for the people who do. I do, on the other hand, love girlfriends stories, older protagonists, and Americana historical and I want them to be there, too. And trends be damned.

How about you? How do you feel about trends?

5 comments:

  1. Personally,I don't read a book because it's trendy. If the book looks promising I'll read it. I've never gone into a book store thinking, "I'm only buying paranormal today." But I have gone it with the thought that I'm buying a romance. A good book is a good book no matter what the trend is.

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  2. Trends! Argh! They make me crazy! I belong to another crit group besides ours, with about 100 members, and everytime someone new joins they are writing Vamps! Ugh.

    Before I got on with Terrie, her partner told me RS is dead. I don't care. It will come back around again.

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  3. When I first started, historicals were dead. I wonder how many thousands have been published since then!

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  4. I'm not much a follower of trends. I still haven't read a vampire book ;) but I do like when something strikes my fancy and there are more to read like--mystical realism or time travel. I like just a touch of magic to color the pages of a mystery or romance that I'm reading--like Heather Blake's books.

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  5. Ditto what Shawn and D'Ann said - I don't read a book because it's a vampire book and all the bestseller lists are filled with vamps. I look for a blurb-and-cover that catch my eye and go from there.

    As for writing, I write what I want to read - can't help it! - and I try not to follow trends...I try to follow my heart.

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