Monday, February 20, 2012

What If I Love Dystopian Vampires?

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I know, I've mentioned it before. But I want to talk about trends for a minute. Vampires were hot. So we flooded the market. Then came THE HUNGER GAMES (one of my favorite books). And all dystopia broke loose. What's next? There are a million theories. 


I've heard others complain, saying they haven't written a dystopian so can't get any attention for their books. Then I've heard others say the opposite. They love vampires and now no one will look at their work. So which is it? 


The advice I both heard and have given before is to be aware of trends, but not write to them. To write what you love. Because it's difficult enough to get published these days, don't make it harder on yourself by forcing something that isn't enjoyable or natural for you. It comes through in the work. I believe that those that successfully cross genres are those that truly enjoy all they write. For example, I will probably not be writing contemporary fiction (though I do read it on occasion). I might try Sci-fi though. Or thrillers. Or horror. Because those are genres I'm attracted to. 


What does being "aware" of trends mean? It means that if you KNOW that no one wants vampire books, that if you choose to write one anyway it will be a very hard sell. You accept that going in. You probably decide to hold off on vampires for now, and instead choose another paranormal entity that hasn't been as overused. Or better yet, a whole new angle on something that hasn't been done. Example? Daughter Of Smoke and Bone! AWESOME, beautifully written book about what? Angels and demons? Maybe. But in such a way that the lore behind it was so original and unusual that it didn't matter. 


Can you think of any examples like that? Where the book succeeded because it offered something fresh? What's your take on trends?

25 comments:

  1. I agree with you one hundred percent. If you really want to get published then writing a dystopian right now probably isn't the way to go, unless you are the rare person who writes such an unusual take on it that it will get excepted. Writers have to be aware of that going in.

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  2. I also keep an eye on what certain agents are looking for. (I have a list I check frequently.) They know what they like and what they can sell.

    In the end, I write what I love. I can't imagine producing something just to fit in with trends... it wouldn't feel authentic. It's wise to know what's selling and what's on the way out, of course. I suppose it's what your goals are for your writing too.

    Interesting post, Lisa! Happy Monday!

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  3. That should have read: I suppose it depends upon what your writing goals are too.

    (Sorry, need more coffee.) ;)

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  4. I agree. Keep an eye on the trends but don't write to them. Stick to what you love! It shows!

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  5. This is such a great point. My genre isn't as popular as others, but that's ok. I write the stories I'd like to read, and I enjoy writing them, so it's a win/win for me.

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  6. Agreed. It all comes down to writing what we love - otherwise how could it possibly be unique and special? :)

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  7. I write the stories that pop into my head and don't pay much attention to genre or trends, but that's because we can't predict what will be 'hot' or 'trendy' by the time a book is finished and ready to query or even hit the shelves. Besides, vampires might seem overdone to the general populace, but there's always been fans of vampires. Just like there's always been fans of sci-fi or thrillers or romance. There's almost always an audience out there, so long as the story and characters are compelling.

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  8. I write what I love too--MG historical fiction--although I've been told it's a tough sell. Funny thing though is I see it all over the place and it wins lots of awards.

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  9. I can't help but think of Wings: succeeding in a very crowded faery/fey market because the author tried something really different and WEIRD with faeries (plants!) - and managed to pull it off. I agree, you have to really LOVE what you are writing about, and yet be aware that it might be overdone right now.

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  10. Write what you know and write what you love.
    If there is passion behind it, at least you will know you've poured everything in and done your best.

    If you still love vampires, yes, it will be a hard sell in a flooded market. But if you bring something fresh and vibrant, that will make it stand out.

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  11. PS, what makes the sign-writers so sure Vampires can read? Some of them are 150 years old, and the education system wasn't so universal back then.

    Just sayin'.

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  12. Wise and relevant points as usual, Lisa. I like to genre hop when I write based on the story that begs to come out in my noggin. I think edjimacatin' yourself on trends is an important part of the biz side of writing.

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  13. Damn, blogger ate my comment... anyway, what i was saying was that you're totally right, we should write what we love, but we should also know the market to even avoid trends! :D (Imagine I loved to write about vamps!)

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  14. It's a careful balancing act between having a passion for what you're writing, and making sure it's something that will sell. I think trying to avoid the current major trends is a good idea, so long as you're not trying too hard and end up creating something so "out there" that there's just no appeal for it.

    Certainly, writing a particular genre just because it's the current big thing is a terrible idea.

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  15. Very true: writing what you love is the path we should choose. However, if you love vampires and truly come up with something unique, it could sell.

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  16. I wrote a high fantasy for boys and was told time and time again that no one would buy fantasy anymore. I thought that was odd since fantasy is still a huge seller among both kids and adults. So I just kept at it and lo and behold found a publisher willing to take a chance on me.

    I agree. Write whatever you want. Trends change. They even come full circle. What is hot today will cool tomorrow. And what is "out" today might just be next year's biggest hit. You never know.

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  17. A lot of writers write what they want, then set their manuscripts aside until the trends work for them. It's risky, but might be a good way to go if you just have to write a book that's probably not going to sell.

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  18. So so true. I have been dealing with a similar issue but in the end it always comes down to an editor falling in love with your story and writing.

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  19. I completely agree with your take on trends. A writer needs to do what he/she loves and do it well, but be aware of what's going on in the market.

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  20. Great advice about being aware of trends. And you're so right. Writing for trends never works. You need to write the story that's burning in your mind.

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  21. I write what I want to read. Fortunately that doesn't fall under any of the burnt out trends. :)

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  22. The thing is, if you write what you truly LOVE, you start the trend. Vampires had cropped up long before TWILIGHT. Wizards were in books long before HARRY POTTER. But both series treated the ideas in new and exciting ways. Both were inspired by ideas that wouldn't let the authors rest, that simply HAD to be written.

    I don't write down all of my ideas, but if they want to be written, they drag me to the computer and press my fingers into the keyboard. They won't let me get away. And it has nothing to do with markets, and nothing to do with trends. Marketable or not, I have to write it.

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  23. Can I just say I love your blog? You consistently post things I find fascinating. Thanks!

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  24. Interestingly enough, I'm the author of a dystopian vampire series called Empire of Blood. Did I follow a trend? No. I never intended to write either a dystopia or vampire fiction. Hell I started writing the first book in 2008. I was trying to write science fiction when the idea came along and I could not resist writing it because I loved the concept.

    To be honest, the fact that my book hasn't even an ounce of romance in it and that being the current trend with both dystopias and vampire fiction makes my series pretty much a black sheep. And saturation of the market really does make it difficult to get a book in the hands of readers--even a well-reviewed and highly acclaimed one.

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