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Vampires or Space Monkeys? Following the Trends.

September 27, 2010

This week’s topic is about pushing the writing envelope. Do you do it? When? Why? Or why not?

First of all, I had to ask someone what the phrase “pushing the writing envelope” meant. I had never heard it before. For those of you who may be in the same boat, it means to “go against the trends”. I’m assuming this refers to the current market trends of the writing industry.

In my opinion, “pushing the writing envelope” depends on quite a few factors. What are the current market trends, first of all? Where am I in my career? What is more important to me, following the trend and selling books, or writing what my heart desires even if it’s not popular? How does my agent/editor feel about this (since it is their job to predict market trends)? Could I not start the “next big thing” with my idea, however unpopular it might be right now?

See? A lot of factors.

John Grisham, for example, can write whatever he wants, whenever he wants, because he has a long-established fan base. His books will sell whether the genre he writes is popular or not. People will read his books simply because he is John Grisham.

I, however, am nowhere near Grisham’s level. Heck, I’m not even published yet. I’m still just a mere part-time writer trying to break into the biz. So yeah, for me at least, writing what’s trendy could increase my chances of gaining a book deal.

However, I much rather prefer to write the story that’s in my heart. The one my characters tell me to write. The one I love regardless if it’s trendy or not. That’s how I started my love for writing and I don’t plan to change it any time soon. Honestly, it was pure coincidence that TWILIGHT took off around the same time I started writing my first novel (yes, it’s about vampires).

It shows when you love what you write. You can see it, almost feel it, in every sentence. You’re willing to fight for it. Yes, it might lessen my chances of publication, but – lessen – not stop. Because I’m fully prepared to fight for every word I write. I have no problem self-promoting because I’m proud of what I’ve written and I want to show it off. So I’ll be stubborn and continue fighting until someone eventually gives me a deal.  😉

Space Monkeys are the *new* Vampire

Now, that does not mean I won’t ever write what’s trendy. Um … hello, I’m already writing about VAMPIRES remember? But it just so happens that I like vampires. I also like steampunk, a current trend in YA, but I assure you I am not going to write a steampunk novel myself. While I love reading it, it’s not something I want to write about. Simple as that.

Is there a point to my back-and-forth rambling here? Yes. There is. The moral to this story, I believe, is that whether you push the writing envelope or not, you should make everything you write you own. Follow the trends, if you want to, but make it yours. Make it unique. Don’t lose your voice.

Did I mention my vampires aren’t undead nor in a love triangle? Because they’re not.  🙂

P.S. No one did the contest, so I’m keeping the money. Muahahaha!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2010 6:04 pm

    Oh, J.D., we’ve got to get you out of the house more, it seems.

    Good subject about going with the trend. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Of course, a quick look at all the police procedurals and all the “Twilight” imitators might undo that bit of wisdom.

    I say stick with what you know and like best.

  2. Robert C. Nelson permalink
    September 27, 2010 7:13 pm

    Great post! I have no intention of going with any trend. What I wish to write will be what appears on the printed page. What! My publisher says it sucks! I’ll get a new publisher. Not so easy? No. Just write what’s in your soul and write it well. Money can be handy, but is that why we really write? It shouldn’t be. My next novel will break all kinds of rules. The envelope will be pushed, spindled, and mutilated. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    You are my kind of writer. Keep it up!

  3. September 27, 2010 11:31 pm

    Great ideas, JD. Allison Brennan (a chapter mate of mine in SF) once wrote that you have to know the rules first before you break them. I love reading other writer’s blurbs, see what has sold. I like knowing what is hot and what is not. Now that I recently acquired an agent, I rely on her to tell me what she thinks will make my book more commercial. That guidance is what I needed and lacked before. Of course, she could be wrong. So could everyone else’s opinion. So, like you said, we listen to others’ views, and then just write what’s in our heart, the best way we can.

    I look at the critique comments or rejections differently now. Instead of hearing “this isn’t right for the trend now” I hear “this wasn’t strong enough to break the rules.” When it comes down to it, that is what the editors are looking for: something new and fresh, and perhaps something that breaks some of the rules. But that will only happen if the craft is stellar – not good – stellar.

    It still comes down to writing the very best story our heart can create.

  4. September 28, 2010 10:39 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone. Sorry I haven’t been as active, I’m battling a cold. :/

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