Monday, October 05, 2009


Current Project: Untitled
Status: Developing characters

Confession time, folks. Have you ever hopped on a trend with your writing, or thought about writing a book because it would fit into a current, or impending trend? If you only wrote historicals or contemporary, did you think about writing paranormal when the subgenre exploded? Did you think about writing CSI-related books when those shows got so popular?

I'll confess, I'm a bit of a trender...trendette...trend-hound...? A couple of years ago I started a book (one of many unfinished...) that was about Texas Hold'em. It was huge at the time, and mine had a parnormal twist to it. The twist and the poker matched up with a couple of movies set to come out later in the year. Well, I never finished the book and both of those movies flopped so I guess all is well that ends well.

Typically I go with an idea pulling at me, and I think of ways to try and connect it to a current, or possible trend. Just to make it more viable. I don't believe in writing to fit a trend, but keeping trends in mind is just a form of marketing.

I'm doing that now with the book I'm developing. Guess what trend it is? ROLLER DERBY! Part of me wonders if there's going to be a rash of derby books written with the popularity of the reality show and the new movie "Whip It" (which I can't wait to see!). I have a few friends who joined a derby league a few months ago, back in Illinois. They talk about it daily, show me pictures, and, well, I've been bit by the derby bug. Now that Salem's new team Cherry City Derby Girls has officially launched, it's in my back yard! There's plenty of fodder for research at my fingertips and I love the idea of writing about derby girls. Now that I know several of them, I have a good sense of their attitudes and personalities.

And the timing couldn't be better with this trend. So tell me, have you followed any trends with your writing?


Alice Sharpe said...

I can't think of a single trend that I have followed except for one and it's a biggy -- I do put kids and babies in books. The little buggers just seem to pop up in my plots lately.

My daughter and her daughter saw Whip It and loved it! Good luck with the new plot.

Paty Jager said...

Did you know that roller derby was hot in the 70's? Yes, I remember watching it on tv and thinking how cool to be one of those girls who gets to knock people around and not get in trouble. LOL

As for trends. I hopped on putting paranormal in historical and am just now getting it published because while I picked a trendy genre, I used non-trendy characters. Does that make sense?LOL

Other than that, I've not really jumped on a trend. I tend to write what strikes my fancy.

I say, Yeah! to the roller derby book.

Genene Valleau said...

If I "follow" a trend, it's quite by accident. I've been out-of-step with most of the population all my life, so by the time I recognized a trend, it would probably be old news. And I don't write quickly, so even if I did decide to follow a trend, it would be gone before I got a book written.

Like Alice, I have a lot of babies and kids in my stories, as well as pets--not because of any trends, but because they fit the story.

Sounds like you have a lot of close resources for your roller derby story. Have fun with it!

Lisa Leoni said...

Alice, well people always like to read about them so it works out! :)

Paty, yup! My mom absolutely loved to watch derby when it was popular in the 70s. Then I told her I was thinking of joining a team and the moment of happiness faded... And that definitely makes sense (the trend/non-trendy characters).

Genene, good point about the time factor. It takes a while to write a book, then to try and sell it, and even longer to publish it. Makes one wonder how trends can truly be jumped on unless someone can sell on proposal (or already has the book done).

Karen Duvall said...

I'm kind of a trend follower, I think. I've always written paranormal stories so when they came into vogue I was like, "Yeah, baby!" :)

I've always been a genre mixer, too, and used to get criticized big time for it. I'd pitch a book at a conference (this was 14-15 years ago) and they'd say, "Either it's a paranormal story or a mystery. It can't be both!" LOL! I've always combined my paranormal ideas with whatever trend was going at the time, and I always got poo-pooed for doing it.

Steampunk is supposed to be hot right now, but there are hardly any new books for the genres on the shelves. They're still in the hot "acquisition" stage, I guess. I struck it totally by accident while researching something else and thought what an awesome concept! That's just what I wanted to do with my book. Who knew at the time that it would become a popular subgenre. Whether the reading public will agree is yet to be seen.

We've got a couple roller derby teams here in Bend. About 3 years ago I seriously considered joining oe because I thought it would be a great way to lose weight, lol! But I'm not aggressive enough for the sport. I'd be saying "excuse me" all the time.

Alice Sharpe said...

LOL Karen, "I'd be saying excuse me all the time." That's me, too. I mean other than the falling on my head and getting a concussion...

Deborah Wright said...

Ah, Roller Derby, back in style (sing along with me: 'Everything old is new again!'). LOL The last Roller Derby craze actually started in the '60s (I remember watching the Sacramento team on local TV as a kid with my grandmother) and hit its peak with Raquel Welch's movie, Kansas City Bomber in 1972.

I don't really write to trends. I think to successfully write to most trends, you actually have to anticipate them and that's just something I'm not very good at doing. By the time I notice a trend, it's usually on the downswing. :-)

Bethany Gabbert said...

I can't wait to see the Roller Derby romance. AWESOME. You have the perfect voice for that too. GET CRACKING.

I think the key with trends is to write fast! I think if you write fast and at a high volume it is easier to follow trends--i.e. see how Linda Lael Miller and Lori Foster and Christina Dodd all follow trends but b/c they write such a high volume, they aren't limited to those subgenres, and also they hit the market at the right moment.

My personal problem with trends is two fold--one as a reader, I hate seeing the market saturated with books of varying quality in one subgenre. With vampires, it's frustrating b/c I only like vampires under certain limited circumstances. With the historical glut going on right now, it's different b/c I love the genre, but there is so much other there to sift through that it's tough to find the truly worth it books, and a lot of good writers are maybe being lost in the big sea. As a writer, I don't like trends b/c I don't write "trendy" and I worry about not selling before the trend peaks.

Lisa Leoni said...

Karen, there has definitely been a boon to steampunk! I remember when you started talking about your MS, then months later BAM. It was everywhere. At least you got on top of the trend!

And I agree about the "excuse me" thing with derby. That's how I am in daily life, opening doors for others, being polite. But what is nice about derby is it's expected to be rough. It's an accepted format, like fight club I guess lol. The girls are proud of bruises they receive by their teammates in practice, as a sign of a job well done. It's quite an interesting community.

Debbie, LOL! I don't usually notice trends either, not until they've hit shelves. They seem to usually be petering out at some point around then.

Bethany, thank you! I sure hope so :) Good point about writing fast. I agree with the saturation as well. I hate when things get to a point where agents and editors have to say "not another so-and-so book, please."

Paty Jager said...

Debbie, I was going to say the 60's but I wasn't sure. I have a very poor long term memory. I only remember highlights of my past and very little of the day to day stuff.

Anonymous said...


I admit I know NOTHING about roller derby and I didn't know it was ever popular before so I guess I don't follow trends or really even noticed them.

In school I never really wore the trendy clothes, though I did love me some parachute pants and unlaced high tops. LOL

So my answer is no, I do not follow trends or even usually notice there is such a thing. In fact, when I hear stuff now about the 80's trends and 90's trends I'm all, "What? Seriously? I don't remember that." I'm so lame. :)

How exciting that you're going to write a roller derby story though! I can't wait to read it! And now that I know about the roller derby stuff I'll start paying attention. I do remember seeing a preview a while back for this movie coming out with Drew Barrymore. I can't wait to see it.

Oh, and speaking of the new Steampunk trend, Scott Westerfeld's new Steampunk YA is finally on the bookshelves today!! It's called Leviathan. If you want to read a Steampunk, go buy his book today!!

Karen Duvall said...

That's great news about Leviathan, Becky! I knew it was coming out soon and have been looking for it. I'll definitely pick it up. Thanks!