Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Nothing New Under the Sun?

Are we losing our creativity? One television hit begets countless clones. Most don't match the quality of the original. Maybe because the originality is gone.

The same seems to hold true for the publishing industry.

Lately, going into a bookstore seems to be "Variations on a Theme." One author strikes it big, and everyone starts writing the same book. Right now, it seems to be paranormals. Everyone's jumping onto that bandwagon. (Except me, because I don't like vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves or their ilk. Maybe it's because I have a strong background in science, and can't suspend my disbelief that far.)

It's a bit strange, because I 'learned' to write by writing Highlander FanFiction, and that's definitely outside the science box. But as Dr. McCoy explained to Capt. Kirk in "Requiem for Methuselah", the immortality could be explained by 'spontaneous cell regeneration.' I could accept that. I'll also accept a teeny bit of psychic ability.

So, what's a writer to do about these trends?

Nora Roberts says:
I never try to forecast. I don't much care. What's important to me--as a reader and as a writer--is a good story well told. Trying to predict trends is as dangerous, [in my opinion], as opting to follow one. They're trends for a reason, and they come and they go.

The publishing industry moves too slowly to jump on a trend. It's likely to be a year, maybe two, before your book hits the shelves. Joan Johnston said she reads the entertainment media to see what movie deals are being made, because the movies aren't going to show up in theaters for a year or two. But if you can't write that genre, don't bother, because you've still got to write a great book.

Debbie Macomber, in this month's Writer's Digest, has an article on Trend Spotting. She gives 7 sources:

1. What's Happening in England
2. Television
3. Movies
4. Catalogs
5. Magazines
6. The News
7. The Internet.

You can read the complete article here:

So, are you sick of reality shows? How many variations of CSI do you watch? Do you see anything really 'new' or different in the new season promos? Or will you be doing what I do, which is reading a good book instead. As long as it doesn't contain those pesky werewolves.


Ray said...

If you want my opinion of the reality show trend, I thought it was just a cheap way of reaching the lowest common denominator. I would much rather watch good drama or even comedy if it is done well.
Reality television is contrived reality.My favorite show is C-SPAN 2 Book Talk. Some of the lectures are fascinating.

It isn't only trends in publishing, but an author getting to the point where the latest book looks like a repeat of previous work. I used to read Robert Ludlum. I won't go near him anymore. I saw the first to Bourne movies and wouldn't watch the third after seeing the trailer.
The Bond movie with Halle Berry was a rehash of several earlier shows. She even walked like Ursula Andress in Dr. No. I recognized scene for scene from previous movies. For me the newer movie was a bust.


Allison Brennan said...

Hey Terry! This may be my first time visiting over here . . . I had to check out your article on trends, LOL . . . Great quote by Nora. I completely agree. I remember when I was writing romantic suspense before I sold (in 02 or 03) someone told me that it was a hard sell and I should try something "easier" like contemporary romance. LOL

Terry Odell said...

Welcome, Allison! Hope you'll pop back from time to time.

Well, it's 2008 now, and my agent is telling me Romantic Suspense is a hard sell. But it's out there, and it's still my preferred sub-genre of romance. Good luck with your new series.

I had agents ask me if I'd consider category. I'm at 60K words in my current WIP and h/h just had sex for the first time. I can't imagine having to wrap up a book that fast!

Terry Odell said...

Ray, I agree with you on those reality shows. I just can't get into them (but will confess to watching Top Chef and Project Runway from time to time. But I don't set my VCR, and can't even tell you what day and time they're on. If I hit them, I might linger)

I've read numerous books that were so close to the 'original' I wondered why editors are always saying, "Give me something new." They're buying old.

Ray said...

If it weren't for Romantic Suspense I wouldn't read nearly as much as I do.


Terry Odell said...

Ray, glad there's a genre you like (and even gladder it's the one I write!)

Ray said...


After your answer to my last comment I immediately went to Barnes & Noble and ordered Finding Sarah, What's in a Name and the upcoming When Danger Calls. All three look like just what I like to read.


Terry Odell said...

Wow, Ray. Thanks! And you can pre-order When Danger Calls? How cool. I didn't know that. The publisher says it's available December 10th, and that's the 'order date', not when it'll show up so I'm happy dancing. I mean, wow. My first sale for that book.

Hope you enjoy Randy, Sarah, Blake & Kelli in the meanwhile.