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Writing for Excellence vs. Writing for Trends

I hate the word "trend."

This is partly because I don't understand it. In fashion, trends always seem to involve the most ridiculous clothes and accessories. Why is leopard print "in" this year? Who invented stiletto heels, and why didn't they design them with just a little more comfort in mind? No, I will not wear a white coat. I live in Colorado. Do you know what would happen to that fabric if I wore a white coat in Colorado?

Most writers have the same frustration and disdain for publishing trends. "But why does everyone want vampires? I don't like vampires. And I don't write dystopian. I write quirky beautiful quiet novels that don't get movie adaptations. I write chick lit. I write space operas. I write genderbent fairy tales with queer POC characters..."

We as writers have this idea that trends dictate our careers. We believe that agents and editors snub their noses at books that don't fit the Sexy Vampire trend or the Beautiful Blond Princess Who Kicks Ass trend. We believe that, unless we write what the market wants, we probably won't write at all - or, at least, nobody will see what we write.

I want you to know, that's #$!&*@. (Edited in case my parents are reading.)

I spent my college years working as an intern for a literary agency. This job involved a lot of reading - reading manuscripts for the agency's clients, reading manuscripts by aspiring authors, reading query letters, reading partial manuscripts, reading sample pages. So much reading. I saw a lot of books that were tailor-made for the trend of the year. And I saw a lot of books that weren't. And when I asked my agent-boss what kinds of books she would prefer, what books I should really give my attention to, her answer came out of left field.

I want a good fantasy series. I want something with brilliant plot and world-building and characters. I want a great contemporary. I like road trip stories, if they're not JUST about road trips. I want a love story set in the world of high school athletics - two softball players, or maybe two football players, or possibly two drama students - you can letter in drama, right? In high school?

Then, after she finished reciting her wishlist, she laughed and said, "I just want it all." 

And that phrase, those wistful words, stuck with me. Agents and editors don't want trends. They want excellence. They want a book that keeps them awake all night, even though it's a romance and they like sci-fi. They wants books that matter and books that burn and books that speak.

I know it's been said before, but it's worth saying again: don't write what you believe will sell. Write what you love, and write well. Craft your writing and your story before you craft a story that mirrors the Twilight craze. Publishing needs more passion, more excellence; because passion and excellence, together, are so much more enduring than the latest trends trotting down the runway.
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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  1. I agree with everything you say in this post!
    When I'm reading a book there's times I can just tell that the author has written it to keep up with current trends, compared to other books where you can SEE the heart and soul the author has poured into a story.


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Item Reviewed: Writing for Excellence vs. Writing for Trends Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts