If you’re a vegetarian, don’t write about cannibals.
Simple advice, but true. Now, maybe you weren’t thinking of writing about cannibals–but what if they were the next big thing? What if a blockbuster cannibal extravaganza just hit the bestseller list?
My point is that it can be very tempting to write about the latest and greatest trend in YA or MG fiction. I’ve never been to a SINGLE conference (and I’ve been to many) where someone doesn’t ask an editor or agent what the trends are right now. And everyone holds their breath, their pens poised over paper, ready to write down the answer.
But why? If the trend is werewolf love stories and the idea of entering into a romantic relationship with a part-time animal makes you nauseous, are you going to write something great? Chances are, no. I suppose there are a million reasons why, but I’ll give you just two:
1. When you try to write for a trend, you’re competing against people who actually love the trend. A few years back when I was writing stage plays, everyone was talking about screenplays — movies. There was big money to be made and everyone was doing it, and gosh wouldn’t it be cool to win an Oscar for best original screenplay? I mean, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon did it, right? So, I tried it. I spent YEARS writing a screenplay so I could cash in on the big trend. But I was competing against all these people who LOVED screenplays and were dedicated to that form. I never stood a chance.
The same is true in the world of YA. Right now, paranormal is huge. So is dystopian. If that’s what you love to write, then wonderful. Get busy. But if you like contemporary stories and the only magic that makes sense to you is a beautiful sunset, then ignore the trends. Which brings me to my second point.
2. Publishing takes a LONG time. For example, I started OyMG in 2006. It’s taken 5 years to get the book on shelves. By the time you write to a trend, it’s already past. Vampires are slipping back into their coffins and angels and mermaids and ghosts are rising. Or at least they were. Who knows what it will be next week? Which is another great point. You may be writing the next big trend. No one really knows until something is suddenly big.
So, write what you love and love what you write. Other people will too.