I used the term Trend Swaying a while ago. I wasn’t trying to be clever but it seemed a good way to describe phenomena that underpins the stand-out successes, of all forms of business.
I include arts (writing, painting, theatre) as business because success is measured by mass appreciation. Yes, that often leads to lots of cash and awards but not exclusively. Free exhibitions can be amazing and ‘profits’ are devolved by other means but that’s for a different day!
So what am I on about?!
OK, I heard this quoted by one of the British Dragons (of the Den) but entrepreneurs use this ‘advice’ often – I have read & heard mention of these key things to always be looking for.
It’s the secret to how to burst the business bubble and make your product stand out.
There are 3 areas to look at, all around TRENDS and you can pick and mix as most businesses do…
Like your favourite PJs or mug – this is about what you know inside out and love to pieces.
Think: childhood, favourite sweets/games, the book you loved! The film that still gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, even if it is out-dated and the special effects look lame.
So – you tap into what people already accept and love.
It’s Classics, Retro and Vintage.
Think about music and how many albums are still churned out featuring music of the 50s, 60s and so on. People are nostalgic so they buy new mixes even if they already have some.
To do it well: think of what you liked as a child, or young adult and recreate that. You must not copy but add your own twist to make it fresh.
I would also say that you need to look back at least 10 years. Anything too recent won’t have a good build-up of that ‘Oh gosh! Do you remember that?!’ feeling.
My recent favourites: The Clangers. A classic animation that ended in the 1970s, pink mice in stop-animation. People love it and now it’s on TV again, the grown-ups can re-live the silly space stories with their children.
The Moomins is another childhood classic about to become a movie.
But be cautious too. The much anticipated ‘Go Set a Watchman’ by Harper Lee has hit hard times with a bookshop allegedly offering refunds to disappointed customers. Sometimes, it is best to leave things just as they are..
So, let’s say you loved Western Adventures – have a go at writing one. But stick to the established elements in between your own additions, so lots of fast horse-riding, emphasise landscapes, whips/guns, hand-to-hand combat etc. But you could make it the 23rd Century or make the horses ghosts?
This is about current trends.
Now, something can be uber-cool, so trendy it hurts! But be all over by tea-time – so be careful 😉 and only ‘go there’ if you already have something in mind. Perhaps that dusty novella you wrote 5 years ago about a vampire detective could finally have an audience?
It’s about jumping and catching the coat-tails of the latest wagon and hanging on.
YA is massive right now, especially fantasy, futuristic with strong females and little romance.
Super Hero fans are ensuring a perpetual stream of films, TV shows, books and brings the comic-books and graphic novels into mainstream. So if you have an idea that’s been on/off – get ON now.
A Classic Common is the ‘whodunnit’. Agatha Christie set this up decades ago but it has worldwide appeal and the formula is simple:
MURDER! + lots of suspects + a quirky Detective + real & false clues / another murder (usually of the lead suspect) = a final Reveal.
Within all enterprises from fashion to food, home furnishing, hair, garden design, cars to cocktails – someone is watching for the latest trends.
They do this because it’s an easy ticket to money. Why research when you can just watch what your competitors are doing and copy what works for them? Hey – everyone does it!
So when a writer seems to ‘appear’ from oblivion, it’s likely their manuscript has been in the Not Yet pile with an agent, just waiting for the right moment. EL James was writing in fan fiction before her erotica broke all the records. And the knock-on effect sparked new readers to buy books by other authors. And a trend began…
All these ‘trends’ began somewhere, so we meet the final key:
3. The CRAZY elements
JK Rowling took years and over 20 rejections to get her wizarding world into print. She took a risk, then persuaded others to join her. Her crazy idea has earned her millions and made her fit into both Comfort and Common as there are films, theatre shows and themed-rides now!
You can try options 1 and 2 but at some point, you will need to take the risk and just do your own thing. It is harder, especially as an Indie but this comes down to your passion as a writer.
If you WANT to write a novel that’s a diary in eight parts with three narrators across 150 years (plus robot cats) – you Go for it!
It may not be a blockbuster or best-seller but it will always be yours. Don’t shy away from publishing something you feel strongly about because nobody else is doing anything like it. That is the reason you should.
Good Luck in whatever venture you are currently thrashing about in!