Linday Cassidy Lewis asked in her blog post earlier today,
So I want to know: how are all these other writers clued in [to novel trends]?
From what I’ve heard and seen, it’s not a conspiracy but a natural phenomenon. The interests of a genre’s readers will shift in roughly the same directions, guided by what does and doesn’t work in the season’s published stories. Some of the genre’s readers are writers, who aren’t immune to the unconscious shifts. Stories pop up from the current flowing through writers’ minds.
Already you have a bunch of people writing to a trend they don’t know is forming. That’s happening now. It’s always happening.
The first writer to submit a uniquely captivating novel (let’s call it The Hot Novel of the Season) carves the way for others. Editors start looking through their piles for stories that are similar to THNS. Chances are, they’ll see plenty and choose the best of the shortlist.
So then, how do writers enter or stay in the current that flows through trends?
Read. Read the novels that started the genre, read the novels that won awards and clung to the bestsellers lists in the past few years, and read novels just now coming out.
Study. Successful novels contain the answers to what captivates readers and how new writers can do the same.
Write quickly. Tell your inner editor to shut up until the editing phase, trust your instincts, and write at every opportunity.
That’s my game plan. Though I don’t always follow it, I do believe it works.
Note: “Genre” in this post refers to works published by like-minded editors and read by like-minded readers.