I'm sure there have always been trends, but I think after the recent vampire craze, writers are convinced that if they can just write a book that follows the latest trend, they'll get published. The latest trend: YA (young adult). Some authors have been trying to write the next best YA, even though they've never actually read one. I have met authors who are truly writing YA and have been long before the supposed trend started (Hi, Amy), but others see it as what agents and editors want, so they write a story with a main character who's in high school and dealing with a whole bunch of angsty things. Surely that's all it takes to write a great YA? But, two things are wrong with this theory: first, YA is not just a regular story with younger characters, and second, by the time a writing trend becomes a trend, it's on its way out.
YA's are about the characters and stories, but they're also about the voice, the character mindset, and so many other things that are hard to nail down. You can't dress up an adult romance in Abercrombie and call it a YA.
Also, by the time you grasp the trend, the publising world will be moving on to the next one. Vampires-OUT, Werewolves-OUT, Shapeshifters-OUT, Zombies-still a little hot but soon to be OUT! Does that mean if you write vampire, werewolves, or yellow, polka-dotted shapeshifting unicorns, that you'll never find a publisher? Not necessarily.
If you want to get published, write the best book YOU can, no matter the trends. Either you'll chance into the next trend, or someone will recognize the love and attention you put into the story you cared enough to write well. The only trend you should follow is your own, oh, and the yellow, polka-dotted shapeshifting unicorns.
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