Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Trendsetters I

"To be or not to be, that is the question..." 

My writer's dichotomy: to write what the market dictates or to write the awe inspiring, compelling story electrified with personal passion and risk the market.

Some of my manuscripts have been safely tucked on my computer waiting for the market to realize the need. :)

On the other hand, my current WIP might complement both worlds if I added a tweak or two. Wouldn't it be nice to write the next blockbusting trendsetter of to-be-published books?

Easier said than done, I know. 

How can I transform my WIP to a trendsetter?

Here are some starters:

A trendsetting book does not need to be a new idea:

Someone once said, "There's no such thing as a new story." (I'd credit the person, if I knew who he or she was.)  

The 2000 blockbuster movie, Cast Away, marooned Tom Hank's character on an island for several years. So captivated by the Fed Ex agent's plight, I didn't notice this was the same story as Robinson Crusoe until someone pointed it out to me.  Was this story a mere remake? Hardly. Cast Away sparked freshness, appeal, and power.  It yanked viewers from their seats and plunged them deep into a gripping story.

Take a moment to think about your current WIP plot.  What story is it similar to: Cinderella, (rags to riches) Sleeping Beauty, (dashing prince saves the damsel) etc.?  What special barriers have you used in your plot to yank your readers from their sofas and plunged them deep into your gripping story?

A trendsetting book feels, breathes, and responds:

I'm not referring only to romance novels. Stephen King's books own these qualities as well.

Authors like King, Clancy, Asimov, Shakespeare, Blackstone, Rivers, Alcorn, and a host of others have crafted stories that pry doors open and propel readers into parallel worlds. On the other side of each door lays a golden invitation meticulously centered on a silver platter, inviting--enticing--daring readers to turn the page.

These trendsetting authors teased readers with simple temptations: come--turn the page and walk into my frightening room where fears are tested; close your eyes as you enter the murder room or prison, wash up on the shores of the uninhabited island, climb the Himalayas, plunge into the ocean, creep into the dark alley, swoosh into your true loves arms, or rest in the romantic cabin aboard a cruise ship.

Then on the last page, the last paragraph, the last line, the last word--readers will force themselves to breathe again--and wish for more. 

Only a trendsetter could do this.

This has turned into a greater topic than I thought. Part II will be posted in two weeks. 

Until then, what are your thoughts?

What story made you whip through its pages, desperately fighting sleep to finish another chapter, or possibly the last page? 

How can your novel make future writers say, "I'd wish I thought of that?"

How have you added spices to your novel to cause readers to savor the words, characters, plot, or setting and think about them the next day?


Angie Dicken said...

Do I dare admit the novels that had me flipping through frantically to finish them? Ahem, let's just say their were noble vampires involved. Yikes!
And to answer your last question, I think raising the stakes, being as dramatic as I can without being corny...
Good post, Mary!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Simple temptations...great point and so true. I noticed that in a book I recently fell in love with, The Outside Boy. People weren't falling down dead in every scene, but I wanted to turn the pages b/c the plot was moving.
~ Wendy

Mary Vee Writer said...

Great play on words, Angie :)
Hopefully CBA authors who venture into vampire territory see your encouragement.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Ahhhhhh key point...a moving plot. Yes, that is a quality of these trendsetters as wll.

I wonder how stories in the Robinson Crusoe category (like Cast Away), managed to keep the plot moving with an isolated setting. I think I need to go back and read/view those.

Keli Gwyn said...

I don't think of myself as a trendsetter. Perhaps that's because I write sweet, traditional historical romance. What I endeavor to do is create characters readers will enjoy spending time with and a plot that keeps their attention--all with just the right amount of spice to make things interesting.

I admire the trendsetters, though. They take readers where we've not been before, and that's a thrill.

Ralene said...

While I don't consider myself a trendsetter, I do hope to reach that peak some day. My passion in writing is to change lives--and to do that we have to push our readers beyond their comfort zone in a way that they will relish instead of turn away from. A fine balance.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Oooooo Ralene, I like your thinking. Thanks for stopping by.:)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Have you considered that by achieving your goal of, "endeavoring to create characters readers will enjoy spending time with and a plot that keeps their attention--all with just the right amount of spice to make things interesting" in essence trendsetting?
I so love your comments, and can't wait to meet you, perhaps at ACFW conference?

Keli Gwyn said...

Mary, I plan on attending the ACFW conference and look forward to meeting you in person.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great post, Mary! My writing takes a trend (Amish) and puts a different spin on it. Hopefully if it gets published, people will want to open the door, LOL.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Mary, your post echoes what I'm reading in a book by Donald Maass about writing a breakout novel--in a good way. I like to hear--need to hear--things more than once.
I've had my novel compared to a mix of a couple of popular movies--but it's that and a little something else. The "little something else"--that's me. And I hope it's not little--I hope what I've written is significant enough to make the book stand out. That readers get caught up in my characters' lives.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I hope so too. People like different, search and long for different:)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I've heard many writers talk about the wisdom in Donald Maass' books. I need to get one and find out what this buzz is all about. I shall put it top on my list.
I think character driven plots move readers to read more. They want to know what else happened to this new person they've met in a book. Great idea:)