Thursday, 19 November 2009

Unfashionable Writing?

Queen Henrietta Maria

I have been asked to review a new novel for the Historical Novel Review Blog that is about to be published by a UK company. This is a second novel and a sequel to the author's first - an historical family saga. It's a great story, beautifully written and the kind of thing I love reading, and writing. However, I am told that publishers, in particular UK ones, won't accept family sagas, especially historical ones as they are considered 'unfashionable?'

So we are back to the old question, do authors write for the market, or simply what appeals and hope publishers will like it enough to buck the trends?

On a personal level, I have found that publishers often say they like my story/writing style/author voice etc, but still don't feel my novel 'fits with what they are publishing at the moment'.

According to agent blogs I have read lately, publishers are looking for short, [80k to 95k wordcount] romantically centred works. Writers should avoid taboo subjects like, rape, incest, kidnap, an evil hero, terminal illnesses, and terrorism. The guidelines state stories should include: 'wonderful characters, a strong plot, high levels of tension, and an ending that will make the reader swoon and wish she were in the heroine's place.'

Hmm.. easier said than done when you are trying to fit that in with historical events and real people - it makes me masochistic to say the least! That doesn't mean I won't keep trying though.


Northern Lights said...

Thanks for an interesting read. More a case of write and be damned then publish and be damned.


Glynis said...

Interesting, I am afraid I am just writing whatever spills from my brain cell. I have to hope it will be in fashion by the time I finish it. :)

Anne Gilbert said...

FranklyI don't know what to do! I'm not writing a "family saga"(though I think I know why they are now considered "unfashionable"), but my story is rather long,though I'm tryng to shorten it, and it's complex. It has romantic elements, but it's not a romance. And it's medieval for heaven's sake. But I find I can't write any other way! I think in the long run, you have to write what you write, without worrying(too muc) about "the market". I also get an impression(though I don't know if this is accurate or not), that male writers get a lot more leeway in some of these departments than female ones.

BTW, I've noticed that a lot of people who read or review books often praise the writers for "beautiful writing". What the heck does that mean? I don't mean to sound dumb, but if a story is good, I'm not sure a lot of readers are going to care that much about whether the writing is "beautiful", and some stories that are elegantly written, say exactly nothing at all.
Anne G