|Ray Davies - a dedicated follower of fashion|
The phrase 'keeping on trend' makes me immediately think of clothes. My mind's eye zooms in on a fashion victim - a slave to the vagaries of the latest craze.To be 'trendy' has always had a pejorative tone to me - but in the context of publishing, I may be unfair.
There's a certain flow to change, a river of new ideas. It will have little eddies that go nowhere much, it will carry all sorts of detritus, but it will move. We can walk along the banks and observe - but we don't have to be swept away by every new tributary.
|They say only dead fish go with the flow.|
With a lead time of 18 months to two years or so in the book world, trend-chasing is a pointless sport. There is nothing anyone can do to manufacture changes in taste - not even Hollywood.
“Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.”― William Goldman,
BUT there are two main reasons for observing trends. One, you keep up-to-date so you don't submit a vampire novel where they sparkle in daylight - and you learn gems like two-colour illustrated titles were a thing at Bologna this year. It's both inspiring and informative to look at what is happening right now. Nonetheless, there are dangers:
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
― Haruki Murakami,
I imagine that applies visually, too.
Secondly, by following the changes in the industry, you develop your understanding of where to send your work. Keeping on trend in our world is being aware of who is looking for what. #mswl is a case in point - and in the long term, the developments in self-publishing and crowd-funding are of interest to us all.
There are deeper shifts too - I think we all hope and trust that inclusivity is not just a fad. Stories with diverse characters and themes are way too important to be just 'flavour of the month'. This applies as much for the visual as for the written.
So how do I use this? Some ideas to try out:
- does your main character follow fashions - or have their own style?
- are the norms of the group conformed to - or defied?
- remember - even the smallest toddler has opinions on what they wear!
- being careless about appearance is just as much evidence of an opinion as fastidiousness
- in the world of your story, who are the trendsetters, and who are the followers?
- who innovates there - young or old, rich or poor, male or female, black or white?
- trends can show who has the power - and who subverts that power.
- does your world have a counter-culture with its own different trends?