Enter the drawing for Star in the Forest by Laura Resau by midnight August 15! Scroll down one. :)
Writers can't help but look at trends in fiction, even though we're often cautioned not to chase trends as we write. The types of trends we usually mean are those of genre and structure: Is dystopian rising? Is YA paranormal about over? Can I hope to sell a historical in this market? Does my YA have to be in first person? Can I use present tense in MG? These might be called macro trends. But I've been noticing small, micro, trends too. Have you ever read a number of books in a row and, different though they may be, they all do an obvious something? Two related examples I've found recently:
First, the "heavily dependent on another book/author" trend, found in When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (A Wrinkle in Time), Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (To Kill a Mockingbird),Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal (Harper Lee, Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor), and Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (Tennyson and at least one Bronte). I know some ideas seem to "float out there in the spirit" and more than one writer can "catch" them, but I wonder -- is this an attempt to shore up a type of literacy we're afraid kids are losing? I don't know that it's deliberate didacticism, but authors make their choices for a reason. I'm curious about that reason. And I'm not sure how I feel about this trend. I like all the books I've named above, but, particularly when it's another novel that's featured (or a poorly educated mom who just happens to love major American authors), there's something about the dependence that subtracts. Any thoughts?
Second, a recent penchant for vocabulary building.Reference again Mockingbird, whose MC, ten-year-old Caitlin, is going through bereavement, has Asperger's, and her best friend is the dictionary; Bruiser, in which the parents, both literature professors, have alternated giving one vocabulary-building word a day to their kids all their lives; and also Love Puppies and Corner Kicks, by RW Krech, in which soccer-playing Andrea often has her nose in her favorite book (hmm, not unlike trend #1): Word Power: Enhancing and Extending Your Vocabulary. Using vocabulary words and pronunciations/meanings as chapter titles is a fairly common, though not universal, feature of these books.
Any ideas about what's going on? Have you noticed any other micro-trends in recent books you've read? Have you found any you'd like to continue? :)