About Me

My photo

English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

April A-Z: Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist(from German, literally time-spirit; used in English to mean 'spirit of the age', the all-encompassing tone or theme of the time)
The zeitgeist in books is, I guess, like the concept of a trend. But of course, as we all know, writing 'to trend' is problematic, since books published now were usually accepted for publication at least a year ago, and therefore written at least two years ago. So if you start writing your 'trendy' book now, you're already (at least) two years behind!

This is, of course, depressing. What if I have the perfect idea for a vampire dystopian YA novel? Well, many say 'get on with it anyway'. Every time you hear of something being too old hat to contemplate, somebody somewhere has produced something so good that a publisher couldn't turn it down even though it was on the very theme they're telling everyone not to pitch with! An interesting angle, something absolutely not derivative, may well get you read. And that may be the key here: too many people are writing very derivative and formulaic stuff because they believe that to be the trend.

What's reassuring is that agents and publishers never define precisely what they're after. They'll talk about voice: a strong voice, a unique voice, a fresh voice. They'll talk about plot and/or characters: a plot that hooks, characters we care about. But this is all in quite general terms; they won't specify theme, plot type or genre (beyond the 'we don't handle sci-fi'-type statement). This is because they don't know either. How many times have you read "I'll know it when I see it" or some version of that?

Don't stress about whether your current or next WiP is 'on trend' (or likely to start a new one) - just write the best book that you can.

Have you read anything interesting about 'trend' lately?


  1. Yep! This post, you make excellent points.

  2. Beth, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...