The Puppet Master
by Angela Guillaume.
Everything changes. The world around us, our tastes, our lifestyle, our very selves. I've been thinking a lot about trends lately. Trends are something everyone talks about. They're a rolling wave that hits most aspects of our lives. Trends solidify change; they constantly remind us that nothing ever stays the same. As a writer, I feel its essential to see where the market is going. Publishers and friends tell you to write what you love - and that's true - but the industry operates with a mind of its own. Or does it? Everything is spurred, inspired or influenced by something - so what influences us and what determines the stories we write?
I watch TV, and rather than individual shows, I see patterns and groups. For instance, I see Two and a Half Men, How I Met your Mother, and My Dad %^&!@#* Says (did I get that right? lol) as spawn of the same DNA. Then we have the Vampire/Supernatural craze - but with a twist. Here comes True Blood, Supernatural, The Ghost Whisperer. Cop-comedy with Reno 911, Monk and Psych. Cop shows - NYPD, CSI, CSI Miami, CSI New York, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, NCIS, Law and Order, The Closer, The Shield, The Wire, and the list goes on. Some also come with a different flavor. E.g., Dexter and The Mentalist. Alternate universe - Lost, Fringe, Heroes, Once Upon a Time. Chick-flickish type shows - Sex and the City, Will & Grace, Friends. "Good" criminals or assassins - Nikita, Leverage.
I've heard people say that when TV comes up with new trends, they are often reflected in similar themes in the book world. Or, I wonder, is it the other way round? Perhaps it's the popularity of the Twilight Trilogy that pushed the vampire craze into mainstream pop culture. These last few years we've seen a slew of books being made into movies - it's not just the classics any more. Nicholas Sparks, Dan Brown, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alice Sebold, John Berendt, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum... these and many other authors may not only be read, they can also be seen.
An exciting trend I'm noticing in both books and movies is the steampunk genre. I realized I've seen quite a few movies in this genre, and I can see this trend growing - Wild Wild West, Van Helsing, Hell Boy, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Prestige, The Golden Compass, The Three Musketeers, are only a few examples. I love the Victorian/Goth/Industrial elements in these stories. But, as the new movie, The Three Musketeers shows, steampunk themes can go beyond the Victorian era.
It's all about perception. Trends can be seen as restricting creativity on the one hand, but on the other hand, they can be used as guidelines to help the imagination soar. That can't be a bad thing, can it? We can write what we love, while incorporating new, fresh elements into our stories.
So, my questions are - what is your favorite book turned movie? And what genre/trend fascinates you most?