Friday, February 21, 2020

Current Trends in Fiction

Image result for poached eggs

First, I must admit I'm opinionated, and the older I become, the more opinionated.  A few examples.  I detest the word "wellness."  I can't comprehend what it means.  Don't like kale either, although it's hard to avoid.  What I hate, hate, hate is seeing a poached egg dumped on every bowl or entree.  As a kid I was allergic to eggs.  They made me sick.  I outgrew the allergy and now I eat scrambled, hard boiled (if deviled), quiches, frittatas, the occasional omelet, but show me a runny egg and I run the other way.  Opinionated.

Now about fiction:  Vampires and Zombies are not longer so popular.  Neither is Chick Lit, but its still around.   What I am seeing a lot of these days is novels set in two time periods.  I am, in fact, writing one which I began (apparently with many others) unknowingly following some lemming-like instinct.  And it's hard.  I'm struggling with how to fit the periods together.  The 1953 period is one I find much more interesting that our current period.  So this is a real problem.  Half the writers I know are writing in two time periods. WRiting is hard  Good luck to all of us.

Women writers are doing well and some weeks they dominate the NY Times Best Seller List in fiction.  This is a trend I see continuing.  Not that the men have given up. But more men are writing female characters.  The ladies are populating thrillers and other novels.  Stories by immigrants (first or second generation) are getting lots of play.  Americans need to learn more about foreign countries and peoples. Open yourself up to new writers.

I like to read about foreign cultures. Did you like the film Parasite?   We just saw a German film, Goldfisch. Laughed 'til I cried.  Humor is good. It never goes out of style.
 I'm reading the second novel in Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series.  She is a brilliant writer. Her books are a master class in "show, don't tell." 

Technology is always a current trend.  I wrote four novels with software themes: information warfare, data mining, facial recognition and Y2K.  Technology changed faster than I could write, so I've give up on this facet of my writing.   Now I"m in 1953 in south-central Kansas and the wheat harvest.  It's another world. Party lines. Iceboxes. Old cars.

Grain Elevator in Newton, KS

Here are some excellent writers whose will have different takes on current trends.  Please take a look.

Skye Taylor
Connie Vines
Dr. Bob Rich
Fiona McGier
Rhobin Courtright

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Today's topic for our group blog is:
How can contemporary fiction cope with the rapid changes of today’s world? 

This is a great question.  I worked in technology as a programmer, systems analyst, and project leader for 25 years.  When i began writing, I had characters who also worked in technology and solved computer and other crimes.  Each novel had it's own niche.  The Shadow Warriors used "software agents."  World of Mirrors used data mining software.  Festival Madness portrayed hackers and facial recognition technology.  My latest novel, Chased By Death, had hackers and "Lojack for Laptops," but technology was not emphasized.  Bad people were.

A new book coming out in September, one that has been rewritten several times (it happens) was set at a company racing to get new systems installed before the "Millennial Bug."  Remember Y2K? Murder in the Northwoods is almost hisorical.

At some point, I realized technology was moving faster than I could write about it, because it takes me about three years to write a book.  That's if things are going well. I got off the technology train and wrote a novel set in 1928 California.  It hasn't sold yet, but it won't ever go out of date.  My current WIP is set in two periods in South Central Kansas during the wheat harvest.  No technology in 1953, but of course there is in 2019.  My heroine is trying to get off the grid because of a stalking ex-boyfriend.  Technology just won't go away, but it can play a minor role.

To answer the question of how to cope in one's fiction:  the author can depict the characters struggling with technology as we all do, or depict characters who are Luddites and avoid social media, etc. One can explore the character of those who create or push technology.  There is plenty of room for conflict.  If you don't want to write about any of it, set your fiction pre-1980s.

The rapid changes offer plenty of plots.  Climate change with its causes and many problems offers a. lot of possibilities.  Scientists and adventurers can become heroic.  Change offers the writer countless opportunities: lost and stolen cell phones or laptops, blackmail with sexting, dating and hookup websites,. The possibilities are endless. What if you fell for a fake phone call from a grandchild that she was stranded in a foreign country and needed cash?  What if a friend fell for a Nigerian swindle? Change and technology present opportunities.  It is up to the writer to seize them.

I am confident that the authors below have their own unique and interesting takes on this our first topic of the new year.  Do take a look! 

List of participants:

Skye Taylor
Dr. Bob Rich
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Jeverley Bateman
Fiona McGier
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin L Courtright