Books & Writing

Hey, That’s My Plot: The Ups and Downs of Being on Trend

The CW just announced a pick up on a pilot called Cult. The show revolves are the cast and crew of a TV show and in particular, one intrepid PA. When someone starts killing off people in line with the show, a PA and a reporter team up to find out who is behind it. Is it a crazed fan or someone who wants it to seem like the fandom’s gone out of control.

My kind of show! It’s a mystery, there’s a conspiracy and it’s about Hollywood. Even better, it’s about fandom. I’ve been a fangirl my whole life and it’s a world unto itself.

That’s probably why, for many years now, I’ve attempted to write a murder mystery that deals with the topic of fandom. For example, my latest effort, Where, Oh Where is Eugenia Snow (the one I showed in my Scrivener video) is about an interactive TV series that changes each week depending on the clues people find in the real world. Only, oops – one of the actresses gets murdered just after she’s killed off on the show. The show runner and an FBI agent team up to find out if the killer is a rabid fan or just someone hoping to hide behind the fandom.

Notice the similarities to the CW show Cult? Also, it turns out, to a new interactive TV show coming to Syfy that will be influenced by the actions of the fans who play online.

Did I copy these shows? No.

Did they copy me? No.

This is just how it works. I wrote vampire detective long before Angel and Moonlight, but so did hundreds of other writers, I imagine. Part of the reason is that there are only 7 basic plots in the world. It’s true. The variations come when you start mixing up the setting and the characters and the genre. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl can be West Side Story, Titanic or Twilight.

So the question arises, is this a good thing or a bad thing? You could say that the fact that I’m working on a novel that is now similar to a new TV series means I’m on trend. I understand what the public wants and I should keep forging ahead.

On the other hand, any book written today isn’t going to see readers for another year or more so then I’ll be behind the trend. That’s not good. When I pitched my first vampire romance, I was told that the paranormal genre was dead. No market. Ten years later, I sold my paranormal romance Waiting for Ethan because the trend had come around again.

If you wait long enough, everything comes back, right? Or you have to find a publisher brave enough to start a new trend.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. Should I be bolstered by the rising tide of TV shows, books and movies that fit into the realm I’ve always written about (and never was able to sell) or should I run screaming because now it’s old news.

I guess my biggest fear is actually finishing a book, sending it out there only to have people come back and say, hey, that’s already been done.

What do you think? Have you ever written something that you then saw pop up on TV or in another book. I’m not talking about broad plots, but details that make you wonder if you and the other author share a brain.

And what do you think about writing to trends. Good idea? Bad idea? Or a great idea if that’s what you love, anyway?


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