by Anne R. Allen
I recently read on an agent’s blog, “Nobody’s looking for War and Peace.” And alas, I fear it’s true. I can’t remember the last time I said, “I want to get into a big 19th century novel.” (And there was a time when I loved them.)
Fiction is constantly evolving
Fiction writing has gone through vast changes since Tolstoy’s day.
In fact, it has changed a good deal in the last decade.
Amy Collins at The Book Designer reports the average NYT Bestseller is now half as long as it was in 2011.
And the brand new Smashwords survey shows bestselling romance novels have decreased by 20,000 words since 2012.
The fastest growing fiction form right now is the novella.
If you want to sell books in the 21st century, you need to write books for the 21st century reader.
Unfortunately, this fact makes some people very angry.
“If it was good enough for Leo Tolstoy or ______(insert classic author here.) It’s good enough for me! %*&! your rules!”
“I learned everything I need to know about popular fiction from reading Mickey Spillane and ______ (insert bestseller from days of yore.) I don’t need no stinkin’ writing classes.”
“That’s just your opinion! Besides, I’m not writing contemporary fiction. I’m writing classics!”
We get these comments every time we write a helpful craft post…in spite of the fact we always remind people that our tips are only guidelines to help you get successfully published, and not hard and fast rules.
But a lot of people get their panties in a twist when they find out that you have to learn how to write fiction..
They read books. Classics! So they ought to be able to write them without studying anything else.