Following trends is the financial lifeblood of authors. I get that you want to speak your truth, but the reality is that if you want to make writing a career, you must follow the reader's trends.
Currently, trends are easily googled.
Growing Demand for Audiobooks and eBooks.
More Book Summary Platforms Emerge.
Political Books Remain Popular.
Small Bookstores Continue to Dwindle.
Libraries At Odds with Publishers.
Tech Becomes a Competitive Advantage.
But getting down to the nitty-gritty of trends within your chosen genre can be trickier. More than likely, you are an avid reader if you are a writer, and this will make following the trends a lot simpler if you're like me; however, you don't have a ton of time anymore to sit around and read, although I long for those days to come around once again. So, understanding where to find these trends becomes essential.
Let's make it a bit easier.
Covid brought along a lot of exciting trends; among them was a high interest in sexual storylines and destination-themed stories. I will break down why this was... I know it will make some of you uncomfortable, but it had to do with being trapped in a house with your significant other. Believe it or not, tinder interaction increased by 39% during the lockdown. Surprise, surprise, there was quite a bit of infidelity. Part of that is that most relationships only last for a few waking hours a day and then maybe two full days on the weekends. Hey, everyone needs a break. Divorce skyrocketed, and unhappiness ran in abundance.
In turn, romance and erotica novels have seen record sales levels, I would argue that they haven't ever been this high in the United States, but I could see that they may have been surpassed during the late 60s and 70s during our sexual revolution. Weirdly, the smuttier, the better. All genders just wanted to let their imaginations scrape the proverbial gutters and see what it would be like to experience a different sexual partner. No judgment; I am just stating facts. And this is why it is essential to not only follow trends but also predict them.
Another side effect of the lockdown was being unable to go on vacation. I still haven't, frankly, and it's killing me. It has nothing to do with Covid, it has more to do with writing, but I digress. Suddenly, novels no one had heard of before set record-breaking sales and ended up on Barnes & Noble's tables. This is weird because Barnes & Nobles is well-known for not carrying Indie books on their shelves. (For those who don't know, Barnes & Nobles is one of the major deciding factors in what gets traditionally published each quarter. I will get into that in another blog)
So... Ok, then, what do you mean by destination writing? Great question.
If you want to know how to write destinations into your future novels, go to a travel agency. Their flyers and pamphlets are the most descriptive destinations in the world. The reason? They place their customers in the locations where they want to spend money to get there. That is what you must do as well.
But I eventually found a clear space and lifted myself to the top. Dropping down, I found myself in waist-high grass. Was this guy serious? He couldn't find time between beating his kid to mow his yard? I waded through the still-wet grass towards his back door, trying to decide exactly how I was going to handle my kill. (Hi, My Name's Charlie, 2021)
As you can see from the above quote from my first novel, this is not a destination description. It is just some lazy, child-abusing, now dead, fictional neighbor's yard. Not super descriptive, just setting the scene for what is about to happen. But there is a big difference when you write vacation destinations into your work.
The ship was abuzz with literally thousands of people milling around the multiple floors of entertainment. A calypsos band played loudly at the center of the ship, echoing up the remaining three floors in the center atrium. It aided to set a beachy, party tone to all that heard it. Down the halls on each floor different music genres battled with the steelpan drums to catch the passenger's attention in hopes of drawing them into to the different clubs and bars. (Hi, My Name's Tina, 2023)
I used sound to describe a scene on a cruise ship. Even if you haven't ever been on a Caribbean cruise, you know exactly what one would sound like. You would find it odd if you didn't hear steel drums on a cruise. But let's say you wanted to use another sense to describe a destination.
Aromatic waves of burning pimento wood filled the salty air. Jamaican spices almost cause my eyes to water as much as my mouth currently was. Hours had passed since we landed on the white sandy shores of this island, and I had yet to see any other source of nourishment, save the occasional spiced-rum vendor along the crushed seashell roads. (Hi, My Name's Aryn, 2022)
See? you don't need to be too descriptive on every scene visually; you can rely on any sense to set up the destination—it is all about perspective. I read somewhere once that 70% of communication is nonverbal. This would also be the case when someone reads. Authors lean too heavily on how readers perceive scenes visually—using colors and objects to describe scenes instead of exploring the other senses. Be creative and try things out. Experiment a little with writing outside of the box.
An author can use this type of expression effectively. If you don't believe me, just read through the first two chapters of any Louis Lamour novel. Do you want to learn from a master at destination description? He is your guy. If you want to learn how to describe a scene using your other senses, pick up a J.K. Rowling novel.
Either way, you need to follow the trends, and the current trend is writing vacation-themed scen