So many writers spend too much time thinking about publishing trends. Maybe you see the success of books like THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT so you think, “I should really try writing a YA dystopian novel!” Or maybe you’ve seen agents on Twitter using the #mswl hashtag (manuscript wishlist), and you think, “I should write a novel that this particular agent will love!” I don’t think these things should be your main concern, though, especially when you are writing a first draft, when you are figuring out what your story is going to be.
You have to follow your passion and write the stories you want to tell. If you write stories specifically because you think they will sell or because you think it’s what people want, it will show. Readers can usually tell when the writer doesn’t care about what he or she is writing, when the writer is just going through the motions and not writing the stories that speak to who he or she is.
Write about the character you can’t stop thinking about. Write the stories you daydream about. Write about your obsessions. Write the stories you are passionate about, the stories you need to tell. Let your passion fuel your writing, especially when you are writing a first draft. Yes, you will want to think about your audience when you are revising. Perhaps a publisher or agent will suggest changes that make your manuscript more accessible to your target audience. Even when you make these changes, though, find a way to make them fit inside the story you want to tell.
And if an editor or agent is trying to change your manuscript in drastic ways, there is no shame in refusing those changes. This is why so many people self-publish. It gives them the freedom to tell the stories they want to tell without having to compromise. Sometimes, however, that compromise can lead to the discovery of a better story you are just as passionate about. Every writer has to take the path that is right for him or her.
The important thing to remember, though, is that when you write a first draft, you don’t want to think about publishing or what your future readers will think. Leave all of that for a later time. Just lose yourself in the joy of storytelling and have fun! So many people think the publishing process is the best part, and while it certainly is nice to see a finished product, the real fun is in the journey, the creation. So make sure you remember to enjoy the process. And tell the stories that sing to you, the stories you most want to tell.