Blogger Jeff Goins says that modern writers should follow the example of The Hunger Games if they want to be successful.
What does that mean? Writers should write for a young, easily distracted audience, which means "short novels, in large fonts, with quick chapters." Sentences should be short, too, but the content should be "edgy."
That's the future of writing according to Goins, whether you're talking about fiction or nonfiction.
What he's arguing for, whether he knows it or not, is myriad knock-offs of The Hunger Games, books written to what might seem like a formula, or has been turned into one.
The result would be a raft of terrible books, as well as disappointed authors who think, "My books is just as good as The Hunger Games, why can't I sell it?" or "Why isn't anyone buying my book?" Hell, that's probably going to happen anyway, without his encouragement.
Now, maybe some writers can write to a formula, can churn out books that try to catch the cultural mood, books that mimic best sellers, but I suspect most authors are like me: We write the books we want to. We write the books that demand being written. We write books we're passionate about. We don't sit down with a handful of points to tick off to make sure we've got a winner.
Yes, we hope to do well with our books; we hope we'll have plenty of readers. But those of us who don't see the world the way Suzanne Collins does, can't suddenly adopt her style, her subject matter, her techniques just because they're salable. Or seem to be.
When I read advice like Goins', I'm reminded of people over the years who've advised people to major in one subject or another in college because a great job would be guaranteed. But you can't predict what's going to happen in any given profession.
And in writing, too, there just aren't any guarantees. Can anyone say for sure that long, complex, literate books like The Historian won't keep selling in the future, despite our changing attention span? Maybe they'll be exactly what many readers will want: books that are rich and deep and immersive. Books that take us as far away from our current overly-connected culture as possible.