For some reason, over the past few months CambridgeEditors has seen a rise in clients seeking an edit to or written critique of their mystery short stories, screenplays and novel manuscripts. What might have prompted this surge? A New York Times article from last year points to a potential reason, as it addresses a long-standing phenomenon: the human need for escapism during a recession (through romance and science fiction novels, in particular). People simply wish to be momentarily transported when times are tough—whether that place is a serene romance novel setting, or in an Avatar-esque alternate world. This escapist theory may also be supported by the continued rise in popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction. The Wall Street Journal online recently reported that publishers in the US and UK are clamoring to translate existing Nordic crime fiction mysteries because of their appeal and top-selling potential. But while these points say something in general about readers of fiction during an economic downturn, it does not exactly address the perspective of those writing the fiction.
Are creators of these fictitious worlds thinking about their escapism-seeking readers when they sit down to begin their work? Do headlines they see and experiences they have during this nationally depressed period spark ideas about the mystery storylines they create? In the case of our clients’ recent work in the mystery genre, I have to say it seems like a little of both. Writers inherently infuse specs of their own world onto the page, and also often have their potential readers in mind when crafting a story, to ensure it will draw them in. I am eager to see what kinds of writing trends will surface through them in the coming year as the economy (hopefully) rebounds and people’s spirits start to rise.