Trend-spotting is a good sport for the young at heart.
For writers, it's an important tool to gather
information that might be of interest to editors
in the coming year.
These trends are not silly fads that appear and
disappear like pet rocks. They can be silly but
indicate something that involves a good many
people such as the trend of outsourcing jobs to
India and Malaysia.
Here are some 2004 trends as reported in various media:
Mobile Phones; China; Home Theater; Broadband;
Pharmaceuticals; Baby Boomers.
There is a top tier of trend spotting referred
to as Metatrends (from Trendsetters 2004):
* * * * *
- Time Compression
- Fountain of Youth
- Generation X-tasy
The word "trend" was used to describe the way a
river or stream ran in physical space. Now we use
it to describe events running through time. From the
writer's point of view the best tool is simple
observation, intuition, and reading in the right places.
One thing that characterizes a trend is that it has,
like a river, momentum.
The list above indicate trends in the general culture.
But within every industry and community of people
there are trends that can be developed as ideas and sold
All a writer needs to do is write a one or two sentence
description of what the trend is. And then brainstorm
to build up ideas, take each idea and break
it down, ask questions of it, begin to research and
interview and start the process of marketing.
* * * * *
Resources abound for trend-spotting. Most magazines try
to highlight the trends for their subject whether it
is fashion or computers. Futurist think-tanks publish
books and papers on trends. And sometimes just a sharp
eye on what young people are doing can give a writer
a sense of what will be hot and marketable in a short
One of the best sources come from marketing groups
like Iconoclast. Another good source is the magazine,
* * * * *
Here are some examples of how trends appear in print:
An example of a metatrend in the software infrastructure
industry. It's very technical but if you are able to
interpret the arcane information and relate it to possible
advances in the near-term, it can lead you to some
Often an institute or organization will send out a press
release like this one, about the Top 10 functional food
trends for 2004.
* * * * *
The Internet provides an example of what happens. In
the mid-90's there were books, magazines, and articles
pouring out about the Internet. It was the trend that
set the tone in the mid-to-late 90's. People needed to
know what e-mail was, what a web site was, what html was,
what usenet was and so on. More than a few writers
made a living through that period because they could
ride that wave. And a few of them are still riding
this wave, as experts, because they discovered the trend
early and learned everything they could about it.
The trend slows down, however, and the writer needs to have an instinct about it.
Don't let trends mature before you get
on it and flesh it out. And, of course,
whenever a trend is a bull running loose through the
streets, do something counter-intuitive to it. Write what
is wrong with the trend. Editors like that type of stuff.
Trend-spotting: Anyone can play.
Trend-spotting for small business
A plague of bogus trend setters.
A writer doesn't have to be absolutely correct about the trend. The writer
isn't creating the trend or predicting it. She is simply picking it up early on
and carrying it to interested readers. Whether it succeeds or fails as a product
or an idea is neither here
nor there. The writer's job is to find the cutting edge
and get the information out about it.
There's always a trend book that details a rising generation. The
latest is Urban Tribes by Ethan Watters. Here's a review
of it in the Guardian Unlimited:
Remember that the ideas you come up with from a trend is only the first step
in a process that will lead to publishing an article. You need to target the article
to the appropriate market, to the right editor, with the right format. Read the
guidelines and study the publications you intend to send material to.
Written by David Eide, Sunoasis.com
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