We are all blessed to have access to the work of hundreds of years worth of authors since the inventing of the printing press. There’s so much to love about books that were written long ago, and many of us have been influenced by writers who were long dead before we were even born.
But every writer, particularly one seeking publication, has one essential challenge: you have to write for today’s readers, not for the readers of the past.
Conventions change. Craft changes. Social mores change. Tastes change.
It’s fine to find inspiration in the past, but don’t defend your work from criticism by invoking a book that was written more than 10 years ago. The market and culture has changed immeasurably even in that time. Who knows if a certain book from the past would have been written the same way or have received the same reception or if it would have been published entirely.
This is why it’s so important to stay abreast of the market, to read what’s currently appealing to readers, and to be familiar with contemporary conventions. Even if your favorite authors are long gone.
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Art: Springtime by Claude Monet