Lesson Learned From Frozen: Write To Your Own Trend

Sisters, Elsa and Anna

Sisters, Elsa and Anna

Last week I stepped outside the 5% of the US population who has not seen the movie Frozen. I had been wanting the see the movie for a long time. With my background in Musical Theatre, this type of movie is within my personal category of MUST SEE.  Unfortunately, my daughter initially saw the movie without me, and she fell into the minority of children in the United States who didn’t feel the need to see it again. We live busy lives, and at a certain point I realized I was destined to see the movie once it came out on DVD. Even then, I BEGGED her to watch the movie with me, and when begging didn’t work, I moved into the phase of motherhood I’m really good at. I tortured her with the promise I would not stop singing Let It Go until she agreed to watch the movie with me.  As a former professional singer, the threat initially fell flat. I sang the song a few times through while doing chores around the house, and while maybe my singing proved a distraction from her current focus (reading The Fault In Our Stars) I transitioned into singing Let It Go BADLY, changing as many words as possible to capture her attention.  When I started to incorporate some truly horrific dance choreography into the performance, she put the book down and raced me to the door to rent the DVD. Even an 11 yr. old has her breaking point!

I was expecting a typical Disney love story movie musical in Frozen. Perhaps my love of another Disney movie, Brave which I blogged about years ago (Brave: Tackling the Complex Mother/Daughter Relationship) should have told me to expect much more than your typical Boy-Girl story. Yes, there is an adorable dancing and singing snowman, and while love and relationships between a man and a woman is within the story, it resides within a subplot. The main focus of the story is the love found within a family, in this instance, the strong bond of love and friendship between two sisters.

The focus of family in this movie sensation caused me to take a look at my own writing and the writing industry in general. When it comes to market trends, we are told not to write to trends but to write ahead of a trend. Study the industry and figure out what might be the next big thing. If you want to jump on the werewolf, shape-shifter craze, you better have written it already because writing it while that market is hot, only means by the time you’re ready to bring your story to the world, you will have missed the trend. So what is an author who is trying to write a break out novel in the industry supposed to do? One of our Femmes, Michele Mannon, wrote ahead of a trend. She had the idea to write Hot Alpha Male MMA stories before it really became a trend and took hold in the market. This stroke of brilliance it has paid off in spades for Michele. Another Femme, Diana Quincy, paved her own trail or trend within the popular Historical Romance genre with her Accidental Peers series. Both wrote from their hearts stories they were destined to tell with unique hooks. So what then about a contemporary writer like me who writes humorous, sexy, family driven contemporaries? I’m not about to write a shape-shifting story in the hopes of making a market splash. It just isn’t in me. My writing time is so limited, I have to write something this is true to my soul otherwise the time spent on a project will feel empty and the story will fall flat.

The explosion of the movie Frozen with the focus of true love and sacrifice residing within the family structure has given me hope. This has reminded me that, regardless of current or past market trends, the trend or the importance of Family within our society will never die out. I will continue to write from my heart and produce funny, family centric stories. My next romance series will focus on more than one family and how all their lives intersect and impact one another within a community. I’m planning to explore more complex family relationships while keeping the focus on one couple’s messy journey to a happily ever after. I started to explore this a bit in the third installment of my Brothers of Audubon Springs series, The Right Chord, which releases on August 6th. Could this be the next trend? I don’t know, but I do know I’m excited to tell the stories within this new series set. As a writer, motivation and excitement for a project are half the battle.

I’m wondering if anyone else was surprise by the twist in the focus of Frozen? Also, what do you believe will be the next big trend and what current trends in the writing, movie, or television industries have captured your attention or surprised you?

Happy reading and writing!

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32 Comments

  1. RoseAnn, I write family centric stories too (just love that phrase! had to use it:) But I’ve written all over the board. Not a big believer in trends, period. Clothing or books or even home design. I’m eclectic and accept that. I write because I want to tell stories, stories I want to read. That’s it. That’s my reason. But I have written what marketers would call chick lit, women’s fiction, mystery-ish romance, romance, paranormal. That’s not a smart marketing strategy because I am all over the place, going where the next story calls me.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      You truly write from your soul and it shows. The volume of work you produce on a regular basis amazes me. Keep smiling and writing, Cynthia. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  2. I did love the twist in Frozen and I love how artists are giving old stories a new POV. For me, the whole re-writing of old stories and/or telling them from the damaged character’s POV (this is usually the villain–i.e. Wicked) and creating this understanding that people are often bad for a reason, be it lack of love or being bullied for being different. I love that we’re start to accept that we all play a role in people’s lives and offering friendship and love to someone who is different can be their ultimate saving grace.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      So beautifully said, Barb.You do see that a lot more these days. Many examples come to mind from Once Upon a Time (another Disney owned show) where you see redemption and the good in characters that were thought to be pure evil. Thank you for pointing this out. It is another thing to keep in mind.

      Reply
  3. RoseAnn, I’m so glad to see another author who isn’t keen on following trends! I write in a genre that I know isn’t super popular, but it’s something I love. I feel strongly about writing only what you enjoy, and for me that’s RomCom and contemporary romance that infuses humor and family relationships. You and I are peas in a pod, girl!

    I loved the twist at the end of Frozen. LOVED it. I loved the movie, and would watch it again… Though the song is getting a little played out in my house with my daughter playing ten different versions of it from YouTube. haha!!!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 29, 2014

      Hi Niecey! Thanks so much for stopping by. Given how busy our lives are when we sit down to write we need to write stories that nourish our souls especially when you consider all the non-creative, business side of things we have to manage to launch our books. One day the world will blink and go…oh RIGHT..Romantic Comedy!!!!

      Reply
  4. I also loved the movie Frozen. I did enjoy the funny dancing snowman Olaf, but what captured my interest was the complex relationship between sisters. (I’m one of three sisters!) The move also wasn’t just a predictable Disney romance. I am a big believer in writing from the heart rather than following trends as well. Who can predict a trend? And even if I could, I don’t know if I could write a believable book about something that didn’t absolutely grab me. Great post, RoseAnn!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      I loved the bond between the sisters as well. Audiences are growing savvier every day and so are the story tellers. Drawing on the sister relationship pulls everyone in from an emotional perspective. We all either have a sibling we love, a sibling we wish we got along with better, or wish we had a sibling. Some of my favorite moments in my Brothers of Audubon Springs series are between the brothers and especially when the three of them are on the page together. Thanks, Tina!

      Reply
  5. I’m in the minority, I haven’t seen the movie. But I will. : ) I’m not into writing or chasing trends. I do love small town communities. Writing about family or community has universal appeal, regardless of native language. We all have a family of some description so can all relate to the emotion, frustration, quirkiness.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      Family will always tug on the heartstrings. Thank you for stopping in, Robena.

      Reply
  6. I’m with Robena; I haven’t seen the movie either. Sadly, no eleven year old to drag with me. I write small town contemporary romances too (among other things) because I love them. I love the push and pull of family relationships. These relationships are often messy and usually complicated, and they are a lot of fun to write. I feel a little like a family counsellor!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      Hi Jana – Often I feel like a counselor as well. Sometimes I even feel like I’m in therapy in my writing working out my own relationships on the page. I’m hoping to dive a bit deeper into the complexities in my next series. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
  7. Jenna Blue

     /  May 27, 2014

    There will always be a market for stories that focus on families–even as subplots to a romance, and I feel the same way about strong friendships. You can’t go wrong. Yes, these themes/focuses might be wide enough to not be considered a “trend,” but like you said, all you can do is write the stories that really speak to you–then they’ll call to readers as a natural thing b/c they’ll feel true.
    I loved the sister-angle in Frozen. As much as I love some of the oldies, we don’t need stories about a young woman being saved by a man, do we? ; ) Brave and Frozen, it’s a new era of Disney–woo hoo!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      I love that you mentioned friendships, because for many, friends become family. Brave might be one of my all time favorite Disney creations. I really never saw the twist coming from the commercials. I was so thrilled to have seen the movie with my girl.

      Reply
  8. Enjoyed your post – I’m among the 5% that has not seen the movie, have no desire to see the movie, and to my knowledge, haven’t heard the song you were singing to lure your daughter. So, I can’t speak to plot points! I do think though, that writing the book of your heart is more important than following trends. All genres have followers, so if you write honestly, your readers will stick with you through the years.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      I love what I’m hearing in the comments. We are always told that our best promotional tool is to write the best book we can, so books from the heart, it is! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your feedback.

      Reply
  9. LOL I fought not to watch the movie but at the end I lost. How? Because I had to babysit my 3 year old niece and she watched it 4 Times in a row last month!!! I wasn’t sure what I though about it before hand. I just remember seeing so many Anna dolls and so little of Elsa dolls that I thought Elsa was the lesser liked sister, but wow was I wrong on that front! Elsa dolls were disappearing because kids loved her!

    But since now that I’ve seen it like over ten times (not by choice) I think there’s just too much singing. Yes, I love the Opera and Les Miserables but for this kind of film I just didn’t care for it. Am I the only one in this? Probably. But I did like the fact that it wasn’t focused on romance and love between a guy and girl but of family and most definitely between sisters! But then I can see sisters fighting over who gets to be Elsa…..LOL

    But my ultimate favorite will always be UP!!!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      UP! will always and forever bring tears to my eyes! Another movie that totally took me by surprise. I feel your pain…when my stepson was 8 or 9 the movie Twister was on auto replay in our house. All these years later my hubs and I can still recite the lines.

      I might shock a few Theatre buddies by admitting that I also believe there was too much singing. From my perspective Frozen seemed as if it had been written for the stage and they decided to make the film version first. I suspect it will hit the Broadway stage in the next few years. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
      • Oh, yes now that I can definitely see happening on stage! “You’ve seen the Disney movie, now see it LIVE on stage!!!!”

        Hmmmmm :/

      • RoseAnn DeFranco

         /  May 27, 2014

        It sounds like a lovely day at the theatre will be planned for you and your niece! Memories to last a lifetime! :)

  10. Great post. And I found the twist interesting – especially that it wasn’t marketed as an unusual story, but more the typical “girl meets prince, gets HEA.” And I loved the reminder to write to our passions. (Mine actually is werewolf / paranormal stories) :) Trends come and go, but passion for a story by a writer translates often to passion by the readers. And a good story will always remain a good story. Just my two cents.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      Hi! You brought up a good point. Movies like Frozen and Brave WERE marketed like a typical boy meets girl story. In Brave from all the commercials, I felt sure she was going to make her own destiny, find her own prince. I was expecting a strong character, but I did not expect a mother/daughter story. There is something to be said in the brilliant distraction of the marketing of the movies, but it also speaks to what the industry thinks the world is still looking for. Of course…DISNEY is Disney and they can get away with something like that.

      Reply
  11. Frozen was so not what I expected. I think, based on the marketing, I expected a movie about an animated snowman. I have NEVER BEEN HAPPIER TO HAVE BEEN PROVEN WRONG.

    Anyway, Jenna is right — there will always be a market for family rom-com books! It’s hard to write ahead of a curve because very rarely do we know what that next thing will be. It’s like trying to anticipate the lottery numbers…

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 27, 2014

      So true, Joanna. I can’t tell you how many times I saw that snowman dance during the non-stop Disney commercials. Personally, the snowman and his song do NOTHING for me. I’ll admit, for a long time I wasn’t sure what the craze was all about. Obviously, Frozen has an amazing song in Let It Go, but I do like to think that the bonds of family kept the families coming back to the theatres.

      As for writing ahead of the curve, THANK YOU for the reminder to get my lottery tickets! I’ve decided that my new career goal is to win the lottery, and I’ve yet to purchase a ticket. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and isn’t that what we’re all doing? How many times have we heard a keynote tell us that it took her (or him) 15 years, a lot of rejections, and a lot of published novels to write the ONE novel that turned her into an “Overnight Sensation?” Keep writing, my friends!

      Reply
  12. The more I watch it, the more I love LOVE Frozen. My books also incorporate family and friendship in the story and find this a theme I enjoy watching in movies. I loved how Olaf was willing to sacrifice himself for Ana (“some people are worth melting for”). I also love how the guy wasn’t the hero and Ana was saved by being true to herself and her love for her sister. Lovely twist on the traditional fairytale.

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 28, 2014

      YES! I love a heroine who can save herself, plus the selfless choices of the characters. Again, anytime emotional stakes are high, the audience is drawn in.

      Reply
  13. Frozen? Definitely not one of my favs from Disney. I am and always will be a Beauty and the Beast girl. But I also don’t have a sister. My daughters, on the other hand, LOVE Frozen and have told me that’s the reason I don’t “get” it. Brothers don’t count, evidently.

    Now if Disney does an animated film about a girl and her adorable but trouble-making Schnoodle, I’m all in.
    ;)

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 28, 2014

      Hi Talia,

      I will never forget crying in the moving theatre when the Beast gave Belle the Library.

      You bring up an interesting point about not getting the sister connection. For me, I only have a brother and while I don’t want to say too much because my mother might be lurking in the comments, I think I write positive and close sibling relationships in my stories because it is something I rather missed out on in real life.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  14. I haven’t seen Frozen yet either but I LOVE books with complex family relationships – they imitate real life and often have a happier ending! I think you are right that you have to write what you feel inspired to write and not follow trends!

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  May 29, 2014

      YOU HAVEN’T SEEN FROZEN????? You must have teenage sons! Yes…real life is complex and messy, mirroring that in books hopefully gives the reader something to root for!

      Reply
  15. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  June 3, 2014

    RoseAnn, both you and Maria write great family focused books…it’s what makes them resonate with so many people. It’s clear you write from your heart, which I think is crucial no matter what you write.

    I have to say, though…Frozen fell flat for me. Maybe I was in the wrong mood when I watched it, or maybe there was so much hype there was no way my expectations could be met. I might have to work myself up to watch it again. ;)

    Jaye

    Reply
    • RoseAnn DeFranco

       /  June 3, 2014

      If I’m being honest…one theatre girl to another…I felt the same. I did like the family twist though, and it breathed it bit of hope inside for my own writing. :)

      Reply

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