For my next writing project, I’m torn between two choices:
I could write an urban fantasy story that revolves around a guy in an office being harassed by a mermaid. This would be the sort of mermaid who looks like a normal human being, unless she’s immersed in water. As aspiring writers should know, having just one good idea is not enough to make a novel-length story. At least two strong ideas should collide with each other. So I have the concept of a slightly alternate society in which it’s no big deal to have a mermaid working in the office, and I combine that with the idea of a nice guy being sexually harassed by her and having little recourse, since he’s a white male in a society afflicted by political correctness.
Editors and agents say they want to see urban fantasies that don’t have vampires or werewolves. And sexual harassment is a perennial subject, and it’s interesting for a man to be harassed, to comment on a political correctness that many now acknowledge has run amuck.
The other choice is to write a mashup of The War of the Worlds. The art of the mashup is to take some fantasy or horror concept and mash it into some beloved pre-copyright work. The most famous example is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Most of the novel is still Jane Austen’s novel, with scenes of zombie attacks added. The concept has expanded a little so that the older story doesn’t have to be an actual book. And so we have the novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with the movie version soon to be released.
A mashup of The War of the Worlds has already been done, adding more horror elements. I would go in the other direction, adding a lighthearted element I won’t reveal yet. The advantage of writing a mashup is that with the coming movie, there may be a demand for more in this mixed-up genre.
Of course, it’s not a good idea for an aspiring novelist to choose a genre or subgenre just because of what’s hot or may about to become hot. It’s best to write what one really wants to write and hope that catches the public’s fancy. I’ll announce my decision soon.