When I say ‘chick lit’, what do you think about? Fluffy novels? Air-head protagonists? Bags, shoes and designer clothes? Don’t be ashamed to admit it. That’s what I used to think when I read my first one a few years ago. Sure, there will always be poorly written chick lit novels with mediocre characterization and non-existent plot or storylines, but this happens in all genres. The truth is, chick lit has come a long way and now more than ever, publishers are looking for authors who can deliver not only a fun and sassy story but also a smart one as well. Just like in all genres, publishers of chick lit fiction want intelligent writing, a powerful premise, a likable protagonist with a strong, distinct voice readers can sympathize with, a villainess readers will love to hate, and a compelling plot.
Chick lit novels are extremely popular at the moment, mainly because of big hits like Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopoholic and Alisa Valdes Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club. Many aspiring authors think that writing chick lit may be the surest road to fame and six figure advances. Because chick lit novels are often fun, light reads, new writers may have the wrong assumption that they’re easy to write, but this isn’t the case. Just like any work of fiction, a good chick lit story takes talent and skill to write.
I recently had the chance to read two books on how to write chick lit: See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit, by bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski, and Will Write For Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel, by Cathy Yardley. Both are great resources, not only on how to write in this genre, but on learning everything there is to know about this type of fiction: its history, new trends, and tips and tools for breaking into the market.
But let’s take a closer look at each book.
In See Jane Write: A Girl’s Guide to Writing Chick Lit, the authors begin by explaining what chick lit is all about and exploring the reasons why you may want to write the chick lit novel. Then they go into the craft itself: creating the protagonists and secondary characters, the elements of style, the basics of plotting, deciding on a point of view, structure and pacing, and finally, the importance of revising. They also give submission, agent and publishing advice, including a short list of editors who handle chick lit. In the appendix, as a reading list, the authors give examples of popular chick lit authors and their books.
The font is pink and sometimes green, against sometimes pink or green background. The pages are thicker than the regular paperback, which made the pages stiffer and a bit less comfortable to turn. In spite of this, I found the book entertaining and informative, with the same humorous flavor of a chick lit novel, and the authors give helpful advice.
Will Write For Shoes is another great resource for the aspiring chick lit author.
This book goes into more detail explaining the genre and its history, and offers a ‘blue print’ for writing the novel. It also discusses in detail the various trends and subcategories within the genre. Like the title above, it tries to teach the craft with examples. Topics include: plot, structure, point of view, characters, setting, voice. It also stresses the importance of revision. Unlike the book above, it not only includes a good list of editors but also a list of agents who specialize in chick lit. There’s a sample query and synopsis in the appendix, something writers will find extremely useful.
This is a fun and comprehensive manual that should be in the permanent shelf of every new chick lit writer.
If you can get both, great. If you have to choose between the two, I’d recommend the second one, Will Write For Shoes. It’s more complete and the resources are better. I also liked that it’s presented in a more simple, uncluttered manner.
You too can share your story with the world because publishing your own book just got easier.