Chick lit. Back in my day, it was candy. Today? Money.
And even still, you’d be surprised how many well-meaning authors screw it all up.
That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.
Dear Writing All Wrong,
What advice do you have on writing good chick lit?
—Caroline Heidl, Germantown, Md.
Well. Uh. Yeah. Right, then. Good to see you’ve asked the expert on chick lit.
From what I’ve gathered, chick lit is like the literary version of Lifetime®, only better, and more intelligent. Of course, the same could be said of Caveman Legal thrillers, armpit slicks, and the occasional YA ghostpunk novel. Here are some basics to getting these down, and getting them good (I think):
Don’t write about “man” stuff
Your chick lit shouldn’t contain any of the following:
-Eating pork rinds
-Losing an argument
-Being “OK” with someone pretending to listen
-Farting (or farting around) or burping (or burping around)
-Rounds of “chainsaw-jousting” while riding rocket-powered motorcycles
Writing about the common traits found only among the man part of the human race will discredit your intent, sad to say. Even if it’s pretty cool when ladyfolk do that kind of stuff.
Write believable women
“Susan Sass is on top of the world, having purged herself of insecurities, trusting in her gift of good looks, and using her perfected charm and wit to win over anything and anyone she wants. But deep down inside—she’s the exact same winner as she is on the outside! And she gets along with everyone in life: ex-boyfriends, jealous co-workers, even her mother-in-law.”
That’s not believable. Flaws make for great stories. Throw a few in the mix. Instability. Calamity. Acne.
Renege on romance
Because exotic, spicy fairytales of farfetched flings are just that: lousy. Prince Charming isn’t a popular guest star in the chick lit kingdom. Neither is Prince Perfect-Abs. The lads of chick lit are more pauper than prince. That’s life.
Don’t keep your distance on the difference
Gender. It’s as much knowing what differentiates what “women want” and what “dudes do” when the circumstances could be the same. To put it lightheartedly:
Crisis: Severance of employment.
Chick: “How could this happen to me? I thought I was doing just fine here. Great, months of job hunting and flailing, here I come. (Cue more introspection)”
Dude: “Sh*t, how’m I gonna pay up for my Ford, my beers, and my cigs this month?
Crisis: Relatives moving in.
Chick: “Oh. My. God. This was my house. And now it’s a courtroom where I’m being judged 24/7. Can’t somebody declare a mistrial?”
Dude: “We got an air mattress in the closet right? Ok, we’re good.”
Chick: “Here begins a new chapter of life, written before I picked up the pen. Breathe. This happens all the time. There’s a book on this, right? Ok. I’m not sick yet. Why am I not sick yet?”
Dude: “Wait, WHAT? How did I get pregnant? Man, all my bros are gonna flip.”
Come to think, I’m giving chick lit the win.
Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).