Thank you, Laura Kilmartin, for taking over my blog today and telling us why you love chick lit. I agree wholeheartedly with your definition of chick lit, and I found your post as interesting and engaging to read as your delightful first novel, Next Year I’ll Be Perfect. I am anxiously awaiting book 2!!
Meredith – congratulations on the release of Novelista Girl! I loved Blogger Girl and can’t wait to read your new book! Thank you also for inviting me to post to your blog today and share why I like writing chick lit. Before I discuss my own writing style, though, I want to share what I consider to be characteristics of the chick lit genre.
At the highest level, chick lit novels feature female protagonists who try to overcome some kind of obstacle or achieve a goal that is relatable to readers. These novels often – but not always – include a romantic element, but unlike romance novels, chick lit love interests are generally important more for what they bring to or reflect in the main character. Most chick lit is written in a light-hearted narrative style and almost always ends on a positive note for the main character. This doesn’t mean that the main character always succeeds in achieving the goals set for herself, but she is satisfied in the way life has unfolded and has learned something new along the way.
Now, this is just my definition of chick lit, and I’m sure there are dozens of incredibly well-written exceptions out there that prove the rule. In fact, if you poll ten different chick lit readers and authors, you could come up with different definitions, which I’d love to discuss in the comments.
But back to the original question: Why do I enjoy writing chick lit?
First and foremost, I love to craft a happy ending.
I’ve read and will continue to read wonderful books where things don’t end well for the main characters.
I mean, Beth March dies, people! My 12 year old self was not prepared for that heartache, but I love Little Women all the same.
When I write, though, I make sure that the people I’ve come to care about will have their happily-ever-after. That doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen throughout the course of the story. In fact, bad things have to happen so that readers feel satisfied that the main character has earned the happiness that has come her way. That also doesn’t mean that the main character will achieve the happy ending she set after at the beginning of the novel. Plot twists and turns often take her in an entirely different direction, but I like writing stories that ultimately ends in a positive way.
Another reason I write chick lit is because I like writing main characters who are likeable, but flawed. I’ve read a few novels where the main character is perfect, and while bad things may happen, her actions and reactions are always of the pitch-perfect, Papa-John-Walton-would-approve variety.
I don’t know about you, but that isn’t real life to me.
People are flawed. They overreact. They get cranky and say things they don’t really mean. They misread situations because they don’t have the benefit of hindsight or knowing what is going on in other peoples’ heads. They also leap in head first to defend their friends without worrying about petty annoyances like facts. Real women worry about office politics, raising healthy children and ways to express their social consciousness. They also worry about looking too hippy in their new little black dress and wonder why the other soccer moms didn’t like the status they just posted on Facebook. Writing real, balanced women is both incredibly challenging and so much fun when you get it right.
Finally, I love to write in the chick lit style which is light-hearted, but not light. Breezy and whimsical at times, but always set on a substantial foundation. There is humor, but not at the expense of the emotional depth of the story.
In a nutshell, life is fun and life is funny and the way I enjoy writing humor peppered with pop culture references gravitates toward a style that is common in the chick lit genre. Here’s an example from my next novel when the main character returns to find her paralegal rushing to tell her that their office is in crisis:
As I walked through the door to my office reception area, Natalie leapt from the front desk and came running toward me. I took an involuntary step backward, fearing she might play Dino to my Fred Flintstone returning home for the day.
Like a dog sensing the edges of an invisible fence she’d been trained not to cross, she quivered a few inches shy of throwing herself at me in a full body hug. “I am so glad to see you! David Hastings is on the phone and Eric is in your office.”
Something serious is about to go down for our main character, but I didn’t have to write about it in a serious way.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that a good chick lit story is like taking a day hike up a mountain. The main character takes along her best friends, they share some laughs along the way, and even though she encounters some barriers and may even need to change paths a few times, the reader isn’t too worried, knowing that she will eventually reach the summit.
Except, of course, I don’t really like to hike.
But I do like to read and write about people hiking. While I’m on my couch. Covered with an afghan. Drinking tea.
Novelista Girl – Coming January 6, 2016
Readers first met sassy Kimberly Long in Blogger Girl, and now the feisty New Yorker is back in a sequel packed with quick wit, friendship, heartache, and, of course, romance.
Kim runs the most popular chick lit book blog on the web, loves playing house with her sexy lawyer boyfriend, Nicholas, and is finally pursuing her lifelong dream to become a published author. At first glance, her life is five-pink-champagne-flutes worthy.
But is there more to the story than meets the eye?
After hearing the phrase “chick lit is dead” more times than she’s read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim is driven to desperate measures, seeking advice from up-and-coming chick lit author, Hannah Marshak, her high school nemesis and resident “mean girl.” As if Kim doesn’t have enough on her plate balancing her secretarial duties with her blog Pastel Is the New Black, shrugging off the growing pile of agent rejections, and keeping her best friend from turning green over Kim’s budding friendship with Hannah, Nicholas is so blinded by his career ambitions, he doesn’t see that their home sweet home could use more than a dash of sugar.
This is the year when all of Kim’s dreams—professional and romantic—are supposed to come true, but will the story have a happily ever after, or will Kim end up unpublished and all alone?
This novel can be read as a sequel or as a standalone and is best accompanied by a cocktail, preferably a pink one.