Bring on the Chick-Lit Writing Challenge


“What’s a chick-lit writing challenge, and who needs it anyway,” might sum up your mentality about the title above and the genre in general. “After all, anything called 'chick-lit' can’t be very hard to compose.”

That’s an understandable position considering, yes, its name. Not to mention Tuesday’s Definition about what makes the genre distinctive:

That’d be the humor involved in almost every single sentence.

It’s written with intentionally melodramatic word choices that lightly mock the characters, exposition that pokes fun at every turn possible, and/or a general style that quite simply doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Chick-lit knows it’s not the next great literary work. And it’s perfectly fine with that.

So, again, a "chick-lit writing challenge" doesn't sound very challenging. Which, to some degree, it’s not. Nor is it supposed to be.

Though – again – that’s just to “some degree,” as our actual chick-lit writing challenge captures.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. But try not to be too vapid either.

If you want to be “taken seriously” with your female-oriented literature, write women’s fiction. Chick-lit just isn’t supposed to tackle heavy topics.

With that said, there is a certain level of “silliness” that’s unbecoming for female writers and female audiences (just as there’s a certain level of silliness that’s unbecoming for male writers and male audiences). So try to maintain some level of dignity for yourself and your protagonists while writing in this genre.

Sadly, I can think of a few examples of chick-lit silliness that crossed the line into outright vapidity. And while I won’t name them here, I will say that I didn’t finish a single one of them. Didn’t even get through the second chapter.

Maybe not even the first.

While Tuesday’s Definition still stands true about women just wanting to relax and be chicks sometimes, even chicks shouldn’t stoop to levels that make them look bad, portraying themselves as stupid airheads who only care about shopping and making men think they’re attractive, or who are willing to lose their life to a mugger over a pair of shoes.

I mean, come on, chick-lit writers! Is that really what we want to be promoting in our protagonists? Even to get some laughs?

Readers are supposed to like or at least relate to the main character from the get-go. Which means they’re apt to be more sympathetic when said study does something silly or stupid. Male or female, we typically do that kind of thing when we appreciate something about someone.

For example, “So he’s a womanizer. So what? He’s a great basketball player. And besides, what celebrity doesn’t fool around?

Or, “Well, yes, she just got busted for doing cocaine while her child crawled out into the middle of the road. But the kid wasn’t hurt or anything. Besides, she gives a lot of money to charity, you know.”

The same applies to protagonists, no matter the genre. And do we really want to be doing that more than usual with a genre directed solely at women?

So that’s your chick-lit Writing Challenge: Come up with an engaging story featuring imperfect characters and entertaining plots – that don’t promote absolute vapidity.

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