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The World of Writing Chick-Lit Explored and Explained

We’re onto the wonderful and wacky world of writing chick-lit!

If you trend toward composing manuscripts that are fun and fluffy and embrace the concept of happy endings, then you might already be working within the chick-lit genre… just as long as your main character is a chick.


Once upon a time, back around 1999 or 2000 when I first heard the term, I was horribly offended by the concept of a chick-lit genre. To my 16- or 17-year-old hardcore booklover’s ears, the name sounded so derogatory.

So sexist.

So infuriatingly dismissive!

1999 or 2000 was around the time the genre first came into existence, or at least when it first took off. So it was a buzzword in the “chick” community at the time. Which meant I heard it a lot.

Which meant I got annoyed a lot in my misunderstanding that chick-lit referred to any book written predominantly for a female audience.

Fortunately, it didn’t take me too long to get over that idea. There’s still romance and women’s fiction, two distinctively separate categories.

So what exactly is the chick-lit genre? Let’s take a closer look.


When a girl just needs something light and fluffy, chick-lit is there to save the day (in a light and fluffy manner, of course).

Unlike women’s fiction, its core purpose isn’t to inspire. It’s to relax, letting its predominantly female readers unwind with some laughs over someone else’s drama.

Romances run amuck, bad hair days and broken nails, this genre captures the sometimes silly side of being female and lives it up for all its worth.

If you’re female and that still sounds sexist to you, consider this: Don’t you get tired of being all “adult” sometimes? Of living up to feminist mantras that say you can do it all, so you should do it all.

Sometimes, I’ve found that most women – myself included – just want to be chicks, giggling over “girl” things, painting our nails a myriad of colors and maybe even braiding each other’s hair as we ultimately swoon over rom-coms.

Just like boys have their toys, girls have their giggles. And in some authors and many, many readers’ opinions, that’s the way it should be.

As such, that’s what the world of writing chick-lit is all about: making women readers – and any male readers game enough to take a peek – grin.

Chick-lit manuscripts can adopt characteristics from any other genre: sci-fi, fantasy, historical, modern, romance, or even thriller or horror. One example I can think of, Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, is a mixture of modern and historical, with spies and chase scenes, and smooches in between every one of its dozen-ish covers.

So what makes it distinctive from modern and historical, thriller or romance?

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.

Because, once again, the chick-lit genre isn’t about making people think – though it can. Overall, the world of writing chick-lit is about making readers relax.


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