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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Evolution of Chick Lit

I’m on Tina Ann Forkner’s blog, talking about chick lit in the CBA, and where I think it's going. Anyone who writes humorous women's fiction might want to check it out.

Update: Someone hijacked Tina's blog and she switched to Wordpress, but lost the guest blog post. So, I'm posting it here. Enjoy!

The evolution of chick lit

We’ve all heard it—chick lit is dead. And let’s face it, after a while, it’s a bit tiring to read about yet another designer-clad, latte-chugging single girl in the city.

Some people don’t realize that chick lit has always been a subgenre of women’s fiction. Yup, that angsty stuff.

Think about it—it’s about a woman/girl’s personal journey. It’s not necessarily a romance. She travels from one state of mind, heart, job, and living situation into another. She might pick up a guy along the way, but not necessarily, because her existence doesn’t require male accompaniment.

But what sets chick lit apart—at least for me—is that it’s funny and it’s real. It’s about a fun, sometimes snarky heroine whose outlook on life, antics, and misfortunes always keep me highly entertained. It’s also about realistic women who aren’t necessarily nice and sweet—just like me.

So what’s a girl who likes funny women’s fiction to do?

Fear not! Chick lit isn’t dead. It’s just evolving.

Call it growing pains. We’ve seen lots of materialistic heroines (just like how all babies look alike, right?), now we’re starting to see a greater variety in characters as the genre matures. I mean, look at my novels—Asian American girls, a setting nowhere near as crowded as New York or LA, a jock (Lex), biologist (Trish), executive (Venus), and a chef (Jenn). No designer labels here (except maybe on Trish’s back, when she happens to get a bonus check at work).

I know I’m not the only one who likes humorous women’s fiction, and publishers are responding. They don’t call it chick lit—it’s women’s fiction or contemporary fiction. It’s not always in first person or present tense. Fading out are the cartoon covers with vivid pink and green. (Although I have to admit a personal fondness for bubblegum pink and lime green, especially together.)

I think this evolution is a good thing. Sameness can be tiring for readers like me. I like reading about people and places different from what I know, and not always the same types of characters, the same types of settings.

I also like the moving away from first person present tense. It’s hard to do well, and it’s forcing writers to be more creative and vivid in their third person past tense. Plus, I like being in other characters’ points of view. Sometimes those subplots are as exciting as the main plot, and it’s hard to make readers care about a subplot when they’re never in the secondary character’s point of view.

Anyway, my point is to be on the lookout for new, unique chick lits on the shelves. They might be harder to spot, but you’ll be glad you found them.

2 comments:

  1. Michel, your comment looked like spam so I deleted it. If it wasn't spam, I apologize. Please feel free to recomment, although please do not link to other editing services when you do so. I do not endorse other services hyperlinked in comments.
    Camy

    ReplyDelete

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