And then there was Chick Lit


As a trend, Chick Lit is a bit passé—but my Fiction Writing 1 students don’t know that, especially the guys. They’ve never read it.

And now, ha, they have to write it.

Yes, our next assignment is a Chick Lit short story.

Need a refresher?  (You should have seen the students’ faces as we read this list around the room.)

  • First person, confiding to reader
  • Quirky humor
  • Life issues: love, marriage, dating, friendships, jobs, weight
  • Circle of friends for support
  • Dead end jobs, often with bad bosses
  • Unsuitable boyfriends or a lack of one
  • Outrageous situations
  • Urban, but no real sense of place
  • Lead may have overbearing / interfering mother
  • Obsessions:  fashion, weight, shopping

Isn’t this the best list? Even now, I smile to read it. (Hat tip to the Romance Writers of America website.)

And I figured that ideas would come pouring out of the students. After all, this is a small school and they know one another well. There’s no place to hide from girls and their foibles!

But writing is a solitary craft, and ideas are elusive. Several girls came to me before class, perplexed. They can’t to think of anything to write.

Odd, isn’t it?  Or maybe not. I now recall that in past years, the guys have been the ones who excel with this assignment—go figure. Anyway, for inspiration today we watched the beginning of Legally Blonde. Hoo boy, those clueless sorority girls. And that break-up? Yow-za! Were there comments? Oh, you bet. Most students wanted to continue watching the movie…

And on Friday three plot ideas are due, each with an intriguing title, written as back matter for a book cover. The objective: Entice the reader to buy.

I’ll share what they come up with in next week’s post.

2 thoughts on “And then there was Chick Lit

  1. “I now recall that in past years, the guys have been the ones who excel with this assignment.” – Oh that’s funny. I could think of some reasons as to why that might be, but I think I’ll keep my opinions to myself for the moment. The list that you posted I find to be very interesting. There is an author, who has quickly become one of my favorite writers over the past couple of years, named Patrick Rothfuss. I came to realize that on top of supplying all the standard fantasy story telling tropes in his books, he has also hit on almost every single bullet point in the Chick Lit list. Now I think I understand why he has two bestsellers so far and a third in the making. Your post was a joy to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The guys were masters of the comic mean girl snappy dialog. And also the inner thoughts about the dream guy (wishful thinking?).

    This was a Southwest assignment, Doug, with a PG-13 rating. And anyway, because the storytelling was crisp and well done, sensual details were not needed. (We were laughing too hard. A crude sexual reference would have ruined the funny things the guys’ heroines were thinking.)

    And yet there were things to be learned from this assignment, oh yes. I recall last year’s guys’ responses after I read the girls’ stories aloud.

    “What’s the deal with the strong jaw and the dimpled chin?”

    “Yeah, I don’t get that.”

    For every girl had included this detail when describing the heroine’s crush (along with sparkling eyes).

    The girls were surprisingly earnest. “Duh, because it’s important.”

    “Oh, it IS.”

    Hearing this, the guys were perplexed … and rather deflated.

    (Do you see why I teach these classes, Doug? Ha.)


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