Saturday, May 09, 2009

What is Chick Lit?

Of course not, silly!

I'm talking about Chick Lit, the genre.

Chick Lit is a fairly new addition to the cadre of books available. It's defined by the following characteristics:

1. The main character is a girl. (Because it's CHICK lit, see.)

2. It's usually, although not always, presented in first person.

3. The main character is usually a little unsure of herself and through the course of the book, gains some confidence.

4. She usually ends up in some really embarrassing situations.

5. She has a lot of personality, and this comes through in the narrative. In fact, the narrative voice is often very much like what you'd hear if you went out to lunch with friends. The style is much more relaxed than what you would find in a literary novel or another kind of genre book.

Examples of Chick Lit on the LDS Market:

Stephanie Fowers: "Rules of Engagement" and "Meet Your Match"

Elodia Strain: "Icing on the Cake" and "Previously Engaged"

Crystal Liechty: "The First Year"

Examples of Chick Lit on the National Market:

Sophie Kinsella: "The Shopoholic" series

Laura Walker Jensen: "Miss Invisible"

Chick Lit is growing in popularity and availability, and if you're in the mood for a fun, lighthearted read, you just might want to give it a try.

Now, to move on to the next point of my blog. As you scroll back up and re-examine point #5, you'll notice that Chick Lit has a different set of reader expectations than do books of other genres. The tone is different. The approach is different. You can't take the rules that govern a general fiction novel and apply them to Chick Lit, nor could you hold Chick Lit up against classic works, literary novels, or period pieces. It's simply its own genre. To compare the ingredients in a successful Chick Lit book with the ingredients of a successful book in nearly any other genre just isn't fair. It's worse than apples and oranges - it's apples and pizza.

Why do I make this statement, you ask?

While preparing for the Whitney Awards this year, I bumped into this post on LDS Publisher's blog. I encourage you to pop over there and read the comments, and then come back. It's okay, I'll wait.

(filing my fingernails ... checking my e-mail ...)

Okay, you're back.

I found it very interesting that some of the comments in this trail gave the impression that because a book nominated for the Whitneys used a certain number of adjectives and adverbs, it should not be considered for a Whitney.

The book in question was "Spare Change," by Aubrey Mace. Which just happens to be ... are you ready ... Chick Lit.

Chick Lit uses adjectives. Chick Lit uses adverbs. It does these things with full permission, because it's an earmark of the genre. Chick Lit takes the internal dialogue in a woman's mind and turns it into a narrative voice, and women, especially young women, think in adjectives and adverbs.

We must give each genre its due and understand what makes it work. In a fantasy, we expect fantastic elements. In a romance, we expect some romance. It simply doesn't make sense to dog a book for using adverbs when that is an expected and, I would even say, necessary element of that genre.

This debate over on LDS Publisher made me cheer even harder when Aubrey's name was announced over the podium as winner of the Whitney Award for Best Romance. She deserves it. The book was adorable, which is what a Chick Lit book should be. Rock on, Aubrey. Rock on.


Kimberly said...

Well said, Tristi. The market has shifted and evolved in so many ways over the last decade or so, and expectations and understandings sort of need to change with it.

Anna said...

I really liked Spare Change. I think it's important to know how to write correctly. You shouldn't have typos or really confusing sentence structures. But when it comes down to it, how enjoyable the book is to you is what matters. We don't talk in perfect sentence structures all the time. It's not like we're in English class...

Marcia Mickelson said...

I love Chick Lit and am glad to see more of it in the LDS market. I've really enjoyed the ones I've read.

Nichole Giles said...

I agree, it is important to judge a book according to its genre. And I fully agree that the language of chick-lit is different from that of other books.

Because of this vast difference, I wonder if some of the categories should be broken down even more--allowing for these differing languages, styles, voices, and content.

Like you said--at some point it's like comparing apples and pizza. (But not apple pizza, because that's actually a pretty good combination.)

Regardless, all the finalists deserved to be winners. That was one tough competition.

Tristi Pinkston said...

At this point, there aren't enough chick lit books being published to warrant having their own category. As the LDS market grows and as the genre of chick lit grows, we'll see more in years to come, but as it stands, we'd only have one or two books competing against each other for the Whitney.

violetlady said...

Some of the mysteries I seem so addicted to these days, seem to be a combination of chick lit and crime fiction. The female detective/some occupation with a love interest solves crimes. This is a great post, Tristie.

Melanie J said...

I think you explained this really well. I think it's a contemporary voice and style that's been sorely missing in the LDS fiction market. I decided to write it because I couldn't find anything like it out there and then I was thrilled to discover authors like Aubrey, Elodia and Stephanie with fresh, fun voices and young, relatable characters. I hope we see more like it coming soon.

LexiconLuvr said...

Bravo, Tristi! You're a literary champion for all of us! =]

Cindy Beck said...

Thanks for the run-down on Chick Lit. I found it very helpful.

Thanks, too, for stopping by our humor blog and commenting! Glad you enjoyed the "You're a Mother When" list.

tris said...

Tristi! Hello! It's exciting to find someone with our same name! My name is Tristie ..just with an "e".I am in Texas with 2 little ones and have not had a chance to read your blog yet or any of your publications but look forward to learning more! my e-mail is
God's blessings on you!

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