Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I Miss Writing Chick Lit

My first four novels with a New York publisher were all chick lit. I was unapologetic for them being chick lit at the time and I still am, despite my recent suggestion that we refer to it as post-feminist humorous literature. I loved chick lit stories. I loved what they represented. I loved the laughter and the friendships and the drinks and the shoes.

I'm not writing chick lit anymore. It's a tough market these days. Publishers have cut way back on their inventory of those stories because consumers cut way back on what they were buying. It happens. I made the switch to writing romantic suspense and urban fantasy. I love these genres, too. But I miss my chick lit. It's a little like being wistful for your first love.

I know part of it is a bit of nostalgia on my part. It's hard to beat the excitement of getting The Call for the first time, seeing your first cover flat, putting your name in Amazon for the first time and having something actually come up. That was all thrilling.

I think I miss a bit of what the genre was about, though. I miss the laughter and the fun frothiness of it. There were times when I was writing chick lit that I'd sit at my computer and giggle because I was cracking myself up. I miss that mindset. I feel like I was lighter and funner and frothier.

That doesn't happen so much in romantic suspense. I'm jumpier. I'm tenser. I love the intellectual puzzle of putting together the plot (even though that's hard hard hard for me), but the other day I wrote a scene that completely grossed me out. I know it's kind of the point. The bad guy is now completely beyond any chance at redemption. He's gone too far. But it kind of weirded me out that I had that in my head.

So how about you? Does what you're writing affect how you interact in the world?


Lisa said...

I took the beginning of the book I'm working on right now to a workshop session and one of the other writers told me, "I don't like your main character much," and I thought, "hell, I don't like her much either." I still think her story is interesting even though she's kind of mess.

Before this I wrote a YA novel and I just loved making the MC as sweet and as likeable as possible. Writing romantic scenes was a joy. In the new WIP, the sex is all weird and messed up.

So, I agree, it's fun to write light things because they make you feel so good inside. But it's also fun to flex different muscles and to explore themes that are a little darker (after all, that's where our weird brains, and the market, are taking us I suppose).

Stephanie Doyle said...

Lisa - awesome point about not liking your MC. Sometimes you need to find that perfect edge... where you are true to the portrayal of this person but at the same time you need to make him/her "likeable" to the reader.

And Eileen absolutely what I write impacts my mood. I'm that way with most fiction. If something gets in my head I can't shake it until it ends.

Back when I was writing Flipsides/Duets - everything was easy. Just be funny.

Bombshells - just kick ass.

Now... with trying to write a Super - which has to be emotional and edgy and deep and of course this "fiction" WIP which has me completley frozen because I think it has to be "serious" - I'm a little bit of a mess.

Maureen McGowan said...

TOTALLY!!! This really spoke to me, too. My first two (remotely publishable) manuscripts were both in the chick lit vein, but sadly hit editors' desks just as they'd realized they couldn't publish any more in that genre for a while.

The book I'm working on right now is dark and scary and tense and it's hard to work on it for as many hours in a row as I could my lighter stories.

Eileen said...

I'm glad I'm not alone. Yesterday the phone rang while I was writing. It was a phone call I was expecting. I nearly jumped out of my skin.

I do enjoy exploring some of the darker themes on an intellectual level. On an emotional level? I'm feeling a little jumpy.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh no - see this is why I can't even read scary stuff - the wind blew open a window on my mainfloor the other night - you would think I was a character in a movie - scrambling around on the couch screaming - honestly. It was like 8 pm.

I think the thread here about likeable characters is interesting - I'm deeply enamored with my heroine who is a total deviant mess - hopefully other people will agree... it's a risk, no matter what.

Sinead M said...

I love the dark side of things. I don't think I could manage humor. I an envious of your ability to write both sides so well

Eileen said...

Ha, Sinead! And I wish I could focus on one thing and get good at it. :-)

Oh, Molly, you are so me in so many ways. I would have been right there with you, shrieking on the couch.

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