Genre Smackdown

I think I’ve figured out my problem with writing this book: it’s chick lit. Until yesterday I was prepared to loudly and indignantly defend the genre, but that was before I picked up my copy of Confessions of a Shopaholic, which I bought at an airport back when I could read on airplanes (i.e. before Sam) and remember enjoying. Re-reading the first two chapters was positively painful. Every fucking bad writing trope I can think of was there. The main character looked at herself in a mirror (shop window) and described what she was wearing! My god! And the only other chick lit in the house is The Second Assistant and possibly The Devil Wears Prada and I just read a vastly superior version of both in under five minutes over at The Slack Daily (check out Will’s comment on that post, it is one of his better real-life stories).

But the real problem with writing chick lit isn’t the company — that could be a positive, as my book (if I ever finish it) would not be harmed by standing out. Plus I am sure there’s some good chick lit. No, the real problem is that it is not YA. I want to write young adult! Who knew?

I think it comes of realizing while chatting with my sister that our generation is writing the books we wanted to read as teenagers. AND THAT IS SO AWESOME. Whereas chick lit isn’t actually what I wanted to read in my early 20s, it just happens to be where this story fits.

Fingers crossed I come up with a story for teenagers next.

(Why yes, I am avoiding writing. Why do you ask?)

(P.S. I am totally overwhelmed by the kind offers following my joking request for critique partners. I will respond when I am slightly less embarrassed.)

9 thoughts on “Genre Smackdown

  1. oslowe

    July 11, 2008 at 9:19am

    you should say “one of Will’s better Real Life stories”

  2. Annika

    July 11, 2008 at 9:22am

    Oh, isn’t that what I wrote? *whistles*

  3. the slackmistress

    July 11, 2008 at 1:11pm

    Hee hee. /agreed.

    I am with you n the YA thing, it’s my favorite brand o’ TV to write, so why would I not take that into the fiction realm. My problem is that I think HOLY CRAP A BOOK. For some reason writing 150 pages of a screenplay in a row isn’t daunting at all, but a BOOK. That’s like, gotta be GOOD. I’m working on trying to shut my brain off.

    the slackmistress’s last blog post..New Digs.

  4. yojo

    July 11, 2008 at 2:46pm

    You know? I stunted myself a few months back when I realized I was writing something vaguely YA. It got me terribly excited, but then I looked down at the story and…hrm…there sure is a lot of SciFi in here. And sex. And drugs. And rock and Roll.

    I was truly stalled until I simply convinced myself that my book is just my book. Which is told by a young adult but includes SciFi, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

    While it’s entertaining to me, as well as calming enough to let me move forward with actually writing it, this observation pretty much dooms me to complete and utter un-publishability.

    I am strangely OK with that at this stage (the writing stage). So here’s what worked for me: tack five genres together and write. Some editor will eventually come along and remove three of them for you.


    PS- my first chapter is only 50 words. You’ve got me beat by 19!

    yojo’s last blog post..5:59 –> 6:09, A Passion Play

  5. Min

    July 11, 2008 at 5:11pm

    Is it possible you might be writing YA without realizing it? (Ha! Can you tell I’m all in favor of you writing YA?) I’ve had friends change manuscripts from chick-lit to YA and vice-versa after realizing their original idea wasn’t quite working.

    Sex, drugs, and rock and roll don’t exclude a story from being YA. There is so much “edgy” YA out there. I’ve read a bunch, but I haven’t even scratched the surface. There is room for just about everything in this genre.

    I really think if you can nail the voice so it sounds and feels like a real teen in the moment (instead of like an adult looking back with distance on his/her youth), it can still be YA even if it has “content.”

  6. SilliGirl

    July 12, 2008 at 5:30pm

    Okay, I am totally going to out myself as a chick-lit lover. I also ALWAYS notice bad writing, and there is SO MUCH bad writing out there in the genre. I actually really liked The Second Assistant, enough to pick up their next book, The First Assistant, which wasn’t as good. But my all-time favorite chick-lit author (who actually considers herself romance, but aside from the sex scenes she read like chick-lit)is Jennifer Crusie. I recommend starting with Welcome to Temptation (the title doesn’t do it justice) or Bet Me. Steer clear of Crazy For You.

    I also like and Jelly Bellies. Now you know all my secrets.

    SilliGirl’s last blog post..My Day Off

  7. Annika

    July 13, 2008 at 7:27am

    Lady Slack – I know just what you mean. My biggest problem seems to be words. As in, using enough of them. I am so accustomed to writing terse descriptions and dialogue, that to try to write in long form is kind of a joke. I’ve just hit 3000 words and I am thinking I’ll be lucky if I top out at 30,000.

    Yoj – I’m pretty sure there is a ton of YA Sci-Fi out there (hello, A Wrinkle In Time? not to mention many more recent). And I know there is sex and drugs in YA these days. After all, it’s being written by our generation.

    Min – my main character definitely needs to be in her 20s, so I doubt this one is YA. But next time! I hope.

    Cindy – damn it, I want gum again.

    Silligirl – I remember the jelly bellies thing from your L.A. visit. Yesterday I bought sour jelly bellies and thought of you.

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