How to Write Chick Lit for Women – 5 Writing Tips for Female Readers

Learning how to write chick lit for women is the first step to getting your book published! These writing tips for female readers are from editors, authors, and readers.

First, what is chick lit?

“This whole category of chick lit – I think people like to categorize because it makes life easier for people in general,” says Greer Hendricks, a senior editor at Atria Books who edits bestselling author Jennifer Weiner. “For some authors it’s fantastic – they’re being instantly identified with a certain kind of book. For other authors it’s a disservice, because they’re really writing women’s stories, but because people like to generalize and categorize, it’s labeled chick lit. I think it can be both a blessing and a curse.”

I’m not a big fan of the term “chick lit” because it seems to include both brilliant writing for women and dreck. But, when it’s written well, chick lit can be incredibly clever, funny, and inspirational. Like with any genre, you have to wade through the sludge before you get to the cool clear waters.

If you want to write chick lit or any book for publication, you have to read 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists: Insider Secrets from Top Writers. It’s got all you need to be a successful writer!

And, here are a few tips for writing chick lit…

5 Tips for Writing Chick Lit for Female Readers

Focus on characterization

This writing tip probably applies to all genres and types of writing, not just chick lit and not just female readers. If you have a quirky, interesting, dynamic, funny, gripping character (or two or three), you can write about watching paint dry and your readers will be fascinated! It’s your character’s personality, thoughts, and actions that hooks readers — not necessarily the plot, theme, or setting of your chick lit novel.

Give your characters a life – not just a boyfriend

“In Paula Froelich’s Mercury in Retrograde: A Novel, she is writing about these women where it wasn’t just about getting the guy,” says Hendricks, who is Froelich’s book editor. “These women were really getting a life. It’s really about friendship and self-acceptance and getting your act together. It’s about the life, not the guy.” If you want to write chick lit, you need to give your women a dynamic, complex life.

Study popular chick lit novels – but don’t copy the writing style

Bridget Jones’s Diary: A Novel is the mother of chick lit. It wasn’t my favorite novel, but it’s worth reading and perhaps even studying. A smart chick lit novel that became a Hollywood movie is The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel by Lauren Weisberger. And of course, Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell is an example of successful chick lit, from which you’ll glean many writing tips. One of the best ways to learn how to write chick lit is to figure out what makes a bestselling novel for women.

Write about chick lit characters with strength

The women in Froelich’s Mercury in Retrograde are complex and dynamic. “They all go through something traumatic to make them change,” Froelich says of her characters. “For Lipstick, it is money – she’s living off her parents until she finally understands that there’s strings attached. She doesn’t have control – she has to take it back.” When Lipstick finally moves into her own apartment, she reflects: “It’s all been so humiliating and stressful to realize I was just their puppet. To be honest, I have no idea what I’m going to do about anything.” But, forced to improvise after her credit cards are cut off, she discovers a talent for fashion design.

Learn about the business of writing for female readers

“Lots of writers have talent, but to keep writing, trying to get published and sell your books takes a particular personality type,” says bestselling romance novelist Mary Jo Putney. “It’s not necessarily smarts or talent.” Writing and publishing is a business, and the most successful writers approach their careers with a businesslike, professional attitude and strategy. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing chick lit novels or business textbooks, you need to remember that writing is a job.

And finally — get used to insecurity and instability! “As a writer, you’re dooming yourself to insecurity,” says Putney, who offers romance writing tips here on Quips and Tips for Successful Writers. “If your numbers are slipping, you worry. If your numbers stay the same, you worry.”

For more writing tips, read the 5 Secrets of Good Writing – Examples of Sensory Details.

If you have any thoughts or questions on these chick lit writing tips, or writing for female readers, please comment below…

Source of Froelich and Hendricks’ quotations: Women’s Lit: Chick Lit Gets an Update, Publisher’s Weekly, by Doree Shafrir.

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4 thoughts on “How to Write Chick Lit for Women – 5 Writing Tips for Female Readers”

  1. Nice post, thanks. I would say that publishing, especially, is a business more than the writing. That’s why we say “best seller” or “best selling” book and no “best written” book. Publishing, nowadays, can make the difference between a millionaire writer and a no-name writer.

  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks, Charlotte. I’m sorry to hear that your main character isn’t relateable enough, but glad you’re getting feedback! That’s really important.

  3. Charlotte Rains Dixon

    Also, make your character relateable. I’m not exactly sure how to accomplish this, but in email exchanges with agents, it seems to be a high priority. I was just told that the main character of my novel was not relateable enough because she is a writer, for instance. Go figure.