Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Will Write For Shoes
I like books which get into the specifics of writing for a particular genre, so I picked up Cathy Yardley’s Will Write for Shoes, which is subtitled How to write a Chick Lit Novel.
The book discusses the various types of chick lit, including its history from Marian Keyes (I loved Watermelon) and Bridget Jones, to Sex and the City. I didn’t know there were such subgenres as Tart Noir, Widow Lit and Christian Chick Lit.
While this is a short book, it touches on nearly every topic a beginning writer might have questions about – even the elusive “voice”, which IMO is very difficult to dissect and pin down. I also like the stress placed on conflict, though I’m not certain that every scene has to end in disaster, i.e. with a character not getting what they want.
The reader may still be invested in finding out if your character still achieves her overall story goal, but they’re probably thinking, “She’s okay for now,” which is dangerous. Why? Because that means you’ve given them a rest stop. They can now put the book down and do something else.
I would be careful about applying this advice, because a character who fails over and over and over again is more painful than fun to read about. If every scene ends in disaster, it’s also predictable. Another thing to be aware of is that this book was published in 2006, and there have been changes in the publishing industry in the years since then.
On the other hand, my favorite part of the book was the discussion of how to outline. Outlining tends to be a controversial topic on discussion boards, because some writers (like myself) swear by it and others work best with a seat-of-the-pants approach. But the author was given a six-month deadline to complete the second book she sold, and she needed a system in place to complete it.
So in conclusion, this was a quick read, taught me some things about chick lit that I didn’t know before and would be a help to new writers. Plus, if you ever wanted to see an outline that’s both carefully constructed and flexible, and which can be applied to any work-in-progress, I recommend this book.