cover image See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit

See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit

Sarah Mlynowski, Farrin Jacobs. Quirk Books, $14.95 (191pp) ISBN 978-1-59474-115-9

Writer Mlynowski (Milkrun, Me vs. Me) and editor Jacobs, formerly of Red Dress Ink, team up for this handy dandy guide to penning ""chick lit,"" which they define in the first part, ""The Big Picture,"" as ""often upbeat, always funny fiction about contemporary female characters and their everyday struggles,"" citing Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary as the watershed moment for the genre (""not necessarily the first chick lit author, but ... certainly the most popular""). The balance of the first part goes into preparation for writing, describing it in terms of therapy (""It's your opportunity to vent, reveal, create, and release"") and dating (""You want to charm your reader""), and providing a lesson in motivation, ""Getting Back at Your Ex and Other Reasons to Write."" The text contains plenty words of wisdom from other chick lit pros, including novelists Meg Cabot (Queen of Babble) and Sophie Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic). Fiction writers of all stripes, however, should find useful a substantial chunk of this irreverent, easy-to-read guide, especially in part two, ""The Details."" Chapters on character, plot development, structure and pacing all translate well. Though warning against stereotypes like ""Multiple Personality Mary"" and ""Perky Patty"" aren't exactly earth-shattering, this primer covers the basics with wit, style and plenty of welcome encouragement from those who have been there.