What is Chick-Lit?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Recently, I had noticed that several authors on different websites stated that they were published “Chick-Lit” writers. This made me wonder where and how the term Chick-Lit came about.

To begin with I thought it would be good to look up the actual definition of “Chick-Lit” So, I punched in my question on my search engine and waited impatiently to see what I would find.

My jaw dropped when I saw that there were well over 2,000 entries that showed answers to my question. Who knew I would stumble upon so much information.

I began to laugh at my lack of knowledge on the term. Could I really have known so little about this genre?

The actual definition of “Chick-Lit” reads as follows:

*** "Chick lit" is a term used to denote genre fiction written for and marketed to young women, especially single, working women in their twenties and thirties. The genre's creation was spurred on, if not exactly created, by Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole diaries which inspired Adele Lang's Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber: The Katya Livingston Chronicles in the mid-1990s.[citation needed] Another strong early influence can be seen in the books by M. C. Beaton about Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth. The style can also be seen to be somewhat influenced by female teen angst movies like Sixteen Candles and Clueless. Later with the appearance of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and similar works; the genre continued to sell well in the 2000s, with chick lit titles topping bestseller lists and the creation of imprints devoted entirely to chick lit.

When I first read this definition I was a little shocked at everything that is considered “Chick-Lit” by today’s writing world. After reading this definition, I really got to thinking about the Origin of the term, so as time when on I began to dig further into this new world.

***"Chick" is an American slang term for young woman and "Lit" is short for "literature".

The term was introduced by Cris Mazza and Jeffrey DeShell as an ironic title for their edited anthology Chick Lit: Postfeminist Fiction, published in 1995. The genre was defined as a type of post-feminist or second-wave feminism that went beyond female-as-victim to include fiction that covered the breadth of female experiences, including love, courtship and gender. The collection emphasized experimental work, including violent,perverse and sexual themes. James Wolcott's 1996 article in The New Yorker "Hear Me Purr" co-opted the term "chick lit" to proscribe what he called the trend of "girlishness" evident in the writing of female newspaper columnists at that time. Works such as Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary and Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City are examples of such work that helped establish contemporary connotations of the term. The success of Bridget Jones and Sex and the City in book form established chick lit as an important trend in publishing. The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank[1] is regarded as one of the first chick lit works to originate as a novel (actually a collection of stories), though the term "chick lit" was in common use at the time of its publication (1999).

Publishers continue to push the sub-genre because of its viability as a sales tactic. Various other terms have been coined as variant in attempts to attach themselves to the perecieved marketability of the work.

Some critics have noted a male equivalent in authors like Ben Elton, Mike Gayle, Paul Howard and Nick Hornby, referred to as "lad lit" and "dick lit".

It seems as though “Chick-Lit” isn’t just for young women though, it has a broader spectrum than that. With the changes of the way we speak, think, act, etc. The term “Chick-Lit” covers an amazingly large amount of literature written by women.

One thing that disturbed me about what I read, is that it actually had a bad twist to the genre to begin with, above in the article, James Wolcott actually states that he felt it was “girlish” its as bad as the men in our lives getting all uppity about having to go to a movie that we want to see for example “Sleepless in Seattle”, it really steams me to see that negative attitude about a growing genre that has literally grasped so many other genres to become a creation of its own merit.

But, what was said wasn’t the only negativity that I found about the genre. There was a ton out there. Some of it made me feel so degraded that I just couldn’t share it with you, I felt like jumping through the computer searching for the person that wrote the stuff and beating them with a wet noodle.

I got to thinking about it though, there have been some fabulous authors that have been launched with fantastic stories. This made me smile, to those that had a lot of negative to say about Chick-lit, I’ll bet they are quite embarrassed now, they have helped to launch a market that is growing by leaps and bounds.

Now, as I continued to review my search engine, I stumbled across a few interesting sites that are devoted to “chick-lit” I thought it would be neat to share these sites.

Chick Lit Books

This site has lots of book reviews, author interviews, forums and more.


Chick Lit Chicks

Has information about books, blogs, reviews, interviews, also has a section for writers that has a ton of useful links.


Chick Lit Review

This site has a bonus for us, they are actually looking for articles as well as offering reviews, site links, the chick-lit café offers those at the site a chance to purchase different books.


Teen Chick Lit

This site doesn’t seem to have been updated in a while, but it does offer some books that the young chicks in our lives might enjoy. I thought it would be nice to share this with all of you as well.


Chick Lit Club

Has lists of authors and books that fall in the “chick-lit” genre; has interviews, movie reviews, if you like to read, it also has “reading challenges” which is great for those needing a little summer challenge.


Chick Lit Writers

Hey gals! Get your pens out, it’s time to write, this site has a writing contest that might be for you, you should check it out. But, you will have to be quick, the deadline is right around the corner, wish I had found this a bit sooner for you. This site also offers reviews, book releases, they also offer a message board. There is a bunch more to this site as well.


So ladies get those pens moving there is a whole world out there to write about, let’s continue to grow this phenomenon.

***The Article that was listed was found at http://www.wikipedia.org

Happy Writing Everyone!!!!
Carrie Hulce


Kris Underwood said...

I really DO NOT like that term, but it seems to be a necessary evil....

Annette said...

The ironic and irritating thing about the publishing industry's view of chick-lit is that it's now considered the kiss of death to call your book chick-lit. You can call it humorous women's fiction or even romantic humor (that is essentially different ways to describe the same thing), but the agents and editors will agree that the chick-lit market is "saturated."

Of course, the readers of chick-lit are still seeking to consume it, so I don't know what purpose the leperization (my Don King word for the day) of the term serves. People like to read what they like to read. The people in publishing seem to be the only ones concerned about the trendiness of a genre identifier.

My memoir, The Break-Up Diet has the same general tone and subject matter of what would be called chick-lit fiction--except the story is true. I think we'll see a lot of memoirs coming out soon by women who write with a chick-lit voice about their personal stories and I think they will do well. Look at Eat Pray Love...

Anonymous said...

I hope I'm not a literary snob. A good story is a good story and that should be all. But then I worry that because I'm female and my main character is female, I'm bound to be labeled--I can't imagine my novel counts as chick-lit but maybe women's lit or some such thing. I'm really just writing, you know, a novel, no gender adjective required.

Then again, maybe I'll never be published and won't have to worry about it!

Shelli said...

This was a really interesting article. Thanks.

Kirsty Novelicious said...

I agree with Marta in that agood book is a good book no matter what - but I think the term Chick Lit is helpful to audiences when selecting what they ant to read.

I'd love it if you could add my chick lit site to your links!


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