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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Did Bridget Jones Die?

Got your attention, didn’t I? Still, I’m asking a valid question. It appears that the oh-so-once-popular chick lit has now died on the vine. It didn’t even get a proper burial. No more new journals for Bridget. Then again, perhaps the claim is erroneous. Could it be that these books still exist but are masquerading under new euphemisms?

I did a Google search to see what chick lit is being called and read some interesting and somewhat comical discussions about how to term such a work-in-progress so an agent or editor will read and consider it. One writer suggested  “upmarket fiction.” Another one pointed out that upmarket fiction is meant to describe work that falls between literary and commercial fiction and chick lit isn’t really that “upscale.” That left me thinking the formerly designated chick lit was somewhere between the “how-to” instructions for your latest purchased gizmo (you know, the instructions you never read) and last week’s junk mail.

I finally came to the conclusion that “downmarket fiction” would be a more appropriate title, but that depresses me even more because it makes me think of the stock market and the current state of economic affairs. To name my literature in such a manner would doom it to never even being purchased, much less read.

Most of the posts I found agreed that former chick lit books were now being referred to as “women’s fiction.” What on earth does that mean? I don’t know what you think of it, but, honestly, I find that to be incredibly boring. It sounds like a department in a megastore. As a result, I think we need to rename this type of literature. While we’re at it, let’s try to get rid of the stereotypical heroine image of stiletto heels and frilly fru-fru or skin-tight outfits. How can we bring justice to the genre when it gives credence to its don’t-get-no-respect appearance?

One writer, Jon Eaves, said it better than me in a guest blog at Novelicious,
The cover will invariably be pale pink or baby blue. The title will be written in a curly, a whirly or even possibly a squirly font.  There will, without exception, be a smattering of either silvery stars or shiny red hearts or, in the worst case scenario, purple butterflies. The cover illustration will be a stylised colour drawing of the thin, pretty heroine wearing deep red lip gloss and very pointy shoes.

So here is my list of the top five must-haves in the new “chick-lit” yet-to-be-named:
1.      Independent, not some run-home-to-live-with-mom-and-dad sappy, spineless heroine.
2.      The heroine is a good friend but capable of having lunch or drinking a coffee-shop drink without her double-sided-tape chums.
3.      In at least one scene in the book, the heroine is dressed wearing flats or ratty slippers. Under no circumstances should she own any shoes or handbags with names the average American can’t easily pronounce.
4.      There is more on the heroine’s mind than the hero, the way she is going to spend her time off and the state of her friends’ love lives.
5.      The heroine is not in her twenties, slim with a fabulous wardrobe and living in the middle of the glamorous neighborhood of a metropolis.

Here’s to forty-year-old heroines with weight issues in suburbia who are divorced or never married with mortgages that swallow half their incomes and a desire for a night life they don’t have. Wait! I have the perfect name for the literature. Reality fiction.
Bobbye Terry writes the new yet-to-be-named “chick-lit” as well as romantic comedies, cozy mysteries, suspense, fantasies and dystopian fiction. Her latest work is Rose, Book 1 in The Lipstick Girls series.  The sequel, Rusty, will be out in late June. Bobbye and Linda Campbell, writing as Terry Campbell, have a new cozy mystery short story collection, Slam Sisters of Serendipity, debuting through Eternal Press on June 7th.  For more about Bobbye, visit her at and


Linda Kage said...

reality fiction sounds good to me!!

Bobbye Terry said...

He-he. Thanks, Linda!

Renee Vincent said...

What a very thought provoking post, Bobbye! I actually like the term chic lit as opposed to women's fiction, but your suggestion of Reality fiction is dead on!

All the best!

Katalina Leon said...

It's funny how trends come and go but the actual content between the book covers doesn't change much. I think the media ODed on Chick Lit and can't bring themselves to say so.
I saw an ad a few years from a literally agent who handled scripts pleading with the public to:
"Please, I beg of you, NO MORE Chick-flick Brigit Jones Diaries or Sex in the City! I swear I'll burn them!"
It's no wonder with attitudes like that, writers of Ummm... women's fiction (?) are looking for something else to call their work. Who wants to be pigeonholed and instantly rejected?

Bobbye Terry said...

Could it be that, while kidding, I have coined a phrase. Thanks to Renee and
Katalina for stopping by.

Katalina Leon said...

It's all in a name because women love their fiction more than ever even if a few stuffy people say the trends are finished.
Let's re-christen Chick-Lit "Lipstick Fiction"
Best wishes to you Bobbye

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