Friday, July 22, 2011

Putting on My Lip Gloss #6 - Writing the Great American Chick Lit Novel

Two of my favorite questions to ask an author when I get a chance is 1) Do you have a specific routine or process to your writing and/or what does your writing space look like? and 2) What advice do you have for wannabe writers out there? Everyone’s writing process is different and I just love to get an idea for how each author gets their inspiration for their books and more so, once they have their idea for the “Great American Novel”, what comes next?

          The answers I’ve received and seen on other web sites’ interviews have been so varied. I’ve heard everything from “write what you know” to “my ideas for my book came to me in a vision in a dream one night”. Personally, I like to draw inspiration from other novels. One, it gives me an idea for what has b4en done and what hasn’t. Two, it gives me an idea for what sells and garners interest from the general arena of readers. Three, it allows me to justify long hours of “research” (a.k.a. reading).

          Another tactic I use is to outline. I like to write a general outline for my work in progress (WIP) before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). As I’m writing, I fill in the outline with more details so that I don’t forget what has already been included in the novel so far and what’s left to be added at a later point. In a similar way, I create character sketches. I love to create consistent characters by using a specific theme, background or pattern of personality. For example, in my current WIP I have been using the Zodiac Calendar and its definitions to illustrate my main character and her two besties. Olivia (the main character) is a Leo, born in late July. Her zest for love has her constantly trying new things. She can’t live without her friends and she loves an audience. Emily, her bff from college, is driven just like the Ram, Aries. She is super independent, confident and a natural leader. Ruby, on the other hand, while she, too, is very driven by her passions, is a little more right brained than Emily, often inclined to more of the arts. She is a lover and a very loyal friend, a true Scorpio through and through. This is just one example for how you can use various resources to influence your story and its characters. You could investigate their deep-rooted fears, citing their Freudian tendencies. You could look at personality types, A, B and C. You could base your characters on their family roles (i.e. the scapegoat, the leader, the hero or the mascot. What I love about writing and fiction is that your options and resources are essentially limitless.

          Finally, another thing to consider as a writer is how to get those ideas and outlines on paper? Do you write them? Draw pictures in crayon? Do you type up a complete outline with bibliography? While the ideas and avenues for portraying your story are limitless, everyone has their favorites, including me. I found some of the cutest, trendiest, personalized supplies – cheap, cheap, cheap!  I know, for me, when it comes to keeping track of my writing, I am obsessed with office supplies. From little and big notebooks, to Pink Clic Grip Pens by Bic to sturdy and trendy Tote Bags in Black and Pink a la Amanda Brown’s Legally Blonde to carry all my supplies, I am a writing accessory junkie. Amsterdam Printing has cheap promotional pens from 33 cents to just over a dollar, in everything from The Executive Widebody, to pastel colored Eco Spririt Pens and for the kids, toy-designed pens called Attitude is Everything. It doesn’t just stop at Pens, either. From t-shirts to coffee mugs, laptop bags and water bottles, Amsterdam Printing has it all!  I imagine if Carrie Bradshaw were still televised, we would see her carrying her laptop in a chic Quilted Tote Bag, fit for a queen in a regal Gold. 
 Remember her “Carrie” earrings that she used to always wear on Sex and the City (and later it was a “Carrie” necklace?) Well, on Amsterdam Printing you can get anything and everything emblazoned with your name, intials, company logo or whatever else you would like to see printed on your pens, t-shirts, laptop bags, etc. I can just see myself drinking my cocoa java (Hot chocolate + coffee) out of a Lip Gloss and Literature mug, while writing my character sketches with my Cathy pens in my notebook emblazoned with my initials, CGH, in Aqua and Pink.
  How do you write your story? Where do you come up with your ideas? And what will you use to write that story?

Putting on My Lip Gloss is a series of blog posts that represent my personal thoughts, ideas and general ramblings related to chick lit reading and writing. Every day is an inspiration – I never know where my next post is going to come from, but when it does, I always feel like putting on my lip gloss! Thanks for reading.


  1. Writing is such a unique and personal experience. I've outlined, planned, and totally winged it from time to time.
    My best advice to writers? If you write a book--get it published! One way or another you can make that dream come true. It's your baby. treat it with all the love & respect it deserves.

  2. Great advice!! Especially in today's world with all the great resources for self-publishing, you can really get creative and make your novel stand out just the way you want it. I'm also a huge fan of the sites that combine promoting your work with getting critiques from readers and writers, like the UK's Authonomy and the US-based sites Smashwords and Critters.

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