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Characters > Who is My Main Character and What is She Like?

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message 1: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
The Chick

So just what do chick lit readers expect when picking up a novel? While this list is in no ways complete, it is a start:

List A:
- A heroine with a good sense of humor
- Characters who are dealing with real-life problems concerning career choices and/or family issues
- Focus on relationships
- Description of settings that are urban or in some way exotic
- A story with an element of romance, however, romance does not have to be the focus of the story
- Emphasis on other relationships, like with girlfriends

In addition, a lot of chick lit books use conventions that have made the stereotypes about these books true. Listed below are some of the more blatant ones:

List B:
- A heroine who loves shoes and martinis
- A story set in either London or NYC
- The main character works in publishing, PR, or some equally glamorous profession
- A plot that is driven by the flakiness and insecurities of the heroine, who is always getting herself into jams due to her foibles.
- Outrageous and quirky supporting characters which include family members, childhood friends, and work-buddies
- Sex scenes that are either hinted at or told in detail
- An elusive guy with a hip name who, for whatever reason, won't commit to a relationship with the main character (at least until the end of the book)

When writing the chick component of chick lit, it is important to include at least a couple of the elements from list "A". However, if you want to make your book easily identifiable as chick lit, go a step further and throw in some elements from list "B" as well.

From: http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel...


message 2: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
TOP 10 CHARACTER OCCUPATIONS:
From http://www.chicklitclub.com/top10occu...

1. Public Relations/Advertising
2. Media/Publishing
3. Fashion/Beauty
4. Stay-at-home-mom
5. Personal assistant/secretary/receptionist
6. Lawyer
7. Nanny
8. Personal Shopper
9. Heiress
10.Call Girl

Let's think of some more of our own!


message 3: by Tara (last edited Feb 23, 2010 11:56AM) (new)

Tara 1. Waitress/hostess
2. Paralegal
3. Therapist
4. Doctor
5. Maid/cleaning lady
6. Writer/Author

I am trying to think of books that I read and what the main characters job was.


message 4: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Like the Undomestic Goddess where she was a lawyer and then a housekeeper:)


message 5: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) What book was someone a therapist? I kinda want to read that one :-P


message 6: by Tara (new)

Tara I am trying to remember Alicia. I have read so many that I can't think of it right now. LOL!


message 7: by Tara (new)

Tara Cathy wrote: "Like the Undomestic Goddess where she was a lawyer and then a housekeeper:)"


Exactly!


message 8: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Let me know too..I"m training to become a counselor so Chick Lit book with one? Perfect!


message 9: by Tara (new)

Tara I will look at my books when I go home and the list of all the books I have read. I hate when I can't remember something.


message 10: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments I work in advertising so the main character of my book will definitely NOT work in advertising!!


message 11: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) Mine is about paralegal turned writer...SO CLICHE!! However I was paralegal turned admin assistant turned writer so what can you do? Write what you know :-P


message 12: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments I am going to make my main character a speech language pathologist. That is what I'm going to school for. It's not going to be a major part of the story line, though (at least I don't plan on it). My sister is a teacher, so I plan on making another of the lead characters a teacher, since I can ask her for advice and stuff. Like you said--write what you know!


message 13: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) Yeah I don't think the jobs will have too much of lime light. My girl is an aspiring writer and her love interest is also so that is how they first get to know each other, but after that it is just part of the background.


message 14: by Tara (new)

Tara I haven't decided yet. I am still thinking about what I want to write about.


message 15: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) Cathy wrote: "TOP 10 CHARACTER OCCUPATIONS:
From http://www.chicklitclub.com/top10occu...

1. Public Relations/Advertising
2. Media/Publishing
3. Fashion/Beauty
4. Stay-at-home-mom
5. Personal as..."


I've read a few books where the main character is a teacher.


message 16: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Alicia wrote: "What book was someone a therapist? I kinda want to read that one :-P"

Hey was it "The Night I Got Lucky"? by Laura Caldwell...I guess there is a therapist in that..but I didn't read it so i don't know if it's the main character...


message 17: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
More on the Main Character (Credit toSarah Mlynowski & Farrin Jacobs)

Creating the Main Character(s):
•The heroine is you (the reader) – with more attitude, more courage or maybe just more shoes
•She is “Everywoman”, with quirks and problems that are believable yet larger than life
•Smart but naïve
•Lovable yet flawed
•Like you but Funnier (she doesn’t need to be you)
•She needs to develop as a character (becoming softer, develop spine, etc)
•Listen to Your Character (don’t force your character to act or behave a certain way)

Planning the Character Sketch
•Figure out what your character wants from life
•Create a detailed outline with thorough descriptions

As of Page 1, She is on a Journey. She follows a PATH (aka an “Arc”). The novel tells how she gets from beginning to end, and how she grows in between. Guiding her on this path is the CONFLICT between what she WANTS and what she NEEDS. Usually, begins with feeling like she is lacking or something is missing or something or someone is taken away – she goes in pursuit of getting it only to find it is the last thing she needs.

Conversely, she may know what she wants and needs but lose sight of it momentarily only to come back to it, rediscovering herself by the end.

Must identify these two levels! WANT and NEED. “My character WANTS ____ but really NEEDS _____.
Typical chick lit, goes from status quo, to unhappiness and back to satisfaction. (Think she’s happy at beginning, loses something or reaches ultimate low, realizes how to gain true happiness, gets it, happy ending).


message 18: by Cathy (last edited Mar 10, 2010 06:14AM) (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I thought I'd post some more notes from See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit if anyone has been working on their Character Sketch or just wants some more tips on creating the Chick Lit heroine...I love how the authors really have a way with words:)

Traps/Character Traits to Watch Out For:

The Improbable Ditz: Don’t make her too naïve and then overly competent.

Multiple Personality Mary: She can’t be Paris Hilton and Mother Theresa at once.

The Bitch: Don’t make her too bitchy – though if you want to thaw out an ice queen, make sure to have some early on experiences that soften her up to the reader.

The Doormat: Do not let everyone walk all over her. If you must, turn her from Doormat to Woman in Control.

Wendy the Whiner: Try not to make her complain about everything. The entire world is NOT out to get her.

Quirky Beyond Belief: Don’t give her too many oddities.

Perky Patty: Suffers from too much “Gee Whiz”-Look-at-me-I’m Sandra Dee attitude.

I Rant Therefore I Am: Don’t use her as a platform to address your own social agenda.

The Incredible-Not-Growing Woman: She learns nothing and changes nothing. She needs to develop. Don’t have her end in the same exact place she started.

“The key to any selling any story lies in sympathetic characters and the willingness of an audience to want to walk through the world created between a novel's pages.” ~Latoya Peterson


message 19: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I just found a really fun website to help anyone, really, drum up names for their characters. (It's actually a baby naming site, but hey, it's a great resource!

You enter in a last name and the "Baby Genie" will create a full name for you! You can also ask questions about what names go well with a specific middle name, and anything else you want to know related to naming.

http://www.babynamegenie.com


message 20: by Tara (new)

Tara Cathy wrote: "I just found a really fun website to help anyone, really, drum up names for their characters. (It's actually a baby naming site, but hey, it's a great resource!

You enter in a last name and the ..."



That's great!!! Thanks for finding that Cathy. I am going to have to try it.


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