Book Review: Will Write for Shoes by Cathy Yardley

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Just so you know, the full title of romance author Cathy Yardley’s how-to book is Will Write for Shoes: How to Write A Chick Lit Novel. Does it strike you as odd that I would read such a book? It shouldn’t – especially if you’ve already read my novel GUESTLIST.

In the weeks leading up to GUESTLIST’s release, whenever most people asked what genre it would fall into, I would say, without hesitation, “chick lit.” That response was usually followed by a look of utter perplexity.

But think about it. GUESTLIST is the story of a young woman who moves to New York City and attempts to adjust to life in her new surroundings. She begins looking for love (or, at least, companionship) and struggles to find a foothold in her career. Isn’t that basically what most chick lit books are about?

Of course, at the time I’d been ingesting a healthy diet of work by writers like Candace Bushnell, Aliya S. King, Lauren Weisberger, Helen Fielding, Amy Sohn, and Erica Kennedy, so that heavily impacted my work. But ultimately I felt compelled to tell this type of story. And truth be told, I’m sure I will tell a similar tale again.

I’m not the first black man to embark on this journey. Look at Omar Tyree. Though I couldn’t really get into Flyy Girl, I can’t deny the man’s success. Sixteen published novels, many of them bestsellers. Further, the man is a pioneer in the urban lit game. Still, I think it may be a bit jarring for people to see a black male writer admitting that penning chick lit is in his wheelhouse.

Well, lemme tell you right now, Dear Readers, I am that Black Male Writer. Not only that but I want to elevate my craft, and that is why I picked up Mrs. Yardley’s book. Like most books I’ve gotten these days, I found Will Write for Shoes at Book Off, and after seeing the title I knew it would make its way into my personal library.

So, on to the review, which pretty much boils down to one question: is the book helpful? In my opinion, yes, it is.

Yardley gives the reader an overview of chick lit history before delving into the conventions and mechanics of the genre. What I liked is that Yardley aims to educate writers about chick lit before encouraging them to play with the genre’s conventions. For example, most chick lit stories take place in glitzy, fast-paced metropolitan areas (such as New York City). But what if your story took place in, say, rural Idaho? See?

The book also talks about finding and refining one’s writing voice, and gives helpful tips on plotting the course of one’s story. It’s all great advice and would help anyone, from novices to seasoned writers, and I can certainly see myself using the book as a resource in the future.

The latter half of Will Write for Shoes focuses on breaking into the world of traditional publishing. How to find and query agents, determining which publishing house would be the best fit for your novel, etc. While very informative and interesting, these later chapters really didn’t have much to offer an independently published author such as myself. Still, the material is very helpful and, while not exhaustive, certainly complete enough.

All in all, I feel that Will Write for Shoes is a great source of information for those who wish to write in the genre of chick lit. It will probably inspire some to pick up some of the notable works in the genre (I know I want to get into Nick Hornby’s work, though he’s categorized at “dick lit” or “lad lit”) and it will certainly help those struggling with to get their WIPs off the ground.

Yardley’s voice is pleasant, personable, and easy-going. As I said, I’ll definitely be picking up this book again and again. Though I’m not writing for shoes, at least I have a guide to help me write about them.


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