I’ve just read ‘Mini Shopaholic’ by Sophie Kinsella. Not great literature, I admit, but a really enjoyable and relaxing read. Most important of all – it made me laugh.
Any author who can do that gets my vote.
It’s very easy to dismiss books that are easy to read as ‘easy to write’. In fact, the opposite is true.
It’s also not easy to be funny. Sophie Kinsella used to write more ‘literary’ novels, under her real name, Madeleine Wickham. But then she discovered her talent for comic chic-lit. And she’s never looked back.
Her ‘Shopaholic’ series are all written in the first person and in the present tense. Not easy to pull off but perfect for this type of novel, giving a breathless immediacy to the writing.
Something else that Sophie Kinsella does very well: she gives her main character, Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood, for the sticklers out there), lots of seemingly unsurmountable problems, that just force you to keep turning the page.
In ‘Mini Shopaholic’, the problems range from [possible Spoiler here, if you’re intending to read it!]: keeping a surprise birthday party under wraps; convincing her husband he wants another baby; controlling a wilful two year old (the eponymous Mini Shopaholic); hiding something from her boss; falling out with a family member; resisting the lure of the shops – and that’s only some of them. You get the picture.
Whatever kind of novel you’re writing, that’s something to bear in mind. Don’t let your main character have an easy time of it. Thwarting desire, that’s what it’s all about. Keep throwing problems at your character, right until the very end. When one is solved come up with another, or better still, have two or three problems on the boil at once. And that, so they say (and whoever ‘they’ are, I’m inclined to believe them), is how you create tension, suspense – and, ultimately – plot!
So it’s a big thumbs-up from me for ‘Mini Shopaholic’. I enjoyed reading it and I appreciated the writing of it – if that makes sense. And Ms Kinsella has cleverly paved the way for the next installment. Can’t wait!