Ahhh Shoujo, that genre of manga and anime where love and angst abound. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy reveals deep dark secret keeping him from girl, girl reveals that her brother is magically ensorcelled to be a dog.... Shoujo comes in all shapes and sizes, but at it's core is a slice of life story about a girl and a boy and the wacky cast of characters helping or hindering their romance. There can be supernatural elements, as in Manga/FruitsBasket; there can be more serious themes as in Manga/Kare Kano; maybe there's some GenderFlip hijinks as in Manga/OuranHighSchoolHostClub; Whatever twists are put in, what comes out are solid, heart-wrenching love stories, desperate heroes and heroines, and almost always a HappyEverAfter. Clouds of roses are of course a guaranteed.

Check out [[SoYouWantTo/WriteAStory So You Want To: Write A Story]] for general advice, and [[SoYouWantTo/WriteALoveStory So You Want To: Write A Love Story]] for less-general advice. Then, come back here!

!'''Necessary Tropes'''
* {{Bishounen}} - Come on, we all know that the vast majority of shoujo readers are teenage girls, (usually about 12 years old, at least,) so of course you'll want to include a little {{Fanservice}} for the readers. Experienced shoujo readers will sometimes tell you that even the most boring, generic plots ever can be at least slightly more bearable if the guys are hot. (Though an important thing to remember is that, yes, a guy's first impression on the heroine can be basically that she thinks he's hot, but after that it's best to try and display a personality for him as well. Don't listen to [[{{FanDumb}} certain fans]] who tell you that a male character doesn't need something as boring as a ''personality'' if he's sufficiently attractive enough.)
* Drama. See also {{Conflict}}. Lots of it. But it has to be the right kind. The Shoujo Genre is full of the InnerMonologue type of drama that drives it's readers into teenaged tizzies. Readers love getting emotional reactions out of stories; They love happy endings for the characters they've grown to identify with through the story, to get those feelings of {{Squee}} over {{Fanservice}}. They also love when the romance gets hot and heavy, and the feeling of despair when something bad happens to one of their favorite characters. Emotional highs and lows are the fuel of good Shoujo.
* LoveTropes - You can't have hot and heavy romance and emotionally desperate characters without love. Usually a Shoujo manga like this will begin with a solid LoveTriangle, usually in the form of the main girl being stuck between a ShelteredAristocrat NiceGuy and the local {{Tsundere}} [[{{AllGirlsWantBadBoys}} bad boy.]] This is usually quickly expanded as the cast grows,becoming a LoveDodecahedron. It's basically a lovefest. See SoYouWantTo/WriteALoveStory and SoYouWantTo/WriteARomanticComedy for more advice, if you decide to go in this direction.
* As the readers are incredibly likely to be teenage girls, it's probably a good idea to make {{The Protagonist}} / {{The Heroine}} a teenage girl as well. Ocassionally this can be a GenderFlip situation but the main character is usually still feminine in some way. (Manga/AishiteruzeBaby is a good example of a non-yaoi shoujo male protagonist)

!''Choices, Choices''
* So, you've got your (presumably) girl, and you're (probably) gonna have a bunch of [[RomanceEnsues romance ensue]] for her, right? Let's make our cast!
** First and foremost, what's your main girl ''like''? Is she a [[CuteClumsyGirl klutz]]? Is she a cool, [[{{TheStoic}} Stoic]] IceQueen? Is she a [[{{GenkiGirl}} Genki]] [[{{IdiotHero}} Idiot Heroine]]? Is she the girl everyone wants to be friends with, or is she the girl who always eats lunch alone? (Did she go from one to the other?) Why are we focusing on her instead of, say, her best friend [[{{Foil}} whose personality is the direct opposite of hers]]? What is it about this girl that's so important to your plot that we have to focus on her?
* For that matter, does the main girl have a best friend? If so, ''why'' are they friends? Are they [[{{Foil}} Foils]] for each other who [[{{VitriolicBestBuds}} fight all the time]], or are they BirdsOfAFeather who know each other better than anyone else? How close are they? Does the girl's best friend try to protect her from all the [[{{HilarityEnsues}} hijinks]] that may or may not ensue, or does she ''cause'' it? Is the girl's best friend [[{{LikeBrotherAndSister}} a dude,]] and if so [[{{PatientChildhoodLoveInterest}} is he a potential love interest]], or are they BetterAsFriends?
* Next, we've got the plot: What kind of story do you want to tell people? A sweet romantic comedy in a high-school setting? Some fantasy stuff with princesses and adventures and stuff? Something set in a cafe with a bunch of quirky, unusual employees? See SoYouWantTo/WriteAStory for more on such subjects.
* As for love interests (Assuming you're going in that direction), it's probably a good idea to not make them just this bland, pretty dude who stands there, gets surrounded by sparkles, makes the main girl's heart rate go up just by smiling at her and then turns out to have liked her the whole time. ''Especially'' not when he's a NewTransferStudent who she's only known existed for a few hours. That's been done to death and then some. (Though no one's stopping you from ''parodying'' such things.) Remember, you're trying to keep people entertained, so it'd probably be best of you gave the main girl ''reasons'' to crush on this guy. And it would help if you didn't just make it superficial things, like that he's attractive or some type of cool sports team captain or whatever. Give him a personality that you could actually ''see'' someone being attracted to. Is He TroubledButCute, or an Adorkable NiceGuy? Is he kind to everyone and everything, or is he a JerkWithAHeartOfGold? (The latter makes pretty good material for a WhenAJerkLovesATsundere dynamic, if you choose to make the girl a strong-willed {{Tsundere}}.) Is he a MisunderstoodLonerWithAHeartOfGold?
* While we're on the subject: [[{{Rival}} Rivals.]] They can show up anywhere and any time, and they can keep your story interesting by providing the necessary drama. They can be either gender. There's the [[BuxomIsBetter more]] [[{{HollywoodHomely}} conventionally]] [[{{BettyAndVeronica}} pretty]] girl who's out to steal the main girl's man, one way or another. For fanservice, pick a sexy {{Bishonen}} who's after the girl herself. [[{{BiTheWay}} In fact, it's not completely uncommon for a rival character to switch from one crush to the other]] or to be after both at the same time, though this idea should be handled with ''extreme'' care so as to avoid the UnfortunateImplications of a DepravedBisexual. Overall, just try to keep these things in mind: Why do they want the hero/heroine? Why are they there? What is it about them that makes them a viable threat for their opponent's love interest? How do they plan on stealing away the love interest? What would they do if they ''didn't'' succeed in stealing them away? all of these describe character motivations and if you want a complex cast, each character needs a complex inner life.
** Another common, but still useful way to keep the drama going: Have the best friend have a crush on the boy herself. Sure, it's cliche, but there's still probably a number of creative ways to go about this that haven't been tried yet. Are the girls hostile over the boy, or are they still friendly with each other and agree that whoever he chooses, the other one's happy for them? Do they act one way and secretly feel another?


* Okay, so one of the biggest problems in shoujo these days is that the main heroines often have too little of an actual ''personality.'' It would seem that shoujo authors rely on the good ol' Rule of {{This Loser Is You}}, slap it on the face of a cutesy (And therefore cover-worthy) [[{{AuthorAvatar}} version of themselves in their teen years]] and call it a relatable heroine. Unless you think you can do it tastefully, try to avoid having your main character referring to herself as [[{{WhatMeasureIsANonCute}} 'average']] or [[{{HollywoodHomely}} 'plain']] as her main character flaw. Nowadays, the PrettyGirl masquerading as a low self-esteem homely girl is overdone and no longer believable. If your character must be this way, have very good reason for her to have such low self-esteem. Shojou manga operates on a large cast of characters all loving the main character for one reason or another, and if she's the kind of girl who is measurably pretty but insists that she's not, the believability of her being lovable with such an aggravating trait gets trained. See Manga/FruitsBasket for an example of how to do this well.
* Another common problem is having LoveAtFirstSight happen ''way'' too often. Sure, lots of teenagers (boys and girls alike) can take one look at someone and go 'Wow, I'd like to hit that,' but that doesn't mean that it'll be believable if the main girl takes one look at the {{Bishonen}} transfer student as he's being introduced to the class and instantly have her heart dancing a disco beat in her chest and decide he's her OneTrueLove or whatever (Though you could theoretically make this work if it's established beforehand that she ThinksLikeARomanceNovel or something...)
* Please, if you can, ''avoid'' the JerkAss BastardBoyfriend. It's been done ''to death'', and many shoujo readers would agree that they're tired of seeing the JerkAss get the girl while [[{{NiceGuy}} the guy who actually treats her well]] just gets pushed aside, or [[{{DerailingLoveInterests}} made unexpectedly OOC]] so the writer can have an excuse for pairing the main two. There's a ''reason'' {{Twilight}} has so much hate, you know.
* A common way to do a JerkAss love interest without abuse is to have him be a {{Tsundere}} JerkWithAHeartOfGold for the heroine, and/or made to go through CharacterDevelopment to get to a point where he'd be a safe, healthy choice for a romantic relationship with someone. Have him undergo this character development ''before'' the main character gets together with him, to avoid StockholmSyndrome and more UnofrtunateImplications. Making the heroine rather independent and strong-willed, if not a {{Tsundere}} herself, is probably one of the best ways to go, as such personalities tend to be best for SlapSlapKiss. See WhenAJerkLovesATsundere for more.
** ''Manga/KimiNiTodoke'' is an excellent example of what happens when the NiceGuy gets the girl. The world doesn't end or anything just because he's not a [[{{AllGirlsWantBadBoys}} bad boy.]]
!'''Potential Subversions'''
* Related to the above: Would it ''really'' affect your plot that much if your heroine was less than conventionally attractive? If she was, say, a bit chubbier than most of her friends (Though please, if you choose to make her 'overweight,' it'd help if you didn't just make her slightly curvy [[{{HollywoodPudgy}} and call her fat.]] Yes, lots of girls who are 'perfectly' skinny complain about being overweight, but we're not talking about that), would it really throw any ideas you had for a plot completely out the window? Bonus points for avoiding the ChubbyChaser trope.
* Or have her be a [[{{DeadpanSnarker}} snarky]], brooding BrokenBird rather than a NaiveEverygirl AllLovingHero?
* Or have her be an [[{{InnocentFanserviceGirl}} unintentional]] ([[{{TheTease}} or]] [[{{LovableSexManiac}} not]]) MsFanservice rather than an [[{{ACupAngst}} angsty]] UsefulNotes/{{Pettanko}}?
* Or to have her be a LovableSexManiac rather than a rather prudish {{Tsundere}} who's prone to committing UnprovokedPervertPayback?
* Okay, so we all know that most shoujo is basically about that [[{{Squee}} Squee-inducing]], hijinks-filled time in which a girl experiences her first love. Well, instead, why not take the more cynical take on things and show what happens when such a girl ''breaks up'' with her first boyfriend? Does she take this as a reason to [[{{DoesNotLikeMen}} dislike men as a whole?]] Does she move on with her life? Does she meet someone new? (Does the whole process start over again?) Basically, try to think through what happens ''after'' the HappilyEverAfter. (And keep in mind that a teenage couple in which at least one of the two is in a relationship for the first time ever ''extremely rarely'' ever stay together long enough to grow up and marry when they're adults. And even then, those types of marriages are usually [[{{NoAccountingForTaste}} some of the most unsuccessful kind.]])
!'''Writers' Lounge'''
!!'''Suggested Themes and Aesops'''
* A seemingly forgotten theme in shoujo, similar to that of [[{{ChickFlick}} Chick Flicks]], is that most shoujo manga is made ''by'' women, ''for'' girls and young women. It may seem like all shoujo is basically about how awesome it is to find a boyfriend, but it also wouldn't hurt to [[{{ThrowTheDogABone}} try and stick an aesop/theme about how you don't need a man to complete you]] in there as well, you know? (If you're doing aesops/themes, anyway.)
* Why not stick in friendship as a theme just as important as the romance? I mean, a number of people would tell you that they'd choose friends they've been through Hell with over their boy/girlfriend they just met a week ago in a heartbeat. Why not give the main heroine a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming where she acknowledges that sassier, more energetic best friend of hers who's always supporting her between scenes with the male lead but doesn't seem to get nearly as much screentime as him, even though before he showed up they'd apparently been joined at the hip for years? Sure, it'd probably veer into RomanticTwoGirlFriendship territory, but... [[{{NotThatTheresAnythingWrongWithThat}} well, what's wrong with that?]]
!!'''Potential Motifs'''
* {{Bishonen}}. [[{{FlowerMotif}} Flower]] [[{{SuckMyRose}} backgrounds.]] Nuff said.
** A way to [[{{PlayingWithATrope}} make fun of]] this is to, say, have a couple of {{Mook}} background characters throwing flowers behind the dude [[{{UnusuallyUninterestingSight}} for unexplained reasons.]] Also, a common joke in ''Ouran High School Host Club'' fanfiction is to have someone open the door to the host club and immediately have thier face pelted by a blast of rose petals out of nowhere. (Though it should be noted that Ouran itself is already an AffectionateParody of shoujo.)
* LoveBubbles are also a favorite.
* As is some sort of fairy tale parody chapter, though no one's forcing you into it (As trying to think of an actual ''reason'' for everybody to suddenly be in a fairy tale setting can be fairly difficult... Unless, you know, your story is about a theater club or something. Having at least one main or recurring character already be in the theater club, of which all the other members couldn't fulfill thier roles for some reason would probably be a good, albeit flimsy and cliche, way to go.)
!!'''Suggested Plots'''
* Probably the most common shoujo plot is the RomanticComedy in a HighSchool setting. ... Just try to avoid the obvious cliches, and you should be good. The [[{{CrashIntoHello}} falling-into-suggestive-positions]], the LoveAtFirstSight, the best-friend-who-serves-little-to-no-actual-purpose-other-than-to-encourage-the-heroine-to-go-after-the-sexy-[[{{NewTransferStudent}} new-transfer-student]], the DeclarationOfProtection (which really just sounds almost misogynist if used too many times. At least say what he's protecting her ''from.''), etc.
** A good idea would be to {{Parody}} or {{Deconstruct}} said obvious cliches.
!!'''Set Designer''' / '''Location Scout'''
* As your readers are most likely gonna be teenage girls, one of the most common settings is high school, where the aforementioned demographic usually spend most of their time. Though it isn't exactly uncommon for entire series to take place ''outside'' of school completely, such as maybe the main character's small hometown during the summer or in a specialized cafe or whatever...
!!'''Props Department'''
!'''Costume Designer'''
* Shoujo series tend to be set in schools, since that's where the majority of teenage girls spend most of their time. Depending on the setting, this could mean either a variety of hip street clothes or a set of uniforms are in order. {Note: Sailor uniforms have been done ''to death'', though there's no one stopping you from using them anyway if you want to. Just, maybe try to customize them a little, you know? Like, maybe the school they go to has loose rules on the dress code or something?
!!'''Casting Director'''
!!'''Stunt Department'''
* Hey, who says a School Life romcom aimed at young girls can't have a few action scenes? And not just the male lead getting into a fight: Stick that main girl in there and have her, say, finally have enough of playing the NiceGirl and start beating down the AlphaBitch character who's been giving her crap throughout the story. You ''can'' just have an exchange of [[{{ArmorPiercingSlap}} Armor Piercing Slaps]] and have each girl give the other a ReasonYouSuckSpeech ("You're such a liar!" "At least I'm not a hypocrite!!"), but that's getting a bit cliche. Why not just [[ActionGirl have at least one of them actually be able and willing to throw a punch?]] You don't ''have'' to make it a fanservice-filled CatFight or anything, you know.
** Though it's not a shoujo, both fight scenes between [[LightNovel/{{Toradora}} Taiga]] vs [[spoiler:Sumire]] and [[spoiler:Minori vs Ami]] are at least somewhat realistic {{Cat Fight}}s. The girls can actually fight, landing punches instead of simple [[ArmorPiercingSlap bitchslaps]], drawing blood and brusing everywhere and cursing each other out. If these fights ''are'' intended for {{Fanservice}}, it sure as hell takes a backseat to the actual plot.

!'''Extra Credit'''

!!'''The Greats'''
* ''Manga/PrincessKnight'' - Aired 1967-68 in Japan. Distributed under the title "Choppy and the Princess" in America, Princess Knight followed the adventures of Princess Sapphire, a young girl who was mistakenly given the heart of a boy and a girl, and how she was raised as a boy in order to inherit the throne of her country in order to thwart the efforts of Duke Duralumon. The story shows Sapphire's interactions and conflicts with people and her own heart, staples of the shoujo genre that still hold to this day.

* ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles'' - The highly influential 1979 anime/manga that changed Shojo Genre anime. The historical drama lasted for two years. Notable for being one of the first Shojo anime series.

* ''Anime/RevolutionaryGirlUtena'' - Compared stylistically to ''Rose Of Versailles'', ''Revolutionary Girl Utena'' (''Shoujo Kakumei Utena'') aired in Japan in 1997. It couples a shojo dueling story with elements of chivalric romance, Jungian psychology, and a surreal thriller. Its post-modern narrative and feminist themes distinguish it from any other anime ever made.

* ''Manga/PleaseSaveMyEarth'' - one of the first and best Shoujo science fictions. Deals with aliens sent to Earth to research it, and their reincarnations on Earth. Also involves some fantasy stuff.

* ''Manga/KimiNiTodoke'' - one of the most fresh and optimistic Shoujo series out there. Emphasis on the character development of the ShrinkingViolet main heroine Sawako, instead of JerkAss BastardBoyfriend, we got a NiceGuy as resident ChickMagnet and her object of affection. Characters are fleshed out, the conflict within the story are mundane but extremely touching. Oh, and they also has a couple of {{Shonen}} {{Genre Refugee}}s PlayedForLaughs.

* ''Manga/MaidSama'' - A more recent example. While simplistic in its 26-episode plot and rather bland in some respects, it's probably one of the best examples of a typical shoujo series with a non-ThisLoserIsYou heroine. Yes, Misaki's a violent {{Tsundere}} toward a love interest who's pretty much got SingleTargetSexuality for her like many other heroines, but she's also shown to [[DoesNotLikeMen Not Like Men]] (Though she doesn't outright wish that there were no more men in the world like some more StrawFeminist characters. She mostly just has baggage from her dad walking out and leaving her, her mom and her sister in a huge debt.) and to [[ActionGirl be able to handle herself]] whenver the plot tries to turn her into a DamselInDistress (though it's also shown that she's not invincible and does have opponents she can't defeat by herself.)