Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Mystique of Women's Fiction

Some of you poking around my blog (and by all means, please do) may come across the description "women's fiction" and wonder what that genre could be. Is it a Girls Only club? Is is fiction written by women, for women, no men allowed? Is it anything written with a woman as a main character?

I've done a little research so that I can explain it to those who ask. Most of my information comes from a class I attended at the LDStorymaker's writers' conference last year and a few blogs that I bounced around during the last few days.

So what differentiates women's fiction from romance, chick lit, or even general fiction? Here's some of what I found:
  • The main character IS a woman. She is usually over 30 and human--meaning she has flaws.
  • Relationships are the core of the plot, but not necessarily romance. There may be a man in the main character's life, but he's a smaller portion of the plot. Instead, the story is about family, friends, kids, career, health.
  • It deals with more serious topics than the more lighthearted chick lit. It's about the main character's troubles and how she plans to fix them. There will be a dark moment when she has her biggest doubts or loses everything, but then rebounds to the end.
On Writing-World.com, Micki Nuding, Senior Editor at Harper Collins/Avon, is quoted as saying, "The wider focus and the importance and variety and depth of the relationship portrayed [in women's fiction] really resonates with women today. Though there's not always a standard 'happy ending', there's a life-affirming resolution even if the story's somewhat tragic."

What do I like about reading women's fiction? Although I like a nice romantic comedy from time to time, I am happily married, so that's not really as interesting to me all the time. Sometimes it's nice to read about women dealing with some of the same issues I deal with every day--family, kids, spouse, health--and see how they deal with situations that are usually worse than my own. Then, when I'm done, I'm happy to have my own challenges and joys in life, and hopefully I've learned a little empathy along the way.