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Women’s Fiction Day: What is Women’s Fiction?

I did not know what “Women’s Fiction” was when I started writing it. What I knew was that I preferred books written by women, because their protagonists were people I related to.

I could understand their problems, empathize with their troubles and the solutions they sought.

Women wrote some of the first novels. Jane Austen is the most famous. No one would call her work Women’s Fiction, but in fact, it casts a distinctly feminine view of the world. The very real problems of females in a male-dominated world are delineated wittily in her books.

And yet, I recently read an article that said that Women’s Fiction is so-called because it tackles issues not considered serious enough for male readers. Oh, dear.

Relationships form the basis of human life and these are the stuff of Women’s Fiction and its more erudite sister, Literary Fiction.

Literary Fiction, which defines the most serious type of novel, is the most prestigious but least popular genre in publishing. The genres of Crime Fiction and Thrillers drive sales. Mostly, these books are plot-driven, not character-driven, and usually, therefore, to my mind, not satisfying.

Romance writing is the most popular of the genre categories. It sells more than any other category and has several sub-genres, from “Christian romance” to erotica. Like crime and thriller books, it offers escapist reading and happy endings.

Odd as it may seem, a fairly new category called YA (Young Adult Fiction) offered a path forward for writers who wanted to write primarily about relationships but to offer a story that was less predictable than most romances. YA writers portray characters in situations anyone could relate to. YA offers teenagers characters that show the universality of human emotions, showing them that what they feel with such intensity is perfectly normal and okay.

That led to a current trend in fiction writing – that of a “deep point of view.” In this type of writing, the reader is fully immersed in the emotions of the characters as expressed in their body language. It sounds obvious and easy to do, but it is a test of a writer’s ability to get this right.

The best fiction is underpinned by characters whose motivations and feelings are realistic and understood by the reader. But unlike Literary Fiction, which is entirely driven by character, Women’s Fiction demands that the main protagonist undergo a transformation of her understanding of the world through what happens in the story. That is, the plot matters, and a change has to occur within the protagonist’s mindset between the beginning and end of the story.

That is why I write this genre. I write about women, the choices they make, and what happens next.

I found my tribe in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. I’ve been a member of this wonderfully supportive and educational group since 2014. They’ve greatly helped the commercial success of this genre and its authors.

June 8 is Women’s Fiction Day. To celebrate it, I am giving away two copies of Joyous Lies! To enter to win, sign up for my newsletter! If you have already signed up, it will not disqualify you from the lottery.

Good luck. And do pick up a good book of Women’s Fiction.

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