What In The World Is Women’s Fiction?

globe-clipart-globe_clipart77Round and round and round we go! Where we stop, nobody knows!

Yes, I’m rolling my eyes. Not because there’s a question (or a zillion) again as to what constitutes women’s fiction but because the term bothers some writers. Truly? Paris, San Bernadino, Syria, Trump—and THIS is what is getting under people’s skin?

Let’s get this straight. The term Women’s Fiction does not bother readers. Keep that in mind if you’re lamenting that your book falls somewhere under the WF umbrella. Readers don’t care what you call your book, just that they can find it. In a book store (if you remember those), it will likely be filed under — wait — hold onto to hats — FICTION. It will likely be filed ALPHABETICALLY. Online it may pop up under a myriad of bizarre topics including a few that make sense to you.

Authors, agents, and publishers use labels so that they can compare books to one another for the purpose of selling, marketing, advertising, promoting.

To me, women’s fiction is a book that focuses on a woman’s emotional journey. Now, you might say that romance does that. Noperoo. A romance novel’s central quest is the Happily Ever After. That’s the point of the story. It may include a strong thread or six of emotional journeys, but the purpose is the romance.

What’s the purpose of your main character? To find love — or to find a way to allow herself to have love? To meet a great guy — or to be okay enough with herself to meet a great guy?

I don’t mean these things are exclusive of one another, but if your POINT is to have your main character meet a love interest and that’s WHY she needs to fix her life, then I’m thinking it’s romance. If your POINT is that as a byproduct of her goal of fixing her life she just so happens to meet someone, but her goal is to be okay with or without someone — then to me, that would be women’s fiction.

There are also novels that focus on solving mysteries, running from bad guys, saving the world, etc. These might very well have elements found in WF. Genres overlap, friends. Lines blur.

Take note — women’s fiction also centers on friendships, family relationships, and sometimes doesn’t have a romantic interest at all, or it’s way on the back burner. And that is OKAY (usually, for some people/agents/editors and not for others).

I  understand why the term “women’s fiction” bothers people. Because if a man writes a story about a family it’s a family drama. If a woman writes it’s women’s fiction or chick lit. But that doesn’t change the fact that my stories appeal to women and that I embrace the WF label because I just do. You do not have to.

Yeah, I know. There’s no “men’s fiction.” I don’t care. This is what I write, and I write knowing and loving that my stories appeal to women. I read widely — but this is what I write. Sometimes I’m made to feel as if I should feel badly about it. Like unless I pen a literary tome that it’s not enough. And it is.

Enough that is.

I do realize that “the others” (meaning non-writers) have no idea what women’s fiction means, nor should they. So if asked what I write I sometimes say family drama with humor, or book club type books, or stories about women and children. No reader wants you to say what you’d say at a pitch meeting.

Really, readers only care what the story’s about, not what you call it. That doesn’t make them run out to the bookstore, big box store, or tap their app to buy the ebook.

Stop worrying so much about what it’s called and just write a really good book. Find a kickass agent who sells to a great publisher. Or do it all yourself. Whatever floats your writer boat is what you should do and it should all lead to YOU writing a really good book.

Believe me, once you do, you’ll have plenty of other things to worry about.

Amy xo

PS THE GOOD NEIGHBOR makes a great holiday gift for your favorite neighbor! Fewer calories than that tin of cookies! Just sayin’…



16 thoughts on “What In The World Is Women’s Fiction?

  1. Yes! Thank you for pointing out that readers (who aren’t writers) don’t know or care about the label of WF. They just know what they like. I think the “women’s fiction”/”chick lit” drama really only involves us writers who obsess over how our book is categorized. Regular readers are going to browse the fiction section of a bookstore or search for a specific book online.

    I will say it does bother me when someone asks me what my book is about and I say it’s about a woman who… And no matter how I describe it, they say “so it’s chick lit.” (Actually, I think men have been the ones to say that.) But whatever. People will call it what they will and I can’t change it. I can just write a good boom that hopefully people will want to read, however they label it!


  2. I write women’s fiction, and the term seems pretty clear to me — exactly what you describe: a woman’s story, that focuses on her life journey and relationships. What I can’t understand is why chick-lit is being tossed into the category these days. Totally not the same. Chick-lit skews much younger and often has a more humorous slant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading this because I’ve had to tell people what I write many times. Yes, my books have romance in them but the book is about a woman’s life and how she gets through rough times. The romance is important but it’s the trials and tribulations that make my books what they are. I wish there were no labels but then how would readers find me? I haven’t been in a book store in a long time since our local Borders closed but IS there a women’s fiction section or are WF books filed under Fiction?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, thank you. That was quite freeing. I’ve been known to tell people my books are GrannyLit. And thank you for The Good Neighbor. It was fewer calories than the cookies and equally delicious.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Excellent points, Amy. I probably need a little more romance in my WF, but that’s beside the point. Even when I read a regular romance, if there isn’t more to the story than just the romance, I rarely finish the book. That’s why I love WF. There’s always a great story. Loved The Good Neighbor, btw. 🙂


  6. Thanks Amy, great explanation. I consider what I write to be romantic women’s ficiton since the romance is not the main plot but there is always a romantic subplot. I just wish there were an organization for writers of women’s ficiton, like there are for romance writers, mystery writers and thrillers and suspense writers. We need our own club.


      • Thank you! Ironically I read about womensfictionwriters.org just last night in Writer’s Digest Magazine. I am definitely checking them out! I just feel as though all the stars are aligning just right so I can write a novel in 2016. So far I have written 2 novels that never went anywhere and published short stories and poems. Since novels are what I read the most it seems the best thing for me to write. And my local critique group keeps me on track! It looks to be a good year for me and your blog will keep me focused as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy, thanks for the positive reinforcement. I, too, get the “oh, so it’s chick lit” response, usually in a disparaging tone, and usually from men. But my novels fit your definition exactly, and I feel ever so validated by comments like yours. Thanks!


  8. I love how coherent and down-to-earth you are about the term WF. I keep thinking about a conversation I had with a (male) HS classmate who, when I said I was writing WF, said, “So it’s not for men?” I think it’s time for me to embrace the book club moniker with non-writers, too.


  9. Pingback: Books & Brews: The Good Neighbor / Anchor Steam | Mary Chris Escobar

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