When I tell people I write Women’s Fiction, most people are uncertain about what that means. Two seconds later they might introduce me by saying, “This is Lisa. She writes Chick Lit,” or “This is Lisa. She’s a Romance writer.” On occasion, I have even been described as someone who writes women’s pornography, which really slays me since my stories don’t contain graphic sex scenes.
So what exactly is Women’s Fiction? How does the category differentiate from other genres that are targeted toward women? The Women’s Fiction Writers Association states, “Our stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds us together is the focus on the main character’s emotional journey.”
I respectfully beg to differ because an “emotional journey” is not exclusive to any one genre and therefore, is too broad of a definition. In my humble opinion, in addition to the emotional journey, it must be about a uniquely female experience and told from a women’s perspective. Although the story can be told with humor, Women’s Fiction doesn’t have the quirky, lightheartedness associated with Chick Lit, nor is the coming together of two people the main conflict as it is the Romance genre.
This isn’t to say men can’t or shouldn’t write or read the genre. In many ways, classics such as Madame Bovary, Anna Karina, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles could be categorized as Women’s Fiction. The question really should be why bother trying to define and categorize a work into a particular box? Why not simply call a book a work of fiction?
The publishing world did just that before the introduction of computers and the internet. Now there are literally millions and millions of titles available on Amazon alone. (I’ve seen rankings as high as eighteen million, which means there have to be at least eighteen million titles listed.) Tagging a book in a specific genre with subcategories and keywords has become necessary for buyers to wade through the sheer number of choices to find the perfect read.
At the end of the day, “Women’s Fiction” doesn’t mean male readers need not bother or that there won’t be any romance or lack humor. All it means is that the reader should expect a story about a woman (or women) going on an emotional journey to come to terms with a distinctively female dilemma.
Do you agree or disagree?
(This article was originally published on Rainy Day Reviews.)