The simple answer is Women’s Fiction is a book genre that appeals to the female reader.
The long answer is, well, long...
When I set out to write my first book, I didn’t consider what genre it would be, I just wrote the story. When I finished my two book series called The Art of Living, pinpointing the category of the novels was not easy. What? you ask. You wrote the books. Don’t you know what the genre is?
Well, yes and no. How do you categorize a book that contains more than one type of story line? What if the plot contains a romance and a mystery and a young woman recalling childhood memories she’d previously suppressed? Is it a Romantic-Mysterious-Remembrance?
Not so much... While the elements of mystery and romance in my books will appeal to fans of these genres, there is a consistent theme that lies beneath like a foundation, if you will. Throughout the books, the main character uncovers shocking information about her family that forces her to reexamine herself, and she learns how to come to terms with what she's found out.
Aha! Now we’ve hit upon the driving force of the novels. The heroine’s journey of self-discovery! Women’s fiction is about the protagonist’s (male or female) experience of self-discovery, self-acceptance, self-improvement, and/or self-preservation. The genre of women’s fiction focuses on the main character’s voyage through personal trials that lead her (or him) to learn and change and grow while making mistakes. Other characters will impact the heroine, but not rescue her. In the end, she saves herself.
Can women’s fiction have elements of romance fiction? Yes, but the romantic relationship is not what steers the plot. (And by the way, I adore romance books.) Is women’s fiction “contemporary fiction”? The contemporary fiction definition is: stories that take place in the present that could happen to real people in real settings (i.e. The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe). It lacks the required self-discovery element of women’s fiction. Can women’s fiction have paranormal undertones? Sure, but it’s not what guides the story from beginning to end. (Yep, lots of paranormal books on my shelf.) Women’s fiction is not Chick Lit, (you guessed it, I love chick lit) which usually centers on the romantic problems of young women (think Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding).
Sound appealing? They can make for some great summer reads.
What books have you read or that you would like to read that fall into the definition of women’s fiction.