Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Call For Women's Fiction - Real People, Real Issues

I love women's fiction. I do believe this genre is one of those that really has a lot to offer the readers out there. I also know that I really do struggle finding those great women's fiction stories out there. Oh, don't get me wrong. I have a lot of submissions that are marketed as women's fiction, but in the end, the stories just don't hit the mark. I am however, not going to give up hope. I am really on the search for those great stories.

So, what am I looking for?

First of all, I think it is important to define what we mean by women's fiction. I go back to a definition I put together a while ago that simply says it is a story that gives the reader a view of the world through a female perspective. We are on a female journey and seeing how the female mind answers life's difficult questions. It is not simply a matter that a female is the protagonist, although most of the time it is. A story doesn't fall into the category of women's fiction because there isn't sex or their isn't a happily ever after. It all comes down to the view of the world and the lens we are using to see it.

Now, to take it a step further, I am really looking for stories that are about "real people." No, this doesn't mean it is non-fiction or a memoir. When I talk about real people, we are talking about people that we would see every day at the grocery store or on the street. Your neighbors. Your co-workers... you get the idea. What I often see in projects, however, are stories that have created characters that are over-the-top. These are caricatures and stereotypes. For example, the secretary in a southern law office with the out-of-date hair style, chewing on gum and is overly opinionated.

Along the same lines, I see stories that not only have these characters that are not quite real, we put them in situations that the common person really can't relate to. In this case, I find the author piling on a ton of problems for the person to deal with. Maybe it is a married couple and she needs to go back to work because her husband is ill and she has been a stay-at-home mother for a long time. This is fine, but to add in an abusive husband, an affair, and then a kid who we find is now a drug user - you have gone over the top on this one.

One of my authors has a fantastic story we are marketing this is straightforward. The daughter finds out her mother has Alzheimer's and she is now taking care of her. That's it. No extra stuff. Just a relationship story between a mother and daughter. We don't have her losing a job. Even the view of the world from the mother is only seen through the letters and journals of her mother. We aren't jumping into this mother's Alzheimer brain.

The ultimate goal of great women's fiction is to allow the reader to say, "I understand now." We want the reader to find answers that they may have struggled finding. These are "ah ha" books.

That's what I want.


  1. Thank you for sharing, you inspired me every time i read your blog.

  2. I enjoyed reading this piece. I have a manuscript that would fit most of this criteria, but is also the story of daughter/mother/Alzheimer's with romantic elements and comes in at about 70k words.
    Still, thank you for the reminder that it's okay to write "a slice of life" stories in this over the top world.