Saturday, March 11, 2017

Women's Fiction Does Not Have To Be Depressing

Over the last several days, I have read a ton of submissions of women's fiction manuscripts. I have to say, living in the Pacific Northwest, where it is 40 degrees and cloudy from now until the end of May, reading this stuff is not exactly exciting. It seems that authors have really gone to the extreme here writing some of the most depressing stories I have seen in a long time.

I do think a lot of this comes from authors out there like Nicolas Sparks, or movies like Manchester By The Bay, that seem to promote the idea that the only good story is one where everyone is sick, dying or wanting to die, and that the audience needs to read the book or watch the movie expecting to go through boxes of tissues.

It doesn't have to be this way. You can have women's fiction that is inspirational and is happy. No, I am not saying to go to the extreme end of "chick lit" level of humor, but you don't have to be so over the top depressing.

I do get that many authors, in my humble opinion, seem to believe that only romance ends with a happily ever after, and, if their story doesn't end that way, it must be women's fiction. Please, stomp this idea out of your head.

Let me remind you of something I have spoke of here on this blog time and time again:
  • Romances have the central story arc focusing around the building of the relationship heading toward that happily ever after. This is a relationship and character driven story. This has nothing to do with the level of sensuality or even the focus of the protagonist, although, in the majority of the cases, in the mass market out there, the protagonist will be a woman.
  • Women's fiction is a novel where there may or may not be a romance. The goal of the story is to see the world through the female lens. To understand how women see the world, deal with conflicts and react to things around them. In the case of women's fiction, these stories often deal with universal themes.
  • The not quite romance or women's fiction stories are those where the author has tried to do several of the following:
    • No happily ever after and depressing
    • My protagonist is female
    • The determination is based around how much sex they have
    • It is set in a romantic setting.
    • Women would read this
To tell a great women's fiction story is one that gives us insight into this unique perspective. Authors do not have to create such a level of conflict that we as readers are pushed over the edge. Sure, there is nothing wrong with a  good cry every now and then, but when the whole book focuses on this, then I am sorry to say, you have probably pushed it too far.

Hopefully this clears a few things up for you. Now, I am off to read some more stories in the hopes to find a story that doesn't make me want to jump out of my first story office window.

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