They say that women read books, men read newspapers. This is a ridiculous generalisation, I know, but it might go to explain one phenomenon – of all the mainstream genres of fiction-writing, crime, fantasy, literary, comedy, sci-fi, erotica (thank you EL James for making it okay to include that last one) – the most popular and successful is women’s fiction.
And yes, I know that I’m making another huge generalisation (what can I say, I’m on a roll) by suggesting that female readers only read women’s fiction. There are plenty who read the other genres mentioned above as well as biography, history, travel books etc. but women’s fiction is distinctive in that its readers, for the most part, are women.
As a reader, I am a typical male who rarely reads this genre and when I have, it’s because I’ve known the author (I’m reading one at the moment, as it happens). Crime is my thing and, although some authors have crossed over these two genres (Nora Roberts did quite well with The Witness), in general they respectfully steer clear of each other.
Like when I talked about poetry last week, I will admit that I don’t know much about the specific rules, regulations, guidelines, nuances, tropes, characterizations and so on about writing women’s fiction. But thankfully I do know a few people who do know these ins-and-outs. Or, at least, a few websites.
ChickLitBooks.com is one such website devoted to the genre. Started back in May 2003, it quickly grew into the first full-fledged site dedicated to Women’s Fiction. It features a huge chick-lit database, reviews and author interviews and also tells us how the genre is broken down into sub-genres such as ‘Mom-Lit’, Glamour-Lit’ and ‘Single-City-Girl-Lit’.
Novelist Lisa Craig explains to us that there is a significant difference between ‘Women’s Fiction’ and ‘Romance’ – she suggests that they’re two very different and separate genres completely, in fact. She tells us that women’s fiction can be commercial or literary, can have a contemporary, period or multigenerational setting, and that the woman is the star of the story and her changes and emotional development are the subject.
And over on ‘How-To-write-a-Novel’ we find out that Women’s Fiction is a 24-billion dollar industry. And Micki Nuding from Harper Collins talks about what stories are ‘trending’ but warns that trends, by their nature, have a habit of fizzling.
In an interview with Amy Sue Nathan from Women’s Fiction Writers, author Samantha Wilde talks about the five-year journey she went through when writing her recently launched novel ‘I’ll Take What She Has’, including working with five different editors. She also talks about the importance of Women’s Fiction sitting squarely alongside all other genres of fiction.
There are also some excellent interviews with Women’s Fiction writers, including Fiona O’Brien, Sarah Webb and Margaret Scott, right here on writing.ie.
If, on the off-chance, you want to get the man’s point-of-view on this genre (shur what would he know about this sort of thing?), writer and lecturer Harry Bingham is worth listening to. His advice, such as the need to have intimacy and comedy and that it’s okay to be ‘girly’, suggests that he has a good bead on what makes a good chick-lit novel.
Devoted To the Genre.
ChickLitBooks.com is the one-stop-shop for writing advice, reviews and interviews of writers of Women’s Fiction.
“Chick lit is smart, fun fiction for and/or about women of all ages. Story lines often revolve around jobs, children, motherhood, romance, fame, living in the ‘big city’, friendship, dieting and much more, usually with a touch of humor thrown in.”
There Is A Difference.
Novelist Nicki Craig on knowing what differentiates ‘Women’s Fiction’ from ‘Romance’.
“Understanding women’s fiction is important to successfully crafting a novel and submitting the work to the right publisher.”
The Lucrative Market of Women’s Fiction.
The How-To-write-a-Novel website’s advice on Women’s Fiction, including how to get a cut of this 24-Billion Dollar Industry.
“Women read more than men do and buy more books. Of all the fiction genres out there, Women’s Fiction holds one of the top slots for sales.”
A Writer’s Journey.
Novelist Samantha Wilde talks about the epic task of writing ‘I’ll Take What She Has’ and how she feels about being a part of this genre.
“I love the name ‘women’s fiction’—as long as it applies to the content.”
More Women’s Fiction writers chat to writing.ie’s Vanessa O’Loughlin.
Can Men Have A Say Too?
Harry Bingham gives us his tips on writing Women’s Fiction.
“You need to be intimate with your characters. We need to know their thoughts, feel their feelings, their vulnerabilities.”