What is women’s fiction?
Women’s fiction is as vast and varied as women around the world themselves. It is not easy to write women’s fiction because you have to weave a plot and storyline that reflects the very nature and essence of a woman and women’s everyday lives. You can write a comedy, a tragedy, a thriller, or a historical account. If it lacks the essential characteristics that will help it resonate with women, it will not be successful.
Strong Female protagonists
When it comes to writing women’s fiction, above all else, you need to have a strong female character in your story. This is the character that everything will revolve around. Your female protagonist has to be distinct and special, yet relatable and likeable.
As an experienced editor, I have edited several women’s fiction books. The one thing that I can tell you from my years of experience is that it’s a rewarding genre to write for. The main point I am trying to convey is that you can not fake women’s fiction. It has to come from a place of authenticity.
The journey that your main character goes through and the choices that she makes has to be believable. The narrative has to make sense from the point of view of the woman that is reading it. If you cannot do that, then your piece of women’s fiction is unlikely to succeed.
Learn The Basics!
In this article, I am going to share with you some tips and tricks that I have learned over the years about what makes for a compelling women’s fiction book. At the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how you can improve your skills. I will try to cover as much as I can, but if you are an aspiring writer and want to learn more, you can check out my comprehensive edit service. Here I can help you convert your idea into a polished and complete book. Now, let’s get into how to write women’s fiction.
How to write women’s fiction
There are five main things that you need to keep in mind when you are writing women’s fiction:
- Fully embrace the genre
- Be as detailed as possible
- Act as a psychologist
- Flesh out major relationships
The problem that most aspiring writers run into is that they don’t fully understand the genre. Before we go any further, let’s take a look at what women’s fiction actually is.
The definition of women’s fiction is comprehensive, and you must not let yourself be limited by anything. Women can be in politics; they can be on a starship on a conquest to conquer galaxies. As long as the story is about a woman, it is women’s fiction. With that out of the way, let’s get into some detail about how you can become a better women’s fiction writer.
Women’s fiction genre
Women’s fiction suffers from a misplaced and ill-informed opinion that it is less serious than other literary genres. Let me tell you that writing for women is every bit as serious and as worthy of your effort and time as, say, a murder mystery. In fact, your novel can even be a murder mystery – think Agatha Christie! As long as your story revolves around a woman and details what she is doing and going through, it is women’s fiction.
It is vital that you embrace the genre for what it is before you sit down and write. Another common misconception about the genre is that women in women’s fiction need to be damsels in distress, or they need to be weak and emotional. You can, of course, choose to do so, but this idea should not limit what your book is going to be about.
As an editor, I have worked on several women’s fiction books and what I have come to realise is that the best women’s fiction is one where women are unique, strong, and take matters into their own hands. So, you must recognise that there are no limitations, and in order to become a better writer, you need to embrace this.
The Women’s Fiction Reading List
Another thing that you can do to get a better idea about the genre is read as much women’s fiction as possible. My personal recommendations would be; Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. Middlemarch, by George Eliot. The Festival, by Sarah J Naughton. Losing Juliet, By June Taylor. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Reading these books will give you a better understanding of the genre from some of the giants of literature.
Create the right details
Details and settings are crucial for most genres, but for women’s fiction, it is even more important. Women’s fiction is a genre where you need to really flesh out the setting in which the story is taking place. The details you put in your setting can help the reader get immersed in the world that you have created and relate with your heroine better. For example, the house in which your main character lives need to be written in explicit detail. This will help the reader understand the personality and preferences of your main character.
Wherever you decide to place your heroine, you need to tell the reader in detail about it. Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with details, as many aspiring writers tend to do. You have to find the right balance where you are really painting a picture that the reader can clearly imagine without losing their interest.
Flesh your story out
This is something that I focus on when I am editing women’s fiction for writers. My comprehensive edit is great for anyone who wants to understand the art of putting in the right amount of detail in the setting to keep the reader hooked.
To give you an example of how you can do this and why it is important, let’s say that you decide to give your heroine a garden in her house. It allows you to let the reader know a lot about your heroine subtly. How does the garden look? What kind of flowers are there? This will tell your reader if the main character is tidy or not. If the garden is well maintained, then your main character is tidy and neat.
Through the types of plants, you can tell the reader about what your heroine is thinking, when she sees a particular colour or the reasoning behind choosing a certain type of flower. If you learn to use details in the right way, then the possibilities are endless.
How to connect with a female audience
While women may not have any problem connecting with their feelings, they often tend to have a hard time expressing them. This gives you the opportunity to express those feelings for them. Women’s fiction has the unique advantage of being very cathartic and moreover, has the ability to reach out and talk directly to the reader.
Similarly, imagine a woman who has been taught to never question authority or a woman who was not allowed to avail of some opportunity because of other duties. Women’s fiction gives you a chance to relate with them on a very intimate level. Therefore by addressing these common feelings, you can grab the attention of the reader and provide them an outlet to resolve these emotions that they are having a hard time dealing with.
When you are a writer, you are, to this end, a psychologist. This is why you have to make sure that the emotions and issues that you address in women’s fiction are rooted in reality. And this is why you have to act like a psychologist when writing women’s fiction.
Generally, life–changing relationships tend to define women’s fiction. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that, to some extent, a woman is the result of the relationships that she has in her life. A woman’s relationship with her parents, friends, and siblings is a very important part of her life. This is something that you need to flesh out clearly.
Every trait and characteristic that your protagonist has, can be given life through the relationships in her life. You can take the reader on a journey of the origin of her emotions and characteristics by focusing on her life relationships. This will give more substance and authenticity to your character. If you want a strong and well-defined heroine, then you will have to put some effort into the relationships that are in her life.
Utilise plot opportunities
Each relationship in your character’s life is an opportunity for you to show a different side of your heroine to the reader and flesh out her complexities. Some characters can be used to show the soft side of your main character, and some characters can be used to explain the vices that she might have. Therefore use the relationships that you put in your story wisely, and don’t let them go to waste by not focusing on what that relationship brings in your heroine’s life.
Start writing women’s fiction!
I hope that the information I have presented above gives you a new perspective on writing women’s fiction. Women’s fiction is a unique genre. This genre is a powerful way to empower women. If you think that you have a strong female character in your mind that has a story that women around the world can take inspiration from, then don’t hesitate. Start writing.
If you are an aspiring writer and need my help with the editing of your book. Then feel free to contact me and discuss your project. You can check out my portfolio and details by clicking here. Best of luck!