What is Women’s Fiction?


The other day I was asked the question, “What is Women’s Fiction?” It should have occurred to me that not everyone knows what Women’s Fiction is, but I hadn’t thought about it much. Apparently, when you are immersed in a subject, you think everyone else knows what you know. 

I decided to do some research so I’m prepared the next time someone asks me to explain the genre. After doing some online research, I was surprised to learn that defining Women’s Fiction is like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s 1964 statement about obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Women’s Fiction is obscene. I mean, I suppose it could be if that was the author’s intent, but that is an entirely different discussion. 

Generally speaking, Women’s Fiction is an emotionally-driven story focusing on a female main character who is struggling with some aspect of life. A power struggle ensues and by the end of the book, the reader hopes to see the main character stronger, wiser, happier or whatever “—er” you have in mind. 

Women’s Fiction can have subplots as well. An action, thriller or, much more common, a romance subplot could be included. These satisfy the reader’s curiosity and need to explore basic needs, safety, and love. Just like any book, the reader can do this from the safety of her own home. 

That’s a key point about Women’s Fiction. This type of story allows a reader to experience what it would be like to revolt against a system without having to worry about the consequences. I can’t speak for you, but the concept sounds awfully appealing to me. 

So, am I prepared the next time someone asks me what Women’s Fiction is? Yes, I am. I’m ready to explain that while Women’s Fiction can mean different things to different people, at its heart, the genre follows a female protagonist on a journey to gain control in some area of her life with the goal of breaking free of a societal constraint. 

What do you think Women’s Fiction is? Comment below or send me an email at carolewolfeauthor@gmail.com.

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