I’ve been thinking about this lately, because I’ve written a women’s fiction that is with an editor now (cross your fingers for me!).
I’m very familiar with the subject, because my first book, The Sweet Spot, I wrote as Women’s Fiction. Half the editors who read it thought it was romance, half, WF. It finally sold to a romance line, so I had to make some changes.
The difference is mainly in the focus. In a romance, the focus is on the relationship, and ends in a ‘happily ever after’. In WF, the focus is on the woman’s journey and emotional growth. It may or may not have romance, or even a happy ending.
I learned that in Romance:
- The bad-boy hero can’t be TOO bad. In my debut novel, the couple had lost their son in an accident, and it tore them apart – they divorced. To deal with the pain, my heroine developed a Valium habit. The hero’s drug was young and blonde. In my original version, he was still with the blonde when the book opened. I had to change that; my editor told me that if the readers met the bimbo, the hero would be irredeemable, no matter what he did down the line.
- I had to soften the heroine as well – she could be damaged and flawed, but she couldn’t be seen as cold, or uncaring.
- Because I wrote the book as a WF, most of the scenes involved the heroine’s point of view. I had to add a couple of scenes with the hero’s, and even though they weren’t together in the same scene in the first third of the book, I had to add thoughts each had of the other, showing how they were changing.
- Sexual tension. It’s not critical that the couple make love but there still needs to be escalating sexual tension as the book advances. Inspirational romances do a brilliant job of this.
- I had to be more careful with graphic scenes (not talking sex, here). My hero raised bulls for the bull riding circuit. In one scene, the heroine helped a cow with a breech birth. My editor had me reduce the level of gore, blood, etc. I also had to be careful how I covered breeding details like selling semen (can I say that here?)
- And, of course, there must be a HEA (happily-ever-after.) That was no problem, because I originally planned for my couple to end up together!
In my Women’s Fiction:
- There is a romantic interest, but it’s a small part. The guy is mostly there to show her issues with commitment. I leave it open-ended as to whether they end up together.
- The focus is on a grandmother and her granddaughter who, due to the past, doesn’t like or respect the family matriarch.
- So it’s about the main character’s growth. When she learns her grandmother’s past, and her secrets, she not only accepts her grandmother – she learns more about herself, and what was holding her back.
So tell me – do you read Women’s Fiction? Romance? Which do you prefer, and why?
I’m giving away a copy of The Sweet Spot to two commenters!