Monday, April 01, 2013

Writing Women's Fiction

“What do you write?”

“My novels have romance with a hint of mystery,” I’d say. It sounded more intriguing than “contemporary women’s fiction,” but frankly that’s exactly what I write.

In February I had the privilege of teaching a workshop at a writers conference about writing women’s fiction. After researching this topic, I’m more excited than ever to be writing in this genre.

Out of all the main genres, Women’s Fiction tends to hold one of the top slots for sales. 40% of the fiction sold in the United States is Women’s Fiction.

So what exactly is women’s fiction? New York Times Bestselling Author Nora Roberts describes it this way: "Women's Fiction is a story that centers on a woman or on primarily women's issues, not necessarily the romantic relationship based books I do, but the woman's story.”

Here are 10 quick tips for writing compelling women’s fiction:

  1. Women’s fiction taps into the hopes, fears, dreams, and longings of women today, and woman’s life is the central focus of the story. 
  2. The woman is always the protagonist, or star of the story, and her changes and emotional development are the subject. 
  3. Women’s Fiction can be humorous dealing with lighter issues, or deeply emotional with more hard-hitting issues. 
  4. Women's contemporary fiction includes many of the facets of other genres—romance, mystery, suspense, etc., but the main character’s passion for her personal journey, however, must drive the story. 
  5. Women’s Fiction is about writing about all types of women. Your heroine can be overweight, she can be over 30, she can have children, she can be married, or she can be single. She could be a rising corporate executive taking care of her grandmother, or raising a child. If she is dating, while this may be important to her, getting a man is never the primary goal. 
  6.  Make sure the dynamics of the relationships in your story are front and center. Writing for women means you have to deal intimately and honestly with whatever your character is going through. Your readers need to know your characters’ thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities. 
  7. Even though you may have an unlikeable character, or write about difficult topics, there still needs to be “a warmth” about your story. Ask yourself, “Would I want to be friends with this character?” 
  8. Remember, in women’s fiction the main character must want something. Even if she takes a detour in the story, she persists to the end, whether because of her actions or someone else in the story moving her to action. 
  9. There’s not always the standard ‘happy ending,’ but there’s a hopeful, life-affirming resolution. 
  10. If you are writing “women’s fiction” then it means you are writing a story that you believe women will love. Write the story that inspires you. Be true to yourself. 

My new book, The Heart Stone, releases today!

From the back cover:


When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappears in their lives, Jessica and her son go to her Uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. As she ponders her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope? Or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?

About: Sherry Kyle writes novels for women and books for tween girls that ReConnect Faith and Fiction. The Heart Stone is her second novel with Abingdon Press. Sherry and her husband have four children and live on the coast in central California. You can find Sherry on the web at:


Ane Mulligan said...

This was a great book! I had the privilege of reading an advance copy and I loved it! I also love women's fiction. It's my favorite genre. Thanks for writing it, Sherry!

Jill Kemerer said...

Congratulations, Sherry! This women's fiction "list" is really helpful, too. I get asked questions about genre a lot, so I'll bookmark this one to share!

camilleeide said...

Thanks for the list, Sherry. It's helping me finalize a couple of decisions I needed to make in launching my next story. Romantic Women's Fiction with a hint of mystery is what I write as well. God bless your book launch!

Heather Marsten said...

Excellent breakdown of what women's fiction entails. Thanks.

brandyheineman said...

Thanks for laying out a clear definition. I really appreciate this post. (And congrats on your book release!)