PDA

View Full Version : women's fiction vs. romance (like this hasn't been asked before)



Becky Writes
08-09-2006, 10:55 PM
Okay, as I understand it, women's fiction is about the journey of the herione(s) and romance is about the journey of the love affair.

Is that right?

I ask because my WIP is a love story, but the heroine (Casey) is dealing with more than just "getting the man" so to speak. She's also dealing with her past, her family, her job...it's a total journey that happens to end up with her and the hero HEA. This is probably more women's fiction, right? I'm thinking it's probablynot romance, because a major storyline is the realtionship between Casey and her sister.


This kind of stuff makes me feel so stupid.

JanDarby
08-10-2006, 12:25 AM
It's all about what the DOMINANT storyline is.

Is the story question "Will she get her man?" or is the story question "Will she grow up [or learn some such life lesson?" One will be dominant and the other will probably also exist, but as a subplot or a background/setting, because romances don't happen in a vaccuum.

There's always other stuff happening, but one thread is dominant and another thread is secondary. Just like one character (or the hero and heroine together) will be the main character and other characters will be secondary.

The line between what's called women's fiction and what's called romance is always fuzzy anyway, and it's sort of a "you know it when you see it" thing. If you look at Jenny Crusie's books the heroine has a lot going on in her life and makes more of a journey than the hero (usually). But they're definitely romance, b/c that's the main plot. Pat Gaffney would be more of an example of women's fiction, where the heroine's growth and non-romantic issues are the primary plot, and any romantic relationship is secondary.

JD

Becky Writes
08-10-2006, 02:08 AM
Well, the love story IS the MAIN thing.

IrishScribbler
08-11-2006, 08:10 AM
JanDarby's is a good distinction. Romance is so labelled because it deals predominantly with romance. (However, I've read some chick lit pieces that are generally considered "women's fiction" that I would prefer to refer to as "romance.")

Another good indicator is that women's fiction is not as "light" as romance. Often, women's fiction deals with painful situations, and how the women get through it....in women's fiction, there isn't always a happy ending.

Alice Sebold's novel, Lovely Bones, is a good example of women's fiction, as is her memoir, Lucky.

A good one to look at for the fuzzy line that Jan mentions is Disobedience by Jane Hamilton. It's narrated by a young man as he sort of spies on his mother through her emails and discovers she's having an affair. There is an element of romance in the affair, but the story is about the mother dealing with the conflict between wife/mother and woman. (Then again, being narrated by a male character adds the complication that perhaps it isn't women's fiction at all, but a coming of age story about the son....read it and let me know what you think!)

All romance is women's fiction. Not all women's fiction is romance.

Josie
08-11-2006, 09:21 PM
:e2cry: Me everytime I think about the term "Women's Fiction"

:e2BIC: Me if I forget about it and do the part I love

Cheers :)

Sonarbabe
08-12-2006, 04:23 AM
:e2cry: Me everytime I think about the term "Women's Fiction"

:e2BIC: Me if I forget about it and do the part I love

Cheers :)

LOL! I'm sorry, but that post just struck me as funny!!! Forgive me, Josie, but I feel I must add to that. Hope you don't mind.

:popcorn: Me when I "go to check a few threads at AW"

:eek: Me when I realize I've been at AW for 3 hours instead of writing!! Ack!

Josie
08-12-2006, 06:51 AM
Good heavens. Don't apologize. If you laughed I was a success!!!!


;)

At first I thot"Omigod, someone has found me out...staying on here for 3 hrs."

Brenda Hill
08-12-2006, 08:43 AM
Can anyone suggest an average word count for a women's fiction manuscript? I checked Harlequin's Next line, which is approx 75,000 words, but what if the story doesn't have that much of a love story and wouldn't qualify for Harlequin?

JanDarby
08-12-2006, 06:36 PM
The word count depends on who you're submitting to. Harlequin has specific word counts for different lines. For other publishers, single title is usually in the 80K to 100K range.

Oh, and the NEXT line, as I understand it, and based on the summaries of the books that have been released so far, doesn't need to have much romance. It's more about the woman starting over than about romance.

JD

Brenda Hill
08-12-2006, 10:44 PM
Thanks, Jan. 80,000 to 100,000 sounds about right. I'm a little short of that.

Sonarbabe
08-12-2006, 11:51 PM
I agree with Jan. Most women's fiction (and romance too) are between 80,000-100,000 words.

I don't think they'll penalize you too much if you fall short by a 1,000 words either way, will they?

Brenda Hill
08-13-2006, 08:44 PM
Don't know, but when friend sold to Silhouette, her word count was over the amount stated in the guidelines. They asked her to cut.

Susan Gable
08-14-2006, 02:30 AM
Please remember that the posted guidelines for H/S these days are counted in COMPUTER WORD COUNT now, not in the old 250 wpp method. That's important to keep in mind.

:)

Susan G.

NCwriter
08-14-2006, 04:27 AM
Please remember that the posted guidelines for H/S these days are counted in COMPUTER WORD COUNT now, not in the old 250 wpp method.

It is? How long have they been doing that?

Josie
08-14-2006, 04:38 AM
Hi Thanks Susan. I did remember about the way of the computer count with H/S.

But I can't remember if that was all the lines. The changes happened about 6 mths. ago I think.

Also noting by computer count (which is more accurate) you get less words than by the page count at 250 words a page.

Somewhere under the category Romance/Women' s Fiction here I think Cathy or Susan entered the scale changes rather clearly and helpfully. Again thanks gals.

When I find it I'll post the website address.

Cheers :)

Susan Gable
08-14-2006, 06:37 AM
It is? How long have they been doing that?

Ummmm...a few months? I almost single-handedly managed to stir up some brouhaha over it because I didn't understand what they were doing at first, and I thought they were shortening all the lines word counts by 10K.

Which they DID -- but like, for me, it has no impact. Because my computer word count at the new, shorter "window" for my line is where I was hitting anyway. So for me, it didn't make much of a change. (I tend to be more with the dialogue, and shorter paragraphs, so I was heavier on the white space. Which means I had more pages, but fewer actual words.)

So, just look at the new guidelines, and use your computer word count to hit the H/S target now.

Susan G.

Brenda Hill
08-14-2006, 09:11 AM
Thanks, Susan, and everyone. It can be so confusing.

Susan Gable
08-14-2006, 06:03 PM
Thanks, Susan, and everyone. It can be so confusing.

Amen to that. For all of us. :)

Susan G.

NCwriter
08-14-2006, 09:17 PM
Ah. I knew Harlequin reduced the word count of the lines, but I didnít hear that they were now using the actual word count as opposed to the 250 words/page formula. Thanks for letting me know.

Brenda Hill
08-15-2006, 12:48 AM
By the way, Susan, I visited your website. Congratulations on the wonderful awards for your books. Excuse me while I drool.

Susan Gable
08-16-2006, 11:57 PM
By the way, Susan, I visited your website. Congratulations on the wonderful awards for your books. Excuse me while I drool.

Awwww, thanks! Feel free to drool, just don't get any on the awards. <VBG>

:)

One day soon I have to take a picture of the award I just brough home from Atlanta, cause it's a really nice one. They do a fabulous job with their plaques at National Readers' Choice Awards. :)

PS - Anybody who visits my website, don't forget to enter my contest. I haven't been keeping things up-to-date, so I don't have that many folks entering my contest right now. Which means your chances to win are better!)

Susan G.

aruna
08-17-2006, 11:09 AM
hmm. Just checked out your contest. It's just up my street. I'll have to think about it...

Brenda Hill
08-18-2006, 06:49 AM
Susan, I'll be sure to turn around and drip away from you.

Hi Aruna! Nice to see you.

Susan Gable
08-18-2006, 05:18 PM
Susan, I'll be sure to turn around and drip away from you.

.

<G> Thank you. I appreciate that. <G>

On a serious note, though, I can't begin to tell you how much having my work recognized, particularly by readers, means to me. Winning something like the National Readers' Choice Award is a helpful blow to the doubt demons that still stand on my shoulders and whisper their cutting words. You know, that ones that say, "You don't know what you're doing. You're not really a writer, you're just playing at it. This story stinks!"

Bashing them over the head with a marble plaque is somewhat effective in shutting them up. <G>

Susan G.

Brenda Hill
08-19-2006, 10:34 PM
Oh, yes, the doubt demons. If bashing them over the head with awards doesn't send them scurrying, I don't know what will.

Lolly
08-19-2006, 11:21 PM
Becky, I know how you feel. I've wondered about the difference myself. Romance is a part of my story, but certainly not the only part. Like yours, my heroine is struggling with a major issue in her life. In my case, she's wrestling with doubts about her religion, but is afraid to "come out" to her friends and family, who are devout practitioners of said religion. The hero helps her in her journey, but she's the one who has to confront her demons and make the choice of what to do. I guess, then, that my story belongs to women's fiction.

JanDarby
08-19-2006, 11:30 PM
Focus on the overall story question, the one presented in the first scene and answered in the very last page.

Is it "will she fall in love with the hero and be loved in return?" or is it "will she find the strength to come out?" That will determine the genre. Until, of course, an agent or editor gets ahold of it, and then they can relabel it if they choose.

JD

Brenda Hill
08-20-2006, 09:40 AM
I just visited H's Next line and the current listing of books appear light and humorous, like an older version of chic-lit. At least for the current month. Is that what they’re accepting now?

maestrowork
08-20-2006, 01:51 PM
The hero helps her in her journey, but she's the one who has to confront her demons and make the choice of what to do. I guess, then, that my story belongs to women's fiction.

Where is the focus? Is it her journey, or is it the romance? In romance, the love relationship is usually the main story, and I'm not only talking about genre. Mainstream romance such as the Bridges of Madison County, the Notebook, etc. all deals with romance primarily. In romance, the story is more about "Will they get together?" and from the description of your book, I think it's more "women's fiction" than romance (or maybe chick-lit... it depends on subject and how you write it). However, some people may still want to call it romance -- you never know. My book, for example, is really a coming-of-age story, but it gets shelved under "Romance" at Borders (but "Fiction/Literature" at Barnes and Noble)... so who knows?

Brenda Hill
08-26-2006, 11:02 AM
Does anyone know if there’s a rule about sex scenes in women’s fiction?

Susan Gable
08-26-2006, 04:54 PM
Does anyone know if thereís a rule about sex scenes in womenís fiction?

Forget RULES! <G> Focus on the STORY! Does the story you're telling require a sex scene? Does the sex scene advance the story, reveal character (in more than the obvious way <G>) ?? Then put it in.

If it doesn't, leave it out.

Unless you're targeting inspirational women's fiction, of course. Then, yes, there's a rule that you can't have a sex scene. :)

If your story is so fantastic that the editor loves it, but she doesn't like the sex scene, she can ask you to change it.

Susan G.

Brenda Hill
08-26-2006, 07:22 PM
Thank you, Susan. That helps.

Brenda Hill
09-04-2006, 10:18 PM
It's ironic. While studying the craft of writing, I could never understand why an author would say her/his story must have a sex scene. I'd read wonderful stories for years without graphic sex so I decided the writer wanted an excuse to spice up an otherwise dull novel.

Now, to fully express my character’s growth, I need a sex scene, and I certainly hope the rest of my novel isn't boring.

My question now is about my query. My genre is women's fiction, but do I need to mention it includes sex? From what I understand, manuscripts should be labeled erotic, or graphic, or general, such as 'erotic paranormal.'

Cathy C
09-04-2006, 11:13 PM
No, you don't. The mere inclusion of sex in a novel can occur in mystery or thriller or even science fiction. It doesn't rate a nod. Women's fiction is no different. Now, if the story is EROTICA (not "erotic") or includes the copious use of four letter words that describe body parts or acts (not for the purpose of swearing), then that could be mentioned when you're sending the FULL manuscript.

But in a query...? Nah. You're fine. :)

Brenda Hill
09-04-2006, 11:19 PM
Oh thank you, thank you, Cathy. I was beginning to sweat as I've sent a few queries.

Now I'll go look up the differences between erotic and erotica since I don't want to take more of your time.

But just in case you do have a spare moment . . .

Cathy C
09-04-2006, 11:25 PM
No problem.

"Erotic" means "sexy." It's in-depth sexual interaction, both emotionally and physically. It's INTENDED to get the reader turned on. You can have an erotic romance, or an erotic thriller or even an historical. It steams up the glass for detailed description.

But "Erotica," as a genre, has sex as a plot point. It's not just that the parties interact sexually, but the ACT of sex can't be removed without affecting the plot. For example, Anne Rice's (writing as A.N. Roquette) Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Beauty has to learn different sexual acts in order to progress through her training to become queen.

I doubt you qualify for erotica, if it's just one scene. :)

Brenda Hill
09-04-2006, 11:30 PM
Thanks, Cathy. I truly appreciate your time.

I just returned from your page about sub-genres, and with your brief explanation above, I think I have it now.

Actually there are two scenes, both, I feel, very important to the story, but I guess I would say it's erotic.

WriterUnboxed
09-05-2006, 12:35 AM
Ugh, this questions is one that used to plague me, too. :Shrug: I'm in the process of rewriting a story from romance to women's fiction. One of the things I believe you have to consider is the tone of the piece. Most romances have a very specific feel to them. Take, for example, the first few lines from Laura Kinsale's Seize the Fire:


It was hell being a hero. With the guns crashing and the deck a blind chaos of powder smoke, Captain Sheridan Drake wiped his sleeve across his eyes to clear away a crust of Mediterranean sweat and battle-grime. He thought of his botched boyhood Latin lessons with profound regret. Really, he ought to have listened to his schoolmaster, and gone into practicing law.

Compare to the first few lines of Barbara Samuel's No Place Like Home:


The April I was thirteen, I went to sleep a good Catholic schoolgirl, and woke up the next morning burning. The transition was like the flip of a coin, and made me as dizzy as an airborne dime. I was sick for days with it--drunk on the new green of globe willow leaves against the slate of a heavy spring sky; feeling the itch down my spine and the sides of my legs from the seams of my clothes; eating gluttonously of every lasagna, every olive, every bowl of cream I could put my hands on...

Using first person can help to create a women's fiction feel, IMO, though it's more than that. The plot isn't driven by the love relationship; it's driven by the woman's personal journey...what she needs to accomplish...and a finding a good man is only part of that. ;)

Just my two cents, of course!

Therese
WriterUnboxed (http://writerunboxed.blogspot.com)
How can you win an AlphaSmart 3000?

Sonarbabe
09-05-2006, 01:21 AM
Can I borrow you plaque for about 2 minutes? LOL I have a nasty little demon that keeps telling me I'm a schmuck. I promise to give it right back. ;)

Congratulations again, Susan. You deserve it.

Brenda Hill
09-05-2006, 02:45 AM
I like your two cents, Therese.