Sunday, August 29, 2010
Women's Fiction: Is It Only for Women?
In a discussion recently on a writer's online loop, the question was raised about Women's Fiction as a genre and whether the stories that fit this genre could be enjoyed by men.
Author Lisa Craig presented the distinctions between women's fiction and romance in an article for Writing-World.com in which she offers varying definitions of women's fiction. The focus seems to be on the woman facing some challenge, crisis, or opportunity and finding her own inner strength to move forward. The story may or may not involve a romantic relationship and, when it does, the hero gets much less page time than the heroine. The romance is secondary to the overall plot.
The question is, are women's fiction stories 'only' for women? I was approached by a man at a book fair who picked up one of my novels and asked, "What is this about?" I gave him a blurb on the story. He then asked, "Is this a women's book?" I explained that it was women's fiction--a story a woman would find engaging and entertaining, and that a man might learn something from. To my amazement, he bought the book. I asked if he was buying it for his wife. He said, "I'll probably give it to her after I read it."
I once conducted an eight-week group for women at midlife. At the closing session, one of the women asked if I would consider running the same group for the men in their lives so they would better understand what the women were going through. Of course, they then agreed getting the men there would take a small army or a guarantee of pizza, beer, and a sports event. If men like Nicholas Spark, Richard Paul Evans, and Nicholas Evans can write stories that appeal to women, why shouldn't those same stories appeal to men? Personally, I think we underestimate men when we assume they won't connect with the feminine perspective in a book. As a reader, I enjoy fiction written by men and featuring male protagonists.
When you think about it, what better way for men to gain some insight into how women think, feel, and behave?
Christmas is coming in a few months. Buy your guy a woman's book for a change. Share your favorite women's fiction story with him and see what happens (and then come back and let me know :)