Friday, June 06, 2008

Women's Fiction and Writing Blogs

So apparently blogger decided not to mail me my new "You have a comment to approve" emails for a few days, and I logged in for something and had 12 comments to approve. Apologies. Continue your conversations.

As to the whole "should writers keep a blog thing" I will make my own comment: I've been slow to update this blog in the last two weeks because I've just been insane with job stuff, graduation ceremony stuff, apartment lease stuff, and finally, writing stuff. The blog is really the last on the list behind "Did I get a chapter done tonight?" I feel that it's important to post regularly but I can't let it consume my writing energy, which foremost goes to my fiction and notes for my non-fiction stuff I'm working on. A lot of writers have blogs for similar reason to why anyone else does - because they want to - but since a blog requires writing, if you only have a certain number of words in you per day, don't spend them recounting the jazz festival you went to last night. Unless you want to.

I've been working on a query letter and having people in a writing forum critique it. One critic told me that chick lit was over, and to make my story look like more than just a romantic comedy. I think that women will always be interested in romance and funny stories. I planned on just calling my story "commercial fiction." What's your take on this?

"Women's fiction" is always a good way to go if the main character is a woman and it's not specifically another genre. A lot of agents like "women's fiction" because women in general are huge readers, in comparison to men and children who aren't being forced by some assignment (Not to insult the male literati here). Plus a lot of agents are women.

14 comments:

Boyeeee said...

but isn't "women's fiction" a synonym (if not a euphemism) for chick lit?

and if what you say is true, about the majority of readers being female, why does such a subdivision of commercial fiction exist? perhaps a "dick lit" category would be more appropriate?

The Rejecter said...

Chick-lit is sort of a sub-division that I can't properly describe off the top of my head. The word "chick" should tell you its level of sophistication, and there's usually some underlying them of empowerment. Clearly I don't read a lot of it except at work.

There is "Dick-lit" but we don't call it that. If you see something that ends with "for guys" or "for boys" then it's generally that, though it has a rougher tone to it. And I assume less drinks served in martini glasses appear on the covers. Like toy stores, clothing stores, and general societal expectations, most books at least subconsciously adhere to our general stereotypes about gender.

This all does not include gay literature, erotica or otherwise, though there is a lot of stereotyping in that.

Elissa M said...

Though it feels insulting to have a separate "women's fiction" category, I think the reason it exists is because studies show most males won't read a book they think is written for females. Not all males, of course, but marketing aims for the least common denominator. Men, in general, don't like to spend a lot of time shopping, so they don't want to have to paw through "women's" books looking for something "manly".

Stereotypes exist because there's often a grain of truth to them. Marketing doesn't care about the exceptions, only about making the most sales for the least cost.

Jana Lubina said...

Yes of course blogging should not get in the way of, uh, actual writing! Unless you want it too : )

I also think writers should not let arbitrary publishing trends, or what they perceive to be trends, dictate what and how they write. Ask any writer and some genre is always "dead" or conversly "on the rise." It's such a moot point when it comes to the work you're trying to do.

Dharma Kelleher said...

The whole genre thing is at once confusing, amusing and superfluous. I recently finished the final draft of a novel where the majority of characters are lesbians in recovery from alcoholism.

It could be classified as literary fiction, because it is very character-driven, with serious, non-romantic drama. It could also be classified as women's fiction and lesbian fiction based on the nature of the characters and potential readers.

When I'm writing, I care less about the genre classification and more about the quality of the writing.

wonderer said...

My impressions:

Chick lit - a specific genre, with a tone that's light and fluffy and funny. Often stars an urban career woman looking for love, and may include lots of shopping and/or alcohol and/or chocolate. Usually a quick read. Think BRIDGET JONES or THE NANNY DIARIES.

Women's fiction - What the Rejecter said. It's a general term for books about women that don't fall into specific genres, such as romance, and that take themselves more seriously than chick lit. Think THE STONE DIARIES or THE RED TENT.

Amy Nathan said...

I like the title "Women's Fiction" because so much falls under it and so many books aren't simply serious or simply irreverent or simply anything. The best books combine many elements - make us laugh and cry and think - and have times when they are just fun to read.

Saying Women's Fiction allows an author or agent to determine where her book falls within the realm of that huge genre without being told.

Because as with the whole publishing lot in life, it's all subjective, isn't it??

Anonymous said...

Women's fiction is NOT chick lit. Chick lit is generally snarky, has a 20-something heroine who lives in a large city, and tends to focus on her relationships with men and her group of friends (something like Devil Wears Prada or Sex and the City). Women's fiction tends to have a more serious tone, and is meant for a wider audience (Phillipa Gregory's books, Julia's Chocolates, etc). And yes, the corporate book buyers cringe when you describe a book as chick lit. It was big several years ago, but now it's not selling like it did. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but usually they are books by already established authors.

Kristi Holl said...

Good for you, giving yourself and your words to your writing first, and your blog last. You're so right that if you use up much writing time/energy/ideas/words on your blog that it takes away from your own writing. It's a balancing act most times!

Bobby Johnson said...

I responded to your other post on blogs, but I wanted to see if you see a distinction between a blog, and an informational website about the unpublished novel.

I am designing a site solely for, and about, my novel. No personal quips or updates on Jazz Fest...just: About the Author, Synopsis, Excepts, Contact, etc. My query letter (written to the best of my ability) will stand alone, so the site will serve only as an addendum of sorts. A vessel to expedite the rejection or request for a partial. I figure it will only be useful if my query piques interest. If not, that would have ended in a rejection anyway and I wouldn't expect them to look at the site.

Basically, I am wondering if a website, only about the book, would be of some value to an agent. Or will it be deemed as frivolous and achieve the opposite?

Any feedback will be of value. Spanks.

Paul Lamb said...

I have found that my blog writing (I have three of the damned things!) can serve as warm up for the fiction writing I will do later. I may have only a certain number of words in me in a day, but the blog words don't count to that total.

Marinka said...

IMO, it's "chick lit" if I know what's going to happen by page 10 (and sometimes the cover). Women's literature is Anne Tyler.

Lori said...

I just started a blog while I am working on my first novel. Yes, it is Chick Lit or Women's Fiction, or Romance, whatever it turns out to be when I'm finished with it. Anyway, I started the blog so that I can get writing out of my head that doesn't go with my novel, if that makes sense. I write in a variety of styles and voices and sometimes I just feel like writing something besides my novel, depending on what is going on in my life at the time. It seems to work well for me, but it's only been a few days with the blog. Thank you for the inspiration.

Shruti Chandra Gupta said...

I don't have anything against 'women's fiction' or 'men's fiction' if there is such a genre, but I think that any fiction that is good fiction should be able to supersede these distinctions. Universal lit, that is.