Women’s fiction manuscripts are supposed to be serious stuff when you get down to their bare-bones purpose. These aren't your mama’s broken nail.
Ever seen those retro-style pop art or vintage-style memes and plaques with the 60s guys and girls on them? They might very well go too far in mocking the time period. Lord knows we have a ton to mock today too, including the ridiculous earrings in style right now that look like curtain ties.
Who buys those things other than as gag gifts? Seriously?
But back to writing women’s fiction manuscripts...
Both retro-style pop art and vintage-style memes have a tendency to make women’s issues look quite silly. “Oh, I broke a nail!” Or, “She had made yet another wise shopping decision.” As if perfect nails and shopping decisions are the end-all and be-all of female existence.
Women’s fiction manuscripts throw that 60s-stereotype – or perhaps it’d be fairer to say valley-girl notion – out the window with a vengeance, asking hard-hitting questions like.
What’s it like to be a woman in a male-dominated workforce?
Can a woman truly balance a full-time job and give her children the honest attention they need and that she wants to give them?
How can a girl truly move herself past an incident or incidents of abuse?
Where does a college senior find fulfillment if she isn’t the partying type who the boys all flock to – which is exactly what society tells her she should be to find true happiness?
What’s a wife to do when her husband finds himself facing horrible accusations?
Now, none of that has to be male-bashing. In fact, I’d argue that it shouldn’t be male-bashing since that doesn’t truly help inspire women, which is what women’s fiction is supposed to do.
In fact, if you’re writing women’s fiction manuscripts, you can just as easily explore the negative side of female company as male company.
For example, that first question listed above about what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated workforce? A women’s fiction manuscript can just as easily explore how women complicate their professional image by intentionally wearing sensual outfits to work, as it can condemn frat-boy mentalities that lead some businessmen to think themselves entitled to kisses from their female colleagues.
It’s also important to note that this genre doesn’t have to be all deep and dark and heavy from start to finish. My dear friend and Writing Retreat-planning partner Lia Mack, for one, has a women’s fiction novel that’s filled with entertaining interactions and commentary.
But its bare-bones purpose is to promote wellness in and understanding of women who have been the victims of sexual abuse.
When you’re working on women’s fiction, what you really want to focus on is the subject of this week’s Writing challenge:
Give your protagonist something worthwhile to fight.
If you’re writing women’s fiction, chances are extremely high you’re a female yourself. So picking a female fight shouldn’t be too hard.
Learning how to stand up for oneself at home, at play or at work; encouraging one’s husband as he struggles with his bipolar disorder; realizing that one is loved and lovable despite past abuse... And the list goes on.
Whatever it is though, make it real. Make it hard. And make it matter.
That’s the bare-bones purpose of writing women’s fiction manuscripts. Without it, you’re writing in a different genre.