When you’re writing women’s fiction, the protagonist comes out ahead. In some way, shape or form, she ends up in a better place than where she started, as summed up in this week’s Writing Rule.
End on a strong note.
Protagonists in women’s fiction can start out utterly weak, confused, abused, misguided or unfulfilled. And they can have a devil of a time overcoming that weakness, confusion, abuse, misguidance or unfulfillment. But they do overcome it nonetheless.
These stories can be full of as much misery as the author chooses to include. However, the ending has to be one filled with promise and potential. Maybe not sunshine and rainbows per se, but definitely hope.
Take those plot premises from yesterday’s article:
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 comes under horrible accusations?
Those are the questions the protagonist or protagonists start out with, which means these can be the results for the first two:
Maria has worked in the tech world for the last 20 years, having started fresh from college with what she thought was a dream internship. As it turned out, it was more like a nightmare: a good-old boy’s club filled with sexist comments and sexist practices that destroyed more than one of her friends throughout the years.
So, 20 years to the day she first began, she quits to start her own business. Oh, she knows the difficulties ahead of her. But this is something she knows she can do.
Tracy is dead-tired, exhausted from trying to keep her life in the order she’s always been told it should be. A career woman, she does love aspects of her job, but it’s getting more and more draining while her kids grow up on the side and her marriage plods along. When her mother falls down the steps, Tracy at first considers it one more burden on her shoulders. Yet she ends up having a whole slew of fascinating conversations with the parents she always considered to be old-fashioned – and finds a viable solution to her problems as a result.
I’ll leave the others for you and your imagination to fill out, but if you want an absolutely engaging example of how women’s fiction can start out acknowledging significant issues and end up overcoming them, check out Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.
Warning: It does have some non-classy language in it. But it also addresses real-world women’s issues – in fact, real-world issues, period – through flawed and damaged characters, a flawed and damaged setting (i.e., planet earth), a questioning mind, a whole lot of humor and, ultimately, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing women’s fiction seriously never looked so good as Big Little Lies. So if you’re looking for some literary inspiration in this genre, that’s where I’m pointing you.
Let me know if you like it!