I know a lot of writers who cannot clearly define the difference between the two, and many times when I’m asked what I write and I say Women’s fiction – I get that blank stare, followed by “So, is that like romance?” While seeing the difference between the two genres might seem difficult, it’s really quite easy.
Another distinct difference is in the, uh, lovin’ department. In Romance, there’s bound to be some hanky panky going on, and you’re going to be shown every moment of it. In Women’s fiction, often times you’ll only find implied hanky panky. Meaning, you get the gist of what they’re about to do, but the writer hits the fast forward button and drops you off in the after moment.
The other main difference you’ll find is in the core of the story itself. The heartbeat of the story, the main driving force that propels the story forward. With Romance novels, the heart of the story revolves around just what you would guess – the romance. While there often times are other aspects brought into the story, the story as a whole, the main focus, is always that of the romance aspect. Where in Women’s fiction you’ll find that while romance may be a main facet of the story, it is not the heartbeat of it. The focal point of most Women’s fiction is of personal growth, change, being on the brink of (or right after) life changing events. It’s about the journey, not the romance.
One of the last main differences you’ll find are within the characters themselves. Romance novels, typically (although not always), have a certain typeset of characters. Most people don’t even need a definition of what type of character’s you’ll find in a Romance novel – because we all just seem to know it. While the MC’s (main characters) might be somewhat flawed in certain ways, there is always a clear definition of hero/heroine. They may be a little rough around the edges, but she’s always beautiful, she always gets her man. In Women’s fiction, you’ll often find quite the opposite. And this is one of the main reasons I’m drawn to be a Women’s fiction writer, versus a Romance writer. While I love reading a good romance here and there, I never quite feel like I can relate to the MC. In Women’s fiction, the characters are more solidly based off of real women. They’re flawed, damaged, not always the most beautiful women in the room, they make mistakes, bad decisions. But they learn from those choices – and grow from them. They are all women we can relate to in some fashion. Their journey’s, their stories, are based more on personal growth than romance.
Now, if you ever wonder which genre to slip your book into, or what genre a book might really be that you’re considering purchasing, thinking about these differences might help you to better see which side of the fence the book sits on. Is the book about the romance, or the journey? If it’s about the journey, the women and not just the romance – it’s Women’s fiction. If it’s about the romance and not the journey – it’s a Romance.
What about you, have you ever had a hard time defining the difference between genres?