What’s the Difference Between Romance and Women’s Fiction?

Some suggest romance is the same as women’s fiction. I suggest that’s inaccurate and here’s why.

Romance Primer

  • Reader expects love conquers all.
  • Plot focus is between hero and heroine.
  • The two main characters are vividly portrayed–including their faults.
  • The protagonist takes center stage and stays there throughout the book.
  • Book length tends to be shorter than general women’s fiction.
  • Story pace tends to be quicker because book is designed to be read in a sitting or two.
  • Story’s purpose is solely to be entertaining.

Women’s Fiction Primer

  • Reader expects a satisfying read.
  • Plot can be complicated, even to the point of including subplots that impact the main character(s).
  • Story tends to include more characters to move along the more complicated plot.
  • Story can span years, which can increase the book’s length.
  • Resolution of issues can take longer, which can slow down the story’s pace.
  • Story can examine (and thus cause reader to examine) hard issues that make reader think about moral choices.
  • Story’s purpose is more than entertainment–it causes reader to think.

So, if those are the differences, what are the similarities that make people think romance and women’s fiction are one and the same?

  • Both have characters the reader cares about.
  • Both open with some action that disrupts the protagonist’s life.
  • Both have characters who change for some reason in the book.
  • Both have characters who feel emotions the reader can understand.

As you ruminate over your next novel, you get to decide whether you’re writing romance or women’s fiction. There is a difference. (By the way, men and women alike are excellent at writing both.)

Happy writing!


One Response to What’s the Difference Between Romance and Women’s Fiction?

  1. dianabaylie says:

    Reblogged this on Diana Baylie and commented:
    I thought this was a quick and well written blurb on the difference between genres. The real question is, can you write in Wome’ns Fiction and Romance under the same name?

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