I spent my morning reading
and replying on the Women’s Fiction Writers Association website to a discussion
about defining women’s fiction. One of the topics was trends in Women's
Fiction, and in that thread the topic of “girl” and “wife” books came up.
Bestseller titles tell you much about the trend: Gone Girl, Girl on a Train,
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Kitchen God’s
Wife. Girls who are women trying to save themselves, as one commenter on the
thread so aptly put it.
Of course, the “girls” are
really women. I think it's fiction about women we’re talking about as a
“trend.” Women as protagonists in non-romance fiction is becoming a big thing.
Goodreads’ Listopia has a list of 749 books with “Girl” in the title! This
trend doesn't show any more signs of stopping than books with “Vampire” in the
So what is it about literary
trends? They say you shouldn’t write to them because by the time you finish
your book, the trend will be dead. They’re actually speaking of agents’ and
editors’ ideas about trends, not actual trends in real life or even among
readers. I think trends ARE something you should write to, if you feel them and
care about them. It’s something you can do beyond voting. It’s a way of
speaking up that matters.
I think the
"girl" "wife" trend reflects a big shift underway in our
culture -- a mega-trend, if you will, and one I think those of us who want to
should chase. It's a re-visioning of what it means to be a woman, and WF is a
fantastic medium for exploring these cultural shifts, especially as they
pertain to being a young woman in a rapidly changing culture speeded up by
I'm not a young woman, but
I like writing about them. I like exploring the way women find themselves, and
create or recreate their lives. I'm a rocket scientist's daughter, so I'm
fascinated by the impact of technology on cultural shifts and the way women are
perceived in the world. These two trends power my fiction and my poetry. I
guess growing up in the 60s, when women's roles shifted dramatically,
especially in the workplace, has given me a lifelong interest in trends. So I
write to the mega-trends and could care less about literary ones.
Labels: #amwriting, #fiction, cultural trend, female characters, girl, literature, wife, women's fiction, women's roles