Women’s Fiction: Too Sad Means Not So Good

Welcome to the Panoptic Imprint Blog! Ohhh how I love a good book! Being here with Assent Publishing, and having the cool responsibility of participating in the acquisitions process for the Panoptic Imprint, brings a whole new light to the specific genres involved. We’re looking for Contemporary Fiction to Touch the Heart, wonderful and timely Contemporary Fiction, Fictionalized Memoir and Women’s Fiction. These can be great books – important books that reach people and change their point of view about the world and life – or they can be submissions that fall short of the imprint’s expectations. To help submitting authors understand this, today I thought I’d focus specifically on Women’s Fiction.

I have to confess that I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend in Women’s Fiction submissions lately and I think this would be a good place to start. First and foremost, a Women’s Fiction is the story of a woman’s journey – the trials and tribulations that take a woman from one point in her life to another, different and better place. Our symbol for the Panoptic Imprint is a kaleidoscope representing the lovely shifting of color and shape, and this perfectly describes what we’re looking for in a good Women’s Fiction submission.

Women’s Fiction is not ChicLit, it doesn’t laugh at the main character’s dilemmas nor does it solve the character’s problems through formulaic light romantic romps. Women’s Fiction has humor, but not silly, unsophisticated humor. We’re not looking for the next Bridget Jones. We are looking for rich, well developed, multi-dimensional characters dealing with adversity and conquering the odds. We’re seeking strong female characters facing difficulties with grace and dignity.

Now, for the BIG note … we are not looking for sad, unhappy stories about broken women with no hope or strength to go on. Too many Women’s Fiction submissions are loaded with page after page of sad, angry and unhappy women in hopeless situations. In other words, if the first fifty pages leaves me wanting to kill myself, we have a problem. It’s understood that Women’s Fiction begins with loss, divorce, unhappy or shocking events, but a reader must find something in the main character to root for and be intrigued by plot twists that pull them through the story. Make me WANT to know how it all turns out.

Establishing the “Sad” is important, but the key to powerful Women’s Fiction is that our heroine moves ahead toward better things. Yes, she stumbles and may get bloodied along the way, but her journey IS the story. Be sure your manuscript initiates that journey quickly, preferably within the first 25 to 50 pages.

Panoptic is seeking Women’s Fiction submissions that take into consideration the power of the human spirit, the warrior woman who acts and doesn’t just react. We want submissions that layer an excellent plot with the quiet heroes in the background. We are looking for inspiring, elegant stories of a women’s life. Send your submissions to editor@panopticbooks.com

Too sad means not so good … but too sad, taken to brilliant triumph with a few laughs along the way, now that’s the winning Women’s Fiction combination. I can’t wait to see your submission! Check us out at http://www.assentpublishing.com/

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