I'm writing my fifth book at the moment - my second chick lit novel - and a funny thought has struck me.
Can you write chick lit without romance?
It's funny this thought should strike me now and not when I was penning A Step Too Far because that wasn't a love story. Yes, it had some romantic themes and even a potential love triangle but the overall story wasn't a quest to find love. It was a quest to find a fulfilling life.
I guess I'm thinking about this topic now because A Second Time Around is more of a romantic comedy than my first chick lit book. It will still have a twist at the end like my other novel but the theme is definitely romance.
The only gripe I have with chick lit is too many stories are the same. That may sound funny as it's the genre I have chosen to write, but I deliberately didn't make A Step Too Far overly romantic. I wanted to write a book which I believed to be chick lit because it's written in first person and in a light hearted way. But at the same time I wanted to write a story which wasn't like all the rest.
So I decided to be brave (or stupid) and write about life fulfilment.
But was I wrong to do this?
A lot of readers expect a tale of love when they pick up women's fiction. They want their tall, dark and handsome heroes and a happy ending. They want the book to contain certain elements and they want their expectations fulfilled. But here lies the problem. The category of Women's Fiction is just an umbrella term with a whole lot of other categories mixed in. There are the romance books, the erotic books and the chick lit books. Romantic comedy is very similar to chick lit but chick lit tends to talk about the protagonist's friendships, career, family life and various other things.
If readers did really want a guaranteed tale of love and romance, they'd surely pick up a book with a couple in a passionate pose on the front cover. Not some girl relaxing with a coffee in her favourite armchair.
So what do you think? Is it safe to write women's fiction without romance?
I'm going on a Baltic cruise from now until the 11th July so I will catch up with any comments when I return.