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Witty Women’s Fiction — What Is It?

betmeApparently, the theme of my posts this week is going to be all about queries and genres. Which is cool by me!

Today I want to talk a little more about what I termed “witty women’s fiction” on my submissions page, and what that means in terms of what I’m looking for. I’ve used an image of one of Jennifer Crusie’s books, Bet Me, as the illustration for this post, because I think her books are almost exactly what I mean. But perhaps this is a little unfair. After all, Crusie came to prominence as an author through traditional category romances, and yet, I’m not looking for category.

Maybe it’s easier to say what I’m NOT looking for under this rather broad umbrella. I’m not looking for historical romances, regencies, highland romps, western bodice rippers, or anything like that. Despite her popularity, I’m not looking for the next Jodi Picoult — her novels tend to get me down, and I’m rather laugh with a book than cry. (Although, to be honest, I do enjoy when I can do both in the span of a single book!) I’m not looking for a series of detective novels with a female lead, not matter how sassy she may be. Likewise, you can keep your female Jack Ryans and Alex Crosses — thrillers aren’t my cup of agenting tea. I don’t want aging women looking back on their lives nostalgically or taking ridiculous leaps into something new, just for the sake of shaking things up. It’s highly unlikely I want your memoir — unless you’re Felicia Day. Even then, please note the word “fiction” — I’d prefer a novel, please, Ms. Day!

What I think I’m most eager for in this genre are characters that feel real, in real situations, even if “reality” is stretched. Paranormal may still work, but not if the characters behave in unbelievable ways.

And I’ll be honest: I have one client who writes in this genre, and though I gets hundreds of queries for women’s fiction, very little of it is what I’m looking for. I may have set myself an impossibly high bar with my interests, but if that means I never find what I’m looking for, I’m ok with that. There’s a good reason why I specialize in YA and MG fiction, with witty women’s fiction and pop culture narrative non-fiction as secondary interests. They are secondary. Tertiary, even.

Other questions about this genre? I’d be happy to answer them in the comments!

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