{Coffee with Kara} Romance vs Women’s Fiction

In my last post, I discussed knowing your place in terms of category and genre. Today, I’m going to go a bit deeper and talk about two specific genres that tend to get mixed up quite a bit.


According to The Romance Writers of America, a romance is defined as a novel containing two key components: (1) a central love story, and (2) an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. This ending is often known as a happily-ever-after, or HEA.

In a romance, the hero and heroine often meet early in the story, within the first two chapters. The meeting, also known as a meet-cute, is very important and can set the tone for the overall romance. As the story progresses, so does the romance. Both internal and external conflicts either help or hinder the development of the romance until the end, when readers are rewarded with the HEA.

The thrill of a romance isn’t necessarily the “will they or won’t they,” but the, “how are they going to overcome all this to be together?”

Under the main romance umbrella, there are quite a few sub-genres, including but not limited to: inspirational, romantic suspense, contemporary, historical, etc.

The point-of-view often alternates between the hero and heroine, but can be limited to the heroine only. Word counts can range from 20,000 words for novellas up to 90,000 words.


Women’s fiction is broadly defined as a novel that focuses on a woman’s life experiences. While most women’s fiction does contain romantic elements, the romance is not the central focus of the story. The central focus is the heroine’s journey.

While a HEA isn’t required in women’s fiction, it’s okay to include one if it fits the story.

Some of the most common types of women’s fiction I’ve seen include: a woman starting over after a divorce / death of a parent and/or spouse, a woman overcoming some type of addiction, etc.

The point-of-view is typically limited to the heroine. Word counts can range from 80,000 to 90,000 words.

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