The writers here at 8LW are proud and unabashed purveyors of women’s stories. Many of us have written or are now writing romance fiction primarily aimed at a female audience. Not so surprising, since we met through the McDaniel romance writing program. Others are writing women’s fiction, a marketing term applied to women’s stories written by female authors. There should be nothing shocking, threatening, or degrading in telling stories that reflect women’s lives, as we do make up 51% of humanity. And yet, sadly, we have all witnessed and have occasionally discussed on this blog the downgrading or even outright dismissal of romance, women’s fiction, and other primarily female-authored genres and books.
Sometimes, the turkeys really can get you down. Or make you angry. Or make you question whether you should reduce your female-sounding name to initials and write male protagonists, in search of acknowledgement that what you have to say matters. If you’re really lucky, those times will be few and far between. And if you are even luckier, you will occasionally have one of those moments that makes you realize just how important women’s stories are, and how intrepid we must be in raising our voices to make those stories, fictional and non-fictional, heard.
I had just this kind of reminder this past weekend. While having dinner with good friends, a woman whom we have known for years told a (new-to-us) story of her previous marriage. It was harrowing. She literally looked down the barrel of a gun and believed she was drawing her last breath. At the other end of the gun was her husband. I won’t go into more details, as those are not mine to share. suffice it to say she escaped and eventually built a new life for herself. But the violent core of that story is far too familiar to untold numbers of women (and men, too) in our supposedly civilized society.
I did not mention that in my WIP, my protagonist faces violence from the man who is now her ex. My made-up story pales in comparison to any real-life person’s horrifying ordeal. But these types of stories, in real life and in fiction, are important to tell. For some people, they provide a voice to their personal stories, evidence that they are not alone, and hope that sometimes good triumphs over evil. For others, such tales remind or even inform them that violence that exists in our world, our communities, and even our own homes. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. If our stories do nothing else, they acknowledge women. Our stories acknowledge their fears and their courage. Our stories share their struggles and their triumphs. Sometimes, our stories even provide hope for a better life.
I will not accept that 49% of the population has cornered the market on stories that describe the ‘human’ experience. sometimes all of the above. They are full of wonderful and amazing female and male characters. The women in our stories are allowed to rescue themselves and their loved ones. They are not reduced to being props for the male protagonist to rescue or lust after or grieve over (after the female characters’ untimely death). They are strong. They are women, hear them roar. It’s a beautiful sound.
Of all the fabulous female characters out there, who is your favorite? What about her character or her story makes you love her?