I’ve had the joy of writing in a variety of genres and am looking forward to adding a couple of more in the next few years. In addition to my goal of writing a women’s fiction loosely based on my experience of caring for my sister during her terminal illness, I’m planning to try my hand at writing a screenplay based on the yet-to-be-written book.
And although the ideas excite me, they scare me, too. After all, I’ve already written a book for women…and I know what it takes. If you’ve ever considered writing fiction or non-fiction for the fairer sex, you might want to consider what it will require.
1. Transparency. If there’s anything universally true about writing for women, it’s that it requires transparency. Whether we’re writing fiction or non, we must be honest about our fears, doubts, and failures.
Were you mad at God? Admit it. Ready to walk out the door of your marriage? Let us know. Frustrated with a child’s choices in life? Join the crowd. That means you’re like the rest of us. It’s what you did with that anger and struggle and frustration that allows us to learn from you.
I’ve read books, and I assume you have too, where the writer is such an expert Christian that she can’t admit she struggled, and perhaps still does at times. I just can’t respect or relate to those kinds of books. Let’s face it, as Christians, we’re never going to get everything right here on earth. To present ourselves as one who has arrived is to present a lie.
2. Writing about real life. Dirty diapers. Bills. Scrubbing toilets. That’s real life for most of us. And that’s what will draw me in to your story. Yes, if you’re writing fiction, you have the freedom to help us escape through the lives of the characters, but we still must be able to find real life feelings and emotions within those characters. I don’t know what it’s like to have a husband who cheats on me, but I expect such a character to respond in a realistic way. Even if we don’t see it on the surface, we must be able to identify with what’s going on inside her.
In non-fiction, the topic must be something that is real to your target audience woman. Write it real to the subject and she’ll be able to identify with you and your situation…and you’ll be able to help her.
3. The ability to laugh at yourself. Laughter is a uniting technique that breaks down walls and draws the reader in, especially when we’re plopping ourselves out there for our readers. Writing Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe was gut-wrenchingly difficult because of the transparency, but fun because I was able to laugh at myself. I was able to take many of my foibles of life and use them to present spiritual truths. Women could see the scene, find themselves in the character, and apply God’s Truth to their own situations.
4. A we’re-in-this-together voice. You should refrain from using the words “you should.” 🙂 You should, you need to, and you must should be used sparingly and in a way that doesn’t point the proverbial finger. Yes, there are times when you may need to say something using those words, but that shouldn’t be the voice of the book.
Instead, using phrases like we can, we must, and if we…then… takes away the pointing finger and replaces it with a warm hug. It’s a sitting-around-the-kitchen-table-and-sipping-coffee kind of statement. And that kind of statement will draw your reader into your story and allow her to benefit from your experience.
Writing for women isn’t easy, but it’s a worthy calling, and one that I’m honored to have received. I know many of you have, too. As my tagline says, I’m thankful God can take my messes and use them for His glory…if we let Him.
After all, God doesn’t waste any scars.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Grace and peace,