For the past few months I have been attending the Central Phoenix Writers’ Workshop to have my current project, The Ruby Queen, critiqued by the group. Before I began writing this story of two young women who find themselves practicing prostitution in the Old West, I did quite a bit of reading about writing. One of the first things they tell you is to pick a genre. Mine is Historical Fiction. I am relating a story about two young women in an earlier era. Then the books said think about your target audience. Who will be interested in this book if you write it? I settled on the female audience. So I am writing Women’s Historical Fiction. That does not mean it is full of mushy, chick flick type scenes, but actual portrayals of what life was like for women in the Trade in the 19th century West.
When presenting my work to a group that is made up of mostly men, I have found that I hear things like: Why do we need to know her dress is yellow taffeta with white French lace or that her bed cover is red satin? Does that move the story along? Do you really need that part about mahogany bedside tables with a lamps that have green glass shades or how she deals with her feminine hygiene issues? How does describing a period toilet fit into your plot? You should really cut all that extra description and focus on your characters and your plotline.
When my group is made up mainly of women I hear things like: I love the way you put us right there in the story with your descriptions of the color of the furniture and the curtains on the windows. I never knew how women dealt with their monthly cycle in those times. I love to read about crystal encrusted bodices and the types of fabric in the dresses.
I believe I have found my audience. I am writing Women’s Historical Fiction.