Writing Romantic Women’s Fiction with Joan Leacott

“So, what do you write?” asks an author at the Desert Dreams conference in early June.

Uh…. Don’t you hate the way that question puts you on the spot? “I write romantic women’s fiction,” I reply.

“Uh… what’s that… exactly?”

As the current President of the Romantic Women’s Fiction Chapter of RWA, I should know. Right? Well, I can’t answer for the entire chapter, but this is the way I write romantic women’s fiction. Your mileage may vary. 😉

The Romance Continuum

At one end, you’ve got the straight-up romance focused on a couple and the ups and downs of their love. On the other end, you’ve got pure women’s fiction about a woman’s journey through life from chaos to serenity.

Romantic Women’s Fiction (RWF) has both a romance and a life struggle with the romance taking the lead.

Complex Lives

As in real life, a woman in RWF doesn’t live in a vacuum. She is surrounded by her family, her friends, her community. Relatives demand her time and affection. Friends share secrets and worries. Volunteering adds more pressure. And let’s not forget her work. Who has time for romance? Everybody!

My heroine Cathy in Above Scandal returns home to care for her sick mother. Across the street from her mother lives her old flame, the unknowing father of her daughter. The secret baby trope tangles with the child-as-parent syndrome.

Multiple Points of View

I love writing from the perspective of more that one character, the usual case of pure women’s fiction, or two characters as in pure romance. My secondary characters range in age from ten (Hayley in Above Scandal) to seventy-four (Horace in Sight for Sore Eyes) and share point-of-view with my main characters.

Complex Plots

Events are never as simple as they appear. Are they?

Sub-plots involving secondary characters braid with the romance plot to raise challenges for the main characters. Hayley’s out to find her father all by herself and Horace is trapped by his matchmaking scheme for his grandson.

Small-town Flare

All my stories take place in my fictitious town of Clarence Bay. Because it’s based on a real nearby town, authenticity is a twist on a Google search away. In Sight for Sore Eyes, Emma owns Finn’s Fine China and Gift Shoppe. The model for her shop is Huckleberry’s.

A small town isn’t a necessary element of RWF. That’s just me. 😉

What about You?

Complex, intriguing, authentic. Do your stories sound like my stories? Then I’d say you write Romantic Women’s Fiction. Welcome home!

Curious about Romantic Women’s Fiction? Join our RWF chapter party at Nationals. Chapter membership not required. All are welcome.

About Joan

Joan is a renaissance woman.

She is skilled in many arts—sewing, knitting crochet, cross-stitch, painting, and piano. The skill favored by her husband and son is cooking, especially pumpkin pie. She spends her winters in Toronto attending plays, ballets, aquafit and yoga classes. Whew! Her summers are spent on the shores of Georgian Bay relaxing on the deck with a romance novel and a glass of wine.  After she’s done her laps in the bay and installed the Seadoo battery. Whew! When does she have time to write her multi-generational contemporary romance novels? In every moment left over!

Stormy Wedding, her series of five short stories all taking place on the same four days in an ice storm is scheduled for release on October 11, 2017. Her online course Mastering Word for Fiction Writers is scheduled for release on July 20, 2017.

Visit her website at www.JoanLeacott.CA to read excerpts from Above Scandal and Sight for Sore Eyes. Find her on Facebook or Twitter. Sign up for her newsletter and get a free short story, the charming Second Chance Dress.



22 thoughts on “Writing Romantic Women’s Fiction with Joan Leacott

  1. Joan, I think you’re the new Wonder Woman. I’m not sure how you fit in laps in the bay and your many artistic talents, while doing all of the work you do for this chapter! Thanks for the great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You sound like a powerhouse of talent! I so enjoy books with characters of different generations. I think the great thing about RWF is the freedom of structure and theme and POV. So much of current RWF fits into what’s usually called mainstream popular fiction. And you’re right, small towns aren’t a requirement at all. I hope you’re enjoying your summer–I’ll toast you with a glass of wine! Thanks for all you do for our chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if it’s easier to write WF set in small towns (not that any writing is easy). Do you suppose this is because in a smaller community running into other characters is easier in real life and therefore more acceptable to readers in fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good question, Sue. If I were to set my stories in a big city, I think I’d stick to a neighbourhood that would mimic the closeness of a small town; think the Bronx. Rather than acceptable, I’d call it easier to follow along. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. What Joan sounds like is organized. And I know she is, based on her Word class. 🙂 But after all, life is there for the living. Way to go, Joan. I will look for your short story collection. Be sure to post on the Facebook group.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joan is most definitely Wonder Woman! She’s quite a dynamo. Always busy and productive as well as cheerful and helpful. Enjoy your relaxing by the bay!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joan, so nice to read about you and all your activities. I admit, I was breathless by the time I got to the end…you’re so busy and you’re so talented! Thanks for sharing a bit about your busy life with us! And good luck with your new books!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great analysis of Romantic Women’s Fiction. Love it. Love the complexity. I hadn’t realized that real Women’s Fiction is written only from one perspective. Do all of your books include third or fourth points of view?
    I always consider WINTER SOLTICE (by Rosamund Pilcher) to be a perfect example of Women’s Fiction, but it is also possibly romantic Women’s Fiction.
    I want to know more about your short stories, as in, how do you select the issue/interaction for these. Could these be more romance than WF because there isn’t enough room for complexity? Was it difficult to focus down on a short span of time. I’m assuming that’s what you did as opposed to summarizing great swathes of time. LOL.
    Doing an anthology of short stories would be a great avenue for our chapter. I am getting to Orlando so late on Wednesday (darn airlines changed my times/flights) I don’t know whether to sign up to attend. Is it possible to just drop in briefly?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Isn’t enough room for complexity”… you got it in a nutshell, Sue. My inspiration for Stormy Wedding came from real life–my father’s memorial service was held by candlelight because the whole Toronto area lost power at Christmas 2013. Remember the polar vortex? Brrrr! Please do sign up and drop by the social. I’d love to meet you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I do not envy you swimming laps in the bay. Swimming laps in a natural body of water I find a lot more tiring than swimming laps at a pool. But of course, you can look up and see the sky. Florida summer will be warm enough for you, I expect.


  7. I agree on the Wonder Woman posts. Who knows what all she balances within a day.
    Joan, I loved how you were able to capture the essence of the RWF genre or sub-genre in this post. I look forward to reading your short stories.


  8. Waving at Joan. I joined this chapter because of Joan. I had a scathing comment about my book about a married SEAL and his wife wasn’t romance. I told Joan about it on one of the loops. She had been kind enough to explain Women’s Fiction to me. She told me my story sounded a lot like it would fit Romantic Women’s Fiction. Thank you Joan. The story is still in rough draft. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo in 2015. I am happy to be with the chapter. Joan and I are on another loop that is quiet lately, but she directed me to check out her chapter.


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