Dianne Blacklock is the author of nine novels of commercial women’s fiction, published both in Australia and overseas. She is also a busy freelance editor, with a focus on debut authors of women’s fiction and romance titles.
Contemporary women’s fiction – is it just romance?
It’s definitely more than romance – not that there’s anything wrong with romance! But romance readers can be disappointed when they pick up a book of women’s fiction expecting the romance to be central. That’s the difference – women’s fiction can include a love story, usually does, but it won’t shape the central arc. That’s all about the journey of the main character(s). Character is plot in women’s fiction.
What do you enjoy most about writing and reading the kind of commercial women’s fiction on shelves today?
As above, character is key. I love to explore people and relationships – that’s what I like to read about and that’s what I like to write about. I always start with my characters, and if I can make them compelling enough, then their journey can fill a book. When I read a great book, it’s the characters that stay with me; they can even end up feeling like people I know, like friends that I miss once I’m finished. That’s how I hope people feel after they finish my books.
In your career as a novelist and editor, what’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve come across?
Probably this from Kurt Vonnegut – I’m pretty sure I’ve quoted it in every editing report I’ve written: ‘Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.’ It’s an excellent rule of thumb. You can literally apply it to every sentence, and you can’t kid yourself: no matter how precious that sentence is, if it’s not doing one of those things, it has no business being there. It makes the writing so much richer and stronger when every sentence counts.
Join Dianne for What Women Want: Writing Commercial Women’s Fiction over 6 x Tuesday evenings: 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 May; 6 June, 6:30pm-9:30pm at the NSW Writers’ Centre.