Question: Women's fiction is a broad audience term, but I was wondering if it is dictated by heroine's age (and vice versa)? For instance, Young Adult novels portray heroines aged 13/14 to 18/19, and maybe 20.
Is women's fiction just female-focused fiction? That is, female-focused, and not-aged focused fiction?
And would the elusive and liminal New Adult genre (if marketed to females) fall under women's fiction?
Does paranormal romance fall under women's fiction?
What about erotic romances?
Sorry about the barrage of questions. Actually, I'm currently implementing your 8-step plotting process, and so far it's asking me the hard questions.
Generally, "women's fiction" refers to fiction written for a female audience. But there are lots of sub-categories within that, some of which you mention.
Age doesn't really matter, though we often talk about "girls' books" when referring to books written for females under 12.
Other ways of defining women's fiction:
Some would say women's fiction means stories with a female protagonist. Others say add the requirement that the relationship throughline dominates. Still others say it must be about topics or themes of particular interest to women (though perhaps relationship is one of those topics?).
Dramatica theory argues that women tend to empathize more with characters who are running out of options, regardless of gender, while men empathize more with male characters who are running out of time. The idea that females care less about the main character's gender is one reason why, in the children's market, most girls will read boys' books but most boys won't read girls' books.
It also means that screenwriters, in order to create stories that appeal to both genders will often write about male main characters who are running out of options, or will make sure every action film includes a romance. (In theory, a main character who the fewest people can empathize with would be a woman running out of time. People might sympathize with her, but not empathize.)
But I digress.