‘Marshmallow fiction’ & other life questions. 

What the heck is marshmallow fiction?
What the heck is marshmallow fiction?

I know I’ve mentioned before that I started carrying around a little notebook everywhere I go. It’s about the size of a back pocket, but of course, it lives in a waterproof cosmetic case I take with me.

Sounds high-maintenance, sure, but I learned my lesson the hard way when I spilled coffee inside my work bag and said notebook was intact, though all of my notes and ideas were blurry and brown. I hung it in front of a box fan for an entire weekend in an effort to retrieve the part of my brain I’d moved to those pages.

For the most part, it worked. And ever since, I’ve carried the little notebook like its my shield. I jot down any random thoughts that come into my head that I don’t want to forget. It’s mostly blog ideas, book titles I hear on podcasts, or words I’ve never heard that I want to Google later.

Two of those phrases I want to discuss with you today, the first being “Marshmallow fiction”. I heard the term on the podcast, “What Should I Read Next?” and the two people talking about it offered no real context, and both seemed to know what the other meant by it.

I, however, have never heard this. If I had to guess, it’s a more polite way of describing “Chick lit” or “Beach reads”. Considering “marshmallow” – I’d say it’s got to be something lite, fluffy, and possibly sweet (like cute, not literally sugary).

Upon Googling the term, I was shocked to see there’s little-to-no info out there on said term. I’m happy I’m not out of the loop, but what the heck does it mean? I did find one little nugget from Writer’s Digest that used “marshmallow dialogue” and said:

Dialogue is the fastest way to improve a manuscript—or to sink it. When agents, editors or readers see crisp, tension-filled dialogue, they gain confidence in the writer’s ability. But dialogue that is sodden and undistinguished (marshmallow dialogue) has the opposite effect.

Pro dialogue is compressed. Marshmallow dialogue is puffy.

Pro dialogue has conflict. Marshmallow dialogue is overly sweet.

Pro dialogue sounds different for each character. Marshmallow dialogue blends together.

I also found the term “marshmallow fluff fiction” and Goodreads listed several books under this category, including “Wife 22” by Melanie Gideon, “Four Wives” by Wendy Walker, “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs, and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, among others.

…I’ll consider that a semi-answer, and it’s good enough for now.

So, I also want to know what the heck a “Vision Quest” is??

According to Webster, a vision quest is “an attempt to achieve a vision of a future guardian spirit, traditionally undertaken at puberty by boys of the Plains Indian peoples, typically through fasting or self-torture.”


An article in the Huffington Post explains that a Vision Quest has evolved with the times:

The vision quest continues to be a powerful way for adolescents as well as adults to acknowledge, mourn, release, welcome, and celebrate important life transitions of any kind, such as actual or symbolic births and deaths, career changes, divorce, marriage, menopause, birthdays, successes and achievements, children leaving home, recovery from addiction, etc. A vision quest can also be a deeply cathartic way to get away from it all and recharge your batteries!

On a deep level, we seem to inherently understand the vital importance of these “marking” rituals, and how without them, there may be a tendency to move into unconscious and even destructive behaviors. Especially in challenging times, these ceremonies give us the opportunity to turn changes into sacred initiations — empowering, humbling, strengthening, and enlightening us.

And a traditional Vision Quest involves 3-4 days surviving in the wilderness, while fasting. Uhmmm, no. Why did I think this was something way cooler? If this is not what people are referring to when they say “Vision Quest”, please let me know.


  1. Just a Gurrl

    I am simply protesting The Time Traveller’s Wife being lumped into fluffy and lite fiction! I know it wasn’t you that recognized it as such, so I am just protesting in general against the Powers That Be (categorizing stuff wrongly)!

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