Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Linda Goodnight on Writing for Harlequin Romance
When the old Silhouette Romance line ended, I was invited to ‘move’ over to London and write for Harlequin Romance. Though I also write for Love Inspired out of New York, I jumped at the invitation, and I’m happy I did. Senior editor Kim Young and the team are fantastic to work with. They are fast, professional and encouraging-and what American doesn’t love those delightful British accents!
Harlequin Romance remains the ‘sweet’ or traditional line of less sensual stories, but otherwise the line has “come a long way, baby” from your mama’s books of the ‘70’s. Remember those? The hero treated the heroine like dirt until the last few pages? And the heroine was a wimpy doormat waiting to be saved by a man? Or they hated each other every moment, usually for stupid reasons, but passion overwhelmed and they lived happily ever after? That scenario won’t fly anymore. (Thank goodness!)
Today’s Harlequin Romances are modern and realistic. Heroines have to be strong, sensible, and able to stand on their own two feet. Heroes are successful and strong and decent-no jerks allowed! The pair doesn’t have to like each other at the beginning, but they better have a really good reason.
Here are a few things to remember if you’re interested in writing for Harlequin Romance:
1. Emotion, emotion, emotion, with happy endings, of course. HR is all about falling in love, but we have to make the characters suffer a lot to get that love reward in the end.
2. Character driven, couple focused with emphasis on the heroine, although the hero’s point of view is not only allowed, it is encouraged. Because of the short word count (50K to 55K) think of these plots as linear—start with the heroine and hero and tell their story straight through to the happy ending. There isn’t much room for subplot, although I’ve been known to squeeze in one anyway to create conflict for the couple. My February 2010 book, HER PRINCE’S SECRET SON is crammed with plot so my editors kindly warned me to keep the focus on the main characters while allowing the subplots to swarm around them.
3. Hook heroes remain very popular-cowboys, royalty, sheiks, millionaires.
4. Marriage of convenience, wedding, nanny, secret baby, forced proximity stories are very popular, too. The more hooks you can cram into a book, the better! I’m convinced I sell because I load the books with hooks and say so up front in the synopsis.
5. International appeal-HR is sold all over the world. This is great for my royalties, but because we have readers from Norway to Venezuela, we must write a story with broad appeal. Determining what will appeal to other cultures is the hardest part for me. I’ve learned to focus on those popular hook elements, then trust my gut and write the story of one man, one woman and their issues and developing love.
Best of all, London is always looking for new voices in Harlequin Romance!
Winner of the RITA Award for excellence in inspirational fiction, Linda Goodnight has also won the Booksellers’ Best, ACFW Book of the Year, and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. Linda has appeared on the Christian bestseller list and her romance novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Active in orphan ministry, this former nurse and teacher enjoys writing fiction that carries a message of hope and light in a sometimes dark world. She and husband Gene live in Oklahoma. Readers may contact her through her website: www.lindagoodnight.com
Today you have the opportunity to win one of two Linda Goodnight books by posting a comment. Winners will be drawn at 8pm MST.
More Harlequin Romance resources:
Harlequin Romance Authors
Harlequin Romance Meet the Editors Podcast
Harlequin Romance Writing Guidelines from eHarlequin