Friday, August 06, 2010

What to Look for in a Series Romance

Our own assistant editor, Laura Barth, is a final round judge in the Gateway to the Best contest, which is put on by MORWA, my home chapter in St. Louis. While this could sound like a blatant plug for people to enter, I also thought it would be interesting to read what Laura looks for in a submission. Those interested in entering the contest can visit MORWA at to read about the contest rules and details (like multiple entries being discounted half-price!).
LAURA says: "The most important elements when considering a contemporary series submission are fit, voice, conflict, characterization, and freshness."
If it fits the line for which it's submitted, she then looks at "the author's voice and writing style. The prose should be smooth, clear and natural. The tone should be right for the story and the author should engage the reader without intruding into the story."
And we all know the characters are key to making a story work. Laura says, "The hero and heroine must ultimately be likable and believeable. I want to see a heroine who can stand on her own but be vulnerable and human enough to make me care about her plight. I want to see a hero who's masculine but self-aware and mature enough to show compassion and concern for others."
Sounds like every woman's dream man!
She wants a compelling conflict that's "organic"--it comes from the story rather than the author. It isn't based on misunderstandings and coincidences. And of course, there must be internal as well as external conflicts.
"Finally, it can be difficult, to say the least, to come up with a totally original story for a romance novel and still have it fit within the parameters of your line. But your approach still needs to be fresh." She suggests giving your story "a new twist" to make it stand out from the crowd.
And y'all thought writing was easy? LOL Well, somedays yes, somedays not so much.
The Gateway also has other categories for non-series writers. Deadline is September 10th, so check it out now.
Megan Kelly


Pamela Stone said...

Great insight, but as you say, not so easy to do. That freshness thing is what gives me the most grief.

Megan Kelly said...

Fresh is key, and not easy, as you say. All the stories in the world have been told at their most basic level. It's HOW we tell them that makes them fresh, and the twists that feel "different."

Linda Henderson said...

I admire anyone who can write, wish I could.

susanwilson44 said...

Heard similar things from the Mills and Boon editors at the RNA conference in London - but what is "fresh with a twist?"