A big welcome to Wanda Ottewell, Senior Editor for Superromance. Wanda has kindly agreed to help launch our blog, so please exploit her ruthlessly and let her know what you love about Supers and ask all your questions - she's going to be popping in to comment throughout the day.
This is going to be a great blog! No, I don’t mean this entry I’m composing (we won’t discuss its greatness or lack thereof). I mean this collective authors’ blog. It’s awesome to see authors and readers—and the occasional editor—hang out to discuss stories, books and a little about life, too. How fun is it to share our love of good books? Today I’m focusing on the stories and books part of the discussion. Specifically what makes a manuscript suitable for Harlequin Superromance.
The key to this series is the realistic quality. We’re looking for stories about characters who could be us...or our best friends or our neighbors. We want situations and conflicts that could actually happen in our lives. When a reader steps into the world of a Harlequin Superromance book, she should think the characters are familiar in that they react, feel and think in ways that people she knows react, feel and think. And the reader should think that the circumstances the characters face are believable. Maybe she even knows people who have gone through similar experiences.
I have to interrupt myself here for a brief tangent. While we want believable, realistic stories, we must always keep in mind that we want to engage our readers. That means conflict, emotional high stakes and dramatic situations. We don’t need to follow the characters through the minutiae of their daily routines. Yeah, we all shower and get ready to face the world—some of us spend more time at this than others!—but generally this isn’t the most dramatic or life-altering part of our day. So if there is a scene in a manuscript set around laundry, that pile of dirty clothes needs to significantly alter the characters’ lives. Okay, tangent over.
It almost goes without saying (yet I’m going to say it anyway) that the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine needs to be the core of the story. We want to see them get their happy ever after...but we want them to have to work for it. We want them to have to grow individually so that they deserve each other, so that they want to be the version of themselves they see in the eyes of their beloved. We want them to have to make some tough choices, some compromises so that they know—and the reader knows—that this person is their true love. All that growth and those choices means there has to be conflict: inner conflict for each character, external conflict that puts obstacles in their path and romantic conflict (those forces at work to keep them apart).
Another defining factor of Harlequin Superromance is the length. Beginning in February 2011, the books will be longer (yet the price remains the same)! We’re looking for manuscripts between 70,000 – 75,000 words. This added length gives authors the opportunity to go deeper into their characters and conflict or add a closely linked subplot.
There is so much more I can say about this series—I literally could talk all day. But I think it’s time I turned it over to you and any questions you have. I’ll be popping in throughout the day so ask away!
We have a full set of six (6!) Superromance books for January 2011 to give away to one lucky poster today to celebrate our launch. All you have to do is post to win, so hit Wanda with your comments and questions. And don’t forget, we’ll be giving away a KINDLE here during our first month on the blog, so keep visiting and posting to ensure you’re in it to win it!