150 Days of Writing Romance: Achieved!

Dear Writers,

The time has come! This week marks 150 days since we proposed a stretch of time for you to focus on writing your romance novel. Did it go fast or slow for you? We have so enjoyed interacting with you and hope we provided good information and inspiration for you to keep writing.

On the blog, we covered crucial topics, such as writing opening scenes, characterization, conflict, plotting, sensuality, networking, and how to target the series you want to write for. We had challenges that helped build enthusiasm and get those creative brains working. In addition, the challenges got you to showcase your ideas.

One thing we didn’t cover as much was the all-important phase of polishing your story. We editors love to see a polished manuscript, which means before you hit send, you should do plenty of revising, rewriting, and making sure grammar and formatting are on point. It can be very tempting to turn in a rough draft because we are editors, the ones who should be fixing the writing. This is sort of right, but as a new writer for Harlequin, you will want to turn in a professional manuscript, one that isn’t riddled with typos, grammatical errors (pet peeve: omitting the comma of direct address! ex: Hi Joe), or plot holes. The more polished your manuscript, the more professional you are and the better our working relationship will be. It’s one thing to have creativity. It’s another to use that left-brain to edit yourself.

Here are a few tips for polishing:

  1. Once you’ve finished your manuscript, walk away from it for a few days. It may be difficult (or you may be thoroughly sick of it), but a break will help you go back with fresh perspective.
  2. Spell check is wonderful, but so are your own discerning eyes. Be disciplined about grammar and spelling.
  3. Every author has words that she repeats. Watch out for those and get rid of them.
  4. When your attention starts to wander, consider that your reader’s will, too. When in doubt, fix that scene–add in something outrageous.
  5. Are there contrivances? If so, find a way to repair them so that the reader will be surprised.
  6. In early polishing, be ruthless about going over every sentence, every paragraph for excitement, readability, and logic.
  7. A good polishing involves a few reads. Not one, maybe not twenty, but the more you reread and rewrite, the better it will be.

One thing you might learn from all of this is how difficult (and incredibly rewarding) writing can be. Just think about the readers who will appreciate your hard work! So, here’s your assignment for the week. As you think about where to submit your romance, polish your story. As always, we love to hear how you’re doing on your work. Ask any questions in the comment section.

Happy Writing from the SYTYCW Team!