A Romance-Writing Reminder: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!

For many of us, spring is springing up! (Well, in Toronto we’ve got some unexpected snow.) But if you’re eagerly awaiting spring like me, you’re likely ready for that change in season that comes with feelings of renewal, new beginnings and…spring cleaning?

This can apply to writing, too! We encourage you to dive into starting a new story, dust off an old WIP and refresh it, or look for ways to declutter your prose, your writing process, or your writing desk. If you’re taking on a new project, our team wants to remind you to have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff!

We hope you’ll spring-clean away those small stresses that often come with submitting a story to Harlequin. Here are three things we’re not looking at in a submission, and three things we are!

We’re NOT looking at…

  • Page/line spacing and general formatting. Our advice? Don’t overthink this; just keep it clear and simple.
  • Font style, font size and colour. Trust your instincts make it clear and readable for a busy editor.
  • Page count of your partial ms. While each Harlequin series has submission guidelines on how long the synopsis should be, we don’t have specific requirements for your opening chapters. Take as many pages as you need to set up the story and introduce your characters. NOTE that if you’re submitting to a Harlequin series that requires a full manuscript, we do encourage that you keep the word count as close as possible to series requirements. Here’s why!

We ARE looking at…

  • Your fresh, engaging voice!
  • Compelling characters with clear goals and motivations.
  • A juicy, emotional and tension-filled romantic conflict.

Remember, when we look at your submissions, we’re assessing your story idea and your writing. We aren’t looking at small formatting details, so why should you? These won’t make or break a proposal for a Harlequin editor—what we do want to see is a thoughtfully constructed story. Have fun writing it, because we have lots of fun reading your submissions!

Click here to learn more about our writing guidelines and how to submit!

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Editor associated with this post

Katie Gowrie
Associate Editor

Katie Gowrie is the Associate Editor for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. She graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Journalism and English Literature, but a short stint on the municipal politics beat affirmed for her that her true passion for storytelling lies in fiction. After completing her publishing certificate, she got her first job in publishing in the Harlequin proofreading department. She loved it so much, she kept working up and has been with the publishing house for nearly ten years. She finds it rewarding to have worked on such a range of romance titles and is incredibly inspired by the people who write them. She’s currently on the lookout for uplifting contemporary romances and thrilling romantic suspense featuring strong, relatable protagonists! When she’s not reading or editing, Katie loves watching crime shows and historical dramas, travelling (whenever she can), and hanging out with her family.