Catch the Medical Thrill with Dynamic First Chapters!

Laurie Han 3Contests are always exciting here, as we search for new voices and fresh stories. The Harlequin Medical Romance contest is even more exciting with its swift turnaround. So now that you’ve got your guaranteed quick look, how do you make sure you keep their attention…?


 With the much anticipated 24 Hours in M&B competition approaching, the Medical Romance team is offering you their ten top tips for creating and sharpening that all important first chapter to showcase your story and your writing talent.  So, our Top Ten Tips are…

 ♥       Hook the reader in from the start! Begin your story at an interesting point – a point of change, an exciting or dramatic moment.

♥       Immerse your reader in the medical world. Whether you prefer the hustle and bustle of an inner-city hospital or perhaps the gentle cosiness of a village practice, take the reader straight into the medical world of your characters right from the get- go. The setting is integral to the story in any Medical Romance.

♥       Choose your set-up carefully and be aware of why you are using it. Make sure it’s the most realistic and engaging way of bringing your characters together whilst avoiding clichés. Bring fresh takes and new twists to traditional storylines – carve your own unique niche.

♥       Emotional conflicts! Sow the seeds and take us right into your characters’ emotional conflicts. All romances need conflict and tension between the hero and heroine – otherwise, there isn’t a story! Internal emotional conflict should be your main focus. In Medicals there is room for professional conflict, as extra layering too – just don’t make it the centre of your story. Emotional development between your characters is a big part of the promise to Medical Romance readers.

♥       Focus on the characters. Explore their reactions to the situation and make sure they are totally convincing and captivating! Engage your reader and their emotions. Remember, our books are character-driven, don’t get lost in the plot.

♥       Captivate readers with your gorgeous, dedicated hero and your smart, likeable heroine. Get them on the page together quickly and show the chemistry and the dynamic between them. That immediate spark that makes the reader know they are going to fall madly in love!

♥       Your heroine. She could be a nurse, a doctor, a physiotherapist – the list is endless! She could be really feisty and smart with a heart of gold, or warm, caring and lovely. Just make sure she is vivid, captivating and really well developed – someone your reader can really identify with. She doesn’t need to be perfect – just perfect for your hero…she can have flaws just like the rest of us!

♥       Your hero. The hero must sweep the reader—as well as the heroine—off her feet! Perhaps he’s a doctor, a neurosurgeon or a paediatrician. He can be a sexy rebel, a loving dad, or tortured and meltingly brooding. He has integrity and an honourable character and his strength of character, sheer determination and passion have seen him rise to the top of the medical profession.

♥       Show, don’t tell! When creating your hero and heroine on the page, show the reader (rather than tell them) who they are! Reveal your key characters gradually and subtly – through actions, interaction together and with others, and insight into their thoughts and feelings.

♥       Secondary characters have a place in a Medical Romance, just keep them in check! Some insight into the medical community in which your hero and heroine works is part and parcel of the series however, keep secondary characters to a minimum and ensure your story is focussed on your hero and heroine and the development of their conflict and relationship. When considering a scene with a secondary character, ask yourself, does this further my hero and heroine’s story? In a 50,000 word story you don’t have time to stray off the point!

  So there you have it.  If you haven’t already started, it’s time to get stuck into your story! We can’t wait for you to sweep us into your characters’ worlds.

Good luck!

 Sheila, Laurie and Charlotte

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance team


For 24 Hours in M&B submission details visit:

 Medical Romance submissions must be received between Monday 24th March and Thursday 24th April 2014 to receive a response within 24 hours!

 So go watch some ER or Grey’s Anatomy or House or Casualty or whatever you choose for inspiration and create a compelling story for us!  Visit the full Medical Romance Writing Guidelines and check out the current slate of books for inspiration. 

Good luck!