Practice Exercise – Balancing Your Prose

Welcome to Day 2 of HEA Writing Week! Today, you have the opportunity to practice your self-editing and writing.

Take a look at the following video from Harlequin editors on something they see frequently in submitted manuscripts. Often an author’s story is weighed down by too much narrative.

Watch the video then read the instructions below for today’s exercise:


In your own time, practice re-writing the following passage to create a better balance between narrative and dialogue. Consider the advice from the editors above.

There are no rules! This is a self-serve activity to help you practice your craft. Get creative! You can rewrite the passage entirely, add to it, create new dialogue, extend it, and more. Please don’t submit or post your work. This is just for you!


Sunlight glinted off the hood of the rental car as Aaron Beckett waited for the tank to fill. Figured he’d get less than five miles from home before the gas light came on. But that was okay. He’d just as soon delay the inevitable for as long as possible.
     Far as he knew, no one even knew he was coming. Didn’t want the kind of fuss the town was apt to make. All the letters from home called him a hero. If only they knew.
     A mud splattered jeep pulled up in front of him. Aaron grinned. Now that would be the first order of business once he got settled in. He hadn’t been four-wheeling in ages. Least not through anything so beautiful as the Colorado Rockies. He’d had just about all a man could take of the desert in Iraq.
     The driver hopped out. Slim, perky, and boy, did she have beautiful eyes. Aaron gave her a smile. Probably not from around here, just getting gas since Spruce Point was one of the more convenient places for people camped out in the high country. Yep, another thing he’d be doing soon.
     But hey, it never hurt a guy to flirt a little. Even if he was a bit rusty.
     The girl smiled back, a dimple punctuating her left cheek. Now that was a good reason to have to stop for gas.
     “Nice day, isn’t it?” He called over to the girl. “Looks like you’ve been getting some four wheeling in.”
     A frown marred her pretty features. Right. Gas station, not a singles’ bar. He turned his attention back to the climbing numbers on the pump. Too much time in the desert had made his women skills a little rusty. Not that he’d given them much of a thought since his fiancee’s death. He ignored the inevitable twinge in his shoulder.