The Harlequin Dare Blitz: A Round-Up

The Harlequin Dare Blitz wrapped on Friday, and we’re still fanning ourselves from your steamy submissions! We think it’s safe to say this writing blitz was a success.

We received over 150 submissions from around the globe, including all over Europe, Australia and North America, as well as from the far reaches of Mauritius, South Africa, Nepal, India, and the Middle East.

As promised, all who participated have received feedback on their stories, and we hope you found our team’s editorial insights helpful. Take some time to digest that writing advice if you need it, and then apply what you’ve learned and dive into revisions or a new project! Remember that this feedback is meant to be constructive, so stay focused, be positive and persevere.

As you continue to work on those stories, here are some tips for your next submission:

Seduce us from the beginning: When you have just one chapter to grab the editor’s attention, make it count! We need to be gripped from the opening lines and left wanting more after the final sentences. For Dare, we want to see that explosive chemistry between your hero and heroine right from the initial chapter! Sensual scenes aren’t a must at this point, but it’s a good idea to have your hero and heroine interact as early as possible so we can get a feel for that heightened sexual tension. Some set-up is important, but focusing too much on backstory, exposition or secondary characters can slow the forward momentum of your story and detract focus from your leading couple.

The synopsis is a blueprint: One chapter is a small window through which to view your story, so the synopsis is a major component of your pitch that lets us see your novel as a whole. We need a full synopsis outlining the entire story. Focus on conveying the romantic conflict, and offer up those twists and turns, the emotional climax, and how the story ends. Keeping the reader guessing can be lots of fun, but we editors need those spoilers—tell all!

Conflict is key: You’ve heard it before, but let’s recap. Every romance should have a strong romantic conflict! And often, the goal in a romance isn’t love—falling in love is the conflict! When you have two characters working towards separate goals, strong character motivation, and high stakes for falling in love and saying yes to romance, you can create a tension-filled story where your leading couple struggles emotionally even as they find they can’t resist each other physically!

If you didn’t get to participate this time, there’s always next time. And if you didn’t get the response you were hoping for: try, try again. We accept submissions for Harlequin Dare through our regular channels all year round.

We wanted to give a big thank-you to everyone who entered, and to all those engaged with us online, helped spread the word, and were as enthusiastic as we were. It was a pleasure to see your stories, hang out with the romance writing community and talk Dare as we searched for new voices for this series.

Thank you, everyone—until next time!

The Harlequin Dare Team