Since Harlequin Escape announced itself at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in August, I’ve ploughed through some 60 manuscripts. Some have been fantastic, and I can’t wait to tell you more about them in a little while. Some have been thoroughly unsuitable – poorly planned, poorly edited, poorly conceived.
The rest have fallen into that dreaded middle ground, where nothing might be wrong per se, but it doesn’t mean that it’s right either. There are a couple of pitfalls in a manuscript that can land you here, but I’m going to talk about one in particular – not getting the romance right.
I meant what I said a couple of posts ago about taking risks with manuscripts – trying new things, exploring new settings/times/ideas. In a digital first imprint, we have the luxury of thinking outside the box. And we’re really excited to take those risks. But the romance has to be right.
Regardless of what else happens in your story, the relationship must take precedence – the setting/themes/time/world is just the soundtrack for your couple (or more) as they discover each other and what they can be together. Certainly other things can and will happen, and multiple story lines may only add to the overall reading experience, but if the focus is not on that romance, then it’s probably not right for Harlequin Escape. Our readers (and this editor!) want to take an emotional journey, and it’s the characters that we will really connect with.
So if you’re planning on submitting to Harlequin Escape – and I hope you do! – go back to your manuscript and consider the romance. Is it right?