Category: Writing Tips

Harlequin Refresh: Romance plot cliches

Harlequin editors read a lot of romance books. Sometimes a scene idea or plot twist that seems fresh to a new author is actually one we’ve read many times. And that’s not surprising. When starting a new creative venture, it’s natural to emulate artists whom you admire, including aspects of their “voice” – word choice,…

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Harlequin REFRESH: Character cliches

Character clichés. Archetypes. Stock characters. We encounter them in every genre—the mad scientist, the femme fatale, the high school jock, that geek with acne. There are millions of stories out in the world today, so of course we’re going to encounter similar people from time to time. One thing is certain, though: a reader needs…

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Freshen your voice with Harlequin REFRESH!

Do you have New Year’s writing resolutions? Are you ready to freshen your voice? Want tips on writing with authenticity, originality and passion? Welcome to Harlequin REFRESH! on the So You Think You Can Write blog. Each week in January we’ll feature posts by editors and authors on the theme of voice in romance writing.…

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Writing Challenge: Best Buddies

By Deirdre McCluskey For our last writing challenge we talked about frenemies. Another favourite secondary character in romance is the hero’s best friend. And, no, we don’t mean this kind.   The best friend can be a foil for the hero, highlighting his “hero” qualities by showing his somewhat more “regular” friend. Or he can…

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Good Pacing, Better than a Solid Pair of Spanx

Truth: Anything that is written has a pace. Just like anything in motion has a pace. And it is always being noticed and taken in—maybe not consciously, yet pacing is still ever-important in anything from an email to assembly instructions to a novel. With instructional types of writing, like how to assemble something, the steps…

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Advice from the Archives: Creating Backstory

Today’s Advice from the Archives post, for Harlequin editor Grace Thiele, who offers tips on working backstory into your romance without the dreaded “Info-dump!” Harlequin editors are used to working out the use of backstory with authors. What they want is exciting on-page interaction between the hero and heroine and for that excitement to be focused…

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Romance Writing 101: Imagining your characters

To encourage your participation in our #RomanceIncludesYou blitz, we have a helpful, fun post by one of our former colleagues, Grace Thiele, who discusses the art of developing your characters! In her own words… Hello possums! There will be an eensy-weensy deviation from what I promised to write about a few weeks ago (I know, I should’ve…

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Five Tips for Effortless Exposition

To get everyone motivated for our #RomanceIncludesYou writing blitz, we’re bringing this wonderful post by Katie Gowrie from our Advice from the Archives… For any writer, exposition is an important aspect of what makes up their story. To be specific, exposition is simply the facts. All those details about setting, characterization and the situation. This…

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Writing Romance and #MeToo: 5 tips for authors

by Deirdre McCluskey, Administrative Coordinator, Harlequin Series Romance readers, writers and editors have been talking a lot lately about power dynamics in romance fiction in the age of #MeToo. Authors want to create a world of fantasy and escape, while depicting romantic relationships that are healthy, equitable and aspirational. In a recent article in the…

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Harlequin Editors Know Conflicts!

Not the in-the-office stuff, of course, but how to spot a great one for a novel. Here are three tips… The Lowdown on Emotional Conflicts During our combined time at Harlequin, there’s one term we might have heard more than any other when we’ve assessed manuscripts, and that is “Emotional Conflict.” Besides searching for those fresh…

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