Top Tips for Writing a Harlequin Historical Romance

Are you keen to pen a Harlequin Historical romance? Whether you’re writing dashing dukes, brooding Earls, or dark medieval warriors, here are some key tips from the editors…

Ensure what you’re writing is historically accurate

And grounded in research, so that readers can be swept along in the beautiful historical world you’ve created! We love seeing historical details relevant to the time period you’re writing in, as it really sets the scene and adds a level of richness to your historical romance.  

…BUT also know when to walk the fine line between historical accuracy and relatability

Whilst we of course want the books to be historically accurate, the central characters need to be appealing to a contemporary readership too. So have a think about how things such as morals have changed over time – and how you can bend what is historically accurate in the time period to make the story appealing for modern readers.

Similarly, with the language – particularly in Medieval and Elizabethan manuscripts – your characters don’t need to speak in the same language as they would in that time period (for example saying ‘thou and thus’). Again, ensure you keep the text accessible to modern readers!

Remember it’s a romance

At the heart of your story should be your hero and heroine’s romance! We want to see their blossoming relationship, their chemistry, and banter (not necessarily in that order!). So, don’t let the historical detail, or complicated plot, distract from them meeting and interacting from the get-go.

Keep the focus on your hero and heroine – not the secondary characters!

This is similar to the previous point. Whilst you have a longer word count with Harlequin Historicals (70,000-75,000 words), and that does allow for more world building, it’s important to keep yourheroine and hero as the central characters in your story. The secondary characters should be there to add richness and detail to your wonderful story – but the plot shouldn’t be reliant on them!

Entice us with a strong beginning

It goes without saying that your opening chapters are incredibly important – but we’ll say it again just for good measure! We want to see strong beginnings which take us quickly to the heart of the story; beginnings that are memorable, different and/or entertaining.

And ensure emotional conflicts drive the story forward

If you haven’t heard of emotional conflicts before, they’re the heart to all our romances. They are the internal obstacles your hero and heroine must individually conquer in order to be together. So whatever your characters’ emotional conflicts are, you should ensure that they are driving your characters and the story forward, rather than relying on external forces to give momentum to the story. In Historical romances, it can be easier to rely on the marriage of convenience, or the action sub plot, for example, rather than using them to help reveal and explore your characters’ deeper emotional conflicts. So remember internal conflicts are the absolute key to writing a gripping, emotionally rich Harlequin Historical.

Now that you’re equipped with our key tips on writing a Harlequin Historical romance, why not submit to us? We are always looking for new authors to acquire, especially those from under-represented backgrounds writing diverse characters, so if you would like to submit your Historical romance, or would like to see the submission guidelines please click here.

Good luck!

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