How to Write a Sweet Romance: Harlequin Editors Tell All (and Want Your Submission!)

Calling all aspiring authors! If you have a sweet romance you’d like to get in front of an editor, now’s the time. Harlequin’s Heartwarming line is having a submission blitz until April 22, which will get you a quick response! All the details can be found here, but we got to wondering, how do you get a sweet romance to sizzle — without the sex? So we got Kathryn Lye, Harlequin Heartwarming editor, to give us some pointers. This way you can polish your submission and then send it on in. Remember us when you’re famous, okay? Take it away, Kathryn!

The Heartwarming series features contemporary romances without sex. We’re often asked by aspiring Heartwarming authors: how do I get that chemistry happening between the hero and heroine without sex? There are other ways to describe and express love besides a description of the physical act of lovemaking. And one of those is to emphasize the romance instead. Here are a few key tips:

1. Explore and cover the psychological and emotional aspects of love and falling in love. Physical appeal is there, sure, but also the elements of a character, his or her traits, create an appeal as well. Personalities, behaviors that characters have and the decisions they make are all relevant and play a part in winning someone’s heart and loyalty. Or the reverse when needed—to cause doubt and raise conflict in the relationship.   

2. Use a strong conflict and an engaging plot to build and heighten true love. A disagreement that can be solved with an apology or a misunderstanding that can be explained with a simple conversation are not conflicts. A person who has divided loyalties, who has to decide whether to sacrifice someone or something to make a relationship last has a real and challenging obstacle to overcome. That character has a conflict. Having heroes and heroines sharing, fighting, finding their way through these challenges and coming out the other side—together—create the deep roots and the circumstances that make falling in love believable. And none of that requires sex. The same point applies to plot. Casting situations and having characters react and face things can build trust and respect and ultimately romantic feelings. None of that necessarily has to involve sex.

3. Remember that intimacy takes many forms. A private joke, a look, secrets and shared confidences, even banter helps develop a closeness between the two primary characters. And though lovemaking doesn’t happen in a sweet romance, it doesn’t mean that everything is off limits. Even in clean romances, there can be kissing, affectionate touching and attraction.    

If you’re an author with an idea that might suit the Heartwarming series, please email a synopsis and first chapter, and if you do so by Monday, April 22, 2016, we guarantee you’ll receive feedback from the editors within 20 days after the submission period ends.  

For more information about writing a Harlequin Heartwarming romance, go here. Good luck!

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