Fida Abbott's Books and e-Books

Exploring My Ideas
Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, in the Summer 2019, category of Short Story
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Available to purchase: XlibrisAmazonBN, and Kobo
e-Book: 978-1-9845-1843-9
Softcover: 978-1-9845-1842-2
Hardcover: 978-1-9845-1841-5

Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, in the Spring 2010, category of Novel
Publication Date: February 24, 2010

Available to purchase: Xlibris, Amazon, BN, and Kobo
e-Book: 978-1-9845-1842-2
Softcover: 978-1-9845-1841-5
Hardcover: 978-1-9845-1843-9

Seven Ways to Win Over Romance Book Editors

Seven Ways to Win Over Romance Book Editor, written by Sheritha Singh caught my eyes. I wrote  several chapters for romance novel last several years, but I had to stop as I focused writing for the second saga book, Enthusiasm. The same thing happened, I had to stop after about 60% on the way of writing it. I followed my heart to start writing my third writing project that now is done 95%.


I know writing romance is not easy. So, what special things that made me interested to click and read her article? Here, I would like to share it with you. If you are a romance novel writer, you should read it too.


The world’s largest publisher of romance fiction receives about twenty thousand unsolicited romance submissions per year. Editors often say that they judge the potential of a manuscript based on the opening lines. It isn’t surprising then that only a handful of manuscripts get requests for a full submission. Even then, not all requested manuscripts get published. Editors often wish budding authors would avoid a few common mistakes that weaken the potential of their manuscript.

  1. Independently Acting Body Parts
His hands snuck around her waist.
Hands don’t act independently. Although editors place a lot of emphasis on showing NOT telling, it is important to take note of how body parts fit into a scene. A suggestion to correct the above-mentioned peeve is: She shivered when he curled his arm around her waist.

The hands have to belong to someone. Otherwise the original sentence would simply mean that the character has a detachable hand that is capable of acting on its own whim.
Marsden’s plain, brown eyes never once moved off my face.

Another common mistake writer’s make is when characters make visual contact. When writing romance, writers tend to place a lot of emphasis on the first time characters spot each other. Eyes roll or widen or lock. Again, the editor who pointed out the above-mentioned independently acting body part pointed out that the sentence literally translated that Marsden’s eyes were on the character’s face — kind of a like a fly or a spider. To avoid an independently acting body part the editor suggested:
His gaze never moved off her face.
  1. Characters Interacting with Each Other
Characters don’t only talk. They shift their feet, fidget with something or turn red in the face.  If you’re not sure, one editor suggests eavesdropping and spying on a few conversations. Take notes if you have to. You will notice that when people talk to each other, they react physically to the conversation, to the environment they’re in, and basically to what is happening around them. Trucks drown out conversation. Dogs bark. Leaves fall on their heads.

When writing group conversations, editors urge writers to consider all dimensions of the character during the scene. Remember characters are not made out of cardboard. They are three dimensional. They move and breathe, they have hard to break habits, and they feel emotions . . .
For example, when writing a group dinner scene, picture a normal dinner scene:
The shy nerd who isn’t sure how to strike up a conversation with his crush and toys with his food,
The couple who constantly glance at each other across the table and exchange secret smiles,
The unsmiling billionaire who doesn’t talk while eating. 

Characters don’t just eat during a dinner scene. They look around, they drink wine, they check their phone messages, and they try not to get annoyed with the person sitting next to them. A romantic setting may be described by incorporating scented candles, soft music, a table setting for two — don’t be shy to show the reader what the character sees and how the character reacts. Characters often have things playing in their mind even while interacting with each other — show it. A shy character may recall romantic disasters and may not be able to fully enjoy eating while having lunch with the boss she’s always had a crush on.

If the writer had simply used dialogue tags such as said, whispered, grunted, growled, etc. the reader wouldn’t be able to visualize who was doing what. Unnecessary dialogue tags also weaken a scene.
  1. Elaborate Descriptions
Modern day editors suggest limiting descriptions to two adjectives.  Anything above two annoys readers and editors alike.
She swung her long, shiny chocolate-brown hair.
An editor suggested leaving shiny out. The important thing is for the reader to visualize the character and create a mental picture.
  1. Increase the Tension Between Characters
Readers expect the characters in books to establish an emotional connection between each other as the story progresses. Something — an inciting incident perhaps — should set the tone for emotional bonding. One romance editor suggests increasing romantic tension between characters through conversation where the conversation is laced with subtle references towards the characters’ impending relationship. This undoubtedly enhances the connection between the characters. Another editor pointed out that characters in a romance novel don’t end up in bed together after a few simple exchanges. They think about each other, they wonder if the other is a suitable choice, they have doubts, they worry about their insecurities — little characteristics that help writers to craft three dimensional characters that readers love. Add generous amounts of tension throughout your novel. The rules may differ for erotica-romance; however editors still look for that special emotional connection between the characters even if they manage to burn off some of the tension between them in bed.
  1. Create Real Characters
Characters experience failure at some point in their lives. They are not perfect. Readers want to know what ticks your character off, what scares the breath out of them, what makes them happy, etc. Readers want real, relatable characters who trip, tumble, choke on their coffee, have bad hair days, etc. Editors are more than happy to read about a character readers will connect with. See the following comment from the editor of my NA Novella, Moving In:
“I really like your characters in this one. I think I have told you that I think your readers are really going to connect with Lace. Her freak outs are so realistic, and I think they will find them very funny as well.”

Remember, regardless of whether your characters are paranormal, human, or alien, they must exhibit behavior that readers are familiar with.
  1. Limit the Backstory
This does not mean that the reader does not want to know what shaped your character to the point where he / she meets them in a book. The golden rule is not to dump information on your reader. Avoid telling. Backstory can be sprinkled in conversation, in the characters mental flashbacks, reflections or even the scent or taste of something.

The fresh scent of rain wetting the earth reminded Lace of the day Daniel dumped her. The rain washed her tears away and eventually the sun broke through the clouds and dried her face.
The reader can tell from the above scene that the rain made Lace recall her broken love affair.
  1. Increase the Stakes For Your Main Characters
What does your character stand to lose or gain from the relationship? A common mistake writers make is that after their characters consummate their relationship, they lose the tension in their story. In fact, the stakes should be higher after making love because once the characters have given their all to each other, what else do they have to give? The post lovemaking stage is crucial for writers because more often than not, many ignore the potential tension such scenes may create.

The character with the most to lose is the one that has the highest stakes. It could be the hero who merely wants a one night affair and ends up with a pregnant lover. He cannot risk the scandal and neither does he want his child to face the same hardships he did growing up. What does he do? Marry his lover or take his child away? Since he was raised an orphan he wants his child to have both parents. What does he do? (*)

So, what do you think? Does it encourage you to improve your writing in romance story? I do.


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