Presents Writing Competition

Great news re the new competition at I Heart Presents. Another fabulous opportunity for people to bypass the usual wait and get their stuff in front of an editor.

Seeing as how I was a runner up in the previous comp and given what I’ve learned since, thought I’d post a few bits of advice for those keen to enter.

  • The key to the romance is the conflict, especially internal conflict. To work out your internal conflict, put the h&h in a room with no one else, no car chases or kidnaps, and ask yourself why can’t they be together right now? It must be something inside the characters, their thoughts, feelings, and experiences that make them think they cannot be together. And their reasons must be strong. It can’t just because the heroine doesn’t like rich men or the fact that he’s arrogant. Why doesn’t she like rich men? Why doesn’t she like arrogance?
  • Your readers will live through your heroine so make her someone that everyone can imagine being. Someone that everyone can relate to. Stay away from stereotypes and extremes of behaviour.
  • Stick to the guidelines (ie don’t add paranormal elements to what is obviously not a paranormal line).
  • Read as many Modern/Modern Heat as you can get your hands on.
  • Remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Which means don’t overcomplicate your plot with intricate suspense elements, lots of secondary characters, or subplots. Keep the focus on the h&h and their conflict.
  • These are short romances so the hero must appear – ideally – in the first page or two, and he must be alpha. The guidelines for the MH hero have changed a bit – he’s more alpha than he used to be so keep that in mind.

No doubt lots of published authors will be posting advice too so keep an eye on the blogs of your favourites to pick up some great tips. I Heart Presents will have lots of sage advice for your entries as well.

I posted some of the editorial feedback I received from my competition entry last year on my blog so do feel free to look through the blog archives if you want to see what they told me about mine. And why it wasn’t successful! I think the entry is still up on the I Heart Presents site in the archives somewhere (they didn’t put it up until this year – January I think), so it may be useful to read it and then look at the feedback they posted afterward (this is not a subtle attempt to get people to read my writing by the way, more a look at what they liked and what they didn’t).

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m not published but like I said, I’ve learned a great deal since last year’s competition so I may be able to help. The final caveat though is that all of this is my own opinion – the one that really counts is the editors.

Good luck everyone!

11 thoughts on “Presents Writing Competition”

  1. Fabulous post as always Jackie!

    I’m a little torn I wasn’t going to answer but the due date’s all the way in November so now I’m considering life versus competition… I can feel a pro con list coming on 😉

  2. I love your posts Jackie!

    I’ve been inspired to think about the contest. It’s not where I usually write but I’ve had a ball playing with a ‘different’ idea. I’m pretty sure it will end up nothing like a MH but if it’s inspiring it’s all good i think.


  3. Cheers Lacey – well do you think you’d have a chapter by November? If you think you would, just do it. Nothing to lose eh?

    Thanks Becca! Different can be good. And yes, inspiration is what it’s all about.

  4. Thanks for another brilliant and helpful post, Jackie.

    I’m itching to get started on something for this…but want to get my NWS ms sent off first.

  5. Jackie – please don’t ever let the librarian in you ever wither away when you are published and famous! (in fact, I do hope one will feature as one of your heroines??) I would have eventually discovered by general chatter that a competition was on the horizon – but your blog gave me a head start. Although my wip is for the Romance line (pink ones in the UK), it has got me wondering whether to have a stab at Modern, for the heck of it. You have got my thoughts whirring, anyway!
    Congrats that you are already ineligible to enter! Could you give a clue as to where approx in your archives your previous feedback is posted, please? I’ve tried following the label ‘contests’ back in time, but whatever I did, didn’t work.
    Thanks again – Chris

  6. Chris, I fear the librarian in me has failed! I should organise my blog a bit better eh? 🙂 Look at the archives by month, the feedback is in Feb.
    Give Modern a go eh? Never hurts to try something different! And the Romance and Modern Heat voice is somewhat similiar I have heard – apart from the sexy bits of course. 😉

  7. Jackie – You really are one of nature’s teachers!
    Achievement 1: I found my way to the January archives and pull out synopses/chapters/comments from the competition (and I find the Harlequin website comparable to the library/maze in The Name of the Rose – think it’s a secret IQ test which I usually manage to fail…).
    Achievement 2: your additional editorial comments are on your Feb 20th blog! And I now see that you have written loads of other comments in the days surrounding that.
    I’m off to get a cup of tea and attempt to digest all of this!
    Thanks again! – Chris

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