Adding Emotion, Making a Sale - Workshop Handout
New Jersey Romance Writers
Solid writing skills don’t guarantee sales. An emotionally compelling story does. Award-winning author Virginia Kantra shares practical strategies you can use to hook readers’—and editors’—emotions.
What the editor says/What you can do about it:
1. She says: “I don’t feel there’s enough keeping the hero and heroine apart.”
You do: Choose an essentially emotional conflict (based on well-motivated emotional need) that is more important than/aggravated by the external conflict.
It has to be deep; personal; increasingly complicated with rising stakes.
The conflict must pose a threat to the h/h’s very sense of self.
How? Goal, Motivation, Conflict; scene selection.
2. She says: “The plot overshadows the romance.”
You do: Remember, It’s the relationship, stupid.
Why must these two people - and not any others - be together?
What do they discover/appreciate/challenge in each other?
3. She says: “I just didn’t care about the characters.”
You do: Create a likable, sympathetic heroine readers can identify with and a
sexy (redeemable) hero they can fall in love with
How? Show motivation to engage reader’s sympathy through backstory, dialogue
Using sequel structure to engage reader’s emotions.
IT’S IN THE DETAILS
4. She says: “I feel the characters need to communicate more.”
You do: Use dialogue to reveal character; to create and sustain conflict; to develop intimacy.
How? VK’s Rule of Dialogue:
“If your character can think it, she can say it.
It’s better if she says it to the hero.
Best of all if they fight about it.”
5. She says: “I just didn’t love this story enough.”
You do: BE the character. The story always matters to the central characters. The more we are the characters, the more we care.
Dialogue alone isn’t enough. Engage the reader on a visceral, sensory level.
How? Consistent dominant mood to avoid jerking the reader around.
Use significant, specific detail (including setting & symbolism) to add emotional truth, urgency.
Use Point of View. Deep POV; choice of POV; differences in male/female POV.
Big Picture Hands-on Exercise: “It’s the relationship, stupid.”
My hero admires my heroine’s ____________________________.
He uncovers/appreciates her ______________________________.
He’s challenged by her __________________________________.
Do the same for the heroine.
What are the scenes that move the romance forward by showing these qualities?