Romance Writing: 7 Questions Story Critiques Should Answer

write Romance novels, beta readers, how to get published

Congratulations! You’re ready to seek feedback for your Romance novel.

Now you must decide what kind of feedback you’re looking for: line edits or a global critique.

A line edit is exactly what it sounds like: a line-by-line evaluation of your grammar, word choice, and story inconsistencies. For instance, your heroine may have blue eyes in Chapter 1 and green eyes in Chapter 2.

Line editing is excruciatingly tedious. If you have a friendly volunteer, who is willing to dedicate hours of painstaking attention to your manuscript, buy her a beer! Then give her clear and concise guidance to avoid getting your feelings hurt by all the red ink stains on the page.

For example, you might say, “Please help me eliminate weak, ‘to be’ verbs and suggest stronger verb choices.” Or you might say, “Please circle passages where I repeat the same word / idea.” 

By the way, the job of your Beta Reader is not to rewrite massive sections of your Romance novel. That’s your job—or the job of an editor whom you pay.

If you want someone to spot weak story conflict, weak characterization, or slow story pacing, ask for a global critique. Your Beta Reader can help you pinpoint passages that need condensing (to eliminate rambling prose) or characters who have grown flat and dull. 

When you select a Beta Reader, you should give her a clear set of guidelines for evaluating your Romance novel. That way, she’ll provide a concise critique, based on the fundamentals of fiction.

A Beta Reader’s personal opinion won’t help you sell books. (See my earlier post, How to Choose the Right Beta Reader.)

 

7 Questions for Romance Novel Critiques

 

#1. Was my scene compelling?

In other words, did I emotionally move you as a reader? Did I make you eager to turn the pages? If not, where did you lose interest?

 

#2. Was my writing clear and consistent on the first read?

If not, where did you re-read passages?

 

#3. Is my characterization complex and compelling enough to keep you interested?

Did you understand the goals, motivations, and conflicts of my characters? Did you feel the emotional and sexual tension between the hero and heroine?

 

#4. Do the endings of my chapters make you want to read more?

Did my cliff-hangers work? Were you eager to read the next scene?

 

#5. How is the pacing of each scene? Each chapter? Part I?

Did you feel “jerked around,” or did you feel like you were smoothly transitioned into each new scene/chapter? Were my action scenes urgent enough? Did my suspense scenes escalate with tension? Did my mood-setting scenes evoke emotions based on each of the physical senses?

 

#6. Please cite rules of fiction and novel structure; avoid commentary based on your personal preference as a reader.

If your reader dislikes (or rarely reads) your subgenre, then I suggest that you take her opinions with a grain of salt.

The same advice applies if she is unable to analyze your submission based on the foundations of fiction and good novel structure.

 

#7. At this time, I (would) (would not) like feedback on my writing style to determine if it “fits” the Romance genre.

In most book writing circles (especially published ones), criticizing a writer’s style is taboo. But what is meant by style?

You could describe it as the writer’s voice, or his unique way of phrasing story narrative.