Writing Competition: Developing a Global Voice

by Tessa Shapcott, Executive Editor, Harlequin Presents

Tips on Writing for the International Market

Getting published in Harlequin Presents means not only transporting readers to fabulous international locations, but also opening yourself up to the potential of being translated into up to twenty-six languages.  Writers in Presents need to have a writing voice that is globally appealing.

So, what does make a novel a best-seller around the world?

• The successful writer will be able to tell a story that contains universal emotional truths
• Her characters and the emotional themes which she chooses to bring her novel to life will also be universally appealing
• She will be able to create an international setting that is aspirational for readers everywhere, and that beckons them to venture beyond their own small personal worlds.

What are universal emotional truths?  You need to think of the emotions that bind all of us together, for example, love, death, birth, renewal, trust, betrayal, happiness, jealousy, lust, hurt, loss, loyalty…

And remember, too, that basically every person the world over aspires to the same things: unconditional love, family, material affluence, safety, success, justice, truth, strength, contentment, passion and tenderness…

In a successful Presents novel, using some of these elements will help you to create great characters and their intensely emotional story.

Here are some of our editors’ top tips for creating universally appealing characters and emotions:
• Presents heroes and heroines need to engage readers in ways that resonate – with intensity, emotion, drama and sensual passion
• You need to make your hero and heroine relevant and believable – by motivating their actions soundly, by having them react in ways that readers everywhere can identify with and by having them communicate with plentiful dialogue.

And what about creating an aspirational international setting?
• Choose a setting anywhere in the world where we’d all like to visit – if money were no issue!
• Do your research – but don’t drown the reader in facts (you’re not writing a travelogue)!
• Remember the values that underpin the Presents series – such as, wealth, luxury, sophistication, escapism and a good dollop of passion
• If you choose to set your book against the backdrop of a certain culture, look to the elements within it that a global audience can share – i.e., don’t get bogged down in local politics and practices, but look to the universal values within it!
• Aim to create a world within a world.  Your setting may be large in terms of location, riches and comfort, but the readers will be looking to step into the hero and heroine’s own private emotional vista too!

Here’s an acronym to help you focus on developing your global voice:


Instant Seduction Writing Competition: First chapter and a synopsis of a previously unpublished/unsubmitted novel aimed at Harlequin Presents. Entries for the competition will be accepted as on-line submissions only from 1st January until 14th February 20o8. Address for entries: instantseduction@hmb.co.uk

First prize: win yourself an editor for a year!

Two runners-up will be given editorial critiques of their first chapter entries and also a personal telephone consultation about their writing!



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Comments ( 2 )
  1. Seduction and Relationships » Blog Archive » Writing Competition: Developing a Global Voice
    November 27, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    […] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

  2. Instant Seduction: Harlequin Presents Writing Competition! at I (Heart) Presents
    September 25, 2008 at 11:36 am

    […] Continue to visit this blog for full details of the competition – and the chance to prepare for publication with an exclusive series of writing tutorials prepared by the editorial team at Harlequin Presents, including advice on First Chapters, How to Write a Synopsis, Developing a Global Voice, Loving the Alpha Male and Generating Emotional Conflict. Check out the all the links under the writing competition category. […]