Creating a Presents Continuity
by Laura McCallen, Assistant Editor/Editorial Assistant
One of my favourite things to do as part of the Presents team is a process I never knew existed before I walked through the doors of Romance HQ here in Richmond – creating a continuity! Of course, I’d read and loved many Presents continuities that had come before (in fact, when I started I’d just finished reading the final story in The Santina Crown – we all know how much I love a royal romance so I was in heaven with 8 months’ worth of scandalous Santina royals!) but I never realized all the work that goes on behind the scenes before the authors ever start writing!
I was eager to get dug in when we started brainstorming our 2014 continuity (which happened all the way back in early 2013!) and I found all of the different steps fascinating…so thought I’d share some fun secrets about the process!
- The first thing the Presents team does is get together and brainstorm possible ideas and concepts for the new continuity. It’s a creative bunch here at Harlequin so there are tons of unique ideas and great insights – any and all ideas are welcome. We can get a bit rowdy with all the excitement and creative energy flowing (not to mention the inspirational photos of hot heroes we have to pore over in the name of ‘research’)! Eventually though we always find one or two ideas grab our attention and never let go.
- Each member of the Presents team then takes one of the ideas and writes a pitch for it. These pitches then go to our fearless leader, Joanne Grant, and she makes the final call on which idea we’re going to get to pursue.
- With the concept nailed down we start looking at the individual stories. Working with the author’s editors, the Presents team make sure that each story will play to their strengths but also provide a fun challenge! We then brainstorm the characters (giving them names, ages, nationalities, physical attributes, backstory and emotional motivations), establish continuity points to tie the book to the others in the series, and plan out the story. (This is generally the point in the process when everyone in the office starts ‘casually’ mentioning all of the virtues of their name and how it would be perfect for a Presents heroine. I’m not going to lie – quite a few Harlequin editors have ‘appeared’ in our continuities!)
- Once we’ve assembled our notes for the overall back story and each book we each take 2 or 3 of the stories and write them up properly. All of this material we spend hours lovingly slaving over becomes the continuity ‘bible’. (You can imagine my confusion when I started to hear everyone talking about changes to ‘the bible’!)
- The bible is then checked by the Presents team and all of the editors who will be working on the project – we want to make sure it’s absolutely perfect! Once we’re happy with it (and done just one more check…) we send it off to the authors and eagerly wait to hear what they think!
After that the continuity is in the trusted hands of our amazing Presents authors and all we can do is wait in anticipation to see the completed stories. It’s one of my absolute favourite parts – seeing the stories and characters we’ve fallen in love with brought to life!
So, now that you know the secrets behind the creation of a continuity what part do you think would be your favourite? And if you had to choose a favourite Presents continuity of all time which would it be? (So many great options to choose from!)