Just as there's no perfect way to write a romance novel, there's no perfect way to edit one, either. If you're a romance editor, then you know how important it is to approach each book—its story and its author's vision—individually.
However, there are some helpful tips you can follow no matter what type of romance novel ends up on your desk. Here are 3 of my favorite.
1. Ask how much angst the author wants in their story.
"Angst" in romance signifies the depth of internal conflict that the book's main characters experience as they fall in love with each other. Some books, especially those called "cozy" or the more descriptive "low angst", feature little to no internal conflict. Instead, the conflict keeping the characters apart is external, which means the book will break with how a romance novel traditionally handles a story's third act—with a breakup and/or fighting for love. That's why it's essential that you as a romance novel editor know in advance what level of angst your author is trying to achieve—you don't want to tell them to amp up the drama of the third act if they're going for a softer story.
2. Ask which tropes the author incorporated into the story.
Romance tropes are plot devices that thrust a novel's character development, romance, and/or sub-plot forward. And readers are becoming increasingly vocal about the way they expect authors to handle their favorite tropes, and won't hesitate to express displeasure when those tropes aren't used properly. For this reason, it's imperative that you know which tropes your author is using so you can evaluate how well they contribute to the story and if they are fully realized in line with readers' expectations.
3. Ask if the book is part of a series.
Zoe York was right when she said in her book Romance Your Brand that for most romance authors, the best way of gaining and maintaining a readership is with a series. But why is it important for you as an editor to know if a book is part of one? Because you need to know if part of your edit should include evaluating the strength of a book's connection to an overall series setting, cast of characters, or theme. For a series connected by setting, you need to check that all the setting details in each book are consistent and evocative. For a series connected by a cast of characters, you have to check that the main characters in the book you're editing are tied in some way to characters from the previous book/s in the series. And for series connected by theme, such as second chance romance or Christmas romance, you have to make sure that theme is adequately represented in each book.
I hope these tips serve you well with your next romance editing project. And until the next blog post, happy reading and writing! *As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission if you buy a product after clicking on one of the above links.