Choosing the Right Entry for the Golden HeartNot all books, no matter how well written, make good Golden Heart entries.
The stories that tend to do best in the Golden Heart are the ones that have well drawn characters and are fast paced. The stories that keep the reader engaged from the very first page have the best chance of finaling. There needs to be conflict right from the start…a threat…a problem. Readers want to be kept on the edge of their seat whether it’s to find out who the murderer is or because they are dying for the hero and heroine to kiss for the first time.
Keep the reader anticipating a confrontation or a next meeting and your chances of finaling will improve. You want the reader to bite their nails as they wonder what will happen next. For instance, what will the hero do once he learns that the heroine’s ten-year-old daughter is HIS? If not a secret baby, have you forecasted a disaster? Is there a deadline/ticking time bomb?
If your characters start off talking at the kitchen table and the only question the reader is left with is whether their son will go to college or whether the hero and heroine will stay together, that’s not going to be enough conflict to keep the reader engaged. And it won’t be enough excitement to get you the scores you need to final.
Make sure your first chapter raises a question that the reader wants answered and be sure to end your entry with a compelling hook.
Return of the Rose (medieval time travel): Will the twin babies survive? How will modern day heroine return to her own time? Will she be forced to marry a man she’s never met—a man from another time?
Knight (another medieval time travel): How will medieval heroine find a modern day hero to return to her time? Will she return in time to save her grandfather?
Norah Wilson, fellow noodler, believes the first chapters MUST reveal the basic story question. In her book, Lauren’s Eyes (2001): Guided by a frustratingly vague vision of murder (she sees the victim but not the murderer), can our psychic heroine figure out who’s gonna do it before it becomes a whodunit? And could the handsome, hard-edged cowboy she’s falling for, who happens to be the would-be-victim’s ex-husband, be the villain?
Now look at the story you plan to enter in the GH and ask yourself what the story question is. If it’s not obvious, then you might have some more work to do.