The backstory will wait...
This is not new advice, but it does stand repeating. I write short romance, but my characters always have a massive backstory. I could write whole chapters before I get to where their story as a couple starts.
I've said that twice, because it's important. It's a romance. The reader wants to see your hero and heroine together.
If you're writing short romance, you don't have the luxury of a slow lead in. You have to begin at the moment of change.
Lucien Grey's first reaction to the furious pounding on his front door had been to ignore it. After a succession of village worthies, from the vicar to the chair of the parish council, had called to introduce themselves, invite him to open the village fete, join the tennis, bridge and cricket clubs, all of which he'd politely declined, he'd found a screwdriver and removed the knocker.
We have his name, that he's some kind of celebrity since they asked him to open the village fete, and that he's reclusive.
And then there's a furious pounding on the door.
Concerned that there might have been an accident in the lane, that someone might be hurt, he curled his fingers into fists to stop them from trembling and forced himself away from his desk.
Confronted not with a bleeding casualty, but a furious female, wearing dungarees, her hair tied back in a scarf and thrusting what looked like a fistful of wilting nettles in his face, it was too late to regret his decision.
So now we know that despite something seriously wrong - trembling? - he will force himself to go and help someone in trouble. And we see Honey through his eyes. He tries to get rid of her. She isn't going anywhere until she's had her say. And in response to one of his less than tactful remarks she says something unforgivable - she is very angry - and he grabs her wrist.
We have contact. Skin against skin. Yes!
She didn't back off, try to pull away. On the contrary, she took a step closer, dark blue eyes flashing at him. Large, long-lashed, very dark, very angry blue eyes that sent an explosion of memory, a flashback to a burst of pain in another time, another place.
Now that the rush of adrenaline-fuelled anger had receded, it was clear that the man who had once courted danger in his flak jacket and helmet, veteran of a thousand reports to camera while under fire in the world's trouble spots, had a pale, hollowed out look.
Nothing like the tanned, vigorous man whose shrapnel wound she had cleaned and stitched in a field hospital while he had fretted irritably over the length of time it was taking.
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PS The two "first person" books I mentioned are City Girl in Training and A Surprise Christmas Proposal.
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Liz Fielding has been writing her award winning romances for nearly thirty years. The setting for her first book, An Image of You, was drawn on a safari camp in Kenya that she visited regularly when living there with her civil engineer husband, who she met while working in Zambia. She has also lived in Botswana and the Middle East, but has now settled in West Sussex, close to her daughter and grandchildren.
Her latest book, Christmas Reunion in Paris is out now.