Tag Archives: Protagonist

Which of These Best-Selling Romance Pitches Is the Best? Why?

“Which of These Best-Selling Romance Pitches Is the Best? Why?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Rules for a Romance Novel

  1. The protagonist in a romance novel may be either the hero or the heroine. The writer decides.
  2. Both hero and heroine must be introduced in the first page of the book – no later than the third page.
  3. A romance novel states the problem situation of the protagonist in such a way that readers are  pulled emotionally into the story.
  4. In a romance novel, it must seem like it’s almost impossible for things to work out for these two people.
  5. A romance novel must end happily ever after (HEA). Readers who pick up a romance novel, expect and demand that happy ending.

Components of a Pitch Summary for a Romance Novel

  1. Tells about both the hero and the heroine.
  2. States the problem situation of the protagonist (hero or heroine) in such a way that readers are  pulled emotionally into the story with a universal theme to cheer and root for the protagonist. Tells what the main character wants or needs and why they can’t get it. Hints that character has to change before he can get what he wants.
  3. Makes readers wonder if it’s possible for things to come to a Happily Ever After (HEA) ending for both the hero and the heroine.

I went through the internet searching for the best Romance novels. I chose the pitch summaries for ten of them to study. I highlighted the heroine’s description in red and the hero’s description in blue so you and I could see if the pitch summaries had information about both the protagonist and the matching hero or heroine.
I stated my guess or the protagonist – the hero or the heroine. I also put how many words the pitch summary contained.

When I did a pitch workshop for the Catholic Writers Conference Online in 2012, we discovered it took more words to get the pitch summary for the romance novel than for the regular fiction.  You have to explain enough about both characters to make the pitch summary intriguing and pull people in.

How to Write a Pitch That Sells Workshop with Joan Y. Edwards
Description of Workshop: Share your present pitch. What is a pitch? How many words should a pitch be? Why does a writer need a pitch for his book? Study pitches of the pros. Write a pitch for a favorite book. There are exercises to get you going. Create an effective pitch for your story that no editor, agent, or reader will be able to turn down.

Which romance pitch summary did the best job of pulling you into the story? Why?

I’ll repeat the question after the last pitch summary.

1. Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan

194 word pitch summary
Female Protagonist
If Sadie Turner is good at anything, it’s putting stuff in order. So when she finds her “perfect” life in disarray, she hopes a summer vacation at her aunt’s lake house will help her piece it back together. She wants to relax, reboot, and heal the wounds left by her cheating ex-husband. And that requires time away from men. All men.
Or so she thinks.
With two slobbering dogs and two cousins living there—one a flamboyant decorator intent on making over Sadie—it’s hard to get a moment’s peace at eccentric Aunt Dody’s house, especially with everyone so determined to set her up with Desmond, the sexy new neighbor.
Desmond is Sadie’s worst nightmare. Tall, tanned, muscular…and to top it off, he’s great with her kids. But he must have a flaw—he’s a man—so Sadie vows to keep her distance.
As summer blazes on, the life Sadie is trying so hard to simplify only becomes more complicated—a new career presents itself, her evil ex haunts her, and Aunt Dody reveals a tragic secret—but maybe a little chaos is just what Sadie needs to get her life back in order.

2. Charade by Nyrae Dawn (Kindle)

Female Protagonist
171 words in the summary pitch
Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection.

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom’s dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it’s what he wants too.
Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne’s past isn’t what she thought? Soon they’re trading one charade for another—losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only thing they have that feels real.
Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

3. Losing It by Cara Carmack

Female Protagonist
117 words in the summary pitch
Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible– a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

4. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Male Protagonist
146 words in the summary pitch

Tall, dark and handsome Will Parker has served time for the killing of a Texas prostitute, but keeps losing jobs as his reputation becomes known. In the small town of Whitney, Ga., at the beginning of WW II, he answers the advertisement of a pregnant widow and mother of two, the abused and reclusive Eleanor Dinsmore, who is looking for a husband. Soon in love with ostensibly plain, bedraggled Ellie, Parker dotes on her two boys, and works to support the family. Fittingly for this sort of bucolic idyll, Will and Ellie, despite their rudimentary educations, love books and develop a special friendship with wise old Miss Beasley, the local librarian. Alas, brazen and rapacious Lula Peak, the town floozie, sets her sights on Will, waylaying him in the library; meantimes, Lula is blackmailing her lover, the cowardly Harley Overmire, who is no friend of Will.

5. Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Female Protagonist
119  words in the summary pitch
Physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington spends her 34th birthday in tears. She wants a baby, but not a husband. Where can she find an average or, preferably, stupid man? She decides that Cal Bonner, legendary quarterback for the Chicago Stars is perfect. Jane sets her plan into action and after some trail and error she succeeds. But the results are more than she bargained for when Cal discovers her duplicity. How can a football player with an interfering family and a nerdy professor who has never known family love ever fall in love? With lots of honesty, understanding and a whole lot of humor. Don’t miss this one! It’s filled with engaging characters, laughs galore and a feel-good ending.

6. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Female Protagonist
122 words in the summary pitch

Tough minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Diain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when his reciprocal passion places them in a scandously compromising, and public position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction… Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him…and then for forcing him to salvage reputation! Lord Diain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place — and in some amorous position. And if this means marriage, so be it — though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof…and steel his heart to the sensuous, head strong lady’s considerable charms.

7. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Male protagonist
133 words in the summary pitch

Christian Langland, Duke of Jerveaux is the ultimate hero. A brilliant mathematician and a complete rake, Christian is a man of contradictions. When a stroke leaves him permanently unable to speak, his family believes him to be mad and relegates him to a sanitarium. Fortunately, Maddy, a righteous Quaker and do-gooder, recognizes that Christian is not insane–he just can’t talk! Maddy may not be the most likable heroine you’ll encounter, but she has depth and character, and is probably one of the few people you could imagine who would have the patience and understanding to accept and live with Christian’s intense anger and frustration. But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely — and bind them together in need, desire … and love.

8. The Bride by Julie Garwood

Male Protagonist
99 words in the summary pitch
By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison…a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her…forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned against, an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And though Kincaid’s scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him…until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses…

9. Mackenzie’s Legacy: Mackenzie’s Mountain\Mackenzie’s Mission by Linda Howard

Female Protagonist
139 words in the summary pitch

A great romance novel about Mary, a schoolteacher who just can’t let Joe quit high school, so she sets off up the mountain that he lives on with his father, Wolf, to see what she can do to get him back in school. What she finds up on that mountain is a passion she’s never imagined existed before with a tall, tough and rugged warrior with a past. Wolf, for his part, has been to jail for a rape he didn’t commit and isn’t willing to ruin Mary’s reputation in their small town, so he refuses to begin a relationship with the sweet lady. Then, a real rapist is on the loose in this quaint, little town and targeting people who are close to Joe and Wolf Mackenzie. And Mary is one of the top targets on his list…

10. It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Female Protagonist
104 Words in the summary pitch
The Windy City isn’t quite ready for Phoebe Somerville-the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars’ head coach, former grid iron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises-a meddling bimbo who doesn’t know a pigskin from a pitcher’s mound. So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach’s good ol’ boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied…and ready to fight?

Which pitch summary did the best job of pulling you into the story? Why?

Please put your opinions in the comment area. I look forward to “hearing” what you think.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2013-2019 Joan Y. Edwards


  1. Joan Y. Edwards. “How to Entice an Editor or Agent with a Pitch/Logline:” https://www.joanyedwards.com/how-to-entice-an-edit-or-agent-with-a-pitch-logline/
  2. Joan Y. Edwards. “How to Write an Effective Selling Pitch:” http://joanyedwards.com/2012/11/09/how-to-write-an-effective-selling-pitch-for-a-romance-novel/
  3. Joyce Lamb. USA Today. “What’s Your All-Time Favorite Romance Novel:” http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/post/2011-10-21/whats-your-all-time-favorite-romance-novel/556533/1

Take Away Your Main Character’s Security Blanket

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Take Away Your Main Character’s Security Blanket” by Joan Y. Edwards

If your main character has everything he needs, take the most significant thing from him. Pick his pocket. Get it out of his closet or take it off the shelf. Turn your main character’s world upside down. Let me explain.

For instance, some children must have their blanket with them wherever they go.  Baby Bop called hers Blanky. Others may call it Wooby, as did the people in the movie, Mr. Mom. It is their security blanket. If they can’t touch it, they become emotionally unglued and devastated. Here’s the definition of Wooby from Urban Dictionary:

Urban Dictionary: wooby

(noun) Security blanket, teddy bear, or any physical item (for children) or emotional feeling (for adults) that gives you that safe, fuzzy, warm aura.

Take your main character’s security blanket away. You want him to become emotionally unglued and devastated enough to change in order to reach his goal.

  1. If your character is addicted to a schedule, change it.
  2. If your character is addicted to coffee, have a coffee shortage.
  3. If your character is addicted to fancy, expensive clothing, have him spend time with the homeless with a torn T-shirt and a pair of shorts.
  4. If your character needs to have his wallet with him at all times, have him lose it.
  5. If your character needs a car to get to where he’s going, have it break down.
  6. If your character needs to have a security system to feel safe, have a storm knock it out.
  7. If your character depends on another character for his money, have that character disappear and make him have to get a job.
  8. If your character is a runner who needs good running shoes, have someone switch his shoes to one of a smaller or larger size.
  9. If your character needs an alarm clock, break it.
  10. If your character needs a great hair style, have the hairdresser chop it off.

When you take away your main character’s security blanket, he will have to deal with his anger, loss, and will have to make changes to reach his goal. When you take away his security blanket, he becomes vulnerable. Readers relate to vulnerable characters. A reader might say, “I can’t stand to be without my lucky pen, I understand how he feels.” When readers find characters similar to them, they are drawn to them and find them lovable. Try it. You’ll

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2013-2019 Joan Y. Edwards