Policing Procedure | Pelican Book Group Official Blog

The title is a play on words of an actual method of detecting crime and how crime books are written – they are called police procedurals. Because the actions are so important to working out how the crime happened, it is important to clue the reader in step-by-step so they get a fix on how the crime was committed and who the guilty party may be.

What does that have to do with romance? A lot. Romance should not be written via a procedure. Romance is character-driven and people are not linear, nor do they do things in chronological order every time.

Let us look at the definition of PROCEDURE:

a particular course of action
a process or series of acts
a set sequence of steps

Many writers use procedure in their manuscripts. A connect-the-dots series of actions to take their characters where they want them.

The issue is that it bogs down the manuscript whose primary goal is to develop the romantic relationship. Making the characters go through specific steps over and over is tedious. Yes, it is important that the reader understand where the character is in the scene, but it can be written much tighter.

An example pf procedure:

Mary unlatched the screen door and then opened it, stepping out onto the porch to walk down the sidewalk to collect the mail.

A better, tighter way to write it:

Mary went to get the mail.

Look at your manuscripts and eliminate over long sentences that describe a series of steps. Ask your critique partners to be on the lookout for procedures that simply bog down the character’s actions. Writing tight action allows authors to spend more time on developing character and romantic relationships.

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