Silhouette Romance Guidelines Circa 1980
Guidelines are issued by publishers of genre fiction, particular romance, to ensure that submissions to specific lines meet the imprint requirements. These guidelines were sent to prospective romance authors (who obtained them courtesy of a stamped, self-addressed envelope) in approximately 1980. They are particularly notable for the sexual and language requirements still in effect long after the Feminist Revolution.
Re: Love Scenes
It is all right for the hero and heroine to go to bed together, although if they actually make love before they are married, a wedding should follow almost immediately. Bringing them to the brink of consummation and then forcing them to retreat either because of an interruption or because one or both of the lovers suffer from doubt or shame is an appropriate Silhouette device. Descriptions of lovemaking-should be sensuous with some details. They can not be limited to "he kissed her passionately." However, there are limits to what and how it can be described. In general, nudity above the waist is fine and almost anything goes, as long as the tone remains titillating. Below the waist things become trickier. Veiled references to our heroine's "hidden" or "secret" places are OK; our hero's "hard male strength" also gets by the stern Silhouette censor. Nudity is permissible, depending on context, but should not be too graphic. Of course, references to pain and blood are out. The only pain permitted is the sweet pain of fulfilled (or unfulfilled) desire. Above all, Silhouette love scenes should be romantic--our readers should be as in love with the hero as is the heroine.
She might have been looking at the face of a man who had suffered the agonies of hell itself and emerged covered with scars. Every feature had changed, the mouth was sensuous still, but thinned by lines of ruthlessness and even cruelty; the nostrils were wide, flaring; the eyes, dark as the pitchblende to which she had previously likened them, were black pools of hate. Deeply ingrained lines ran down each side of his mouth and across his forehead. It was the face of a pagan, primitively ruthless and cruel. She shivered and the surging wave of fear that swept through her body was more than mental. A pallor stole into her cheeks, and the palms of her hands felt damp...
She had expected him to kiss her, and as she wanted him to, it was in a state of pleasant expectancy that she stood in the circle of his arm her sweet young face lifted, her eyes aglow in the light from a full moon which created a fairyland around the sacred building above them ... His mouth came down, gentle, as she had known it would be, and in the sudden eagerness that came to her unbidden, she reciprocated in a way that set his pagan instincts on fire. Without warming she was swept away into the vortex of primitive, nerve-firing passion, her protesting body crushed against his virility as his loins melded with hers. Her lips parted at the moist insistence and mastery of his sensuous mouth, and with a stifled little gasp of disbelief she felt his tongue enter and probe. Instinctively she began to use her own tongue to expel it, an action that proved to be her undoing, for the contact and movement of her tongue against his only served to add fuel to the flame of his passion and for a long moment she was the victim of her own awakened desires, drawn irrevocably into a conflagration of pagan lovemaking against which any resistance on her part could not possibly survive. He slid his hand beneath her evening blouse and as, after unclipping her bra, he took one firm small breast into his hand she truly believed her virginity must surely be nearing its end. For as he caressed the nipple, raising it to the hardness of sense-shattering desire, spasm after spasm of sheer undiluted ecstasy throbbed with violent intensity through her whole body. "Remain single," he was to say later, in very different circumstances after she had refused his offer of marriage. "You're made for love, Sarah, and I've proved it to you--No, don't blush. It was natural and beautiful -- it could have been more beautiful if we had lain together in the gardens, beneath the moon, and made real love. "Let me show you," he pleaded. "When we're married I'll make love to you in romantic places ... beneath the palms, on the beach of my island, or maybe in the warm water when we've been swimming in the sea. There are places where the rocks can shelter us . . .
A Love Scene: This pair ARE MARRIED.
As she quivered against him the pressure of his warm lips softened into a tantalizing caress, his tongue gently probing her lips apart. Her resistance ebbed away, dissolved by his ardent exploration.
Sensing her capitulation, Drew swung her up in his arms and carried through the bedroom never allowing her to establish her defenses by continuing his seductive stroking of her breast with the tips of his calloused fingers and teasing the bare skin of her shoulder and throat with titillating kisses.
He set her on her feet for an instant while he threw back the bed covers and then he was lowering her to the bed pushing her back onto the soft cotton sheets and covering her body with his.
The buttons of his shirt pressed into her tender skin, but, after kissing her for another moment he uttered a muffled groan, rolled off the bed, and stood jerking his shirt from the waistband as he unfastened it. Quickly he shrugged out of the sleeves as Stacy watched transfixed as he continued to undress.
Any niggling doubts were overpowered by the love that welled up inside her. She knew that this was the moment that she had been craving. It was right for him to possess her completely.
Instinctively, with a naturally seductive movement, she raised her arms to him as he stepped out of his clothes. He melted his powerful body against her and her nostrils caught his distinctively masculine scent. His hardening muscles mutely proclaimed his desire. Gently teasing her with his hands and mouth, he patiently continued to arouse her with infinite care until she reached a fevered pitch. She felt as though she'd go crazy unless he filled the gnaw,ing void within her. Sensing her readiness, he rained fervent kisses on her mouth. Caught up in a vortex of sensual delight, Stacy arched her back to meet his movements until all her senses exploded with ultimate fulfillment.
- Though the paint of view of a SILHOUETTE BOOK is usually omniscient--i.e. the author can get in anyone's head, she chooses to remain almost completely in the heroine's. These books are seldom told from the "I" point of view, though, in fact, they are always primarily about one person--the heroine. She is always young, (under 25) and capable of being beautiful, though this is not always immediately apparent. She is basically an ingenue, and wears modest make-up, clothes, etc. Her figure is always perfectly in proportion, usually petite, and slight of build. Of course, when she dresses up, she is stunning. Her outfits are described in detail, as is her physical appearance. In spite of her often fragile appearance, she is independent, high-spirited, and not too subservient. She should not be mousey or weepy. Though she wants to work, and often plans to after marriage, often in some sort of business with her husband, her home and children would always come first. She is almost always a virgin; her occasional sexual interlude is just before the assured wedding with her lover and in no circumstances that could in any way be called promiscuous. She is usually without parents or a "protective" relationship. Sometimes she has lived with an elderly female relative, but she breaks away to lead a life of her own. A brother is permissible, but she is often in the position of caring for him, rather than vice versa--he may be weak, crippled, or uncertain as to his morals or future. He can in no way suggest the kind of character that is our hero's prerogative.
- Older, arrogant, self-assured, masterful, hot-tempered, he is capable of violence, passion, and tenderness. He is often mysteriously moody. Heathcliff (WUTHERING HEIGHTS) is a rougher version; Darcey [sic], (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) a more refined one. He is always older than the heroine, usually in his early or mid 30's, rich successful in the vocation of his choice. He is always tall, muscular, (but not muscle-bound) with craggy features. He is not necessarily handsome; he is above all virile. He is usually dark, though we have seen some great Nordic types, and, recently, we have been introduced to a stunning redhead. Here, as for the heroine, physical description and clothes are important.
The Other Woman
- Usually mean, over-sophisticated, well groomed. She NEVER gets our hero.
The Other Man
- Appealing, but not assertive, egotistical in some cases. Occasionally, (very occasionally) a bad type. He cannot ever take the limelight from the hero. He is not as rounded as the hero, and is often off stage throughout most of the book.
- Stock, easily recognized, cameos; the Scotch housekeeper, the overbearing aunt, the aristocratic mother of the hero. A good writer can give them individuality, but they must not take the focus off the hero and heroine. They are always periphery.
The action should primarily concern the relationship between the lovers. The only flashbacks should be memories--mostly in the heroine's head. The narrative is sequential, straightforward. As a SILHOUETTE is primarily a romance, it should not be a Gothic, a novel of suspense or adventure. Murder, gunplay, spies, and nurse-hospital novels are out.
Preferably exotic or lush. In certain circumstances a familiar setting works, depending on the author's ability to romantacize [sic] them. The setting should transport the reader out of her ordinary, humdrum life.
No long-winded descriptions, rather extremely sensuous details--sense, taste, smell, touch, all important. The love scenes should be suggestive, titillating, not graphic.