Special Edition Guidelines Circa 1980
Special Edition was launched as Silhouette's sophisticated, modern imprint. These guidelines reflect a more sexually aware heroine and more vulnerable hero. Especially notable (for the era) is the express note that the story can, when appropriate, reflect the hero's point-of-view in the text.
Silhouette Special Edition
Silhouette Special Editions are longer, more sophisticated romances, featuring realistic plots and well developed characters. As with the Silhouette Romances, these books are built around romantic tension.
The Heroine: A Special Edition is always written in the third person, but it is the heroine's point-of-view which shapes the novel. The heroine is generally 23 - 32 and she is intelligent and mature. Independent and accomplished, she supports herself successfully in her chosen profession and is never clinging or weepy. The heroine need not be a virgin. She accepts sex as a natural part of any loving relationship. She should be single when the book opens, bur she may have been married in the past. If she is divorced, it must be clear that the divorce was not her fault.
The Hero: The hero, older than the heroine, is a dynamic, virile, supremely masculine man, one any woman could imagine herself falling in love with. Though he is self-confident, he also has a gentler, more vulnerable side, and may even admit to an occasional human weakness. He is never brutal or gratuitously cruel. Like the heroine, he may be a widower or divorced, but he is usually single when they meet. The narrative may sometimes include the hero's point-of-view in order to more fully develop his character and the plot.
Subsidiary Characters: Subsidiary characters never overshadow the hero and the heroine. They must be realistic, not stereotypical, and they often bring out aspects of the hero and heroine that aren't evident in their relationship with each other.
The Plot: In keeping with the sophistication of these books, the plots must be complex and believable. The plot centers on the developing relationship between the hero and heroine and the problems they must overcome on their way to a happy ending. The tension conies from a real problem that has to be solved and not merely from misunderstandings. This problem should be a realistic one, and deep enough to sustain the length of the book. It's crucial that the reader feel she is being presented with real people solving real problems, yet the story should never slip from the romantic to the mundane.
These books incorporate subplots chat either complement the action or play against it in some way. The subplots, an integral part of the book, should hold the reader's attention without overwhelming the romance. Silhouette Special Editions are contemporary romances. Elements of mystery, suspense and the occult are inappropriate. These books are not Gothics, nurse-doctor romances or thrillers.