Romance Writing Opportunity:DrumBeats Call for Submissions

Dear Writer,

Do you yearn to celebrate the rhythm, the love and passion within the East African heart?Do you wish to capture and celebrate the love story behind the beautiful, sexy, confident, focused, hardworking and romantic East African – irrespective of ethnicity or race?

DrumBeats Romance invites East Africans to tell their own love stories. We invite manuscript submissions of love stories based on the attached guidelines.

To help you get started, Storymoja has organized a Romance Writing Kickstart Workshop. Please rsvp to book your place:

Date:  Saturday, 20th October 2012

Time: 9am-2pm.

Venue: Storymoja offices. 2nd gate (brown) on Shanzu Road, off Lower Kabete Road, behind the Spring Valley shopping centre.

Charges: Kshs 500 (Water, Tea & Snacks provided). Please Mpesa the chapa and RSVP:  Tel 0722611020



DrumBeats are passionate, sexy love stories from East Africa. They bring to life our very own memorable heroines and heroes, who face varying conflicts on their romantic journeys but ultimately love conquers all.


Literate black females aged 18-50+ years, primarily living in East Africa, with at least a high school education. They are avid readers of the romance genre like Mills & Boon, Harlequin.

They are mainly middleclass urbanites, including small town dwellers, and probably use public transport though they may be working to own a car. They may live in a rented apartment but aspire to own their own home and work hard to make this possible in future. Through initiatives like self-development projects, relationships advice, career guidance and spirituality, they seek to empower themselves.

They have conservative parents or family set-ups and operate in a social environment that is quite chauvinistic and/or paternalistic. But they have a modern, more liberal outlook in life, and read True Love, Drum, Passion, Saturday Nation, and watch local soaps and dramas like Changes, Makutano Junction, Generations, Siri, Shuga and western romantic comedy movies etc. The writer is advised to read these magazines, and watch the dramas to get insights into the core target readers’

  • Habits and thought processes
  • Aspirations  and interests
  • Socio-economic status and lifestyles
  • Family dynamics
  • Public dynamics

They aspire to find true love in a mutually fulfilling relationship but are surrounded by so many negative examples and messages that they often seek temporary escape through what they read and watch. They are hungry for true love, even if it’s just in a dream, a romantic movie, and/or a DrumBeats Romance!


High school girls also form a significant constituency, and the DrumBeats Teen romance series is intended to specifically target this group. For readers interested in more mature romances, and more graphic sex we plan to develop DrumBeats Harder. Guidelines for these are in development.



  1. 1.     Between 20,000-30,000 words of between 8-12 chapters respectively.
  2. 2.     Love Story. Think Mills & Boon or Harlequin but about people we know in places we know
  3. 3.     Sex is allowed as long as it’s not too raunchy or pornographic 
  4. 4.     Story is set in East Africa, preferably urban – large or small town
  5. 5.     Story must involve several settings since the heroine is active
  6. 6.     Story is  told from the main female character’s perspective
  7. 7.     Story is told in the third person
  8. 8.     The hero and heroine must be East Africans, and can be of any tribe or race

THE HEROINE (main female character)

  1. 1.     She is between 25-35 years
  2. 2.     She is attractive, smart and gutsy
  3. 3.     She is either in college and near graduation, or gainfully employed, (formal employment of self-employed) with a stable income and aspires to financial independence
  4. 4.     She is driven, self-motivated and determined
  5. 5.     She enjoys exploring her hobbies and interests, and  has an active social life. Therefore, the story must involve several settings and at least one event that involves the heroine dressing up
  6. 6.     She has at least two close friends or close family members of either sex.  One represents modern view points while the other has a traditional mindset



  1. 1.     She knows what is expected of her by her society but may chaff against some elements of it
  2. 2.     Although past or current personal, financial, and/or social baggage may drag her down, she is committed to achieving success
  3. 3.     Although faced with temptations that may temporarily derail her, she is ultimately a moral person who cares about the feelings of others
  4. 4.     She feels emotional and financial obligation to her family, but not necessarily the parental type of responsibility. She uses part of her income to share and uplift her family standard of living
  5. 5.     She has a strong spiritual grounding, though the writing should not have a strong religious slant
  6. 6.     She aspires to equality/equity with male partner


THE HERO (main male character)

  1. 1.     Aged between 25-40 years
  2. 2.     Physically fit and good looking (not necessarily TDH)
  3. 3.     Intelligent
  4. 4.     Gainfully employed (formal or self-employed) and aspires to career and financial success
  5. 5.     Different outlook on life from the heroine, hence the cause of tension. It could be he is more traditional in his outlook than she is, or vice versa.
  6. 6.     Although he may not appear to be, he is ultimately a moral person who cares about the feelings of others




  1. 1.     The main plot line revolves around the heroine and hero’s struggle to build a romantic relationship
  2. 2.     Their mutual attraction is established early
  3. 3.     The heroine must face at least two key, escalating obstacles on this romantic journey – external and internal
    1. External conflict – outside forces (at work or in family or their communities) try to keep them apart
    2. Internal conflict driven their own attitudes, assumptions or worldviews, that they may be unaware of,  get in the way of finding true love e.g. she may be selfish in her desire to achieve
    3. Internal conflict driven by social pressure e.g. their own conflicting opinions about the role of women/men threaten to keep them apart
  4. 4.     Romantic tension should escalate and escalate before a satisfying resolution is reached
  5. 5.     The heroine and hero should have one or two intimate scenes together, not necessarily consummating in sex. But they should not have intimate scenes with other lovers unless this happens before their romance blossoms.
  6. 6.     By the end, all obstacles between them have been overcome and love finally triumphs. The heroine must land her man.
  7. 7.     By the end of the love journey, the heroine must grow internally e.g. she realizes she was selfish and becomes more sensitive about hurting other’s feelings.

Sub-plots should be kept to a minimum. Develop only those that influence internal growth in the heroine.


  1. 1.     Story must be in English, though you may pepper in a few Sheng words or short phrases that reader can understand in context
  2. 2.     The heroine must come across as a native of East Africa, not an impersonation.
  3. 3.     The heroine acts, she makes things happen, doesn’t just wait for things to fall in her lap
  4. 4.     Show, don’t tell. As much as possible, use lots of action and dialogue to tell the story – make it dialogue sound like its coming out of the mouths of East Africans
  5. 5.     Even if fictive, make the settings seem real, and recognizable. Do not be afraid of the local.
  6. 6.     Use lots of internal speech so that the reader has insights into the heroine’s journey of self-discovery
  7. 7.     Avoid explaining the ‘moral’ of the story – manifest it in what they say and do and thus allow the reader to conclude what the moral is.
  8. 8.     Every chapter should end with a cliff hanger, no matter how minor (should she call him, will she see him, why did she forget that earring etc)
  9. 9.     Deliver what your love story promises. Love wins. No disillusionments for readers. No death of either hero or heroine or their ideals.



Chapter 1       

Introduce the heroine to the reader.  Offer a brief description of the heroine and her character or worldview and social class through her language, tone and manner. Place the heroine in her day-to-day environment. Let her interact with her family, girlfriends, work colleagues, clients or customers. Offer a sense of her feelings about love. You may introduce the hero.

Chapter 2       

Let the reader get to know more details about the heroine; her personality traits, physical attributes, opinions, distastes and anything that shows the character of the heroine. If they have not done so already, the heroine and hero must meet and the initial spark must flare up. The plot starts to take a direction during this chapter, a sense that the road to true love will not be smooth, sow a drop of mistrust.

Chapter 3-4    

Offer further insight into the hero’s character, as seen or heard by the heroine. Sow the seeds of character differences that later lead to conflict. Introduce hero to heroine’s world or vice versa – work or friends or family.  This allows her to chat with her friends or family about him. Reasons for the major conflicts or obstacles between the two become apparent and derail the smooth development of their love trajectory. Heroine may even decide not to continue on the love journey.

Chapter 4-7    

The chemistry builds between the heroine and hero, and seems almost beyond their understanding or control.  But conflict develops as the hero and heroine interact in several settings you place them in, including one in her world, and one where she really dresses up.  Character development of the heroine and hero intensifies – introduce emotional dispositions of hero and heroine. What does heroine stand for? What does the hero stand for?  Internal conversations should give insight into internal conflict.

Chapter 8-10  

Develop the physical and emotional tension between the heroine and hero as they face intensifying internal and external conflicts. Introduce an intimate scene here. Could be sex or not. Heighten the internal conflict. Again, heroine may resolve to give up.Heighten the chemistry between the heroine and hero. Give more insights into their inner beliefs as face their external opposing forces.

Chapter 11     

Introduce an element that leads to the final build-up of both internal and external conflicts – the story climax. The climax involves the confrontation between the heroine and hero.In this chapter, all the conflicting viewpoints have to be discussed and dealt with.

Chapter 12     

Conclude with the final romantic union of the heroine and hero. E.g. they confess their true feelings to each other, ask for forgiveness and so on. 



  1. 1.     Authors must sign contracts ascertaining that their manuscripts are original and unpublished.


  1. 2.     Authors may elect to use a pen name and remain anonymous. However, all payments will be made in the author’s legal name as per the signed contract.


  1. 3.     For the initial manuscript by an author, No Boundaries Ltd. (Storymoja’s holding company) will purchase all rights for a one-off flat fee of Ksh 1 per word (excluding VAT), based on the final word count after editing, payable once final proofs signed off.
  1. 4.     On subsequent manuscripts, the author will choose whether to:
  • Accept a flat fee of Kshs 2 per word (excluding VAT), based on the final word count after editing, for all rights worldwide and in all formats, payable once final proofs signed off.
  • Accept 15% royalty fee on net receipts, for all rights worldwide and in all formats, accounted for twice a year and payable on an annual basis. 


Before submission, ask a discerning friend to read your manuscript and offer feedback. Only act on criticism that makes sense to you, especially if they point out issues that need more clarity.  Proof read your final manuscript and run a spell check. Then have a friend proof read.


Follow these simple formatting guidelines:

  1. a.     Times New Roman Font. Point 12.
  2. b.     Cover page with author contact details – address, email, telephone, TITLE in bold capital letters and under it,  the pen name or real author name, and the word count
  3. c.     Title, author name and page number on header (every page)
  4. d.     The word ‘END’ at the end of your story.


Kindly email your completed manuscript as a word document to and copy


Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

Tell me what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s