Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Overdue Romance by Diane Crawford

From the October 2, 2017 issue

Tagline: Could a search for missing books open a new chapter for Jessica and Mike?

Observations: As I read this story, I thought it was a great example of a "girl to the rescue" story in which the hero has a problem and the heroine helps him solve it. What was a little different about this one is that the problem is only partly solved by them working together, then Jessica takes it upon herself to find the remaining two missing books.

Notice the mini black moment when Mike thanks her and leaves? The only thing that is usually there is the heroine wishing she'd have reached out or thinking that this would be the last time she sees him.

We have a coincidence at the gas station, which might seem awfully convenient at first glance, but you know what? It really is a small world and things like that happen. It seemed real to me and the ending sentence was great. The line about starting a new chapter in her life could have been corny but wasn't.

Photo Credit: Bill Smith (Flickr cc license)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

No Place Like Home by Nell Musolf

From the September 25, 2017 issue

Tagline: Melanie was tired of cutting grass and ready to move into an apartment...then she met Jeff!

Observations: Woman's World changed fonts on the story! I like it! I wonder, though, if it was because this story was longer or something.

Anyway, I noticed a plot device that appears in many stories, but that I haven't talked about in a while. It's when a main character believes x, y, z and that belief shifts by the end of the story. This also appears as a main character expressing some sort of dissatisfaction and by the end of the story, they end up satisfied one way or another.

If you're an experienced Woman's World romance story reader, then you might have read the passage quoted below and realized, "Aha! She's going to change her mind."

...I thought about how much easier life would be if I rented an apartment instead of a house. Someone else mows the lawn or shovels the snow when you have an apartment.

And sure enough, the story ends with...

Maybe moving into an apartment wasn't the best solution for me. Especially now that my house was beginning to feel more like home!

In my basic Writing for Woman's World class, I talk about ways to get ideas for stories, and one way is to take a character, figure out what they believe and change their minds. Or come up with something a character might be dissatisfied with and, again, change their minds. They could realize that dissatisfaction is actually trivial. They could realize that they should be grateful for what they have. (That would be a great idea for a Thanksgiving story.) These can be great jumping-off points when your mind is blank and you're trying to get started.

Also, I liked the repeated motif of sparks and wondered if Musolf intentionally planned for the "spark" of the lawn mower engine starting to echo that. If so, wow! Very impressive.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

As Sweet as Peach Pie by Mary Davis

from the September 11, 2017 issue

Tagline: Sandy thought that she had no time for love...then she met Brian!

Observations: I just literally laughed out loud while reading this story. Here's the part that made me crack up:

"Why would I hang up on Ginger Ford's grandson?"

"Because the peaches are a bumper crop this year, and my grandmother refuses to make me a pie unless I ask you out."

So funny! I also loved this line:

"...I am very familiar with dating under duress."

OMG, I just cracked up AGAIN. (That Brian is a very funny guy.) He sold 50 of her shirts and she asks him what his secret was...

"No secret. Just a basic marketing principle: product positioning. You have to convince the customer your product is the one that they should spend their money on."

"How did you do that?"

"I wore the shirt, then I gave them an incentive to buy."

"What was that?"

"I told them if I could sell enough shirts, you might go to dinner with me. Not a single person turned me down."

Bottom line, this story had so much humor in it, I dare anyone not to have loved it.

Photo credit: Jeffrey W. (Flickr cc)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cookie-Cutter Romance by Mary Jo Young

from the September 4, 2017 issue

Tagline: Mark thought he had no time for love...then he met Kenzie!

Observations: At first, I thought this was another story about cookies and I wondered if Ms. Gaddis was going on a cookie story binge, but I soon found out I was wrong. LOL

I thought this particular meet cute was funny and novel--not something I'd seen before. There was also a quasi-matchmaker, his office manager, Mrs. Hendrix. I thought it was oddly formal that they referred to each other as Mrs. Hendrix and Mr. Osborne, but I went with it.

This story was unusual in another way. We saw more going on between Mrs. Hendrix and Mr. Osborne than we did between Mark and Kenzie. It didn't bother me. I still thought it was a cute story, but it went against my suggestion that you always spend a good deal of time showing the hero and heroine interacting. So, that just goes to show you, I don't know everything!

Photo Credit: Steve Moses (Flickr cc)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Always Bake Cookies by Kacey Laine

from the August 14, 2017 issue

Tagline: Abby loved her new house...and her handsome neighbor made it feel like home!

Observations: This was a sweet story. What stands out to me is the heroine. It has always been my assertion that Woman's World likes the traditional woman who waits for the hero to make the first move. She is still very present in stories. However, just as popular is the confident woman who sees an opportunity and takes it.

Here, Abby acts, and sort of as a throwback to that traditional woman, she feels like she was too "forward." So, maybe she's a hybrid, after all.

I also wanted to point out the misunderstanding, a common plot device in WW stories. Very often, one of the characters makes an assumption that the other is married or otherwise spoken for and it turns out that this isn't the case. Here was a fresh take on that plot device: the heroine assumed the man was moving away when he wasn't. Well done, Kacey!

Photo credit: Wen Tong Neo (Flickr cc)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The French Connection by Rochelle Banks

from the August 28, 2017 issue

Tagline: Ty never dreamed of going to Paris until he met Angie...then she gave him the surprise of his life!

Observations: This was such a great story! I was genuinely surprised at the plot twist and it's hard to surprise me. I think this week is a good week to talk about showing not telling. This is a phrase writers hear often, and it is true most of the time. But if you look at this story, you'll see it's probably half showing and half telling. This is because of the word count. You only have 800 words to use. You have to forward the plot along using transitions. Let's see how this panned out with this story.

Scene 1 - Ty and Angie meet in the library.
Scene 2 - We transition to Tuesday at the French for Travelers class.
Scene 3 - We transition again to that weekend when they see a French film and kiss.
Scene 4 - After yet another transition to the next day at work when he asks his travel agent about flights to Paris in the spring, we skip forward to their second date. Then, we fast-forward a year to their honeymoon in Paris.

So, six time transitions! That's a lot, but a lot happens in this story. We go from boy meets girl to boy marries girl in 800 words. That's how it's done, ladies and gentlemen. Make transitions your friend, and you'll move your plot along.

Photo credit: Chris Drumm (Flickr cc)

Friday, August 25, 2017

You won't believe it...

I'm actually working on two stories. I think it's been 2+ years since I wrote a Woman's World story. Wish me luck! LOL