Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

by Peggy L. Ellis from the September 22, 2014 issue

Tagline
According to the grapevine, Sue's new neighbor was a real catch. She decided to find out for herself...

In a Nutshell
Sue meets the handsome guy moving in next door when his puppy wanders over. She boldly asks him to share her pizza later that evening.

Observations
No offense to Ms. Ellis, but this story sits in the average category for me. I thought the heroine was spunky. I liked how she matter-of-factly ordered the pizza and invited Ed over to share it with her. But other than that...I neither loved nor hated it.

The only thing that pulled me out of the story was the invitation to attend the Chamber of Commerce meeting. I was wondering if a bank employee at Sue's level (accountant) would have any need or desire to attend those meetings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ramblin' Rose

by Shelley Cooper from the September 15, 2014 issue


Tagline
Little Rose was as cute as could be...and so was her Uncle James!

In a Nutshell
Natalie lives next door to a hottie who's babysitting his niece while her parents are on a cruise. His niece unwittingly acts as matchmaker.

Observations
Everything old is new again. This is another story that had elements from a story I'd written for Woman's World years ago. My story also had a niece with parents on a cruise. The grandparents were supposed to babysit, but I think there was a medical emergency and the uncle had to take over.

I thought this story was adorable. The ending was super sweet and heartwarming.

One thing I wanted to point out was the structure of this story was a little different in that the backstory was in the middle of the story and brought out via conversation between James and Natalie.   Also, it was the niece's backstory, not that of the heroine or hero. As for them, we are just to assume they've been friendly as neighbors but never gone further than that.

Another thing...the dream. What a useful device. When a character dreams, it's a handy way to foreshadow and expose more of the character to the reader--his/her fears, wishes, or backstory. In "Ramblin' Rose" it's used to beef up the ending and help the reader dream too.

In an aside, I have a hydrangea bush with flowers like the one in the picture! I actually also have a next door neighbor named James, but he's married with kids. LOL

Also, reminder that when the author's name is in bold, it's also a hyperlink to all their story analyses on this blog.

Photo credit: Derek Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Fifth Wheel

by Tamara Shaffer from the September 1, 2014 issue

Tagline
It looked like Julie's summer was going to end on a romantic note!

In a Nutshell
Sandra goes to the carnival with two couples. A handsome dude rear-ends her on the bumper cars. Later they ride a roller coaster together. The ferris wheel is their last ride...or is it?

Observations
The carnival is the type of setting that Woman's World loves. It can be romantic and it has that old-timey Americana feel to it.

Sandra skated the line for me because she started out so negative. Five paragraphs of a bummer attitude. But then, in the sixth paragraph, Sandra turned herself around. If I were a beginning writer, I'd be wary of doing this type of thing in a Woman's World story. They aren't keen on negativity.

This was an average story for me, nothing particularly special made it stand out.

Photo credit: Solipsist via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood

by Martha Freeman from the September 8, 2014 issue

Tagline
Elsa was unsettled by her recent move to a new home...until she met her kind (and handsome) new neighbor

In a Nutshell
Elsa is new to the neighborhood. On her walks to and from work she notices some free tomatoes on a neighbor's stoop. After taking a few, she leaves a tin of cookies in thanks. One day, the tomato grower makes contact and a date.

Observations
This story reminded me a lot of my very first Woman's World sale back in 2005. I think I include it in my basics class packet. It was called "Her Lucky Stars." In that story there were also notes between strangers. So it was fun to be taken back.

Today I'm going to go through the story paragraph by paragraph and point out the function of the paragraph. I hope this will be helpful.

1, 2: Freeman starts out with Elsa's backstory--something in longer fiction we tend to frown upon--and we immediately get a feel for what type of woman she is. It's a great two paragraph look at Elsa.

3: We see her current situation--why she moved, that she will now be walking to work, what her job is.

4: Here's where we see "the problem." She doesn't quite feel at home yet.

5, 6: The story finally starts. Elsa comes upon a situation. We "meet" the hero via his note and his harvest.

7: Elsa makes a decision.

8: This is a transitional paragraph that "tells" us some time has passed and what went on. I often talk about how telling--as opposed to showing--is often necessary in a Woman's World story.

9-15: New scene. We've entered the second act of the story. With the help and prodding of her friend, Elsa makes another decision. She's going to make contact with the tomato man.

16: Transition in which we watch Elsa put her plan in action. She's being assertive and taking control of her own life, not waiting for things to happen to her.

17: New scene and the beginning of act three. It opens with the "black moment" when the reader thinks all is lost.

18-27: Contact! They officially meet. They talk.

28: Elsa makes a move. We're moving the plot forward.

29-33: More of a connection is made between them as they talk and make a date to cook together.

34: We end with the optimistic "Happily Ever After, Eventually Maybe" ending that is so prevalent in Woman's World stories. We also see that the problem we saw in paragraph 4 is solved.

I hope this look at the skeleton of this story helps you construct your own.

Photo credit: Ramashng via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sweet Treats

This is gelato, not ice cream, but the pic was so beautiful
by April Serock from the August 25, 2014 issue

Tagline
One thing Jilly knew for sure: the good looking guy in the white pick-up loved ice cream as much as she did!

In A Nutshell
Jilly owns a drive-through ice cream shop. One of her regular customers is cute and he comes every night. Eventually he asks her out.

Observations
Nieces and nephews are handy props in Woman's World stories.

1. They act as decoys--when the author wants us to believe that one of the protagonists is married with children.

2. They can be matchmakers who want their aunt/uncle to find someone special.

3. They can be tools to show that the hero or heroine is a wonderful person who spends time with their younger relatives.

4. They also come in handy when you need the hero or heroine to attend a certain event or do something that they might normally not, again, showing they are being a good aunt/uncle.

In this story, the niece served as that last one. What a complete surprise to find out the hero didn't really like ice cream. Were you like me, reading along and thinking to yourself, "Wow, that guy really likes ice cream?" (And also, "Of course, he's a man and can afford to eat ice cream every night and not get fat, darn it.")

I liked that double whammy ending. First you have that "awww" moment when he confesses he had been coming night after night just to see her. Then, you find out he's been giving the ice cream to his niece all this time, which made me laugh. Also, the "secret" of his lactose intolerance was aided and abetted by the tagline Johnene chose. Before we even start the story, we go in believing he loves ice cream.

I thought this story was very cute. Plus, I thought the idea of a drive-through ice cream place to be clever.

Photo credit: Solitude via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sew Much Happiness!

by Marti Attoun from the August 18, 2014 issue

Tagline
Julia was an expert seamstress, but it seemed John Garwood might be the man to stitch up her broken heart!

In a Nutshell
Julia is surprised when a man with an emergency alteration bursts into the store. When he comes back to pick up the pants, he brings muffins and asks her to lunch.

Observations
Characterization -- This story had two likable characters. Julia is happy and isn't one to dwell on her problems. She is successful. She loves what she does. Her life is terrific, but she wouldn't mind a little romance.

Enter John. He's funny. (Duct tape!) He's thoughtful (the muffin) and resourceful (gets the lowdown from Sarah at the bakery.)

However, the only thing that sort of made this story stand out for me was that she was a seamstress. That was a profession I don't see a lot within the pages of Woman's World. Other than that, it was, in my opinion, average.

Photo credit: KoS via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Marry Me

by Shoshana Brown from the August 11, 2014 issue


Tagline
Katy loved Jack, but she didn't think they were ready for marriage. Jack didn't agree. Who was right?

In a Nutshell
Jack proposes before going overseas for a tour of duty. Katy isn't sure he's the one. She realizes shortly after he leaves that he is  The One.

Observations
Story Structure - You know the formula: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. Well, this story created its own formula: Boy proposes to girl, girl loses her mind, boy gets girl.

I can't recall seeing a story begin with a proposal before--maybe you long-time readers can help me out here. I think that might be the first time I've ever seen this. And I loved it. Not only that, but the black moment occurred at the beginning too. Amazing. Right off the bat, we feel that tension when she puts him off. We worry right at the beginning whether she'll come to her senses, or worse, that Jack will be unable to return to her. Which brings me to my next observation.

Risk Management -  This was a risky story to submit. We all felt the fear Katy felt because Jack was in dangerous territory and might never come back, and usually Woman's World shies away from nasty stuff like that. I'm kind of surprised they went with it. On the other hand, it's clearly a wonderful story. It even made me tear up. So, maybe they said, "Screw it. We're going with it," because it had such a heartwarming overall feel.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons