Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Purr-fect Romance! by Nell Mulsolf

from the May 1, 2017 issue

Tagline: Fluffy liked her old home...and her owner liked Kate!

Observations: Nell Musolf is one of the most prolific Woman's World authors, with 11 stories under her belt, at my count. I don't think this was her best work. I liked "Free as a Bird" better. I wish I had more to say about this one, but I just don't. Sorry. I feel like I let you guys down when I can't find any teaching points. Maybe next week. :)

Photo credit: Jans Canon via the Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Love in Bloom! by Charlotte More

From the April 10, 2017 issue

Tagline: Thad had moved to a new town and was lonely...until he met Jennifer

Observations: This story is a perfect example of the type of nice guy hero Woman's World likes. Let's look at a list of Thad's attributes.

As an accountant starting his own firm, he's a hard worker. He's smart too. He's done his research to make sure this new town can support another CPA.

He blushes. And he gets tongue-tied. How cute is that??? LOL

When he sees his chance, he does go ahead and ask if she might help him with his yard. It's okay for our heroes to be shy, but it's also nice to see them have some initiative.

So, when you're creating a hero, it's a safe bet to show us he's a genuinely nice guy. Don't just assume we know it.

I absolutely loved the ending. I'm not sure why. The fact that he is babbling about Jen to his friend is just adorable.

Photo credit: Laura LaRose via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Emma and the Prince by Jenny Welsh

From the April 17, 2017 issue

Tagline: Emma didn't have time for romance...until she met Byron!

Observations: Loved this story! I was entranced from beginning to end. Did anyone else predict the grocery cart crash before it happened? I thought it was amusing that he was a lawyer. I did worry about Emma, though. She really shouldn't be driving a car. LOL I don't really have much else to say about this one. I'm sorry. :(

Photo credit: Eddie Welker via Flickr Creative Commons License

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Change of Heart

I've decided not to continue critiquing the Harlequin stories. The purpose of this blog is to help people write and submit romances to Woman's World and analyzing stories that aren't held to the same guidelines as the "normal" stories serves no purpose. Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Matchmaking Dad by Tina Radcliffe

From the April 3, 2017 issue

Tagline: Chrissy's matchmaking father just wouldn't quit...then he introduced her to Rick!

Observations: I thought this story was adorable. The matchmaker trope is alive and well on the pages of Woman's World magazine.

While I wondered if a true landscape designer would need help planting, especially for an apparently elderly client, but I just accepted it for the sake of the story and moved on.

Note the transitional paragraph of telling, not showing, during which a long-ish period of time passes while Rick and Chrissy garden together. I want to caution you about including this type of thing. On the one hand, it's great for making the story seem as if it's a little meatier. The passage of time helps us believe that they're really making a connection. However, if you do this type of transition, be sure you've either already established that they've made the beginnings of a connection, or you plan to show more of a connection in the last act of the story.

In this story, we see Rick and Chrissy together for a while before the transitional summary. They both see the dad on the ladder and, concerned, both take action together. They talk about her container gardening and the hero is encouraging. We spend some actual "real time" with them, together.

You can't have a story in which the hero and heroine don't interact in a significant way. If when you've finished your story, you look back and the couple haven't spent enough meaningful screentime together, you'd better go back and do some revising.

Photo credit: Flesh for Blood via Flickr Creative Commons License

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Erin's Lucky Charm! by Elizabeth Palmer

from the March 13, 2017 issue

Tagline: Josh didn't think he would ever love again...but his daughter's lucky charm changed all that!

Observations: Elizabeth Palmer is one of Woman's World's most prolific and skilled authors. I was amazed at how many clever bits of foreshadowing she packed in here. Just for fun, if you have the story in front of you, reread it and see if you can find the same three that I found. I'll put the picture here so my list isn't so easily seen. You're looking for details that seem unimportant when you read them, but come into play later.

All right. Let's see if our lists match up. The first two are subtle. The third, I'm sure you all caught.

1. He showed her Erin's kindergarten picture on his phone.

I thought this little detail was brilliant. Parents are always willing to show us pictures of their children. Josh is no different. So when he does this, we think nothing of it, but later, it becomes critical that Serena recognize little lost Erin when she sees her at the parade.

2. "I'll be there with friends."

Again, this seems like a normal thing to say and that's good. You don't want your foreshadowing to be super obvious. However, it's this offhand statement that creates the second black moment in the story. The first black moment was obviously the scary few minutes when Erin was missing. (This did fly against the normal "no intense drama" quasi rule that Woman's World usually adheres to, but that just goes to show you that if you write it well, you can get away with stuff.) The second black moment that I'm talking about is when Erin puts her matchmaker hat on and suggests they all go for green pancakes together. Josh knows--because of the offhand comment--that Serena is there with friends, so we are disappointed that things didn't work out after all, but Serena fixes that little problem while at the same time showing Josh that she's interested in taking this further.

And did you catch Josh's signal that he was interested too? It was back when he introduced her as his...friend, not his last-minute substitute hair stylist. So Palmer deftly showed us that both parties were open to taking that next step.

3. Josh smiled as he fastened the shamrock pendant, making a mental note to replace the flimsy chain before she wore it again.

This was the most obvious bit of foreshadowing, but I think it was only obvious because the stories are so short. Unlike in a novel, there's no time/space to insert a lot of happenings between the foreshadowing and the event the foreshadowing foreshadows. Such is the reality of writing super short stories. (Which is why I so admire the mini-mystery writers so much. Those stories are even shorter, yet the clues are all there.)

I'd be interested to find out if Palmer planned those or if she went back and added them during the revision stage, because the weak chain? That was probably planned. But maybe she's happily writing and gets to that part where Erin slips away and she thinks, "How can I get Serena to find her? Ah! If Josh showed her Erin's picture way back at the beginning..."

LOL I have such an imagination.