Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mystery of the Missing Issues

It seems that I can't find the next issue of Woman's World. Grrr. I apologize. I'll post a new critique when I find them or receive the next one in the mail.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"There's Always a Bright Side"

by Colette Shannon from the April 18, 2011 issue

Tagline: Lisa's day had gotten off to a bad start, but after meeting Alan in the park, things were definitely looking up...

In a Nutshell: Lisa gets a cramp while jogging. A man offers to help her. Turns out he works at the same hospital she does. After he escorts her back to her car, they see it has a flat tire. He changes it for her and asks her out for breakfast.

Observations: This story reminded me of something I angsted about a lot when I first started writing for Woman's World--how a single woman can meet men who are essentially stranges and still manage to be smart about her personal safety. Often the "stranger" the heroine meets turns out to have a connection of some kind. He's the nephew of her grandmother's friend. He's the guy her friend has been trying to set her up with and here, she's meeting him by accident. Or, like in this story, they work at the same place. Often one of the characters is new at the company.

You want your characters to be smart women whom you respect and who are smart enough to make wise choices when it comes to going out with strangers.

"Happy Anniversary"

by Shoshana Brown from the April 11, 2011 issue

Tagline: Graham had forgotten their anniversary, but Lily realized that a good memory isn't the important part of a happy marriage.

In a Nutshell: Lily goes to a lot of trouble to make her and Graham's wedding anniversary special, but he forgets. Her inclination is to be hurt and upset, but instead chooses to focus on the everyday thoughtfulness he demonstrates the other three hundred and sixty four days a year.

Observations: If you're a fan of the magazine, you recognize this is an off-shoot of the marriage in trouble plot. While Lily and Graham's marriage isn't exactly in trouble, Graham is. LOL. But the story still shows one of the characters recognizing with new eyes the qualities of the person they married. That's the important part.

I think that if Woman's World has a mission statement, it probably includes something about helping women increase their happiness, and this type of story can do that. Marriage isn't easy and sometimes knowing that others have weathered the storms--even if they're fictional characters--it can help us find the wherewithal to do the same.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Love is in the Air"

by Carol E. Ayer from the April 4, 2011 issue

Tagline: In the play, things didn't turn out well for Romeo and Juliet. In real life, Megan suspected they were all headed for a happy ending!

In a Nutshell: Megan's grandma plays the role of Juliet in a senior's acting troupe and falls for her leading man, Thomas. Megan thinks Thomas' grandson is nice, too. Weeks later, Megan meets her grandma for dinner only to find Thomas and the grandson there too. The elderly couple announce their engagement and the younger couple acknowledge there might be something between them as well.

Observations: This story delighted me. The first place a smile broke across my face was here, after the grandson Greg and Megan watch the older couple walk away hand in hand. Greg remarks:

"Nothing like young love."


Next, I was as surprised by the engagement announcement as the fictional grandchildren were. I love being surprised. I was really expecting a set-up--that grandma would skedaddle after Megan arrived, forcing Greg and Megan to have dinner together alone. I'm realizing now that that's a terrific strategy. We Woman's World readers are used to the tropes of the publication, so take those tropes and spin them around like Ayer did.

I loved Greg calling his grandpa an old dog and I liked the younger couple mimicking the older couple's banter when Greg asks Megan to dance. It was charming.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Matchmaker

by Diane Crawford from the March 28 2011 issue

Tagline: Clare and Andy would have a funny story to tell anyone who asked, "So how did you two meet?"

In a Nutshell: While shopping at the pet store, Clare hears a voice asking her out for a date. Turns out it's not the man shopping for dog supplies; it's a parrot. Attracted to him (the man, not the parrot,) she's later happy to meet him by accident in the park where she runs. After they run together, with his puppy, he mimics the parrot as he asks her out.

Observations: I pride myself on being observant and quick, but I only thought this story was cute when I read it. Then, when I started working on this analyses and re-read the title, I laughed, delighted. I'm sure that's why the editor wrote that tagline so that you'd be on the lookout for that funny thing, which was obviously the parrot helping them meet, but when you think of the parrot in the role of matchmaker...that boosts the idea into fabulous, at least for me.

As we've seen before, Woman's World stories often contain the element of coincidence, as you see in this story. Often you see the couple meet, then part, and one assumes they'll never see each other again. Then fate steps in and they meet again by coincidence. When you write this type of story you have to invent the reason and/or place where they meet again. In this case, Clare is a runner who was waiting for the weather to get better so she could resume her running. Andy's reason for being in the park is his new puppy.