Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Sometimes the Stars Align"

by Kate Karyus Quinn from the May 9, 2011 issue

Tagline: After all these years, for Julie and Greg, the time was finally right.

In A Nutshell: Julie has been a widow with three children for five years. One day she's particularly tired and the manager of the grocery store helps out with her kids. Turns out they almost became a couple back in high school. Now, they continue to "see each other" at the grocery store until he asks her out on a picnic with her kids. Nervous, she says no, then a week later decides she made a mistake.

Observations: I thought this story was fantastic. First off, Quinn starts with a hook:

Julie was primping for a trip to the grocery store.

And just like that, you're sucked in to find out why.

Also, I immediately sympathized with Julie's situation, having to raise her kids by herself. Quinn did a great job of describing the sad situation without getting overly maudlin, something Woman's World shies away from.

The history Julie and Greg had together was completely realistic and romantic at the same time. I'm always a sucker for "the one that got away" stories. It's here also that Quinn cleverly inserts that "stars aligning" phrase that is the title and also the ending.

What follows is a pretty long "telling" summarization of the courting. Oddly, we don't see a lot of interaction between the two characters. I always maintain that it's important to see the hero and heroine face to face in a story so we get to know them and they get to know each other, but I was surprised to see that Greg only actually speaks twice in the entire story! In my own defense, I have to point out that those two lines are killer and the romance holds up despite the lack of dialogue and the preponderance of narrative. There's a brief "black moment" when Julie doesn't go on the picnic with him, but Quinn follows that with a paragraph that shows Greg to be hero material.

Greg wasn't a high school boy anymore, though, and he didn't give up as easily this time. "Julie," he said, "maybe it's still not the right time. If you're not ready, I'll wait."

I just fell in love with him right there.

You hear all the time that women of a certain age--especially with three kids!--have little chance of finding someone special, but this type of story gives us hope and a warm feeling in our hearts. This is the type of story we all want to write. It's no wonder the editors pounced on it.

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