Monday, June 13, 2011

"The Remedy"

by Colette Shannon from the May 30, 2011 issue

NOTE TO MY FOLLOWERS: From now on, when a story is written by an author whose work I blogged about before, I'm going to include a link to their "author page," so you can see all the Woman's World stories by that author that I've analyzed.

Also, I'm trying to play a little catch-up, since I fell behind, so you'll be seeing more than one analysis a week for a bit. :)

Tagline: Ellen had no intention of opening her heart again. Ever. Then her aunt introduced her to Logan...

In A Nutshell: After her heart is broken, Ellen's Aunt Phoebe lures new neighbor, Logan, to dinner on the same night Ellen just happens to always come. Ellen rebuffs him at first, but after a heart-to-heart with Aunt Phoebe, realizes she should take a chance on love.

Teaching Points: There is often a problem to be solved in Woman's World stories. For instance in the story "What a Guy!" a woman had a raccoon going bananas inside her house and the hero helped her get the critter out. In last week's story, the hero needed a cat sitter. Here in this story, there was a still a problem, but it was an emotional one that the aunt helped her solve, not the hero. But this is typical in a "moving on" story.

Moving on stories show how the hero or heroine is struggling with leaving behind a heartbreak of some kind. Sometimes it's being jilted. Sometimes the spouse passed away. Sometimes it's divorce. Moving on stories focus on one character's emotional journey. The amount of focus on the emotional journey vs. the romance differs depending on the story. "The Remedy" was about 50-50. In "Sometimes the Stars Align," there wasn't that much emotional journey stuff. It was more of an "old flame" story than a moving-on story.
I think that Woman's World likes these types of stories, because who among us haven't suffered through heartbreak? Moving on stories can encourage us to not give up hope and make us feel like, "Well, if she did it, so can I." I know I'm repeating myself when I say that Woman's World likes to promote positive thinking, but it's true. Just pick up one issue and you'll see what I mean. Keep that in mind as you write stories for them.

Observation: One thing that didn't quite work for me in this story was the circularity/motif. If you follow my blog, you'll probably be familiar with the technique of establishing a motif in the beginning of the story (and also sometimes in the title, as with this story) and then wrapping up with it at the end. In "The Remedy," here's that first mention, the first two sentences in the story:

I felt sure my broken heart would never be whole again. But Aunt Phoebe, my mom's older sister, apparently thought she had a magic remedy.

So we get the feeling that Aunt Phoebe has a master plan or at least an old-fashioned solution to getting over a broken heart.

At the end we have:

I stepped inside, he closed the door, and I realized Aunt Phoebe's remedy was already working its magic.

This beginning and ending mention of "the remedy" would have been great if I had been able to identify what that remedy was! LOL I feel a little stupid because the only remedy I could see was that Aunt Phoebe told her the story of her own heartache and how it had turned out wonderfully when all was said and done. But Aunt Phoebe obviously would have preferred not to have the talk at all and seen Ellen paired up right after dinner. The talk only happened because Ellen got cold feet. So that couldn't have been the remedy.

Okay, thinking about it harder, maybe the remedy was just to do it--meet a new man. Phoebe obviously set the dinner up ahead of time. But then that doesn't jive with the last sentence, because the remedy wasn't meeting Logan, it was the heart-to-heart Ellen and Phoebe had.

Either way, I see a problem. However, like I always say, I'm not an editor at Woman's World and I sometimes don't understand their publishing/editing choices. Clearly, they liked the story and the fact that this bothered me but not them, just goes to prove how subjective this business is.

Coming Soon: As I think back about other moving on stories, I'm trying to remember if there are other problems, besides divorce, death or a break up. I'm going to do some research and get back to you on that.

Artwork: Peter Worlsey's "Two Women Talking" 2010.

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