Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Little Help

by Emma Courtice from the March 4, 2012 issue

Tagline: Marsha didn't mind helping a neighbor in distress. Not even if the neighbor in question was that arrogant Daniel Wilson...

In a Nutshell: Daniel has locked himself out of his house and is unwilling to break a first floor window or wait the hour for his mom to arrive with the second set. Marsha agrees to let herself be boosted to the open second floor window. But the keys aren't where he thought they were. She pulls him in the ground floor window and he lands on top of her just as Mom arrives. Mom lets slip that Daniel has talked about Marsha before, and Marsha has since reformed her opinion of him. They make a date for lunch.

Observations: This story didn't have as much romance for me as I would have liked, nor did I particularly feel like the heroine and hero had a bright future together. I think perhaps it was because Marsha's dislike of Daniel was so strong and her change of attitude toward him wasn't...

She acknowledges the fact that he does have a mother. She smiles at his childlike pouting, and laughs when he agrees the situation is somewhat funny. We don't actually get a reaction from her when she finds out that Daniel had talked about her to his mother and Daniel is embarrassed about it. I think that one sentence to that effect would have convinced me more.

I also couldn't quite believe she could make it into his second story bedroom from his clasped hands. She's not even standing on his shoulders. But, hey, this story clearly made it past the editors. So I have to chalk it up to another story that proves I'll never be able to predict which of my stories will or will not pass muster.


16 comments:

Jess said...

Very kind and spot-on evaluation. :) I thought the cutest part was when she marveled that he did have a mother. LOL And the fact that we can't predict what stories the editors will like is downright scary! I'm enjoying your class!

Kate Willoughby said...

Yes that was a funny bit. I always love to see witty characters. And I'm really glad you're enjoying the class.

Mary Jo said...

I suspect Ms. Courtice intended this story to be a light-hearted, funny romance. However, for me it missed the mark. This Daniel was presented as unlikable from the get-go, and I feel he never came off as anything more than a heavy-handed clod. Not a good thing in a WW story. You will notice at the end he did not even have the decency to invite his mother to lunch after she had just driven fifty miles to bring him a key. Also, as you pointed out, Kate, the logistics were way off.
How could this happen?

Kate Willoughby said...

Yeah, but he kept his mom's picture on the dresser in his bedroom! That's gotta mean something. ;)

Jamie Anne Richardson said...

I must admit, when I read this story I was thinking, "what does that have that mine doesn't have?" LOL I also thought it fell well short of the title "romance." It was a good, cute story, but romance? It just wasn't terribly believable to me. If my opinion of my neighbor was that negative, I don't think it would change that easily just because he had a picture of his mom in his bedroom. Not knocking the writer, this story just didn't hit me... but then again... I'm not the one making the decisions. ;-)

Kate Willoughby said...

It's funny...when I read my first Woman's World romance story, I blinked and frowned, underwhelmed to say the least. Knowing I could write something better, I decided to start submitting to them. The plot went something like this...

Woman is walking a dog in the park. She meets a man also walking his dog in the park. They hit it off. He asks her out.

If it sounds sort of boring, that's because it was. LOL Of course, that's why I made a bunch of mistakes at first. I put too much drama in my first story, thinking WW needed that, but that was arrogance on my part. I only THOUGHT they needed that. They were perfectly clear on what they needed and wanted, and still are. It is we writers who must change. :)

Mary Jo said...

Kate, I did the same thing with my first stories written for WW, trying to be more dramatic and meaningful. I was rejected, of course. It was when I started reading your blog that I came to realize that the essential elements in a WW publishable story are an upbeat attitude and a "hero" that any woman would love. Now, I don't think writers need to change, but we do need to adapt. There is a generic sameness of style about these stories, and I doubt that comes from the individual writers. Nevertheless, it is there, and readers may find the stories boring, but as you say, writers will not effect a change. This feature of the magazine has grown minuscule over the years. Are readers indifferent to it?

Kate Willoughby said...

Right, we need to adapt our style to fit Woman's World. Yes, the romance story has shrunk, but I think they'll keep it as a feature. Personally, I find it much more uplifting and interesting than the affirmations.

Betsi said...

Mary Jo, awhile back I would read the comments on the WW Facebook page, and try to elicit remarks about the romances. For instance, I would say that a friend of mine had written the current romance, and what did they think? But the only comments were from other writers, and I gave up. I think we're lucky they're still including the fiction . . .

Mary Jo said...

Betsi, I think it was about the mid-20th century when women's magazines all carried three or four pieces of fiction with beautiful illustrations. One of my favorite novelists, Rosamunde Pilcher, came out of the Good Housekeeping band of short story writers. Then, almost overnight, the stories stopped and magazines went to the How-to and Personal Experience articles where they are still. That is, if you can find them among the plethora of ads. I am hanging on to the WW magazine's tiny piece of romance fiction with all my fingers and toes. I only hope it will persevere.

Kate Willoughby said...

Amen.

This phenomenon sort of mirrors the domination of reality TV over scripted (created-from-scratch fiction!) shows.

Betsi said...

Exactly, Kate! Maybe the schools aren't doing enough to teach the value and the beauty of fiction. We want things to be "true" -- when reality shows and most so-called "memoirs" are anything but.

Betsi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Willoughby said...

Hmm. Wonder what the comment was. LOL

Betsi said...

The comment just showed up twice, nothing exciting. But of course a WRITER would wonder! ;-)

Kate Willoughby said...

Of course!