Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Car Trouble

by Melanie Dusseau from the April 30, 2012 issue

Tagline: Cassie was charmed by the dog that rushed to greet her when she pulled up to John's auto body shop. And then John came out...

In a Nutshell: Cassie's car needs fixing and John's the man to do it. She tells him she's going to her aunt's coffee shop to wait and he mentions he loves the pie and pot roast there. When she returns, she brings him some, then gives him her phone number.

Observations: I have one word for this story: ADORABLE! There are a lot of things I want to point out.

1. I loved the humor and wit in this story. Here are two examples.

She rose to her feet and smiled. He returned the smile. Dimples.

Making the word "dimples" its own sentence put such a delightful cuteness on it that it made me smile, too.

"I'm John. And that pile of fur is Bear, my guard dog." John laughed. "Protects my castle."

Again, John is so cute. And he makes pies! At least, I think he does because he's been trying to get LouAnn's coconut cream pie recipe for a while. Also, check out how he doesn't speak in complete sentences. That is one of the keys to writing convincing, realistic dialogue. (Another is to use contractions.)

2. Here, Cassie shows that she is just as witty as he is. Their banter shows them connecting as a couple. This is an important thing to do when writing Woman's World stories. 

"Did you get me the recipe?" he asked.

"No, but I did get a swat with LouAnn's spatula."

LOL. That cracked me up.

3. I loved how she used the dog to advance John's cause.

John looked hopeful and Bear cocked his head. Cassie was charmed.

So was I.

Bear sat beside John, gazing at her with what looked like a hopeful expression.


4. There is a terrific time transition in the middle of the story. (By the way, this story has two acts, not the normal three.) Check it out:

John took her keys and Cassie set off for town, the morning sun at her back and John's gaze following her. 

She returned with two carry-out boxes. "Hello?" she called standing next to her car. Bear loped over to greet her.

Bam. No wasted words transitioning from morning to afternoon.

5. For those of you who took the class, did you notice the very subtle Coincidence story element? I didn't even notice it was there until I looked for it. I was reading the story, thinking, "Hmm, there's no coincidence. How interesting. I should mention that in my observations." Then I double checked just in case, and sure enough, I found one.

I could believe Cassie wanting to pass the time at a coffee shop "up the road." I could believe that John was a regular patron of the nearby cafe. What was a little--and I mean little--hard to believe was that her aunt was the owner. But like I said, I swallowed that so easily when I read the story, that I didn't even notice this as being odd.

This was a great teaching story. Thanks so much, Ms. Dusseau.


Pat said...

Hi Kate,

Great review. Loved the dialogue comment and the examples you pointed out. I’m terrible at analyzing. Funny you didn't mention the POV. Not sure if the author head-hopped or it’s omniscient.

I think I'm going to disagree with you on the coincidence only because it's a WW small town. In a small town, I wouldn't find it odd that his aunt owned the local diner so I didn’t in this story. But, then, like you said, it’s very subtle.

I also loved this story from start to finish, Ms Dusseau had me.

Kate Willoughby said...

Yes, I saw that little blip out of her POV, so maybe it was omniscient. Either way, I loved the line. I could so picture that moment, like a director of a movie. :)

Mary Jo said...

I have a soft spot for this story because it reminds me of a small town in Montana where my Aunt and Uncle had an old house. People took their morning coffee cup and visited a neighbor or gathered at the post office for the morning mail and doughnuts. Also there was a nearby coffee shop where ranchers from the surrounding area met for breakfast or lunch. So everybody knew everybody.

I am willing to blame the glitch in POV on the editor. Either she missed it or she wrote it.

Kate Willoughby said...

Personally, the POV thing didn't jump out at me. If it had, I probably would have forgiven it because it is SUCH a romantic moment in the story. It was actually my favorite part.

Pat said...

I think that is why I noticed the POV, Kate. It reminded me of a romance novel. Had not seen it done in a short story before.

Anonymous said...

Wow! How nice to stumble upon this discussion of my story. Thank you so much for the kind words and awesome review. I am sending more!

Melanie Dusseau

Kate Willoughby said...

My pleasure, Melanie! It's easy to blog about stories as good as this one was.