Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Little Voice

by Nell Musolf from the June 11, 2012 issue

Tagline: Samantha had learned to pay attention to her intuition. And right now it was telling her to pay attention to Randy!

In a Nutshell: Samantha is a lonely divorcee. While shopping for a frozen diet meal she bumps into a guy she knew in high school. They're both divorced and planning to eat alone. That plan changes.

Observations: I liked how the author took the internal monologue that most of us use when we're deep in a character's point of view, and sort of made it it's own character. I thought that little voice also acted as the vehicle for Samantha's character growth. I had thought that the little voice was only giving her advice at the beginning of the story and that she had "matured" past needing that by the end, but that wasn't the case. The little voice suggested that she ask him to dinner. Oh well, that would have been cool. :) I always like to see character growth in a story, even when it's only 800 words long.

I also wanted to point out the "heroic behavior," something that I think is always a plus in a Woman's World romance. Samantha finds out he had a crush on her in high school...

     "A crush on me? You sure never showed it."
     "Why would I? You were already taken."

Boom. A gentleman, obviously. At that point, I find myself talking to Samantha. "Grab this guy and don't let him go."

And she doesn't! :)

25 comments:

Mary Jo said...

Whoa, Kate! When everything came up purple, I thought there was something wrong with my computer.I like the new look, though.

Nell, you may not have thought this story was your best, but I think it is vintage Woman's World. I don't think I have quite been able to get there myself, but I am trying. So congratulations on another story in print.

Kate Willoughby said...

I found out how to change the background color, so I did. :)

Every story they buy is a win, as far as I'm concerned, but I'll admit I do have my favorites.

Tamara said...

I like the story -- and the purple background. Surprise us, Kate.

Nell Musolf said...

Kate, you're a nice person and a wonderful reviewer!

Tamara, thank you! I'm always thrilled to get one in print. I think I'm bothered by this one because I italicized the "little voice" thoughts but they weren't italicized in the story and it bugs me. But Kate is right, it's just great to sell one. I'm watching Mad Men at the moment and they are talking about all of the magazines with fiction in them and I just want to cry!

Kate Willoughby said...

Aw, shucks. :)

Hm. I think that italicizing the little voice would have been good. Oh well, Johnene is the boss.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate :)

In regards to submissions, do you think going over by 4 words is a big deal? Have revised and revised, and feel it needs the extra word count, but don't want to upset the editor.

Thanks for all your help!

Mary Jo said...

Well, this may be a dumb question, but do you all count the words in your title and your byline and THE END? I do not. They are not printed as part of the story and it usually saves me about ten to twelve words in the count.

Kate Willoughby said...

Anonymous, in short, nah. But I betcha I could find four words you could cut. Look at all your dialogue attributions (he said, etc.) and see if they're all necessary. If you have the character performing an action at the same time, that will identify the speaker.

Mary Jo, I count everything on the page, all my contact info, the title, byline, etc., because I'm too lazy to count how much all that is and deduct it from the computer count. I figure she wants it shorter anyway. :)

Anonymous said...

Gotta love the computer. Typed a long message, and poof! It was gone! Oh well....

Interesting point Mary Jo made. Never thought about that before. Hmmm.....

Kate, thank you for your help. I've turned the manuscript up and down, all around, can't seem to whittle down the last four extra words. I'll go back and take a look at the dialogue tags, and see if there are a few more that can be left out.

Thanks again! Love your blog!

Tamara said...

Anonymous, I think I wrote this before, so excuse the repetition. She'll cut it down to even fewer than the 800, and I don't always like her cuts, so I aim for 780-790ish. It's so hard to create a story in 800 words, but I find ways to eliminate them, such as those Kate suggested; I was trying to shorten my remakrs here, so above I wrote "I said this once before". To shorten that, I took out "once". Also, sometimes adjectives are unnecessary. And, Neil, I concur: italics would have been nice. Don't understand that one.

Tamara said...

Make that "I 'wrote' this before. I need an editor :).

Mary Jo said...

It is my opinion that no matter how long or short a story is, if it is really tight, and Johnene doesn't see a clear way to remove at least 150 more words for the amount of print space available, and if necessary, "augment" the piece, it will never sell. I believe that is what she means when she writes on the rejection, "This didn't work for me." Or she couldn't work it.

I guess I am going to have to learn to write loose. But in 800 words???

Tamara said...

I have interpreted "It doesn't work for me" as "I have one this week that I like better" or "I really didn't like this one so much," not related to word count, but I do think she'll tweak it whether it needs it or not.

Kate Willoughby said...

I agree with Tamara. I think that when she says it didn't work for her, that she didn't like it for one reason or another. I think that if a story is solid and good, she'll buy it. She's an editor! Fixing the stories so they fit are her job. If it needs to be fixed, I think she can and will fix it.

That's just my two cents. :)

Mary Jo said...

I can write flash fiction of 50 words. I wish WW would let me write a story of the length that fits their print space. I honestly don't understand their policy of asking for so much more than they can ever use.

Are too many stories so badly written they include extraneous material that just cries to be cut out?

Another 150 words is a lot to take out of a story that is already tight. In some cases, Johnene may not find it worth the trouble. After all, there are hundreds of other stories for her to choose from, and I am sure she doesn't have time to waste. It is a buyer's market as it is the only market.

I have to wonder, have other editors worked this way with you in the past?

Tamara said...

Mary Jo (and all who are interested), I don't understand the request for 800 and using fewer either, but I still think it's more content than word count. I have not seen this discrepancy in other places where I've been published, but editors have left out important sentences (that made the rest not flow), once omitted elipsis marks (that changed the meaning), and repeated the same phrase in two consecutive sentences (which I am careful not to do). I wrote an essay on menopause that was pretty sassy, and it was accepted, but it was edited to a point of non-recognition. I was pretty unhappy, even with payment of $150. It was something I felt strongly about and thought it was pretty funny, too (if I do say so myself), so I wanted it left as I wrote it.

Kate Willoughby said...

Honestly, if the story isn't worth the trouble to edit, it isn't worth it, period. I used to edit for a small electronic press, and the stories I got sometimes were so badly written that it really WASN'T worth the trouble.

With my novellas, the editors don't have carte blanche. It's more of a back and forth process. But it's a whole different ball of wax. Those are books that are for sale continuously with royalties, vs. a story that is published once for a flat fee.

Tamara was the piece for WW? If so, I don't see much humor in the feature stories. That might be why they edited it out...

Tamara said...

Kate, if you mean the "Men-No-Pause and Other Mid-life Laments" (that was the name), no, WW would never publish something such as that. It was for the women's section of a major newspaper. It was an essay rather than a story, an opinion piece. And, I agree that a story has to be worth the edit; I bet they get some pretty bad ones from people who fancy themselves writers who are really not, and they probably know after reading one paragraph.

Nell Musolf said...

A long time ago, WW had a weekly humor column called "That's Life!" I sold my very first piece ever to them back in (gulp) 1990. Tamara--what was the newspaper your essay appeared in? I loved to read it!

Tamara said...

Neil, it was the Chicago Tribune, but I'd rather send you my original version, if that were possible. Is it permissible to exchange email addresses on this blog? I don't want to take advantage of Kate.

Kate Willoughby said...

I've never been published in a newspaper. That must be fun!

Nell Musolf said...

I would love to see the original, Tamara! Kate, are you OK with us swapping email addresses? My email is on my blog http://schuylersquaredailydrama.blogspot.com/

Tamara said...

Yes, Kate, it was my second one in that newspaper. I think they might have elimiated the woman's section, which is another venue for freelancers drying up--a paying one at that. I could get Nell's email address from her blog address, which is already on here and send her the essay she would like to read. I will wait for your okay before I send it, though. I realize your purpose here is to discuss WW stories, so I don't want to be out of bounds.

Kate Willoughby said...

I have no problem with it, ladies. :)

Tamara said...

Thanks, Kate. I'm always happy for an opportunity to show off my writing :).