Tuesday, July 17, 2012


by Elizabeth Palmer from the July 2, 2012 issue

Photo by bayasaa
Tagline: When Sara met Jack, she couldn't help hoping for an instant replay on a romantic old story...

In a Nutshell: Sara is interviewing an older woman about how she met her husband. She offers to enlarge the tiny photograph she has. When she delivers it, she is surprised to meet the grandson who is the spitting image of the man in the photo. They decide to go see the fireworks together.

Observations: I thought this story was very sweet. Again, Woman's World seems to like nostalgia and you really get that feeling here from the mention of the soldiers and the USO and Clark Gable (on whom I used to have a crush, even though he had been gone many years).

Something clever I wanted to point out was how the author lead you to believe that Helen was suffering perhaps from dementia when she said she saw John all the time, but then--surprise!--the grandson turns out to be John's spitting image. I love plot twists, and they're difficult to pull off in 800 words. I did happen to see the twist coming, but only because I've studied hundreds of these stories.

The part I liked best was the private exchange at the end between Helen, the old woman and Sara. 

See, when Helen met her husband, he asked her if she liked fireworks, and decades later when Sara meets the grandson, he asks the exact same thing. The two women look at each other knowingly, and you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Perfect.


majbooks said...

I, too, loved Betsi's story, Kate. It had a real "story" something that, you're right, Kate, in 800 words is difficult to pull off. There was a nice connecting element to it all and you actually had the feeling that you got to know the characters. I think that's the hardest part of these very short stories--you want to tell so much more about the people, little details, more in-depth descriptions, but there just isn't room to fit that all in. I think in this story, Betsi did that perfectly by picking and choosing the right details to pull you into the story, and it's very sweet.
--Mary Ann

Betsi said...

Thanks, Mary Ann -- and Kate! I have to say that Johnene did a great job with the editing on this one. I was trying to shrink a big idea down to WW size, and didn't want to let go of anything. She did a little cutting in the middle and improved the flow of the story.

Kate Willoughby said...

I actually love what editors do to my stuff. They see things we can't sometimes because we're too close to our stories.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,
I love this story idea since I'm a huge fan of nostalgia myself. Do you still teach your workshops? I tried sending you an email awhile back but didn't receive a reply. I would be interested in purchasing a workshop from you. Thanks so much!


Kate Willoughby said...

Jessica, I'm so sorry. Try again. I'll be on the lookout for it. kate underscore willoughby at yahoo dot com.

Kate Willoughby said...

Oh, never mind. I see the email. You sent it at 1:33 today. I just got home. Going to reply right now.