Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Puzzling Romance

by Veda Boyd Jones from the June 25, 2012 issue

Tagline: If asked, could Heather and Ted find the words to describe their instant and mutual attraction? Probably!

In a Nutshell: Heather is minding her own business, working the crossword during lunch. The man who constructed the crossword happens to sit next to her. They talk and connect. Using crossword lingo, he asks her out to dinner.

Observations: I love crossword puzzles. Using them as a device to get a couple talking was something I haven't seen before in a Woman's World story.

This was one of those stories that took place all in one scene. You get some backstory for Heather, the hero shows up, and the events unfold to the conclusion with no transitions or passages of time. This gives the reader a chance to really see the couple interacting.

I also noticed a pretty long description of Ted.

...when a man about her age, late thirties, stopped by the bench. He wore khakis and an oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up, obviously ready to enjoy the sunshine, too. Laugh lines around his eyes gave him a good-natured look, even before he smiled at her.

How nice to have that luxury. Perhaps the lack of scene changes allowed some extra wiggle room.


Mary Jo said...

I say hurray and congratulations to any writer who gets a story published on WW/s Romance/Mystery pages. It's like winning the state lottery, considering the numbers!

I just got the July 23rd issue, so here I am again ahead of the blog, Kate. Emma Courtice has a neat little mystery in the issue, and I really liked Nancy Johnson's romance, Unlock My Heart, even though I have a prejudice against present tense stories.

Tamara said...

I find myself writing a lot in present tense. As for the puzzle story, I am working on one right now that is going to occur all in one place, or one scene, like this one. I may get the luxury of a few long descriptions.

Tamara said...

And, by the way, Veda, nice story.

Kathye said...

I really enjoyed this story. It was well written and I loved how the puzzle was used. I agree, Kate. I think the single scene gives the author more "wiggle room".

Mary Jo said...

I appreciate stories that make use of an interesting device, such as the puzzle, and present us with a new and unusual twist. I don't want to read the same story over and over again. In my first college writing course, the teacher was pessimistic about the limitations of space and time. I said, "No, you can go anywhere in the world from a park bench."

I have written WW stories that cover ten minutes in one case and ten weeks in another. I do not consider that there is any wiggle room. Every word needs to count and writers who diddle in extraneous material simply invite the editor to cut it out.

Kate Willoughby said...

I'm not a fan of present tense myself, although I don't hate it as much as I used to.

I can see your point, Mary Jo. Wiggle room is, like I said, a luxury, but it does exist, at least for me. Sometimes, I will actually write a story that comes up short. That's when, oh happy day, I have room to wiggle. :D

Mary Jo said...

Does the wiggle stay in the published story?

I got a rejection from Johnene today. Evidently Patricia got the idea of the story, but Johnene was "confused". It was the story with the guy who had such an awful last name, the girl had a hard time with it. On purpose, I never mentioned the actual name. Johnene wanted to know what it was, so I sent her an email. It may satisfy her curiosity, but it won't make her buy it.

Tamara said...

I once wrote a fiction piece in which the protagonist had no name. I thought it was more interesting that way. Sorry about the rejection, Mary Jo. I often wonder whether, when one editor rejects a story, the other one might have liked it. (Not that we can ever know, of course.)

Mary Jo said...

Tamara, if Patricia didn't like a story, she wouldn't send it on to Johnene. At least, that is my belief. I sometimes wonder if the editor is so restricted by her guidelines, she cannot accept anything that attempts to go beyond them. If she did, the publishers might tell her to take a hike. I cannot help pushing for a little change, though. That is just my way.

I still think Kate's basic tenet-- write an upbeat story with a "hero" your reader can fall in love with--is the best pattern to follow.

Tamara said...

Yes, I'm aware that Patty doesn't send on the ones she doesn't like, but I sometimes wonder whether a story rejected by Patty would make it if Johnene saw it first (no way to know, just idle curiousity). As for Kate's advice about the hero, she's right. Jimmy Meiss told me once that she rejected a romance I wrote because she wouldn't want to recommend the man in my story to their female readers. (Meiss was willing to chat on the phone and give this sort of feedback.)

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, I have no idea if the wiggle stays. By the time the stories are published, I can't remember if that was story that came in short. My memory's not that good anymore! LOL And I'm sorry about the rejection. I think that the missing name would have been great, like the end of the Inception movie.

Tamara, yeah, there's no way to know if Patricia filters out stories that might otherwise have passed muster. It's one of those questions that will never be answered. :)