Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Garage Sale

by Sheila Cronin from the October 15, 2012 issue

Tagline: Doug and LeAnne discovered that, sometimes, getting rid of old memories opens the door to new beginnings...

In a Nutshell: Doug and LeAnne's marriage is crumbling. They hold a garage sale to get rid of their stuff. They each foil a possible sale because the item was one that was important to the other and realize maybe they can work things out after all.

Observations: This is a plot that you don't see often in Woman's World--the troubled marriage story. I think it's because this is difficult to pull off. Perhaps it's personal though. My parents divorced and it deeply affected me. I had harbored hopes for a long time that they would get back together, but they never did. As a result, I think I'm more cynical about this type of story.

I didn't quite believe that Doug and LeAnne were going to succeed. LeAnne seemed negative to me. When someone buys the clock, she mutters "Good riddance." Then when she sees Doug chatting with customers, she thinks, "When had he last paid her any real attention?" Doug seemed a little snippy when he said, "I need some help over here."

True, the author showed LeAnne refusing to sell the painting that was special to Doug. That was a nice gesture. In the same vein, the hero sold the boom box because of the look of pain on LeAnne's face, but in my opinion, the look of pain was because of the music, not the box. Lastly, the couple have a moment agreeing that they always shared the same taste. Hm. Sharing taste is not the basis for a strong marriage. I realize that this is only the catalyst that makes them realize they should give it another go, but, cynical me, I thought it a bit weak.

I also thought the ending felt tacked on. A good inch and a half of space was dedicated to the exchange between their neighbors.

But again, I can be a tough audience with these types of stories, and obviously Woman's World liked it enough to publish it.

Photo by Eastlaketimes (cc)


Betsi said...

Kate, I totally agree with this assessment, and was disappointed that WW chose to publish this story. (I hope the author isn't reading this!) They've already decided to divorce, and that's all it took to change their minds? Sorry, I don't see it. And I agree that going into the neighbors' POV at the end was unnecessary, and even intrusive.

Mary Jo said...

If Sheila Cronin is one of your readers, Kate, I think she is going to get some very mixed messages from the rating box. I would like to hear from those who indicated that they loved this story because I really do not get where they are coming from. I think your analysis pretty much told it all.

I was turned off from the first paragraph. This is supposed to be a page devoted to romance. With paragraph one, it seems this couple broke up because they couldn't have any children. Well, that never changed, did it.

This is a 700 word story, and I do not see any excuse in such a short piece for changing point of view three or four times, even to the extent of turning the story over to the neighbors at the ending.

There are hundreds of writers competing for the 52 slots available in WW each year, and this story seems an unusual editorial choice. Are the editors still looking for the same old, same old, or do they want something entirely different. I am flummoxed.

Jane Smith Sibley said...

I haven't had a chance to see the story, but this is one of a few lately in which you've highlighted something different, Kate.

One had a "villain." This one was a not-divorce story. Perhaps the editors were ready for something besides a meet-cute (or meet-cute with history) and hoped their readers were too.

Though the story length doesn't lend itself to a whole lot more than one meeting!

When I pass a news stand and see all the magazines that *don't* publish short fiction, I'm just so grateful that WW does!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

Sorry to bother you with a writing question (and hope this isn't a silly one) but when you submit stories to WW, is it okay to print out your story on both sides of paper, or preferably only one-sided printing? (Hope this question makes sense!)

Also, I know it's preferred to use paper clips opposed to staples, a 9 x 12 envelope, and font that is easy for the editors to read, but do you have any other suggestions? I know you would be the one to ask :)

Also, have you posted your story about Mr. Darcy yet? Would love to read it!

Thanks :)

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

Thanks for your help Kate :)

Very much appreciate it!


Mary Jo said...

Kate, I clicked on your reference to Bauer Publishing, looking for recent guidelines for Nicole; however, I got an ERROR screen, saying the page wasn't found. Twice.

Jane, I am writing a letter to all the major American magazines for women, asking them to begin publishing illustrated short fiction. Well, it can't hurt. I keep getting subscription offers that are so cheap, it tells me they can hardly give those magazines away now. It was many decades ago that they suddenly stopped publishing any fiction. High time they included short stories in their pages again.

Pat said...

I have to say that I was thrilled with this story. I was glad the couple got back together but I found it unbelievable when they were that far ahead with the divorce. My daughter is in the process so I understand that if the couple were having a garage sale all the paperwork was signed and sealed so the story just didn't work for me. But I guess WW and the author have hope that I don't in that situation.

Honestly, I have to go back and look because I never noticed the POV switches, so thanks for pointing that out. Can you tell I'm a Nora Roberts fan? I have to admit that I have notice a few POV switches in the past with WW, but it doesn't happen often.

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

Oh, and my comment should have read, I wasn't thrilled with this story. I just saw that now.

I think it's the first time I ever voted "Meh" in your poll.

Kate Willoughby said...

Mary Jo, I fixed the link to Bauer Publishing. Thanks for the heads up!

Yeah, Pat, when I read a Nora book, I have to get used to her POV changes. It doesn't usually take me long. She does it smoothly, but 90% of the books I read nowadays put breaks between POV changes. Personally, I think it's lazy writing that a couple of my publishers insist on in their style guides.