Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Missed Bus

by Sheila Llanas from the October 1, 2012 issue

Tagline: When he missed the bus, Drew's evening commute took an unexpectedly romantic turn...

In a Nutshell: Drew falls while running to catch his bus. A pretty woman helps him up. Neither of them catch their bus because they go out to dinner together.

Observations: It's really funny how many times I'm surprised by the mundanity, yet freshness, of a premise. Hello. I see buses all the time. Have I ever thought about writing a WW story about someone who misses their bus? NO. Llanas did, and she did a good job.

I loved Drew's reaction when he saw the woman:

     Was he imagining this beautiful woman?

I laughed, thinking he really did fall hard.

I laughed again, harder, at this:

     "Nice to meet you," he said. "Do you work around here? I must've looked like a klutz."
     "Yes," she said.
     "Yes, what?"
     "Yes, you did look like a klutz."

I also liked seeing how Drew started out slow, but gradually got himself together enough to ask her out. At first he's dazed. Then he's flustered and can't think of what to say. Then, he realizes he'd better get his butt in gear because she's leaving.

I also thought this story was a little subtler in bringing back a phrase than "Out of the Blue," in which I thought the phrase/idea "dropped into her life" was used one too many times. Here, we have the falling hard idea mentioned at the beginning, but with slightly different wording.

Half a block from the stop, he dodged a dog-walker, snagged his foot, and hit the cement hard, landing in a heap.

At the end of the story, which was super-cute, we see this.

     Melissa tucked her arm through his. "If they notice [your pants], we'll just tell them you fell hard."
     Drew looked into Melissa's pretty hazel eyes. "Yes," he said. "I certainly did."

It's a tiny bit forced. I don't really see someone telling the restaurant host, "He fell hard." They'd probably say, "He fell." But, I was willing to let that go.

Photo by MrMPD (cc)


Mary Jo said...

Kate, this is one story I remembered even though I read it a couple of weeks ago. I loved it. This guy was going home to an empty apartment. I think he was beyond the age of partying with his buddies. That a really nice (and pretty) girl stopped to give him a hand says so much for the kind of person she is. Someone he will be lucky to have a future with, and I am cheering for both of them. Good job, Sheila.

Pat said...

I agree with you Mary Jo. I loved this story and felt bad for him having been in a couple of embarassing falls.

I also thought like you did, Kate. It never occurred to be to right a missed-the-bus story.

I loved the characters and the oh-so-ordinary sitution.

Elizabeth Erlandson said...

Hi Kate,

I am so glad I found your site. Years ago I wrote for WW when my children were very young. Then I went on and became a direct mail/fundraising specialist and developed my current business. I've harbored the desire to write a romance for WW for years but have been intimidated by the format. The stories read easy but what a challenge to write. Anyway, I love your analysis and hope to take your workshop one of these days. Best wishes. Elizabeth Erlandson (aka The Licorice Lady).

Anonymous said...

Dear Kate,
Thank you for your review! For learning purposes (the point of your blog!) I'll say that the editors wrote the last lines. My ending was something like -- "Is your pride still smarting?" she asked. "Nope. I've never been so glad to wipe out in public in my life," he replied. Now I see my ending was a bit crass. I am THRILLED the editors were willing to work with the story. I never even thought of "falling." I was focused on "missing" -- if he'd made the bus, he would have missed the girl. I saw this happen once, a man tripped over his briefcase running for the bus and a crowd of people rushed to help him. Never forgot it. By the way, I presented about writing for WW at my local RWA meeting recently and mentioned your blog. You have a few more readers, I hope. Thanks again. Best, Sheila Llanas

Kate Willoughby said...

Pat, the ordinary situation is such a WW staple. Sometimes all it takes is some focused thought and the intention to find a WW premise. People might want to just take five to ten minutes and think about mundane settings and situations that might occur there and go from there.

Elizabeth, I'm glad you're here, too. :)

Welcome, Sheila! Oh, that's so interesting to find out the editors changed your ending. They did a good job, I think. What RWA chapter do you belong to?

Anonymous said...

I agree, Kate! The editors did a great job. I can't wait to write a new story. They are so fun to write. Best, Sheila