Monday, April 8, 2013


by Anna Jo Christopher from the April 8, 2013 issue

Tagline: Keith moved back to Pine Valley for a fresh start--and gave his old romance with Allison a fresh start too...

In a Nutshell: Widower Keith has moved back to his hometown with his young daughter. Allison's daughter is the same age and they are getting along famously. Allison hasn't dated much since her divorce two years ago, but she remembers Keith from when they were kids and likes him. When she overhears the two girls talking about Keith and a "Miss Reed," Allison fears he's interested in someone else, but Miss Reed is a spinster neighbor. Keith asks Allison out.

Observations: In my opinion, the story from last week had too many characters and I thought the story would have been easier to follow if it had only been one friend, not three. This week, the story has a lot of characters, too, but they all play an integral part. The two daughters have to be in the story because they present the reason why Keith and Allison are spending time together. Allison's mom is there to provide some backstory on Allison and to nudge her along her character arc. So, when writing a story with a largish cast, make sure the characters are necessary.

I experienced a little bump where a better transition was needed here:

     Keith was such a great father, [sic] and a really good guy. "That sounds like fun," she said. "Mandy and I will bring dessert."
     "Of course I remember Keith," Allison's mother said on the phone. "Didn't his family move away when you were in high school?

There is a scene change here, but because Woman's World doesn't do line breaks, it's not immediately apparent. Keep this in mind, also. Here's what might have been an easy fix:

  Keith was such a great father, [sic] and a really good guy. "That sounds like fun," she said. "Mandy and I will bring dessert."
     The next day, Allison told her mother Keith was back in town.
     "Of course I remember Keith," Allison's mother said on the phone. "Didn't his family move away when you were in high school?

Despite that, I thought the story was darling.

Photo: Denise Mayumi (cc)


Tamara said...

Good editorial idea, Kate. Back when the stories were 1,500 words, WW did breaks, but they were in strange places. I guess with the dwindling space, they've cut them out in the romances (they're still in the mysteries, but also in illogical places). I put them in my stories, but they're never honored. This was a nice story. Speaking of stories, I hope you got yours done up and submitted, Kate.

Chris said...

Thanks to Betsi sending me the scanned story last week (thanks again, Betsi) I was able to read this one. I agree about that break you tripped up on, Kate, it did take a moment to realise it was a scene change, but I'm guessing it was more to do with space limitations of the magazine than the way Anna Jo wrote it. Maybe they should put a couple of asterisks in, or a little heart or something, to denote that. Judging by what's said by so many authors here, we can't be sure what's down to the writer and what's the work of the editor. I enjoyed the story but felt the last line could have been ditched. 'They both laughed' stuck out like a sore thumb for me and I'd have been happier to see it finish on Keith's 'Know any good babysitters?' line.

I agree about the need for every character to earn their place, especially when words are as tight as they are with WW. There's no room for extras. Make 'em work for you or give 'em the old heave-ho!

Kate Willoughby said...

Tamara, yes, I submitted the book to Carina on Sunday night, around 10 p.m. I was mentally exhausted, and the next day at work my back was killing me, probably because when I wasn't at work, I spent every waking minute from Thursday until Sunday in my chair at the computer!

Chris, now that you mention it, I agree about that last line. I find that in my own writing, when ending a chapter, oftentimes I write just a little too much, and if I go back a few lines, there's usually a much better place to end.

Tamara said...

Ditto on the last line. Maybe editor's invention? And, good for you, Kate. Your industriousness is impressive.

Mary Jo said...

Well, Phoo! Here's another issue that did not make it to my mailbox. I am getting tired of this. Did the address label peel off? Anyway, I did receive the next couple of issues, so at least they didn't cut off my subscription this time.

As for transitions, especially in this very short form, I always write a scene changing phrase. Now, if only Johnene would buy another story from me.

Kate, I hope the Carina contract works out for you. Take care of your back.