Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Same Time Next Year

by Karen Leet from the September 23, 2013 issue

Tagline: Years had passed since Kim and Josh's first meeting. But in the same old booth in the same old diner, it felt like yesterday.

In a Nutshell: Kim and Josh, best friends, have met every year on the same day to commemorate the day they met, among other things. They relive the event over dinner, then return to their normal lives. As husband and wife.

Observations: In theory, this is a cute idea. It's different. We see so many first meet stories and it's a nice change of pace to read about a couple already established. However to be honest, I got tired of them relating information back to each other, information that they clearly both remembered. I would have dialed down the sentimentality a bit had I been the editor.

Sometimes in movies or TV shows, they have characters deliver expositional material through clumsy dialogue for the sole purpose of imparting this crucial information to the audience.

"As you know, Julie, our father was sent to prison for armed robbery and is up for parole next month."

That type of thing. Unfortunately, this is what this whole story felt like to me. I was fine with it until about a third of the way in. After that it felt forced. The fact that they were and are best friends is unnecessarily reiterated. To me, they were that annoying but well-meaning couple who think everyone else is as interested in their romantic history as they are.

I think it would have been much smoother if we had gone into either one of their heads and relived the events that way instead of them relaying the information in conversation. I would like to have seen them think about what their expectations were way back then and what had transpired since then, where they think they're going in the next few years. Perhaps they might even touch on the fact that although they made some mistakes along the way and the road was not always smooth, that they wouldn't change a thing. I think that might have made the story seem more realistic and down to earth.

However, as I have not said in quite a while, this is only my opinion. Clearly, the editors at Woman's World felt it was a solid story.

15 comments:

Pat said...

As reader I thought this story was cute and I enjoyed it. As a writer, and after reading your post, I tend to agree with you. As much as I enjoyed the story something bothered me but I couldn't put my finger on it, now I know why.

Jacqueline Sinard said...

I agree that it was a different kind of story than we usually see and that alone makes it stand out in my mind. Their background could have been delivered without the clunky dialogue but remembering the 800 word maximum, I could understand if the author tried to squeeze in as much detail as possible.

majbooks said...

Kate,
I totally agree with you. I said to myself, "What?" after reading this. It is just a descriptive passage, with two people saying things back and forth to each other that they obviously say every year to each other, and to me, that was boring. Now if they had a conflict and were separated for awhile and had made it back to each other, or, if we don't realize they are a married couple, but we know that from the start...I don't know. To me, it didn't tell much of a story, which is the most difficult part of writing the 800 word romances, and the fun in reading these short stories. I thought the writing was fine, sentimental, even sweet, but it just didn't do it for me.
--Mary Ann

Chris said...

I also liked the story, even though it was obvious where it was going, but all the 'do you remembers' did grate a bit. I agree it would have been nice to know the specifics of the trials and tribulations of their marriage and how it had brought them closer together but everyone tells me that's a complete no-no with WW. We all know it's unrealistic for everything to be so trouble-free but if that's the remit we'd be daft to ignore it.

Mary Jo said...

I read this story a couple of weeks ago, so maybe I don't remember it too well. However, I recall feeling very left out of what was being rehashed by this couple. As if I were sitting at the next table and hearing bits and pieces of their conversation, but never getting a sense of what state their relationship was in at that time. And not really caring.

Janice Johnston said...

I really enjoy your website and check it regularly. I would like to send some pieces to Woman's World but I stay in Scotland.
My sister-in-law and family are in the States at the moment so I could ask her to buy some stamps for me.
Can somebody tell me what the postage will be when sending an A4 size envelope back to Scotland? I'm sure this has been discussed before but I can't find the info.
Thanks in advance.
Janice

Chris said...

Hi Janice, good to have another UK writer around. I did a swap of stamps with one of the WW lady writers a few months ago and she sent me some American ones that are called 'global'. They were only introduced this year, but make things so much easier. Here's the link which gives you the details of how much they are and what they cover. https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?productId=S_578804&categoryId=subcatS_S_Sheets

I wouldn't suggest enclosing an A4 envelope for the reply, though, just a long white business-type envelope would be fine. They don't return your story, it'll just be their letter and maybe a contract if you're lucky!

I just checked out your website and see that you are also a writer for My Weekly, Best, Woman's Weekly, Fast Fiction, etc. I sometimes think we don't know how lucky we are with all the markets we have available to us. It's only through chatting to other writers here that I've come to learn how few outlets there are for women's fiction in America.

Kate Willoughby said...

I don't think it's a no no to mention that a couple has been through some rough patches, as long as you don't belabor it. I've seen stories where the couple is on the rocks, and their anniversary comes and they find themselves resolving to start fresh, turn a new leaf, etc.

Jody E. Lebel said...

I let my mom borrow that week's edition and I never got it back. That will teach me to read the mystery and romance BEFORE I let the issue go out the door.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris thoughtfully sent me the story. I liked the ending. It did surprise me. But there was waaayy too much 'do you remember' and 'my best friend' stuff. It was over the top. High-schoolish. Almost gaggingly sweet. If the story had been longer, I would have drifted off in the middle and never finished it.

Betsi said...

Kate, I agree. Remember the one where the couple was so close to divorcing they were selling their house and having a garage sale? The story emphasized their tender feelings toward each other on the day of the sale (better late than never!) but didn't go into detail about why they were splitting up.

This story started in the woman's POV, then switched to omniscient for the rest of the story -- I think so as not so spoil the "surprise," which wasn't a surprise to me at all. I can see why WW bought it, I'm sure the readers -- who don't nit-pick like writers do -- found it very sweet and wished their husbands were like this hero!

Janice Johnston said...

Thanks for your help, Chris!

Chris said...

Janice, I'm interested to know whether your Best acceptances were in the post-Pat Richardson era, or back in the day when she was fiction ed. I used to have a regular take-up of work there, but then Pat retired and they dropped fiction for a few years. Now I can't get a story past them (or even a response to a query) for love nor money. Have you got the magic touch?

Kate Willoughby said...

Betsi, I remember that story but I sort of didn't buy the reconciliation. I may be jaded though. My parents divorced when I was 13.

Betsi said...

Kate, I was using that as an example of a married couple story that DID show the couple had gone through a rough patch. Somebody had said they thought "conflict" wasn't allowed. I didn't care for that story at all, though. Divorced myself, I know that if you've gotten to the point where your house is for sale, it's a bit late to turn things around because of one tender moment!