Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Love on Laurel Lane

by Terry O'Brien from the April 7, 2014 issue

Tagline: Ellen had already fallen in love with her new house when she met her new neighbor...and fell in love all over again!

In a Nutshell: Ellen moves with her two daughters to a small town for a new start after her divorce. Next door is a divorced man with two daughters.

Stream of Consciousness Observations: First paragraph, I like the setting--it sounds exactly like the type of small town Woman's World adores. Me too, for that matter. Plus, we get a quick backstory for the heroine. However, I have to say, if she's "recently" divorced, she may not be in the best shape for finding love right off the bat.

All right, I'm fairly deep into the story. I'm glad to have read that "The following weeks were busy ones," because this makes it more plausible. Scratch the previous comment. :)

And I'm done. Nicely written. My worries were unjustified. O'Brien did a fine job of convincing me that they were on the path to an HEA. She summarized their courtship, which was necessary because this is an 800 word story, not a novella. I haven't said this recently, but with Woman's World stories, you often have to "tell, don't show," which is the opposite of what you so often hear.

Also--and this is not to knock "Love on Laurel Lane," but in general, I find it unrealistic to show the kids of divorced parents to be so gung-ho about a) their parent finding a new partner or b) moving to a new place (especially if it's pulling them away from all their friends. I lived through my parents divorcing and it sucks. You never stop wishing your parents will get back together. Acceptance eventually comes, but the devastation is never forgotten.

Photo credit: Fae via Wikimedia Commons

OOPS: I skipped an issue. I'll critique "Second Chance at Love" next time.


Pat said...

Great insight, Kate. I wouldn't have thought about the divorce situation with the kids, etc.

The author did a wonderful job of suspending my disbelief.

I do often wonder about people moving next door to the new love, what happens to the two houses or are they renters?

Tamara said...

What I noticed about this story was its lack of any twist and turn, just a plain, direct progression toward a relationship. I would have been afraid to submit this story; I often agonize about my stories being too uneventful.

Chris said...

I really enjoyed the beginning of this story, the set-up and introduction of the main characters. There was a warmth to it that pulled me in. Unfortunately it didn't carry through. It's a small thing maybe but the repetition of the phrase 'little girls' four times within a short stretch of story grated on me. Then later, 'another dinner date, then another, and then another...' One dinner's fine but a ball game, a movie, or bowling with the kids would have painted a much more vivid picture of the two families coming together.

And, unlike Kate, I didn't go for the folksy way of fast-forwarding things from about three-quarters of the way through. Ellen and Brent's entire conversation was limited to a chat on the driveway the day she arrived and his thanks for an apple pie the next day. That was it. Other than the fact that she notices he's handsome (like all WW men), I saw little to hint at a romance - certainly not from him. Those last 180 or so words of telling us what happened next could have been used to show us Brent and Ellen's growing attraction, rather than wrapping everything up in this, 'they all lived happily ever after' way. For me, that strong opening was spoiled by a weak ending.

Betsi said...

I strongly agree with Chris. Some degree of "telling" may be necessary in these short-shorts, but I felt it was carried way too far in this one.

There was too much "happy" and not enough story for me.

Kate Willoughby said...

I just wanted to say how happy I am to see people aren't afraid to give dissenting opinions. I love this. :)

Chris said...

It's a matter of balance, don't you think, Kate? Highlighting what works in a story but also what doesn't, without being venomous. What I always have to remember is that every story you review on this page was written by someone who SOLD to WW, which is something I haven't done. Yet :¬}

Betsi said...

Chris, I think we do tend to overlook that fact sometimes--we're here to figure out what WW WANTS. This story is very different in style (in my opinion) than what they usually publish. I don't think that means we should all start "telling" a neat little story that progresses from "first meet" to "happily ever after" in 800 words, but SOMETHING about it pleased the editors enough to pluck it out of that huge pile of submissions.

Pat said...

I, having never sold to WW, always look to see why WW purchased the story. It does amaze me when a story is all telling because in every workshop, class, etc., we are told not to do that. Sometimes I think it all comes down to a sweet story in a homey setting with characters were see everyday. Sounds easy...but we all know it is not.

Pat said...

Oops, that should be characters we see every day.

Mary Jo said...

We have to remember that there are only 52 issues a year, thus 52 little romances that make it into print. For every story that is published, hundreds more were refused. I don't think that means what was published was necessarily a better story, but just that it was the best fit for what the editors wanted/needed at that particular time.

Aren't these WW stories what are called cozies?

Pat said...

Mary Jo, cozies are usually mysteries. I'd call the this genre mini sweet romances.

Mary Jo said...

Oh, you're right, Pat. I am not much into mysteries.