Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Fifth Wheel

by Tamara Shaffer from the September 1, 2014 issue

Tagline
It looked like Julie's summer was going to end on a romantic note!

In a Nutshell
Sandra goes to the carnival with two couples. A handsome dude rear-ends her on the bumper cars. Later they ride a roller coaster together. The ferris wheel is their last ride...or is it?

Observations
The carnival is the type of setting that Woman's World loves. It can be romantic and it has that old-timey Americana feel to it.

Sandra skated the line for me because she started out so negative. Five paragraphs of a bummer attitude. But then, in the sixth paragraph, Sandra turned herself around. If I were a beginning writer, I'd be wary of doing this type of thing in a Woman's World story. They aren't keen on negativity.

This was an average story for me, nothing particularly special made it stand out.

Photo credit: Solipsist via Wikimedia Commons

24 comments:

Pat said...

I thought this story was kind of cute and didn't even notice all the negativity. I thought was a good setup for the characters. I can't say I loved it, but I did like it.

Edeltraud said...

A little OT, but maybe you all can help me understand a few things as I'm new to this genre.
In most of these taglines and in the stories, I see that the male character is handsome. To me, this doesn't equate too well with the Beta or Beta-plus rule.
Not doubt I'm in the minority, but handsome just means a pain in the tush to me. I do not care for handsome (My husband hates it when I say this.) To me, it'd mean more if the man were attractive to a specific woman due to some kind of characteristic she liked. (And I realized these men are suppose to have attractive traits, like nice to dogs and kids etc.)
It seems as if a regular guy-guy would be more attainable than some good looking dude. Am I missing something, like the story is really saying in the eye of the beholder this guy is handsome?
The other thing (!) is there are several meeting a doctor storylines. But I thought the idea was to be more about just folks --- doctors rarely fit that category and I know hardly anyone who has dated a doc and I know quite a few nurses. (I did date one once, but he was like 100 years old and had bad teeth - go figure.)
Can you help me with this paradox of down to earth versus handsome doctors?

Tamara said...

Edeltraud, I think WW is open to writers describing characteristics that might make a man appealing to a specific woman, such as a slight irregularity in his smile or a cowlick, etc., and that would certainly be more realistic and interesting, but with the short word count, "handsome" is sometimes expedient.

Edeltraud said...

Thanks Tamara, that makes sense - I'll try not to balk at handsome (it's not all THAT bad lol.)

Chris said...

I'm with you, Edeltraud, I think 'handsome' is mostly boring. Much prefer a face that's got a bit of character to it, but WW just doesn't seem to go for that type. I've even heard from some writers who've sold to WW that their description of an interesting face was changed by the editor to just handsome, so you can't get anything new past them even if you try.

I liked this story and didn't mind the slightly negative set up. Without that, you don't get the change of fortune for the main character, and that's always the rewarding part for me, the fact that her future will be brighter after meeting this new man.

Betsi said...

I don't have a problem with the men being "handsome" because they're written from the heroine's POV. I think it just means SHE finds him attractive--which is, after all, essential to the story--not that he's a ringer for Brad Pitt.

And I can only remember two stories (Mary Jo wrote one of them, Tina Radcliffe) the other that featured doctors, in many years of reading the romances.

Sheila Cronin said...

I really enjoyed this story. It flowed and made me want a happy ending. The writer knows her audience and packs in details and action despite the word limit. I look forward to more of her stories!

Mary Ann said...

I agree with Betsi, I don't remember too many stories lately involving doctors. Were you reading really old stories Edeltraud? I do remember, when I was first introduced to WW writing, there were a few "no-no's" that were listed somewhere, as to what NOT to submit to WW. One that was listed was don't write about women falling for their doctors or veterinarians. I guess they had had a glut of those. Another said, Never tell the story from the point of view of an animal. Then someone got one in that was about a car telling the story. Another hint was, "No horse stories." But I sent in one about people meeting at a dude ranch, and they bought it. So, I guess there are some rules to always follow, for instance, No violence. But once in awhile they make exceptions to what they seem to "always" use.

As for the heroes always being "handsome" I agree that this seems to come up quite frequently and it is sometimes the editor's choice. When I send in a story I often don't include any descriptions or just something about their eyes or smile. Not enough words to say that much and I agree, personality is more important!

Edeltraud said...

I'd say, yes, most of those stories were a couple-three years old. There is one from March 31, 2014 that has a "handsome doctor'!
No horses! Oh,no. I guess that stallion metaphor is too much for WW : )

Mary Ann said...

@ Edeltraud: LOL! yes, it's more of a Hallmark kind of love story in WW. @Tamara, I thought your story was perfect for WW--like Kate mentioned, old-timey Americana setting, and a woman that "meets" someone in a cute way is really what they look for!

Betsi said...

I don't believe I've ever used the actual word "handsome." But I just read the current story, and the author uses it twice. Like Mary Ann, I prefer to mention some particular trait -- dimples, thick eyelashes, etc., that the heroine notices.

Kate Willoughby said...

Handsome doesn't bother me.

I disagree that you shouldn't try to use something other than "handsome" if you don't think that word fits your story.

I agree with Mary Ann about the "rules." Some are hard and fast--no harming animals. Others, like "no doctor heroes"... not so much.

I did like the story. I just didn't LOVE it. :)

Tamara said...

Kate, isn't that like, "I think you're wonderful, and I hope we'll always be friends"? LOL
Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

Mary Jo said...

Tamara Shaffer, I cannot imagine anything worse than going out socially as a single woman with two other couples. Even one couple would be bad enough. Whatever gave you the idea anyway?

Betsi,I had almost forgotten, but yes I did get a romance published in WW a couple of years ago that had a doctor for the love interest. But that is just because I worked in the medical field for years and the men were doctors (so were some of the women). I just think of them as regular guys. They are not particularly marriageable, though.

I think the word "handsome" in WW stories is so cliche, I laugh every time I see it. Oh, yeah, there goes another one. The men I write about are usually "great looking", but I don't think you will ever see that in a WW romance. However, I have a story in the WW shop at the moment where I describe the man as "knockout handsome in his tux". If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Just an aside: Many of the comments in this blog use initials for words, and I have no clue what they mean. I think that some would not use the actual words here.

Tamara said...

I'm single, and I've gone out with my married friends, so I didn't think too much of it, and she had to be single to meet that "handsome" man in the bumper cars. I can't even say what gave me the idea for this story, though; it just somehow occurred to me.

Betsi said...

Mary Jo, I see that the acronyms "OT" (off topic) and "LOL" (laughing out loud, to indicate you shouldn't take the comment too seriously) have been used here. And I'm sure you know "POV." Did I miss any you were wondering about?

Mary Jo said...

Hi Betsi, actually OT was not in my vocabulary. People use so many abbreviations on their phones now, it is a wonder anyone can remember how to spell anything. I have seen LMAO in Kate's blog, and while I can guess at what it means, I doubt anyone would use the actual words here. Thanks for the update, though. By the way, I read your overseas story. Lovely.

Betsi said...

Ha, Mary Jo, I'm sure you've guessed "LMAO" correctly--but some people use the milder "LMBO." One of my daughters can't write anything without adding "LOL," and it makes me bonkers.

Thanks for the compliment on the People's Friend story. I wish I knew what the English readers thought of it!

Kate Willoughby said...

Tamara, I guess it is. No hard feelings, I hope. Heck, I'VE had stories in WW that I didn't love myself!

I don't think going out to a carnival with a couple or two is that big a deal. If you're all friends, it would be fine. It really depends on the people. If they're going to act all lovey-dovey, then hell no. If we all interact as a group, then okay.

Tamara said...

I meant that as a joke. Didn't mind your critique at all.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@Tamara. With all the new 3D animated rides that are so popular at the amusement parks now it made me smile when you talked about Tilt-a-Whirls and the Round Up. I think a lot of readers are of the age where they like the nostalgia. We also like a guy who likes kids and treats his sister well. All kinds of 'hits' on this story. And the best? They didn't end up going out to dinner. :)

Tamara said...

Oops, didn't know about the new animated rides -- I haven't been to an amusemenet park in a long time, and I am "of the age" myself -- I'll be 74 Thursday. I looked up the long-defunct Riverview Park here in Chicago to confirm the name of the Round Up; maybe I should have looked at Great America or some current one, although WW does have older readers. I don't know how many people have told me, "My mother loves that magazine." Alas, the story I'm waiting a verdict on has a dinner invitation. Thanks for your comments.

Chris said...

Happy birthday for Thursday, Tamara. What a good present you got! A story in WW, and a nice fat cheque to look forward to.

Tamara said...

Thank you, Chris. Still awaiting a verdict on my "Beauty and the Geek" and I think it's lost.