Thursday, January 29, 2015

Take Two!

by Tanya Michna from the January 12, 2015 issue

Melanie's first date with Jason Hargrove had been a disaster. Was there any point in giving it a second try?

In a Nutshell
Their first date sucked. They meet again in the office building where she works. He has a new job in that very same building. (What are the odds? LOL) He apologizes for being unsociable, but he'd just lost his job.

I thought this story was the perfect example of what you should be shooting for in a Woman's World romance. Parts of it were very Woman's World familiar, but there was a twist. That's really sort of the key--giving them the same thing, but different.

This was a blind date story (with a light dash of man-to-the-rescue), except the blind date happened in the past. Notice the flipped-on-its-ear story structure in which we get a lengthy flashback, told, not shown.

I have to admit, I was very curious to find out what happened during that disastrous date, and when I found out why he was so unsociable, I really felt for the guy.

Also, I've talked before about bookending your story with something at the beginning that you echo at the end. Usually it's the title. (This topic comes up in the Basics Class.) Here, it was her dislike of Thursdays.

Beginning: Thursdays were Melanie's least favorite day.

End: Perhaps Thursdays weren't so bad after all!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The First Kiss

by Karen M. Leet from the January 4, 2015 issue

Min's plans for a quiet New Year's Eve at home went up in smoke when she met her new neighbor, Joe!

In a Nutshell
The fire alarm goes off in Min's apartment. The building evacuates. One of her cats tries to get away and a new (of course!) neighbor captures it. They go out for coffee...until midnight.

This story encompassed a lot in 800 words and it's because of an almost ping-pong game of show and tell. Telling is a great way to fast forward the action so you can show the important parts, real time. Let me break down the story for you.

Tell: We get the backstory on Min. She's worked all day and is looking forward to a quiet NYE at home. She's single.

Show: A brief flashback scene with a co-worker shows she is a little tired of waiting for Mr. Right.

Tell: We transition to after dinner She's watched a movie and...

Show: The fire alarm goes off. This is a long scene that shows the evacuation, the almost disaster of the indoor cat running off, and Joe, the neighbor coming to the rescue. They meet and smile at each other.

Tell: There is a paragraph describing how they talk and laugh as the mystery of the fire is solved.

Show: We see Joe ask her out for coffee.

Tell: Transition paragraph that gets the cats back inside. Another paragraph summarizing two cups off coffee and a lot of conversation.

Show: We jump back into the present very briefly. Joe tells her he feels like he's known her forever and that she's easy to talk to.

Tell: Transition again to cover a third cup of coffee and the close approach of midnight.

Show: Boom, back in the present. Min alerts Joe to the time. They share a moment. Gazes meet. Hands touch. Lips brush against each other! Ta da!

So, we actually "live through" a lot of time passing through  the use of those transitions and those little bursts of "telling." Keep this in mind when you write your next story. It's not the only way to pace the story, but it is a good one.

Photo credit: By Nevit Dilmen (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Sweet Tooth

by Terry O'Brien from the January 19, 2015 issue

Natalie's life became a lot sweeter once Henry came back to town...

In a Nutshell
Natalie owns a chocolate and ice cream shop. An old flame walks in looking for a birthday gift for his sister. He confesses he had feelings for her back in high school.

This story is a textbook Old Flame story, like I describe in one of my "advanced" writing for Woman's World classes. I think the allure of these stories is that we all have memories of someone whom we admired from afar and it's fun to imagine that they had feelings for us too, but were too shy to say anything. It's sort of Cinderella retroactive in that of all the girls in high school, he noticed her. She stood out from the crowd. It also appeals because usually the guy thinks she was out of his league, and who among us wouldn't like to be considered out of someone's league?

I found myself hoping Henry was getting something for his sister besides truffles.

I enjoyed the marriage proposal "epilogue" at the end, but notice how our point of view drifts in and out. At the beginning, we are firmly in the narrator's pov, looking down upon Natalie's life. Then, we get much closer until we're inside Natalie's head, finding his dimples familiar and getting embarrassed about her babbling on. Near the end, we zoom out again for the last paragraph. It makes it feel a little like we've been sitting listening to a story, doesn't it?

Photo credit: By FASTILY (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons