Thursday, June 11, 2015

Just the Two of Us

by Tracy Wilson-Burns from the May 25, 2015 issue

Tagline: For Karen, the idea of a romantic getaway with Max was just a beautiful fantasy.

Observations: I adored this story. It was so refreshing to see something that wasn't a first meet. I don't think I can fault Woman's World for that, because I'll be they don't get too many stores that are not first meets.

Today I want to talk about the old adage, "Write what you know."

For the most part, I think that adage is mostly a bunch of baloney. I haven't worn ice skates for decades and I certainly never played hockey when I did have them on. I've never been a man either. However, I do write hockey romances and about half the chapters are in the man's point of view. Further, authors who write murder mysteries are most likely not writing from real life experience. Just because you are not familiar with something doesn't mean you can't write about it.

All you need to do is research. When you write, you make a promise to the reader that they will be able to suspend their disbelief for the amount of time it takes to read your story. When you break that trust with inaccuracies and implausibility, you break that trust and make readers angry or frustrated. I'm sure you know what I mean. You've most likely been on the other side of that equation.

Sometimes when you read a story, something about it doesn't seem quite right, but you may not be able to put your finger on it. That something might be a lack of authenticity which might or might not stem from a lack of research. I read hockey romances by authors who do not appear to be real fans. They have some of the lingo, but the way they use it isn't authentic.

I did not find that in this story. In fact, I wanted to point out how true to life those two little girls were. Wilson-Burns either has kids herself or is apt at observing kids and transferring that to the page. My guess is that she's a mom herself, because Karen reacted like a real mom.

The girls' dialogue was spot on. The closed door argument was perfectly rendered with the em dashes. (I was actually in awe of that. Sometimes you picture something in your head and it proves very difficult to communicate in words, but Wilson-Burns did it beautifully here.) The fact that the 10-year-old said something and the 8-year-old echoed true to life.

This kind of authenticity sparkles and I guarantee that every single mom who read this story was nodding her head and remembering moments like these in her own life and that kind of identification draws the reader in and makes her almost part of the story. It's invaluable and something you should strive for.

Photo credit: Forest & Kim Starr [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Chris said...

I loved this story when I first read it, and even now, reading it again when I know the twist, I still think it's lovely. The writer has done a great job creating the family, managing to show real warmth and affection between them. Like you, Kate, I'm always happy to see a romance where the couple are already in a relationship. I often think the boy meets girl stories can't really be called romances at all, since they barely get to say more than half a dozen words to each other. This one, though, fitted the bill beautifully. Top marks to Tracy Wilson-Burns.

Sandy Smith said...

OK, I have read the story now. I agree that it was beautifully done, and I also loved the dialogue between the girls. I really like the stories about established relationships and have had several ideas of my own for that kind. I need to be working on that, I guess!

Mary Jo said...

You could almost hear little-girl giggles in this story. It was a nice read. I can tell the real quality of a story by how long I remember it. This one lives on.