Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Heart and Violets

by Karen Mandell from the October 12, 2015 issue

Tagline: Lara was a good neighbor--and now it looked as though her random acts of neighborly kindness would be most handsomely rewarded!

Observations: I don't have much to say about this story except that it very much reminded me of the "old style" Woman's World story, the kind of story I saw when I first started reading the magazine in 2004. I'll try to describe what I mean.

It's mostly the ending. Of late, Woman's World style has developed into really tight stories, perhaps a result of the newish 800 word limit. There's a condensed feeling about them, like they're completely self-contained. I don't know how to describe it better.

The ending of this story felt more open--like there wasn't an end, so much as a beginning. Even though most of the stories these days actually depict the beginning of a relationship just like this one, the stories themselves end concretely.

I'm sorry if I'm not explaining it well. maybe some of you "old timers" can help me out in the comments.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Good Dog!

by Wendy Hobday Haugh from the September 29, 2015 issue

Tagline: Cassie loved her dog and Matt loved his dog. It wouldn't be long before the two dog-lovers fell in love with each other!

Observations: I saw something in this story that I hadn't seen before. At first, it's a regular
Woman's World story. A new guy moves in next door. His dog digs into her yard and her dog digs a hole to his yard and they meet and hit it off. Nothing really new or noteworthy. What was different was this:

And that's how our story began. The rest, in a nutshell, went like this:

What follows that line is a summarization ("telling", if you will) of the rest of their courtship and wedding.

I've seen weddings at the end of stories before. They're not common, but they do occur, but this is the first time I've seen the author just flat out state they were going to summarize. It was a little narrator-ish and pulled us back from the deeper POV we'd been in, but that was fine. Think of that distancing like when at the end of a movie, they pull back for that driving off into the sunset shot.

Monday, October 12, 2015

According to the Queen Bees

by Shannon Fay from the October 5, 2015 issue

Tagline: Her 8th-grade student-matchmakers had been a little out of line, but Janet had to admit she liked the way they thought!

Observations: What stood out to me the most with this story was the quite long dark moment. We are used to seeing an actual moment where you worry for the romance.

Here's where it happens in the story "On Blueberry Hill."

Her breath caught as they neared the young man handing out buckets. Ryan? Of course not. Much too young.

Here's an example from "When Tracy Met Rick."

"What I'm wondering is, since you had such a bad day, would you like to talk about it over coffee? There's a place in the mall."

"Oh, but I'm afraid I can't do that," said Tracy.

Disappointment crossed his face and he pointed to her hand. "I'm sorry. When I didn't see a wedding ring, I thought you were single."

"I am single. I just meant I can't have coffee with a complete stranger." She held out her hand. "I'm Tracy."

So it's often short, for obvious reasons. You only have 800 words to work with.

However, in this story, things look dim for about one quarter of the story. Poor Janet is upset for a long time. But in the end, Charlie redeems himself by explaining that he totally respects how much work she does and that he likes spending time with her. This bodes well for the relationship. Who doesn't love a man who can admit when he's wrong? And with flowers!

So, to review, dark moments don't occur in every Woman's World story, but they don't have to be fleeting. You can draw it out for more drama.

Photo credit: Who Da Funk Style via the Creative Commons License