Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Quarter Short

by Emma Courtice from the November 30, 2015

Tagline: Angela had noticed the good-looking man who lived in her apartment building, but it took a well-timed downpour to bring the two of them together

Observations: Oh, man, I loved this story for so many reasons. Here, I'll list them.

Angela is kind. You see that from how she shares her umbrella with David. She is also perceptive and open to changing her opinion about people.

I don't know why, but I loved the little detail of Angela stepping back to avoid the splash when the bus pulled up and how David copied her. It made the story more realistic to me and it showed David being observant and open to learning new things. He's not the arrogant type who thinks he knows everything.

When Angela pulls out the quarter to pay the rest of David's bus fare, immediately the title of the story came back to me.  Often, that doesn't happen, but with this story, it did. It was a catchy, memorable and different title.

David is considerate. He tries to open her door for her. He makes a point of picking her up after work, remembering where the bus dropped her off. He also shows concern for her hair when she suggests he put the top down.

What I loved was that moment when Angela lets her hair down, literally and figuratively. That paragraph made the story.

Angela held his eyes for a moment. Then she pulled the pins out of her long auburn hair and gave her head a shake, the soft waves cascading down to her shoulders. "I'm willing to take a chance," she said softly.

Let's really look at that. The first sentence sets David (and us) up and shows us this is an important moment. The second sentence gives us a complete image. The line of dialogue is where Angela puts it all on the line. It shows she's a brave and confident woman.

I think most stories have an emotional high point and when I'm editing Woman's World stories for people, this is often a criticism I end up giving. The authors often zip past this moment, not recognizing it for what it is. Or, if they recognize it, they often don't spend the time (or words) on it that it deserves. For instance, the above paragraph might have looked like this:

Angela held his eyes for a moment. "I'm willing to take a chance," she said softly.

That would have worked, but look how much better it is with that one more descriptive sentence! Milk that moment for all it's worth.

Photo credit: Matt Davis, via Creative Commons license


Pat said...

Oh, Kate, I couldn't wait to see what your said about this story and you didn't disappoint me.

I loved this story for all the reasons you mentioned. I could not believe what Emma Courtice managed to fit into 800 words. Truly awesome writing.

Thanks for another great review and pointed out the elements.

Sandy Smith said...

I also thought this was a great story. It is the kind that I wish I could have written.

Kate Willoughby said...

Thanks, Pat!

Yes, Sandy, that happens to me all the time! It's usually where I think, "Why didn't *I* think of that????" LOL