Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Meant To Be by Rosemary Hayes

April 25, 2016 issue

Tagline: Becky believed there was someone out there for her...but she never imagined where she'd meet him!

Observations: I liked this story. That it was centered around Little League is a bit of Americana that is something often welcomed in a Woman's World story. Sometimes reading a Woman's World story is like strolling down Main Street at Disneyland.

This week, I wanted you to notice the transitions--those places where you're fast-forwarding in time to move the story along to the next important part or move from one scene to another. In a Woman's World story, there are no chapter or scene breaks. I learned this the "hard way," when I submitted a story with a double return to indicate a scene break only to find when the published the story, the scene break wasn't there.

To compensate, you have to work a little harder to get the reader from scene to scene.

Hayes transitions three times.

1. We start with two sisters talking. Becky is going to take her nephew to baseball tryouts. Here's that transition:

The weekend dawned with clear skies and a happy ripple of anticipation.

She mentions that it's the weekend right off the bat, establishing that we've jumped forward in time.

2. Becky is in line to register her nephew and notices the hero for a couple of paragraphs. Then we hit transition number two:

It was only when I was sitting in the stands later, watching all the kids being put through tryouts that I heard a voice next to me.

3. Becky and Andrew introduce themselves and talk in the stands and then...

We spent the next three hours watching the boys, getting hot dogs from the food truck, and enjoying a great conversation.

Notice the time words in each transition - "weekend," "later," and "three hours." Also notice in the first two instances, the transition is settling us into the next scene. It's just to get our brains to jump forward. In the third transition, it's different. Instead of instantaneous time travel, we get a summarizing paragraph in which we're told, not shown, what happens. It's still a fast-forward in time, but with information about what happened. Sort of like the difference between being "beamed" from LA to NY in an instant and taking a supersonic jet and being able to see the scenery pass below you really fast.

Transitions are an essential tool if you want to write these super short stories.

Photo credit: Eastlake Times via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Music of Hope by Tina Radcliffe

April 18, 2016 issue

Tagline: Josh never thought he would love again...until he met his son's piano teacher!

Observations: There were some aspects of this story that I liked and some that I didn't.

I liked that Josh was a strong enough person to take criticism about his cooking from a child. I liked that he was demonstrably grateful to his mother for helping out. I liked the tie-in between the canned spaghetti that Josh kept serving and the homemade lasagna that Maddy had made.

However, it read as if Josh didn't know his son was taking piano lessons at the beginning of the story. It might be because the son, Jake, had to explain how he'd had two lessons at Gram's house. This lead me to think there was an ex-wife and the dad just wasn't in the loop. However later, I found out that wasn't true. Josh is a widower.

Be careful about how you drop in backstory. Yes, it's great to do it in dialogue sometimes, but not in an "As you know, Bob" way. Some information should already be known to the characters talking and it doesn't make sense for Jake to tell his dad that he's taking piano lessons at Gran's house when his dad should already know this.

To me, Jake's character was hit and miss. Sometimes I really liked him and his dialogue sounded perfect. Other times, he did not sound like a seven-year-old.

I was unsure if Josh and Maddy lived in the same apartment building. Maddy, the piano teacher, just said, "We're in apartment 10, as if Jake knew where she lived. This is a tiny detail, but glitches like this can cause your reader to mentally stumble and take them out of the story. Do that more than once and you risk losing the reader completely.

So, a couple of confusing elements for me made it feel disjointed. Your mileage may vary. :)

Also is anyone else hungry for lasagna? LOL

Photo credit: Mark via Flickr Creative Commons license

Monday, April 4, 2016

Heart's Desire by Shelley Cooper

April 11, 2016 issue

Tagline: When Jill found her heart's passion, love wasn't far behind!

Observations: I really liked this story. I think there were a lot of small details in this story that Woman's World likes. I thought I'd list them. Small things add up.

1. A grandma is mentioned. Family is important.

2. Proving an old saying to be true, especially when a grandma is saying it, is a reliable trope for Woman's World.

3. Jill's sister is a stay-at-home mom. While Woman's World supports many modern beliefs, like women working, etc., they still do value old fashioned ones.

4. Brother is in the Navy, a noble career.

5. Jill's initiative is very important. She's such an upbeat character, you couldn't help but like her. If she's not happy, she doesn't mope around and complain or blame. She gets out there and does something about it. This is KEY.

6. Jill is full of gratitude and she's willing to demonstrate it.

7. Jill has a sense of humor and so does Jack.

8. Cooper adds so much romance by having Jack propose in the coffee shop where they had their first date. Not only that, but Jack thinks of getting her a heart-shaped diamond. Brilliant! (Pun intended.)

9. Cooper also brings the story full circle by quoting the saying again.

Photo credit: Marnee Pearce via the Flickr Creative Commons License