Monday, July 18, 2016

Love Awaits by Mary Ann Joyce

From the July 11, 2016 issue

Hi, all, I was at the Romance Writers of America conference this past week. I had meant to bring my Woman's World magazines with me so I could blog, but I forgot them at home, along with my toothbrush and toothpaste. I had a blast. I learned a lot. I was able to reconnect with some Woman's World writers, even!

Tagline: Takeout Thursday is just another day--until Marcy receives a fortune that could change her love life!

Observations: I thought this story was adorable. Upon scanning it and looking for a teaching point, I thought I'd zero in on the hero, Jake. Often, when I'm editing a WW story for someone, the author spends so much time setting up the situation and/or describing the backstory that we end up with almost no interaction between the hero and the heroine.

This is a mistake.

You need to show them interacting so that we get some inkling that they're compatible and that they're a good match for each other. It's an instance of "show, don't tell." You can't just say, "They were a match made in heaven." You have to do a little showing as well.

Also, while the heroine may know the hero and be enamored of him, to the reader, he's a stranger. The man needs to be "on stage" long enough for us to get to know him. He needs to actually say something other than, "Nice to meet you, Mary. I'm John." Does that make sense?

In this story, Joyce did a great job of introducing Jake. The first thing that made him likable to me was when he looked around looking for food. I thought, "Typical man," and Marcy reacted like I would when she tried to feed him. Obviously, the dog anecdote endeared him even more to me.

I wanted to point out two more things I just noticed.

I'm not sure if it's foreshadowing, but did you notice Jake slipped the fortune cookie into his pocket? This is so he could write that fortune and leave it on Marcy's desk. Now, Joyce didn't have to mention that at all. If she hadn't, we probably would have assumed that he got the cookie when we "weren't looking." But because it is there, and in the backs of our minds we readers know it's there, it makes the story all that much tighter. It's little details like that.

Also, I loved that when Joyce introduced the fact that Jake makes special stops at Marcy's cubicle, she did it near the end and not at the beginning. I think this placement was very smart. As the story stands, there's a slight tension because we think oh, poor Marcy, she's been pining away for Jake and Jake doesn't even know she's alive. So, we're a little more emotionally invested. But then, later, we find out that Jake does these fly-bys and we feel a little zing of hope.

Now, take a moment and imagine it had been put in the beginning of the story, perhaps in that paragraph where Jake enters the break room. Then we have a story about a woman who has a work crush and a man who has a work crush and neither of them are doing anything about it. Different story, right? The way Joyce did it, we're rooting for Marcy. See what I mean? :)

Photo credit: Andrew Malone via Flickr Creative Commons License


Tamara said...

I agree this is a good story. A lot of twists and turns in 800 words. I thought the, "You're describing your dog" line was funny.

Mary Jo said...

This story is from the July 11th issue of WW. I am not fond of present tense stories and wonder why it was used in here. Did LOVE AWAITS originate out of the country? Who says, "Is it a go?" No one I know of. I did think it was a cute story, though. Hey, I like fortune cookies. Funny how men turn up when there is the smell of food in the air.

Kate Willoughby said...

Did anyone else notice a layout change in the magazine? I don't have an old iseue because I toss them, but it's like the gutter isn't there for the headline of the spread and there seem to be fewer dividing lines. I don't know. It just feels more open.

Mary Ann said...

@Mary Jo--The line "Is it a go?" was an addition by the editors.

Here's my ending:
Let’s try our luck. Free for a hike on Saturday? –Jake
Some surprises are fun at any age.

I think mine was a little more open-ended, and maybe they wanted it to be answered? Anyway, I think either way works. I have no complaints about the editing here.

Thanks, Kate, for the nice review! And yes, the things you mentioned, I definitely did on purpose. You were spot-on!

Kate Willoughby said...

You're welcome, Mary Ann! Thanks for the well-written story. And oh, goody! It's nice to know that I'm not just pulling this stuff out of thin air. :)

Mary Jo said...

@Mary that was Patricia's handiwork? Well, maybe they use that expression in the South. I believe Patricia is writer friendly, and she puts her heart into editing these little stories.

Kate, if they are going to modify the Romance page, I wish they would move that darned crossword solution over to the puzzle page where it belongs. The story page would look so much nicer and it would give us room for 100 more words.

Pat said...

Loved this story also. Loved your comments, Kate. I didn't have a problem with the "Is it a go?" line at all. We say it all the time in the Northeast. I thought the premise, characters, and dialogue were great.

Shyra said...

I liked this story. I've worked in offices for decades and could relate to the characters, the weekly lunch, the cubicles. I was happy when the story revealed they both had crushes.

Kate, thanks so much for sharing your observations. I'm just putting the finishing touches on a story to submit to WW. I see now that I've done exactly what you're talking about - lots of backstory, little character interaction. I know that the guy in my story has wanted to ask out the gal for a long time but I didn't mention it until the second to the last paragraph. Rewrite time! Thanks again for all you do.

Kate Willoughby said...

My pleasure, Shyra!