Thursday, September 29, 2016

Throwback Thursday by Nell Musolf

From the September 12, 2016 issue

Tagline: Lane thought she might be too old to hear the bells ring again, then Will walked into her life!

Woman's World Tropes: Matchmaker, Old Flame (sort of), a repeated saying

Observations: Darling story. Here's a list of the things I liked about it.

I loved how Musolf brought a little of the current day into this story with "Throwback Thursday."

I liked how Lane admitted to herself that she wouldn't have contacted Will on her own.

The bells ringing motif was cleverly brought back when she heard the bell on the door of the coffee shop.

There was a black moment here, right in the middle of the story. I am wondering if this is a more natural place for it to occur in these short stories. In novels, usually black moments occur near the end of the story. Let's keep an eye out for that in the future. Not that it will be a hard and fast rule, but if it does happen near the middle, there's probably a reason and I'd like to explore what that is.

Photo Credit: Yogendra Joshi via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Purr-fect Romance by Mary Davis

From the September 5, 2016 issue

Tagline: Lucy was tired of losing roommates then Milo came into her life!

Observations: Cute story. Like last week, this story is also tightly plotted. The whole bridesmaid stuff at the beginning is not only backstory to explain why she's moving to a smaller apartment, it sets up the occasion for which she has to dress up, so she can knock Mark's socks off later. I loved that. There was also the breakaway collar plot device, which forced her to see him again.

On a side note, I loved how the cat "talked." That was so cute and clever.

Photo credit: Helen Haden via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Second Chance at Love by Diane Crawford

From the August 22, 2016 issue

Tagline: After years of being on her own, Carol was certain she'd never find romance again--then she met Nick!

Observations: I couldn't find much to talk about with this story. It was a solid story, well-plotted. I felt certain the hero and heroine would be going on many more dates. I liked how the last line tied in with the garden theme...

Carol wasn't a gardening expert, but her intuition told her that growing conditions were perfect for this new relationship!

Photo Credit: Robert Ashworth via Flickr Creative Commons License

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Missing Issue

I seem to be missing the August 22 issue. If anyone can send me a photo of the story for that week, I'd appreciate it.

Meant to Be by Mary Jo Young

From the August 29, 2016 issue

Tagline: Kate thought she was too busy to find romance...until she met Darcy!

Observations: I'm so excited because this story was full of teaching moments.

I liked this story. It was cute. I especially admired the part where Kate was lost in her own thoughts and then came back to the conversation...

Robin's chirpy voice continued as Kate's thoughts turned elsewhere. After work, she'd promised to take her niece to ballet class, then pick up groceries for her sick neighbor. Somewhere along the way, she would grab a sandwich and eat on the run. It would be a full evening.

"So would you be his date?" Robin's voice broke into her reverie.

"What?" Kate surfaced with a start. "Sorry, what did you say?"

See what I mean? I felt as if I had joined Kate on her reverie.

I also wanted to point out this one sentence, because this is a lesson I need to take to heart.

Kate's heart did a little rhumba.

Young could have used a cliche phrase, like "Kate's heart skipped a beat." I, myself, am guilty of using that one! Or "her pulse quickened" or something like it. But doing a rhumba? Very original. This is the type of thing that, if you don't think of it while you're writing, you can fix in the revision stage. Make it a point to read your story and to look for trite phrases like hearts skipping beats. The stories are so short, that you can designate one reading just for this purpose. It might seem like a little thing--this is only six words, after all--but I believe the little things add up, especially in an 800 word story.

Lastly, this story is a great example of a mash-up of Woman's World tropes. Tropes are great because they're ideas that have a proven track record. Yes, they can become cliche, but only if you write them as such. One way to avoid the cliche and embrace the familiarity of the trope that readers respond to is to take two or more tropes and combine them, like take a woman to the rescue and add a garage sale, or make the setting a high school reunion and throw in a lost pet.  This week's story took three--a wedding, a matchmaker, and a blind date. You can also take one trope and really do something crazy with it, like maybe two lost pets. Maybe the heroine, while out looking for her missing dog, finds the hero's missing dog. Wait a second...I think I'll write that story! But see what I mean? It can get your brain thinking.

Photo Credit: John Lodder via the Flickr Creative Commons License