Sunday, September 4, 2016

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


Sandy Smith said...

I did enjoy this story. I also liked the scene where she got lost in her thoughts. It told a lot about her in that brief paragraph. I did think she was a little too quick to assume the young guy was her date, even after the other guy said he was the date. But it was a sweet story.

Mary Jo said...

Kate, thank you for the lovely analysis. I have to say I love Patricia Gaddis. I liked the story much better when she got through with it. One thing, though, do all the WW guys have to be labeled as "handsome"? Ah, ah, ah, Patricia.

And Sandy, my line read "The man talking to them was inches shorter than Alan and looked like a teenager. There was a marked resemblance between the brothers, but Alan was by far the more attractive one." Patricia left the resemblance out, but that could happen to anyone.

Tamara said...

Mary Jo, it totally escaped me that you were the author of this cute story, I guess because I didn't know your last name. I'm happy for you.

Sandy Smith said...

I did enjoy the story, Mary Jo. Great job.

Shyra said...

Congratulations Mary Jo! I very much enjoyed this story too. And Kate, thank you for taking the time to use this story as a teaching moment. Great tips.

Pat said...

Great story, Mary Jo. I loved it. Kate thanks for another great teaching post.

Bonny Dahlsrud said...

Cute story. Strong describing words!

Melanie D said...

Kate, you are so right about doing a revision sweep for cliches. I don't always chime in, but I do often learn something insightful from your analyses of WW stories. It is easy to forget that just because the stories may have familiar themes, there are still many opportunities for metaphoric language that is original and memorable----like the heart doing a rumba!