Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Night at the Museum by Susan Hollaway

from the November 7, 2016 issue

Tagline: Katy didn't think her job at the museum could be better...until she met Logan!

Woman's World Tropes: "Freaky Friday" type switcheroo, matchmaker (sort of)

Observations: I'm going to do a stream-of-consciousness analysis today, which means I'll read it and comment as I go. I've fallen behind with the blog and need to catch up.

A museum is a fun setting and I've always thought those museum sleepovers sounded like fun.

Ah, we have a substitute security guard, who is--surprise!--younger than the normal one.

Hmm. The extended hand-grasp? It felt a teensy bit creepy to me since they just met. I'd have preferred for her to feel a tingle of awareness.

He asks to do a walk-through with her, which struck me as weird. It would seem to me that whomever he's relieving from duty would do that.

Oh, here's a surprise. We end the scene and jump forward in time a few days. I expected to see the whole night with the kids play out.

Awkward use of a word... Just then, the man who'd interrupted her thoughts since Kids' Night approached. Interruption is a brief occurrence, not something that can happen continually over the course of a few days.

Wait, Logan is the new owner of Sterling Security? I'm stopping here for a bit to try to understand the timeline here. Logan is apparently an entrepreneur and has been observing his uncle providing security for the museum for two years and then decides he likes the company enough to buy it? This is strange and confusing enough to pull me out of the story. But I put it behind me and keep reading.

Oh, the matchmaker dad is adorable.

Okay, I liked it with reservations about the fact that Logan was the new owner of the company. If you're a regular follower of this blog, you know I can be a very pragmatic reader and when the facts pull me out of a story, I get cranky. To me, it's important to ground a story in reality so that readers are able to participate in the romantic fantasy without interruption. I would have been happier if Logan had always been the owner. Then, hiring his uncle would have made sense to me. It's the fact that the's the new owner that's tripping me up. It's weird how big a difference one word can make.

Photo credit: M01229 via Flickr Creative Commons License


Chris said...

Loved the museum setting. I have a sneaky wish that I could do one of those overnight stays myself, so this appealed to me. I was looking forward to hearing how the night panned out, with some sweet interaction between Logan and Katy, and perhaps one or two of the children getting scared and needing reassurance. The fact that the story stopped short of that and ran forward several days left me feeling cheated and seemed like a lost opportunity to develop their relationship. And like you, Kate, I also wasn't keen on the prolonged handshake. I'd rather he had just held her gaze than her hand.

It would be interesting to hear from Susan as to whether much editing was done. I understand from other WW writers that their accepted stories are still being given a makeover before they appear on the page. Maybe that's the case here.

Kate Willoughby said...

Of course the stories are getting a makeover. That's the editor's job. :)

Chris said...

Sympathetic editing, as you know from experience, Kate, is a skilful job, though. I've had some real hatchet jobs done on some of my stories (with other mags, that is) to the extent that I was embarrassed to have my name on the story. Thankfully that's rare and most mags publish our stuff pretty much the way we wrote it. In WW's case, judging by what I've read in this column in the past, what we see on the printed page is often very different to the way the writer submitted it.

From Patricia-fiction editor said...

Thanks, Kate, for understanding that it is my job to edit and reflect the Woman's World theme. You know this, of course, because you are a professional.

Writers who go all to pieces when seeing their stories edited should self-publish.

Chris said...

Hello, Patricia. As a UK writer with, I'm told, a very English voice, I've struggled to fit my subs to WW's house style but I've always taken heart from the comments I've had back, whether from you, Johnene, or the late Jimmy Meiss. A fiction editor's feedback is worth its weight in gold and I appreciate the time any ed takes to jot down their thoughts.

The comments on Kate's blog are always frank; the honesty of her critique and the feedback we give to that is a big part of why we visit it. We know we can talk freely but fairly. Some stories will be praised by all, others will attract some negative remarks. That difference in taste has led to some lively and entertaining exchanges in the past.

In my comment above I referred to some stories where editorial changes had left me embarrassed to see my name in the byline (but not, as I said, in WW, where I have yet to make a sale). I was referring principally to a ghost story of mine that appeared in a well known magazine where, for no apparent reason, a change was made to a central character's age, reducing it by several decades. That change meant that the whole structure and timeline fell apart and anyone reading it would have thought I'd made a schoolgirl error in not thinking it through. While I didn't go to pieces over it, it did spoil the pleasure of publication. That's why I sometimes make the point that the things we find to criticise (or praise, for that matter) in a story may not necessarily be down to the author. It's just an observation based on experience.

I've worked with some wonderful editors over the years, including those at WW, and repeat that yours is a skilled job. Still, I have seen authors on this blog grumble about the amount of editing that was done to their story, which was why I posed the question about this one.

Patricia -fiction editor said...

Chris,I realize your comment was made about the editorial changes from other magazines.

I think it is great that Kate has brought so many writers together for an entertaining exchange. But grumbling over WW edits seems a waste of time as we are a top paying market with a very tight formula.

Our former fiction editors chose not to reply to the blogs, but I feel it is important to let the writers know WHY their stories do not always work for us.

Chris said...

And that is something I have said more than once - don't grumble when you are being paid such a good wage! But I do understand the writers' point of view, too. The need to include the word handsome in so many romances seems to be a particular bugbear for some. Personally I like a flawed hero, but that's just me.

I appreciate you taking the time out to reply.

Kitti Nayar said...
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