Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let it Snow! by Joan Dayton

from the January 9, 2017 issue

Tagline: Susan thought she'd never love again...until she met Dan!

Woman's World Tropes: Man to the rescue, independent woman, matchmaker family member, widow, moving on

Observations: There is a great deal of information packed into the first two paragraphs. I haven't talked about this in a while, but backstory dumps are a-okay in Woman's World stories. You don't have time to dribble it in a bit at a time, like you do in a novel. Quick and dirty, ladies! Everything is compressed in an 800 word story.

Here's what Dayton stuffed in there:

  • Susan needs a snowblower.
  • Susan is new in town and new to Minnesota weather.
  • She has a daughter and granddaughter.
  • Susan has become a do-it-yourselfer.
  • Susan had help with this transformation.
  • The helper is single.
After that, still in Act One, she's just as efficient.

  • Dan is proactive about helping Susan when she comes to the store.
  • Dan and Susan are still dancing around their mutual attraction. ("I wouldn't want to trouble you...")
  • Dan makes a subtle move to show he's attracted. ("I really admire how you dove in and tackled all those home projects.")
  • They start using first names.
Act Two, we see the plot moving forward when the daughter gives Susan the push she needs.

Act Three, the scene is all set. The reader is just sitting there waiting and hoping it will turn out all right. And it does. Dayton throws in some romance for good measure--Dan snow-blowing a heart in Susan's driveway. Totally adorable. 

In my opinion, the story would have ended nicely after he says "All the time in the world" but Dayton went even further and brought back the fact that Dan's face lit up when he smiled, which was mentioned earlier in the story.

This was a well-crafted and enjoyable story.

Photo credit: Janine via Flickr Creative Commons License


Pat said...

As a reader, I loved this story; as a writer, I'm amazed at how much Joan Dayton got into this story in so few words. Great analysis, Kate. I plan to really study this one.

L. Martin said...

Here are some (not all) logic and credibility issues I had with this story:

1) What adult does not anticipate snow when they move from Florida to Minnesota??

2) Despite Susan's flushes and Dan's dimply smile, I wasn't sure which who the female love target was--Susan or her daughter, Jodi. Unfortunately, the answer wasn't made clear until last para of col 2, during which time the guesswork was a nagging distraction.

3) I was further confused because although Jodi has a baby, there's no mention of a dad; so, again I "exited the narrative" by being preoccupied with whether Susan/Mom was matchmaker.

4) If someone is making odd movements on a snow blower in my yard, do I race upstairs to look out the window? Wouldn't I step onto the porch--as Susan does later to wave Dan in--to see what's happening?

5) Wouldn't it take some time to carve a heart in 10-inch snow? It's implausible (to me) that Susan didn't notice the engine sound before the heart was finished.

6) Dialog issues: Jodi asks, "When are you going to give him a break"? He hasn't even asked her out yet.
"Everyone says they haven't seen him this happy in years." This sounds like something you'd say after a clear-cut milestone (relationship or marriage). How does "everyone" know this from an in-store flirtation?
"We have a lot of catching up to do." Based on what? They have no history; a strange thing to say.

7) Susan cooks and hums around the kitchen even before she knows Dan will accept her breakfast invite. Yes, maybe she's cooking breakfast anyway, but the narrative frame implies breakfast is centered on him.

8) Minor copy editing glitch: "Snow blower" is 2 wds in para 1 but hyphenated in col 3.

None of this detracts from the overall cute factor or my congrats to the author. They do, however, leave me wondering where WW stands on such issues.

L. Martin said...

Correction: In 2), should be I wasn't sure who

Tamara said...

I, too, had some issues with this story, same as L. Martin, particularly "give him a break", as though he's been asking her out and she's been rejecting him and that co-workers hadn't seen the guy that happy in years, when nothing much has yet occurred between them. While the daughter was pushing her mother to get involved, I never got the impression she was resisting. Also, there was a lot of facial lighting up, and "warm flush" was used twice in column two. Running upstairs seemed unlikely to me as well.

Kate Willoughby said...

Ha! For once, I wasn't the one who was distracted by details. LOL. It just goes to show you how different people's reading experiences can be.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reading my story and your comments. I don't think it would have been possible to see an outline of a heart at the same level. Susan had to be looking down on her driveway to see the pattern.

Anonymous said...

Although I liked the heart in the snow idea, I think it may be a little
premature, since they'd never even been out on a date yet.

Shyra said...

I liked this story. I'm all about character likability and I liked both Susan and Dan in this one. I also liked the art in the snow bit - but was a little uncomfortable with it being a heart. A flower maybe? At least at this stage of the relationship. The rest of the stuff didn't bother me too much. This is Woman's World. Which means 800 words. I thought the author did a great job letting us know who this woman is, how she lives her life, and where her heart is at this point in such a short story. Thanks Kate, for another great lesson.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I read this story and enjoyed it. I appreciate each of your comments because I'm not yet published in WW and all of this information helps.

I often wonder though at the "WW Formula" because every story I read is so different I can't seem to get a handle on it.

Good luck and God's blessings to everyone.