Friday, February 24, 2017

A Sweet Surprise by Mary Davis

from the February 13, 2017 issue

Tagline: Cathy attended the Valentine's party out of respect for her grandmother...little did she know she would meet her heart's desire!

Woman's World Tropes: Matchmaking family member (2!)

Observations: Sweet story! Ha! Did you see what I did there? LOL No really, this was a cute story. Matchmaker stories abound in Woman's World. It's cute that there are two of them here. I saw nothing that stood out especially for me to comment on (or criticize.) Sorry.

Photo Credit: Rahim Packir Saibo via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Under the Heart Tree by Rosemary Hayes

From the February 6, 2017 issue

Tagline: Susan couldn't accept losing the heart tree where she received her first kiss...

Woman's World Tropes: a small town, old flame

Observations: I loved the idea of this story--saving the tree. It's not something I recall seeing before in Woman's World. Neither do I remember seeing a lot of stories in which the hero and heroine unite to fight for a common cause. This might be a plot line worthy of further exploration. If any of you remember other examples, please let me know.

Hayes is an old hand at these stories. I don't think this was her strongest story, despite what I said about the innovative plot. I just didn't get a warm fuzzy feeling at the end and I've been trying to figure out why. I think part of the problem might be that they both held torches for each other, so I couldn't help but wonder why they broke up in the first place.

Also the epilogue paragraph just didn't give me a zing of happy.

Some things in life I definitely can Justin's eventual marriage proposal. The reception was held at the new Heart Tree Hotel conference room. And of course, there was only one place to hold our ceremony--under the iconic Heart Tree.

Could it be that the reception was in a conference room? That sounds so stuffy. Maybe it would have been better if Hayes had just not included those words. That's not to say that a wedding reception in a conference room is bad or can't be romantic. It just didn't sound romantic.

Maybe it might have been better to mention again that the Heart Tree was the site of their kiss rather than that it was an icon. Or maybe we could have witnessed Justin proposing under the tree... I don't know. Anyway, your mileage may vary. Obviously the editors deemed it worthy of publication. :)

Photo credit: Krista Grinberga via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A High School Crush by Nell Musolf

from the January 20, 2017 issue

Tagline: Prudence was anxious about starting over...until she talked with Hank!

Woman's World Tropes: Old Flame from High School

Observations: Today, let's talk about two different jumping off points for stories.

This week's story takes place at a crucial moment in the heroine's life. She's about to start a new chapter in her life. She's quit her job of 20 years and is going to nursing school. From the first moment we meet her, we immediately admire her for her courage, right? This is a good starting point for any Woman's World story. Create a character who is starting something new. It can be anything--a new job, like Prudence; a new hobby; a new town; moving to a new town; getting a new car or a new pet. Then show her connecting with someone in the process.


Begin the story before that new something has begun. Show the character at the crossroads, struggling to make the decision. Then someone special can come along and encourage or support. In this type of story we see the main character grow and change and find love.

Photo Credit: Dominik Wagner via Flickr Creative Commons License

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Treasure in Plain Sight by Amy Michaels

From the January 23, 2017 issue

Tagline: Madeline thought of Mike as her best friend...then she realized just how empty life would be without him!

Woman's World Tropes: "Meddling" family member, helpful hero

Observations: I was nodding my head, liking this story, until I got to this one point.

Did you experience a let down when she confesses her love to Mike? I did. I was like, wait...did I miss something? One moment she's talking and the next moment, Mike's all SHE LOVES ME in his head.

I recently went to a workshop put on by my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. Tessa Dare spoke on firsts in romance novels--first meet, first kiss, first realization that this is love, etc. One piece of advice she gave that really resonated with me was to slow it down. When you come upon an important moment in your story, it's critical that you slow down. When I'm editing stories, I usually tell the writers to MILK IT FOR EMOTION, which is essentially the same thing. Like Hermoine with her Time Turner, you have the power to control time. In this case, I wish Michaels had taken a little more time right here:

"I'm not mad."

"Sure you are. You're mad because your parents love me and you don't."

"That's not true. I love you just as much..." I stopped and closed my eyes tightly. The next thing I knew Mike's arms were around me.

This is anticlimactic for me. It's too fast. Here's the first thing I thought of to boost the drama.

"I'm not mad."

"Sure you are. You're mad because your parents love me and you don't."

"That's not true." I stopped and closed my eyes tightly. "I...I love you just as much."

The next thing I knew Mike's arms were around me.

To me, that pause before the declaration is key. It shows Maddy is scared. You almost think she might not go through with it. But she does, and you sigh with relief. If I had my druthers, I'd have beefed it up even more.

"I'm not mad."

"Sure you are. You're mad because your parents love me and you don't."

"That's not true. I..." I stopped and closed my eyes tightly. I was filled with uncertainty, but I was also filled with feelings I'd been harboring for Mike for a long time, but never realized. Until now. 

"You, what, Maddy?" Mike asked.

I took a deep breath. "I love you too."

The next thing I knew Mike's arms were around me.

See what I mean? Slow. It. Down. Milk it. If you have to cut something somewhere else, do it. Better to skimp in an unimportant place than at a critical one.