Thursday, March 23, 2017

Erin's Lucky Charm! by Elizabeth Palmer

from the March 13, 2017 issue

Tagline: Josh didn't think he would ever love again...but his daughter's lucky charm changed all that!

Observations: Elizabeth Palmer is one of Woman's World's most prolific and skilled authors. I was amazed at how many clever bits of foreshadowing she packed in here. Just for fun, if you have the story in front of you, reread it and see if you can find the same three that I found. I'll put the picture here so my list isn't so easily seen. You're looking for details that seem unimportant when you read them, but come into play later.

All right. Let's see if our lists match up. The first two are subtle. The third, I'm sure you all caught.

1. He showed her Erin's kindergarten picture on his phone.

I thought this little detail was brilliant. Parents are always willing to show us pictures of their children. Josh is no different. So when he does this, we think nothing of it, but later, it becomes critical that Serena recognize little lost Erin when she sees her at the parade.

2. "I'll be there with friends."

Again, this seems like a normal thing to say and that's good. You don't want your foreshadowing to be super obvious. However, it's this offhand statement that creates the second black moment in the story. The first black moment was obviously the scary few minutes when Erin was missing. (This did fly against the normal "no intense drama" quasi rule that Woman's World usually adheres to, but that just goes to show you that if you write it well, you can get away with stuff.) The second black moment that I'm talking about is when Erin puts her matchmaker hat on and suggests they all go for green pancakes together. Josh knows--because of the offhand comment--that Serena is there with friends, so we are disappointed that things didn't work out after all, but Serena fixes that little problem while at the same time showing Josh that she's interested in taking this further.

And did you catch Josh's signal that he was interested too? It was back when he introduced her as his...friend, not his last-minute substitute hair stylist. So Palmer deftly showed us that both parties were open to taking that next step.

3. Josh smiled as he fastened the shamrock pendant, making a mental note to replace the flimsy chain before she wore it again.

This was the most obvious bit of foreshadowing, but I think it was only obvious because the stories are so short. Unlike in a novel, there's no time/space to insert a lot of happenings between the foreshadowing and the event the foreshadowing foreshadows. Such is the reality of writing super short stories. (Which is why I so admire the mini-mystery writers so much. Those stories are even shorter, yet the clues are all there.)

I'd be interested to find out if Palmer planned those or if she went back and added them during the revision stage, because the weak chain? That was probably planned. But maybe she's happily writing and gets to that part where Erin slips away and she thinks, "How can I get Serena to find her? Ah! If Josh showed her Erin's picture way back at the beginning..."

LOL I have such an imagination.


Bonny Dahlsrud said...

Loved this story, as with all of hers.


Sandy Smith said...

I thought I had this story but couldn't find it, so must have read it at the store! I did think it was a good store and great use of foreshadowing.

Pat said...

Great post, Kate. I did notice the foreshadowing, but not on the first read. I found it on the second.

Wonderful story, Betsi! I loved it.

Mary Ann Joyce said...

Betsi's stories are always great! I loved the foreshadowing and how much the characters come to life. In Betsi's stories, you always feel like you actually know the people as she truly brings them to life, even though the romances are so short. She is a very skillful writer and I love to see her work in the magazine!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I Loved this story too!

Shyra said...

I missed this one. Can someone send me a copy at Elizabeth Palmer is one of my favs! Confession: I had to look up foreshawdowing. (I've never taken any writing classes - just love to read and write them) Thanks for the lesson Kate.

Betsi said...

I just saw Shyra's comment and sent her a PDF of my story. Then I realized I hadn't addressed Kate's "imaginings" about how the story was written. (Thank you for the nice review, Kate!). Yes, the obvious foreshadowing with the necklace was intentional. I hoped that having it fall off wouldn't seem too contrived if I'd already mentioned the clasp was flimsy.

The beginning of this story was written long ago and abandoned, then I had the idea to add the St. Patrick's theme. Having Josh show his daughter's picture to Serena was just to introduce the fact that he had a child. That worked to my advantage when I added the parade and his brief separation from Erin, because Serena would recognize her and probably Josh's voice. As for Serena's friends, I didn't think a single woman would be going to a parade by herself, and it would be easier to ditch "friends" than a single friend.

BTW, I had strong second thoughts about sending it to Patricia, because I thought a missing child might be a no-no. My critique partner said she thought it would pass, and happily, it did!