Monday, August 06, 2007

Story: The Look of Love

What follows is an analysis of a Woman's World story with suggestions/observations for people who want to sell stories to WW, peppered with some personal opinion, too. :)

Story: "The Look of Love" by Tima Smith from the July 31, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Cassie was sure she'd recognize the perfect ring when she spotted it...

This story was not your run of the mill first meet. Cassie and Ted are shopping for engagement rings, and the story is romantic, but not really about their relationship, per se. It's more like a vignette, a day in the life sort of thing, which is fine, refreshing, even.

In a nutshell, Ted's grandfather wants to give his late wife's ring to Cassie, but Cassie has had her heart set on a pear shaped diamond since she was in high school. During the course of the story, she realizes how much Ted's grandparents loved each other and that wearing a ring symbolic of that special love means more than her outdated wish. Cassie's realization comes about mainly because of two photographs of Gramps and one of Grams.

Unfortunately, I just didn't feel the emotion that I should have. Smith dedicated about 70+ words toward establishing how much Cassie resembled Grams, which I felt was unnecessary. What is the core of this story? What does it hinge on? How much Cassie and Marion look like each other? No. What prompts Cassie's change of heart is the "look of love," in Gramps' eyes, which is also appropriately the title of the story.

I think she should have nixxed all that stuff about the similarities between the two women and made more of an effort to describe the love that shining from Gramps' eyes in those two photographs, one taken when he was young, the other taken of him shortly before Grams died. Look at how Smith described it:

I'm riveted by those photos, because what she's captured in them is the look of love. Gramps is looking at the person behind the camera with nothing but love in his eyes.

See what I mean? She missed an opportunity to intensify the emotion here. She could have expounded much much more. Gramps' expression when he was young, probably communicated all his hopes and dreams of a future with his lady love. And in the second photo, his eyes would have reflected decades of devotion and happiness.

Because of this lack, a really terrific story premise felt short for me. So, when writing your own stories, look hard at what is driving your story. Be ruthless about cutting extraneous stuff because with only 1000 words to work with, you don't have room to dilly dally. Zero in on what must be there and make it sing.

Best Part: The last line was "It fits perfectly." I loved this last line because I could take it literally, and it inferred that the ring fit her life as Ted's wife better than the diamond one she was going to choose before.

In My Humble Opinion: Present tense stories are always challenging for me to read.

Grade: C+



Blogger Chris said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I like this story but I agree on the awkwardness of present tense stories. I really prefer past tense.


10:32 AM  

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