Sunday, September 09, 2007

Story: New Friends

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: "New Friends" by Valerie Holladay from the August 28, 2007 issue.

Tagline: Mila realized she was finally ready to open her home and her heart.

In a nutshell: Mila was widowed two years ago. When co-workers ask her to go to dinner with them, even though the new guy, Jonathan, is going, she declines. On the way home from work she rescues an abandoned kitten. Turns out the vet she goes to the next day is the father of Jonathan The New Guy.

Teaching Moments: This is the latest in a Woman's World trend I've noticed lately. Used to be that the story would end with the hero or heroine asking the other out on a date. Recently, they don't even get that far. I think I need to call them HOPEFULLY ever afters instead of Happily Ever Afters!

Although this story was solid, I didn't find myself too invested in the characters. I felt more emotion for the kitten than I did for the people. When you write about someone who's lost a spouse, you run the risk of them seeming too forlorn, which is what happened in this case, at least for me. But again, I'm only one person and obviously Jimmy Meiss and Johnene Granger of WW liked this story.

Woman's World Stand-bys: A kitten, well-meaning co-workers, a coincidence.

Best Part: I had to admire Mila's adoption of the kitten, despite the fact that she's not a cat person. :)

In My Humble Opinion: Adverbs have their place, but Holladay could probably have substitued one of these for a stronger verb: "The kitten lapped it up eagerly, and Mila felt a warmth within. Then she put down a bit of canned tuna and the kitten ate hungrily."

Grade: B-



Blogger Marcy said...

Great review, Kate.
I've got a story that I plan to submit to WW and I can't seem to find the submission guidelines. Would you happen to know what they are?


8:52 AM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

Marcy, are you a member of the WWWriters Yahoo Group? If so, there is a doc in the file section that has the guidelines. If not, join us! It's a group of Woman's World writers and wannabes. :)

3:02 PM  
Blogger Marcy said...

I just joined. Thanks!


5:40 PM  
Anonymous Pat said...

Thanks for the review.

I like the title hopefully ever afters instead of happily ever afer, Kate.

And I agree about caring more about the kitten than the characters. Thought it was 'cause I'm a cat person.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

Pat, thanks again for stopping by! It helps me stay motivated to do these danged reviews every week. :D

1:58 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Hi Kate, I appreciate the feedback on "New Friends" but I have to say, can you give me a break here. It was my first published fiction. I'm a nonfiction writer and editor and not even much of a romance reader, although obviously a cat lover :-)

That particular scene was also heavily edited since I had old guidelines and my story was closer to 1500 words, I think. So while it's possible the adjectives are mine, it's also possible they were inserted (I don't have my original handy). Originally Mila had her husband's cat and was able to give the new kitten real cat food--not tuna and milk, which are actually bad for kitties in the long term).
And the two kitties became friends and even a little more--that was the real romance :-)

I do think WW does a nice job with their short fiction (granted, lots of death and divorce) and I was thrilled to publish with them and hope to again.

I also enjoyed reading your comments on the other stories. I agree with what you said on "Something Old, Something New." I thought the concluding line was killer. And now hearing about "Lovely Coiffures," I'd like to try for a little more complexity in my future stories with WW.

Thanks also for the note on the Yahoo Groups. Can I join?


Valerie Holladay

12:48 PM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

Valerie, I'm more than willing to give you a break! You got PUBLISHED by Woman's World. Hello! That's terrific and admirable.

It's hard to know what they're going to do with our stories once they've bought them. But, for $1000, I'm game for almost anything.

9:07 AM  

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