June Rodriguez
JUNE: We are only four at the table tonight. So join us for some popcorn and breaking the code to a writing opportunity. We all did our homework to see if we could find our way into submitting to Woman's World.

DORI: Female POV is predominate. The characters were generally younger, but there were some older as well, but interestingly enough no specific ages were mentioned. You just had to infer it from the details provided. Single or widowed individuals prevailed. Regardless of age the woman was youthful in spirit and looking for romance.

SUNNY: From the random sample of 5 stories, I'm getting the impression that the women were in some sort of profession, except one was obviously of retirement age. Clues to age were more with what the characters were doing or wearing, where they lived.

SARAH: I noticed that in every story there was some form of verifying detail. Be it a highway number, a town name, or a restaurant, there was some kind of tidbit to anchor the story. Rather than bog the plot down with details on the setting, the 411 is given in a quick sentence that name drops a fact. It's simplistic and yet artistic at the same time. Very impressive.

SUNNY: Dogs showed up in several stories. I'm thinking dog+man=romance. That seems to be a common equation. From now on when you guys give me something to critique, the first thing I'm going to say is "Where's the dog?"

JUNE: I found that most of the stories provided some sort of previous interest or connection. Maybe a little warm tingling feeling down deep inside. Something terrible seems to happen to the main character or to someone else close to a character. The terrible thing could be minor like a flat tire or big. The female protagonist seems to get rescued by the male protagonist fairly often but the rescue can be switched.

SUNNY: Yeah, about this "tingling." I'm a mystery writer. If a character "tingles" in a story, he or she has probably been poisoned. I'm just saying. . . .

SARAH: Well, this other observation should make some people tingle! Unlike the writing we're trained to do, these stories seem to start out with some narrative to give a flavor of the scene and then the rest of the story is finished off with dialogue. Maybe a dialogue tag here or there, but for the most part, it's just straight talking. I think the challenge lies in making the conversation flow w/o the dialogue tags or internal thoughts to drive the scene. Finding the right word is a lot like pairing a wine to a meal- it takes a good palate and heaping helping of finesse. 700-800words means one can't stuff a scene or conversation like a plate at an all-you-can-eat-buffet!

DORI: They all end with possibility of being together. We don't get the rest of the story. Oh, speaking of all-you-can-eat- buffets did you notice several of them end with going out to dinner. So is it dog + man + food = romance?

SARAH: See there is the difference between romance and mystery!!! Romancers think the way to gettin' a guy is with a T-bone and a Terrier. While, mystery writers think the best way to a man's heart is through his rib cage!! LOL

SUNNY: Food is always good. Apparently, blondes are not taken seriously in these quickie romances. Every character was dark-haired, maybe a bit of gray showing. Features that invariably attract women are "twinkling eyes," and "bright smiles." No mention of other attributes, such as a great set of abs or a nice rear. I'm just saying...

DORI: Really neither the male or female protagonist is described in much detail, which allows the reader to paint the picture they want. Perhaps this makes it easier for us to put ourselves in the female protagonists shoes, or at least see her as someone like us.

SARAH: I noticed that too. There is just enough detail given to sketch a feel for the character which leaves the reader the option of painting by numbers to fill in the rest of the portrait. Also, the characters seem to have some kind of link- like with mutual friends, living on the same street or a shared history. By doing this, the story can be framed together neatly and not seem too far fetched! I mean it'd be kind of hard to swallow if these random people just met and were "tingly" after four sentences! Does that happen in real life outside of frat parties and Melrose Place?!

JUNE: Doing this has really played up the similarities and differences in our thinking processes. With all of us working on the same goal we will produce very different stories.

DORI: This was fun, and I enjoyed hearing everyone's story ideas they're working on for submission to Woman's World. Given that Sunny and I aren't romance writers, will be a fun test of our writing abilities. Not a bad thing to try. Writing is writing.

SARAH: I agree- this should be good! C'mon, give Miss Marple a rest and let your repressed Nora Roberts out to play!

SUNNY: I'm surprised and excited that our group has decided to venture out to short stories, which I've always loved writing, and non-fiction articles. I'm ready to dust off my journalism degree and try my hand at a few magazine articles. This is an interesting group project. Of course, nobody has put away their novels. We're just gluttons for punishment and extra work. I know it will pay off. Perhaps in $$$.

DORI: Making money with our writing while we're working on manuscripts would be a huge plus, for many different reasons. Contests and finding places to submit short fiction stories to is the norm for fiction writers, but as June pointed out, in every issue of Woman's World there is a lot more than just the one romance short story. There are dozens of other articles written by writers just like us, and the odds of publication and payment are light-years better than with fiction. I'll still write the best fiction short stories I can and find places to market them to, but think I it's time to be a bit more adventurous. I'm ready to take the plunge into non-fiction article writing and see what it takes to make enough to subsidize my novel writing aspirations.

JUNE: The results of our dissection of the rubric for Woman's World gave us new insights into the world of magazine submissions. We have broadened our horizons and opportunities for our writing and plan to continue to look for new avenues to stretch our writing skills.

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4 Responses
  1. Oh, you ladies are after my heart. I love a good dissection! Interesting points made too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah sent me...she said to say that. Tell Jackie we missed her. I enjoyed the points you made. Odd that the stories don't provide character descriptions but allow room for a dog and dinner. LOL Guess that's why I stink at shorts. I'm too involved in descriptions. Can't wait to see who gets their story published first. Thanks to all of you for sharing.

  3. Sarah Simas Says:

    Hi Viola and RJV!!

    Nice of you gals to swing by!! Romancers rule! LOL

    RJV- I don't think shorts are your bag, baby! It'd be hard to narrow down 110K into 800words! *wink wink*

  4. Everyone can appreciate a good romance, even us mystery/thriller writers; whether we can write one is another question altogether. I'm anxious to see our finished products. Of course, Sarah, as usual, is way ahead of the rest of us!

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