Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterbacking VII

“Snappish at First, Now All Warm and Fuzzy” is a nice example of how great writing can make an essay work.

The essay, by Candida Pugh, hits some familiar ground. It’s a story about a woman seeking love via online dating. Well, been there, read that. It’s also a story about how mature adults must work their way through the challenges of old habits to find love. Okay, still not the freshest concept I’ve ever encountered.

But the author makes it work through great writing.

The lead is a gem. “The local newspaper columnist had most of the details wrong.”

Already I’m hooked. What happened that was newsworthy? What details were wrong? What’s the real story? Already I know I’m in the hands of an experienced writer – one who knows she’d better hook me fast before I flit my eyeballs away to some other task.

This somewhat ordinary dating story is brilliantly framed in the anecdote of how the author’s dog and the author’s boyfriend ended up in a bloody encounter. By bringing the dogfight into the story, the author is able to inject drama into what is an otherwise routine tale. In addition to the fish hook lead, the author takes another smart stroke by not telling us the whole story up front. We know it involves a dog, the author’s boyfriend, and blood. Want the rest? Keep reading.

And it would appear that the author and I have something in common. We share aspirations. Her cut line reads: “Candida Pugh, a retired copywriter and aspiring novelist, lives in Toronto.” Agents in search of a sharp writer with a flair for making the ordinary dramatic should check her out, quick quick. ‘Cause now she’s been in Modern Love so the secret is out.

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