My critique partners were invaluable in their suggestions for improving scenes. One was rooting for Nate and one for Tanner so their comments helped me nicely balance Serena’s interactions with both men. Here’s an example of how one helped me spice up a Tanner scene my editor had already accepted before final page proofs.
Tanner drove to the fish market at Menemsha, where he must’ve preordered our picnic, because he told me to wait in the car and was back out with our supper of seafood salad, lobster sandwiches, and lobster bisque within five minutes. I decided not to mention that I wasn’t all that fond of lobster after he’d gone to so much trouble. At least it wasn’t frog legs. I shuddered at the memory of the platter Aunt Martha had tried to feed Nate and I one evening last autumn.
Critique Partner’s Comments:
I think Tanner should already know Serena doesn’t much like lobster, even though it’s highly classy and all. lol Maybe instead, he can hold up the food and announce “Lobster this, lobster that, blah blah!” Then when Serena feels her face falling, Tanner can grin and go, “Just kidding! I got tuna fish”
My Final Version:
The salty breeze coming through our open windows felt good on my overheated cheeks, and I relaxed a bit at the familiar feeling of working a case with Tanner. He pulled up to the fish market at Menemsha, and put out a hand to forestall me when I slid my seatbelt off.
“Ordered all your favorites ahead,” he said, hopping out of the car. He stuck his head back through the open window. “Prepare to be dazzled.”
Oh-kayyy. Not so familiar, this oddly date-like behavior. But…kind of nice. A pleasant warmth spread through me as I watched him pull open the door and disappear into the market. Being pampered now and then wasn’t such a bag thing.
A few minutes later he strolled back out sporting three bulging paper sacks. He opened my door with a flourish, then handed me the bags, one at a time. “Lobster salad. Lobster sandwiches. And – tah dah!” He smiled before setting the last bag in my lap. “Lobster bisque.”
“Oh,” I said, as my warm fuzziness vanished. “Um, thanks.”
Irrational disappointment churned through me. Okay, so Tanner clearly didn’t remember the story I’d shared about my regrettable date with the guy who’d tried to impress me by cooking a big lobster dinner, and then made me help with the dishes. After I’d thrown up. It was over a year ago, after all.
And Tanner was so clearly pleased with himself. He’d been trying to be nice, even if he’d missed the mark on the food. I guess it wouldn’t kill me to do a stakeout on an empty stomach. Maybe there were some plain rolls or something.
I forced a smile as he slid into the driver’s seat, then drew back in surprise when he burst out laughing.
“Aw, Jones.” He gave my arm a mock punch. “That’s so sweet. You were gonna spare my feelings, weren’t you?”
He checked for traffic then pulled out, still chuckling. “I hope you weren’t going to go so far as to actually eat the alleged lobster, so I wouldn’t feel bad.”
“Alleged lobster,” I repeated blankly.
He turned and grinned at me. “Because vomit is seriously unromantic.”
“What?” I said again, then turned the first bag around to look at the order receipt stapled to the top.
Fish tacos, crab enchiladas, clam chowder.
No lobster anything.
“Idiot,” I said and turned to look out the window so he couldn’t see the grin spreading across my face. I loved crab enchiladas. He did get all my favorites.
Wait. Had Tanner just said ‘unromantic’? Like, as in…maybe he wanted this stakeout to be romantic?
© 2016 Sandra Orchard