Critique Corner #5: THE HEART BOX

By: Daniel Beerse                                                      

Genre: Adult Dramatic Fiction           

Lead in:  Jonathan is recalling the memory of the night he and Sara celebrated their two year anniversary of the day they met.

Dinner was fabulous and even Chef Johnny wished them a happy anniversary. The two moved to a deck on the side of the restaurant to enjoy chocolate martinis.

Jonathan set down his glass. “Now about that surprise.”

“You mean special, surprise,” Sara corrected.

“No, the special surprise comes later. This is just an ordinary surprise.

Jonathan withdrew a small velvet box from his front pocket. Sara almost spilled her drink as he handed it to her. They had talked a few times about marriage so he toyed with her imagination. Sara stared at him, while her fingers caressed the gift. She waited for him to say something, but Jonathan remained silent. Finally her impatience won out and she opened it.

Sara’s eyes widened and she inhaled sharply. Inside was a heart-shaped pendant with a diamond center.

“I love you so much Jonathan, “she said, leaning to kiss him.

“This is beautiful and hardly an ordinary surprise.” She gave him a playful jab.

“Okay, maybe it’s not ordinary, but I still have something special planned for you later.”

She handed him the chain and lifted her hair. He fastened it around her neck, then followed with a series of small tender kisses that ended under her ear.

Sara shuddered. “You spoil me, you know.”

He winked and gave her another kiss.

“Oh I will … later,” he teased.

On the sidewalk, headed home, Sara kicked off her sandals and carried them in one hand while Jonathan had the other. They walked quietly, except when Sara let go so she could touch her new gift.

Halfway there she spun around to face him.

“I have something for you, you know.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Come on, I’ll race you the rest of the way.”

Jonathan knew better than to take on a challenge like that with a former state sprinting champion. Those long shapely legs of hers were toned muscle, and, even barefoot, he was still no match for her. However, he gave it a second thought.

“I don’t know,” he said, hesitantly. “I ate a pretty big meal.”

Sara fell for the ruse and as she put her hands on her hips, Jonathan took his cue and bolted down the concrete. He barely made the second block before he heard those swift feet of hers closing in on his right side.

Suddenly, an elderly couple appeared from a side street and froze as the two runners bore down on them.

Jonathan broke left and Sara broke right, almost colliding with the bewildered pair. Laughing and out of breath, Jonathan crossed over the sidewalk and collapsed onto a lawn. Sara circled back and fell on top of him in the cool and refreshing grass. They were still laughing when the older couple came upon them.

“We thought he was chasing you,” the woman said with concern.

“No,” Jonathan replied with a colossal grin. “She was chasing me.”

The confused couple looked at each other in silence, then the man smiled.

“How times have changed,” he remarked, as they resumed their walk.

7 thoughts on “Critique Corner #5: THE HEART BOX

  1. myinnermg says:

    Hey Daniel!

    Thanks so much for submitting this! Good job showing us a very clear memory of two people in love. (-:

    Not being sure what happened before this part or what happens after in the story, I geared just a few notes (within the entry below) on mostly the structure and potential “showing” to enhance what’s currently playing out in Jonathan’s memory.

    As the reader, I’m curious as to what prompted this particular memory. Was it a sad event? A tragic loss? A fight? As it stands right now, it’s very sweet, but we’re not guided to feel in any one specific direction. You definitely give us details, but I’d love to feel more about these guys. I think adding in some emotional detail surrounding Jonathan’s recollection (how Sara looks to him, what he feels when he sees her wearing his gift, what feelings can the narrator share as they fall down laughing at the end, etc.) would easily do the trick. Totally up to you on what direction you take and how you want to impact the reader. (-:

    Hope some of this helps! Best of luck with this, Daniel! Thanks again for letting us read! (-:

    Melyssa
    @MyInnerMG

    Title: The Heart Box

    Author: Daniel Beerse

    Lead in: Jonathan is recalling the memory of the night he and Sara celebrated their two year anniversary of the day they met.

    Dinner was fabulous and even Chef Johnny wished them a happy anniversary. The two moved to a deck on the side of the restaurant to enjoy chocolate martinis.
    Jonathan set down his glass. “Now about that surprise.”
    “You mean special, surprise,” Sara corrected.
    “No, the special surprise comes later. This is just an ordinary surprise.
    Jonathan withdrew a small velvet box from his front pocket. Sara almost spilled her drink as he handed it to her. They had talked a few times about marriage so he toyed with her imagination.
    (New paragraph here) Sara stared at him, while her fingers caressed the gift. She waited for him to say something, but Jonathan remained silent. Finally her impatience won out and she opened it.

    (consider: the mysterious box or something like that in place of “it”)

    Sara’s eyes widened and she inhaled sharply. Inside was a heart-shaped pendant with a diamond center.
    “I love you so much Jonathan, “ (backwards quote and extra space here (-:) she said, leaning to kiss him.
    (consider something more powerful than “she said” here. EX: “I love you so much Jonathan,” she breathed, leaning in to kiss him.

    “This is beautiful and hardly an ordinary surprise.” She gave him a playful jab.
    “Okay, maybe it’s not ordinary, but I still have something special planned for you later.”
    She handed him the chain and lifted her hair. He fastened it around her neck, then followed with a series of small tender kisses that ended under her ear.
    Sara shuddered. “You spoil me, you know.”
    He winked and gave her another kiss.

    (I picture Sara still having her back to him after fastening the necklace so I wouldn’t think she’d see him wink, ya know? (-:).

    “Oh I will … later,” he teased.
    On the sidewalk, headed home, Sara kicked off her sandals and carried them in one hand while Jonathan had the other. They walked quietly, except when Sara let go so she could touch her new gift.

    (Could Sara’s body language indicate what she’s thinking as she touches the necklace? Is she disappointed that it wasn’t a ring? Suspicious? Grateful as always?)

    Halfway there she spun around to face him.
    “I have something for you (too), you know.” (just to break up the two yous).

    “Really?”
    “Yes, really. Come on, I’ll race you the rest of the way.”
    Jonathan knew better than to take on a challenge like that with a former state sprinting champion. Those long shapely legs of hers were toned muscle, and, even barefoot, he was still no match for her. However, he gave it a second thought.

    (sounds like he was already giving it a second thought (-:).

    “I don’t know,” he said, hesitantly. “I ate a pretty big meal.”
    (After reading the next line and seeing that he’s actually tricking her, why not set it up in the line before? EX: “I don’t know,” he said, pretending to tie his shoe. “I ate…”

    Sara fell for the ruse and as she put her hands on her hips, Jonathan took his cue and bolted down the concrete. He barely made the second block before he heard those swift feet of hers closing in on his right side.
    Suddenly, an elderly couple appeared from a side street and froze as the two runners bore down on them.
    Jonathan broke left and Sara broke right, almost colliding with the bewildered pair. Laughing and out of breath, Jonathan crossed over the sidewalk and collapsed onto a lawn. Sara circled back and fell on top of him in the cool and refreshing grass. They were still laughing when the older couple came upon them.
    “We thought he was chasing you,” the woman said with concern.
    “No,” Jonathan replied with a colossal grin. “She was chasing me.”
    The confused couple looked at each other in silence, then the man smiled.
    “How times have changed,” he remarked, as they resumed their walk.

  2. swirlandspark says:

    Daniel, I like this scene. I like the slow build-up from the dinner at the restaurant, to the playful scene on the sidewalk. I have just a few suggestions to clean it up a bit.

    The challenge with a flashback is delivering it with too much narrative. It can come across as telling. In the line, “They had talked a few times about marriage so he toyed with her imagination,” perhaps you could instead say. “After so many conversations about the possibility of marriage, he still loved toying with her.” (or something like that.) I would also suggest moving that line to after the sentence: “…but Jonathan remained silent.”

    The sentence: “I love you so much Jonathan,” needs a comma after “much.”

    The sentence: “He fastened it around her neck, then followed with a series of small tender kisses that ended under her ear,” is good but “then followed with” sounds a bit mechanical. Could you change that to: He fastened it around her neck, then leaned in toward her with small, tender kisses…” (or something similar)?

    The sentence: “On the sidewalk, headed home, Sara kicked off her sandals and carried them in one hand while Jonathan had the other,” provides a nice image, but “headed home” and “had the other” sound awkward. Perhaps, “As they walked home along the sidewalk, Sara kicked off her sandals and carried them in one hand while Johnathan held the other.”

    I love the part where they race each other down the street. It’s fun and gives us a sense of who they were when they were together. I was having trouble imagining exactly where they were as they fell onto the grass, though. A random park they walk through or someone’s yard? Just a quick description would fix that. Also, the section: The confused couple looked at each other in silence, then the man smiled. “How times have changed,” he remarked, as they resumed their walk.” This should be all one paragraph. No need for “he remarked as they resumed their walk” as the reader knows then that he’s still speaking.

    This a cute, romantic memory. The characters seem so happy. I’d read on to know if they’ve stay this way in present time! Good luck and thank you for sharing with all of us. I hope some of these suggestions help!

  3. emilygmoorewriter says:

    Hi there! Thanks for sharing this. I think this is a very wonderful and active memory and appreciate the emotion in it. I had a concern with this sentence: “Those long shapely legs of hers were toned muscle, and, even barefoot, he was still no match for her.” I would break it down into a couple sentences. Just remove the “and”.

    I especially love the end of it and the elderly couple’s response to her chasing him. 🙂

    Hope this helps! Best of luck with this project!

  4. Nicole P. says:

    Hi Daniel,

    I absolutely loved this scene. Beautiful writing. Beautiful picture. I felt their happiness and the concern and confusion of the older couple. I felt like I was there watching from a distance with a ridiculously stupid grin on my face and envious of their love. Well done. Best of luck and keep on writing that way. I hope to be able to read it one day.

  5. Rachel says:

    hello!!

    I liked the flashback feel. I could sense it immediately by the way the narrative was slightly distant. It was fun and playful. It did get a little more on the side of telling instead of showing in some spots, but overall I don’t think it needs too much polishing, except maybe I’d want to know more of how he feels. About any apprehension he might have about her reaction etc. Hope this helps!!

  6. Scarlett Kol says:

    Daniel,

    This was very sweet. I especially liked the end of the scene and the elderly couple. It really tied everything together nicely and creates a great image in the mind.

    I noticed a few grammar points, but I think they have already been covered. My one concern was the part of the scene with the necklace, it feels a bit generic. You don’t really get a feel for the character’s personalities in this part of the scene, or how Jonathon feels in that moment. If he’s remembering this particular time, it should evoke emotion in both him and the reader. I think as the scene progresses, like I mentioned above, you do bring the characters to life but a few tweaks, internal dialogue, or some unique dialogue could tie the two parts of the piece together.

    I’d read more. Great job!

  7. Daniel Beerse says:

    I want to thank everyone for the kind words of encouragement and the really good suggestions for my story (I will be using many of them).

    In retrospect, I realize I could have done a much better job with the lead in, so for what it’s worth here is a tad more information: This scene is only a small portion of the flashback Jonathan is having and it was triggered by a letter he found tucked away in a notebook that he hasn’t seen in almost twenty years.

    I find flashbacks challenging, I’m too tempted to “tell” and not “show” enough, but I’m working on it. Overall this online critique session has been a very good experience for me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s