Marcia slowly walked through the smoldering ruins of her home, shocked to see the destruction caused by the unexplained explosion that might have also killed her. If not for John's timely intervention
[Junkies get interventions, not heroines. Specify what he did here.]
If not for John grabbing her, throwing her to the ground and crushing her into the road with the weight of his manly body -- get the picture? -- she would at this moment be winging her way to Heaven.
[Assuming she isn't going the other way for doing it with John in that closet at the Halloween party five minutes after meeting him. Need some good girl guilt, plausible deniability, and couldabeenworse here.]
Perhaps she deserved to die. Marcia still felt scalded by shame over her wanton and wholely inappropriate behavior toward John at the Halloween party. Somehow she would have to accept that she had been under a demonic spell that had forced her to have sex with the first living being with a pulse she encountered. Thank heavens it had been John, who had of course immediately realized that the only way to break the spell was to know her in the Biblical sense of the word know. Otherwise she might have ended up doing it in the back yard with the host's Great Dane.
[Nicely done. I'm starting to smell RITA. Can you work in a line of some soul-wrenching regret for not saving it for the wedding night?]
"Don't think so." Marcia bent to pick up a scorched, twisted picture frame that had once contained the photo of the kids. Now the image of poor little Jimmy, Raymie, Jennie, Suzie, Ralphie, Igory, Brucey, Consuelaly, Supreme Beingly and BillyJoeBobbyRaeBobBilly was a bubbled mess.
[Who are these kids again?]
She sighed, dropped the scorched, twisted picture frame, then bent to pick it up again. It had once contained a photo of the kids in her summer reading group who hadn't quit the program to go look up porn sites on the library's computers. Now the image of poor little Jimmy, Raymie, Jennie, Suzie, Ralphie, Igory, Brucey, Consuelaly, Supreme Beingly and BillyJoeBobbyRaeBobBilly was a bubbled mess.
She closed her eyes and held the destroyed picture against her breast. "Oh, kids. You were my rainbows, my kittens, my unicorns. You mattered to me as much as John, as much as . . ." She began to sing softly. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know--
[COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!!!!! NO SONG LYRICS!!!!!! And why the HELL is Marcia walking through the ruins anyway? According to your timeline the house exploded ten minutes ago -- see pg. 21. Fire fighters would still be there soaking it down. Is her jumper made of asbestos?]
Marcia stopped singing. Time rushed forward as the moon raced across the sky, the ruins became a soggy but safe blackened mess that the firefighters had thoroughly soaked down. "Oh, kids, you were rainbows, kittens, unicorns, whatever . . ." She began to sing, although her voice was too soft to hear the copyrighted lyrics. "Mumble mumble mumble."
[Boring -- get rid of this whole kid and singing thing, it's not working for me. Where is John? He's been gone for at least twenty mins. Too long!]
Marcia tossed the ruined picture aside. "John isn't here right now. He's off getting us a motel room. Can I take a message, or would you rather write one in the margin?"
[Ooooo, motel room scenario, much better. Let's end this scene and move onto that.]
"No." Marcia reached above her present paragraph and ripped the line of dialogue about the motel room out of the page.
[Hey. Cut it out.]
John pulled up to the curb, climbing out of his Beemer and hurrying over to Marcia.
[I thought we agreed to switch out the Beemer for a Harley.]
"No," Marcia said through clenched teeth, "you thought you'd call John's Beemer a wimp ass car and demand he trade it in for a Harley. Which he hated, so he traded it back in the final draft of Chapter Two. You could have read it, but no, that was when you took that personal day from work so you could have your back waxed and your thighs cello'd. Remember?"
John looked at the gaping hole in the paragraph above them. "Uh, honey, what happened to the dialogue up there?"
"A character has to do what a character has to do." Marcia flung a hand toward the face hovering over their page. "Ask her about the new motel room scenario, since she's writing the book now instead of editing it. Go on. Ask Saran Wrap Girl. She probably wants us to pick up a herd of sheep on the way over. As long as they're sheep that will feel scalded by shame over their wanton and wholly inappropriate behavior."
[Oh, for Christ's sake. You know, John, I have twenty-six other manuscripts I have to edit before the end of the week.]
John frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
[This is your author's first novel. It can also be her last. I'm just saying.]
Marcia turned her face into John's broad shoulder. "It's so unfair."
[See? She's got a shoulder now instead of a face. You need me.]
Marcia turned her face so that her cheek rested against John's shoulder. "It's so unfair." Behind John's back she lifted her hand and folded down all but her middle finger.
[Hey. I saw that.]
"Now, ladies," John said, pulling Marcia's hand around to rest over his heart and covering with his hand the obscene finger gesture she refused to quit making. "I'm sure we can come to some sort of amicable compromise on these revisions."
"Compromise?" Marcia wailed.
"I'll stay and do a walkthrough of the ruins of your home with you, darling, while we have an emotionally-rich verbal exchange," John told Marcia. "Then we'll go together and check into the cheap motel room with the bed equipped with the faulty magic fingers option that starts to spontaneously vibrate just as we begin falling asleep in each other's arms. I'll be too tired to do anything, of course, but that won't be apparent until the end of the chapter."
[Wonderful! Can you hurry up the walkthrough?]
"Maybe we should put on skates," Marcia snapped. "And what about the sheep? Hmmmm?"
John held up a hand. "In exchange, sweetheart, our sensitive, understanding editor will let you keep your summer reading group and your devastation over losing every material thing you own. Oh, and the massive guilt you felt about our closet quickie? Will be changed to a little guilt mixed with a delicious sense of naughtiness. And absolutely no sheep, ashamed or otherwise."
[Oh, all right, anything to keep this moving. I still want a mention of dismay for not saving it for the wedding night in there somewhere. I've already got my RITA accepting-for-the-author speech written.]
"See, darling?" John lifted Marcia's face and smiled into her tear-filled eyes. "It's all about compromise. Now, I'll go and call the motel from my car phone. You still have to retrieve your family Bible, which is of course the only thing that miraculously escaped the destruction."
Marcia eyed John's line about being too tired to do anything, waited until he squished away through the sodden charcoal that had been her home, and listened. As soon as the editor got up from her desk to walk down and steal the last Tab from the employee lounge fridge, Marcia quickly took out a red pen, reached up to John's last line of dialogue, and crossed out family Bible before writing in personal massage device.
A character had to do what a character had to do.