Our third First Impressions post for June comes from PK Hrezo. Her new WIP is YA magical realism and titled THE DESIREE.
In the not so distant future ….
It’s hard to believe I’m standing in front of it again, after all these years. The same scarlet script still forms the words, The Desiree, and adorns the old theatre entrance with a promise of elegance. My chest swells. For me, it goes much deeper than a slice of cinema decadence. I know the secrets she holds. Secrets I never understood until just before Stevie left.
The once white lightbulbs encircling the marquee are now caked with dust, the empty space inside, bereft of words. Directly below it, drawn black shades hide a deserted box office booth, its windows greasy with city grime. None of it shines like it should—like it did when I was a child. But that will be fixed.
“Daddy, aren’t we going in?” Chantal asks, hugging her chest. Her iridescent purse is hooked over her right arm in the same fashion all the young girls wear these days, camouflaged by its reflection of her yellow vinyl dress.
I stoop to her eye level and brush a ginger curl from her cherub face. “Patience, butterfly. I needed a good look at her from the outside, too. I’ll bet we can have it polished in no time, don’t you think? Did you notice the gilt framework around the box office booth—it’s the original artistry from 1931. Impressive, really. She left it in much better condition than I’d hoped. Not that I ever doubted she would. ”
Chantal’s big hazel eyes glaze over in boredom. “I’m tired of standing here. You said I could climb to the projector room, and get popcorn.”
A glossy silver and white shuttle pulls to the curb behind us in a swoosh of air, stopping a few yards away. Its doors open like giant mechanical lips and a slew of passengers step off the streamlined machine. They scatter toward the other buildings, none of them interested in an old downtown theatre dwarfed between the sleek modern buildings of the time. The intel-ogram advertisement from the side of the shuttle hones in on us, zooming right up to our faces, her image grinning like a game show hostess.
I like the premise of this beginning and the promise of mysteries and secrets to be uncovered in The Desiree. The narrator is an adult, so I’m predicting that the main part of the story will include either a flashback or some kind of magical return to his younger years. Just a guess, of course.
I think the first paragraph needs some restructuring. The first sentence includes two uses of the word it, neither with a clear referent. There are much stronger words used elsewhere in that paragraph that could be rearranged into a flashier opening sentence – something that combines the visual impact of the theater with the emotion it evokes in the narrator.
I would also cut the lines where the narrator talks about the gilt framework being original artistry from 1931. Chantal isn’t interested, and I’m afraid the readers won't be invested enough to care yet. There’s a place for this information, but I don’t think it’s the first page. Instead, perhaps the conversation between Chantal and her father could reflect how they see the theater with different eyes. He sees its former glory, but Chantal is disappointed by how old and run-down it is.
In fact – what if the entire opening revolved around that disparity? The narrator stands in front of the The Desiree, remembering her in all her glory, and then Chantal breaks into his thoughts to complain that the lightbulbs are broken, the marquee is blank, and the windows are all covered in greasy dirt. Perhaps she isn’t sure she even wants to go inside until he bribes her with the promise of climbing to the projector room? Just a thought.