dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

 

ZoeOur second submission for First Impressions comes from Zoe Byrd. This page is from her adult novel, FINDING HOME.

He was sitting on the front steps of the Laundromat when I pulled up to the curb. It wasn’t his usual spot, so I had to wonder what was going on. We had been doing this dance for the past four months. Sunday mornings I would arrive at 6 am, he would be walking out and would return for his things in about half an hour, if we passed in the doorway we’d say “hello,” nothing more really. It wasn’t that I wasn’t attracted to him, I was; I didn’t want to be a nudge. It was just too early in the morning for conversation, and he didn’t have the look of a big talker. This morning was already different. It was January and far too cold to be sitting on cement steps at this ungodly hour. I got out of my car and went around to the trunk to retrieve my laundry bag thinking, “He must be freezing his butt off. What’s going on?” Hefting my laundry, and moving past him on the steps, I nodded and said, “Good morning.” He smiled as I passed him.

The temperature change upon entering the steamy room was always a bit of a shock in the winter. The condensation on the front windows almost obscured the view of the road. The room itself was lined with front- and top-loading washers and dryers. Vending machines containing tiny boxes of detergent and fabric softeners stood in the corner. Interspersed with tables, a row of multicolored wooden benches ran up the middle of the room.

It became evident why this morning was different. Not there to do laundry, someone else had invaded our turf. When I entered, the drunk was kicking the change machine. His evening pursuits not having worn off, he was still pretty hammered. In search of a warm, dry place to crash, he wandered into the all night Laundromat. He stopped what he was doing and stumbled around the room grasping onto machines for stability as he approached me. I didn’t even get to unload my bag before he made a play.

 

So, I’m guessing the fellow sitting on the step outside changed his routine because he knew the girl was going to show up any minute and encounter this individual in the Laundromat. He stayed to make sure she was safe. Nice guy! And a promising beginning, if so.

One of my first thoughts, reading this passage, was that the first paragraph is long and contains quite a bit of information. I suggest breaking it into at least two smaller paragraphs and including a brief description of the guy on the stoop as well. After she says that he was attractive would be the perfect place for it. At least give us his age, maybe in comparison to her own, which will tell us something about the narrator, too.

Likewise, I think we need a better introduction to the guy stumbling around the Laundromat.  Introducing him as “the drunk” suggests we already know about him, or at least, the narrator already knows about him. It could be switched to “a drunk” – but I think it would be better to describe him as a man who appears to be drunk. These lines — His evening pursuits not having worn off, he was still pretty hammered. In search of a warm, dry place to crash, he wandered into the all night Laundromat. – suggest the perspective of an omniscient narrator, not a first person protagonist who can only know what she observes.

Finally, I get why Zoe listed all the steps of “the dance” that had been going on for four months as a list, but wouldn’t it look better if it was punctuated like this and not a run-on?

Sunday mornings I would arrive at 6 am. He would be walking out and would return for his things in about half an hour. If we passed in the doorway we’d say “hello.” Nothing more really.

Readers, what do you think? Zoe, thanks for sharing your page with us. Marcy will have her own comments over at Mainewords, and Zoe can be found at her blog, Rewritten.