I’ve been tagged! Horror writer Rami Unger, the talented author of Rose, tagged me on his #FirstLineFriday post. My assignment? To post the first one or two lines of a WIP or a completed story. The rules of the meme:

  1. On a Friday, create a post on your blog titled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

Rami is writing a Gothic novel called Toyland, so in honor of Rami, I will post the first lines of my Gothic WIP, The Witch of the Manor House:

Red Cemetery Lane, the gravel road heading west out of Gillyville, Virginia, meandered through pitch pine woods and past black angus farms, crossed the creek where hemlocks thrived and night fog lingered, and poked its way up the hill from the historic slave cemetery only to dead end on a hardpan lot where fescue rooted, choked, and died with each optimistic spring. There, Tiny Skull Manor clutched the ground with its clawed footings and hummed.

Okay, what’d you think? (I won’t specifically tag anyone, but feel free to participate!)

Rami’s tag is particularly timely because Kathryn Ptacek, editor of the Horror Writers Association’s newsletter, set up a February Story-Starters Challenge. Each day in February, you write the beginning lines of a story. She’s interested in what people come up with and asks horror writers to email her their Challenge updates. (Ptacek’s email address can be found near the bottom of the HWA contact page.) I’m definitely doing this because I figure out of 28 (oh wait, leap year) 29 story starts, one or two good ones will emerge!

And in other news . . .

And, in other news, I was interviewed as a writer and blogger by horror author Jonathan Pongratz. Yes me, my first interview! If you want to take a peek (and find out what sport I did in college), check out the post on Jonny’s blog.

It’s been chilly here (in central Virginia), down to 24F this week. But winter just makes us appreciate spring that much more. Happy writing!

59 thoughts on “#FirstLineFriday

  1. Priscilla, the sentence is very atmospheric–almost verging on Southern Gothic (not that I am overly familiar with that genre). If you made it long and rambling to convey how the road meanders, then you’ve done a superlative job. If you did not do it deliberately, it does ramble a bit. (Neither way is wrong and if you didn’t intend that but are delighted that is has done so) then please keep it that way it is. I loved your interview. Very interesting and I agree with your assessment of central Virginia weather. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That interview was awesome, Priscilla! I too was one of those weird kids (not that you were!) who snuck into their parents shelves and “borrowed” adult books. I still remember the first time I tried to check out an adult sci-fi book at the library and the librarian told me I couldn’t 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, that happened to me, too. It went to the gorgeous Anchorage library when I was about 10, and I wasn’t allowed to check out a an adult thriller. Heehee, glad I’m allowed to now.:-) Thanks for commenting, Tammy!


  3. My first thought was that the first sentence meandered like the road. I think the description sets the mood. My only concern about putting it in the first sentence is that the reader might get lost on the road and not make it to witch manor. I am so excited for you having a writing community to belong to! You go!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fun challenge, Pricilla. I loved loved loved the second sentence. The first was a little long for me and I lost my way a bit, but it does a good job leading into that powerful second line. You could get the same effect, I think, just splitting it into two. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good. So you had me right up to “only to dead end n a hardpan lot where fescue rooted, choked, and died with each optimistic spring.” I thought it was just too long at that part. Also, I don’t know what a hardpan lot is and the fescue and reference to spring seem beyond the point of describing this road. If I was editing (which I’m not so disregard if you don’t agree!) I’d cut that last part I quoted and end the sentence, “only to dead end at Tiny Skull Manor.” It just has more oomph to it. I mean, red cemetary road ends up at a house with skull in the name. That’s really Gothic and cool.

    By the way, I also don’t know what clawed footings are, but the idea of a house clutching the ground is interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback. You are not alone in thinking that the first sentence is too long. I have some rewriting to do! Hardpan is that cement-like dirt left over after topsoil has been stripped due to poor farming practices. Footings are the very lowest, stabilizing part of a foundation. I’m glad you stopped by, JeanMarie.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oooh exciting! The first sentence is quite long, but I love the imagery and the atmosphere invoked. I’m also doing the first line challenge for February. How’s yours coming along? I’m looking forward to reading your interview. I’m so behind on my blog reading. Have lots to catch up on!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazing idea. Yes, I agree that it is a bit long but very atmospheric. Not knowing where the story goes it’s difficult to say, but perhaps it would give it more punch somebody’s point of view was introduced. Is this just a description or is somebody looking at the road and thinking this or remembering it, or… Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m late to the party, sorry!

    I really like your sentences. Like the others said, it’s atmospheric, and while I agree with them on the first sentence being a bit too long, it’s super easy to cut it up into a few shorter sentences. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

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