First Lines

The idea for this post comes from Tracey’s here. I haven’t posted the first lines of the novels whose first chapters I have up here, or the Coventry Carol, which I also have on its own page. These will be from my old work or other works in progress.

  “Ancestry,” Mrs Brown said. Lily scribbled down the word, a-n, an; cestry like chester, ancestry. Her mother took advantage of the moment to take a drink and look at the clock on the wall across the kitchen.

(Modern retelling of Lily’s story; outlined and just begun)

  My bare feet ran across hay stubble as I returned from bearing my load of the cut grass to the heap. Three days ago, a fortnight after the ides of Haligmonath, the men had come out with scythes to reap the hay, cutting it down and spreading it out to dry beneath the sun. Later we had come out to turn it. Today we were stacking it.

(Unnamed story set during and just after the Norman Conquest; a few thousand words done; will probably need at least one of the points of view rewritten)

  The new Mrs Abcott turned her back to the crowd of girls and young women gathered about her, raised her bouquet in both hands above her head, and threw it from her with all her might. It arched through the air above the eager upturned faces, seemed to hesitate, and fell.

(Wedding Story; a few thousand words done, scattered over various documents)

  “I wish those stories Grandma told me were true,” Audra thought as she got ready for bed. She stood by the window behind her bed and looked out at the quiet yard and the moon. Its light lay in motionless bands across her pillow, framing her silhouette on the sheets. “Even with all the bad things that happened, I wish they had been real. I do wish.” She closed the blinds and lay down.

(Unnamed, unfinished I-don’t-know-what-genre-this-is story, vaguely modern, involves dragons and people with wings)

  She was one of those American tourists, the young fair kind that come over now and then with a serious expression and a camera. Only she didn’t have the camera.

(Unnamed, unfinished story I really need to get back to, modern-ish; 2-3 thousand words so far)

  Steely. I want to be steely, like my father’s sword and his voice, like the queen my mother is, like the queen I ought someday to be. But I am not.

(Unnamed, as-yet-unfinished fantasy with a Mediterranean sort of feel that wants to turn into a fairy-tale retelling in spite of me. Only I’m not sure which fairy tale. About 3k done)

  Once upon a time there was an egg named Humpty Dumpty: Humpty because he had a humped back, and Dumpty because he was rather round. In his youth he developed a bad habit of sitting on walls, a habit of which his mother tried vainly to break him.

(“The History of Humpty Dumpty, in Prose (Not a bedtime story)”, short story, complete)

Lily’s knitting lay idle on her lap as she stared out the window of the train, but the novelty of riding one of the new-fangled beasts was lost in her loneliness.

(First line of the original version of Lily’s story, novel, 100,000 words, will never see the light of day)


About Nolie Alcarturiel

Creative Writing major and Philosophy minor, contemplating a Master's degree in Medieval History. I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon Era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
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12 Responses to First Lines

  1. Tracey says:

    Nice collection! My two favorites are the “Steely” one (how cool is a Mediterranean fairy-tale retelling??? YOU MUST WRITE THIS THING) and the “American tourist” one (which was rather intriguing). Quite the variety going on here. 🙂 It’s fun to see first lines all gathered together for comparison and contrast.


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      If it will be content with just being *a* retelling, and doesn’t have a particular one in mind, I may do it for Rooglewood’s contest, whenever they announce what the Something is.

      Getting all these out and looking at them reminded me of how bad some of my early writing is, but also, for some like the tourist one, how much I need to start writing them again. I may end up writing some short fiction for one of my classes, and depending on how long they go, one of these might be it. Length is almost always an issue, though — giving me a word limit guarantees I will double it.


      • Tracey says:

        Yes, that would be fantastic! I hope the idea meshes with whatever Rooglewood’s announced fairy tale will be. 🙂

        It’s good to see you’ve grown, though. If my old writing looked no different than my current writing, I’d have a problem.

        Ahh, word limits, how do I loathe thee… I can definitely sympathize with stories getting long or out of hand!


      • noliealcarturiel says:

        It has potential for Red Riding Hood, which I’ve heard speculations about. We’ll see. I forget when the announcement will be. It’s a pity that it’s the last one.


  2. Christine says:

    This is so fun! 😀 I really like getting a peek at all your different types of stories. I really love the American tourist one. I’m already intrigued! And the Humpty Dumpty one! That one is so great. “…a habit of which his mother tried vainly to break him” TOO PERFECT. XD

    This was all great! Thanks for sharing with us. ^_^


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      The Humpty Dumpty one has a lot of puns in it. . .
      Maybe I should post it. It’s actually not too bad.


      • Olivia White says:

        YES! Post it. PLEASE. ^.^


      • thegermangolux says:

        You brought it to a Scribblers meeting, if I remember aright.


      • noliealcarturiel says:

        As you wish, sister. (By which name should I refer to you here?)

        And yes, Isaiah, I did. That was a while ago. Everyone else brought something serious and I brought a story about an egg.


      • thegermangolux says:

        Eggs are a serious matter. It was life or death in the case of Bilbo and Gollum.”A box without hinges, key or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.”

        Poets have not been mysteriously silent on the subject of eggs, at any rate.


      • noliealcarturiel says:

        Perhaps someday I should write down and post my story about the hardboiled egg who hated romance. Olivia likes that one too.


  3. Tracey Dyck says:

    The contest announcement will be on June 1st. I’m sad about it being the last one as well, but I suppose it IS a lot of work for the judges.

    Red Riding Hood would be fun! My brain’s already churning. 🙂 (If it’s Rapunzel, I already have an idea in mind…)


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