1242 High Street

This is from the opening paragraphs of a new story, coming to your e-reader later this month!

I clutched the newspaper listing against the steering wheel as I drove.

Crisp air and cicada song drifted in through the windows of my Honda. The Victorian residences of High Street gave way to larger estates, secluded from view by hedgerows and crumbling walls. The occasional turret or whimsical cupola was visible between the trees.

A placard announced the correct number. The patinated bronze numbers glinted dully in the sun.

The stone and iron gateway marking the entry wore its lichen with a sort of bitter dignity. Thick stands of pine and bony birches flanked the stone and dust driveway–flying buttresses of greenery.

When the house came into view, I brought the car to a crawl. A vine-choked gothic revival mansion rose up out of a rocky outcropping in the landscape, deeply shadowed by ancient oak and ash trees. Sunlight dappled the lawn and gilded the statuary in the formal gardens. I could just see the shining tips of marble wings off to my right.

The Honda’s tires crunched over fallen catalpa pods as I came to a slow stop under the porte-cochere. Their funk mingled with the scent of rotting oak leaves and wet fir needles on the air.

Good writing plants the reader’s feet into your story.

Good writing is also concise.

So when you’re trying to decide where to spend your words – where to use the most imagery and details and senses – I say setting is where it’s at.

What do you see? What does the air feel like? Smell like? What are you stepping on? Who else is there with your character or you? Time? Weather?

In 200 words.

32 responses to “1242 High Street

  1. It sounds like modern Gothic to me… look forward to the next part.

  2. I can see this house. More impressively, I can smell it. And this line: “the entry wore its lichen with a sort of bitter dignity” is gorgeous.

  3. I do something when I read something new. I close my eyes, reopen them, and imagine I don’t know who the writer is by name/gander/age/style/whatever. If I can’t tell if a writer is male or female or old or young then I know it’s excellent writing.

    This piece is so vivid in it’s imagery and so concise in it’s delivery that you can’t label it by gender.

    My favorite line: “Crisp air and cicada song drifted in through the windows of my Honda”. It’s simple but effective. You put me in the car. Awesome.

  4. Ahhhh…I remember this piece. You definitely didn’t need to fix anything about the descriptive quality. Each word helps paint the picture.

    Can’t wait to see the whole piece!

  5. Cannot wait for the whole story 🙂

  6. Good lord, I love this story.
    And I credit you for my rediscovered joy in reading.
    How could I have forgotten how lovely it feels?

  7. I see everything. You’ve managed to create a whole neighborhood with small details like the address placard.

    “bitter dignity” and “Their funk mingled with the scent of rotting oak leaves and wet fir needles on the air” both do such a lovely job of contrasting surface beauty with what lingers beneath.

  8. I can see, smell, sense everything here… Incredibly descriptive. And the best part? It wasn’t boring or redundant. It’s captivating and making me want to know more!

  9. Such poignant, detailed writing Cam! I’m immediately drawn into the setting, and craving to know more of the story. And concise? You nailed it.

    Loving this line: “A vine-choked gothic revival mansion rose up out of a rocky outcropping in the landscape, deeply shadowed by ancient oak and ash trees.”

  10. Beautiful!
    Like a postcard with perks. Smells and sounds.
    Sigh

  11. Pingback: Red Writing Hood – Setting | Write On Edge

  12. This is excellent I can’t wait for the whole story!

  13. Wonderful. Yes, I see and smell the place. I love the repetition of the “p”s in “Catalpa Pods” – great choice. And? I used the word “Victorian” in MY setting post, too. So we are psychic twins, no?

  14. I am having trouble commenting again. It works on some and not on other posts. This is perfect, I can’t wait to read

  15. This is beautiful.

  16. “The stone and iron gateway marking the entry wore its lichen with a sort of bitter dignity. Thick stands of pine and bony birches flanked the stone and dust driveway–flying buttresses of greenery.”

    Perfect description–it really set the mood into place. Plus, bonus for using the word ‘buttresses’. I can’t even remember the last time I saw that word!

  17. I was rolling in that Honda with your character, fantastic. My e-reader will be impatiently waiting to discover more about what brings us to this intriguing place.

    No pressure – XO

  18. Incredible. Your descriptions are impressive to say the least. Talk about taking your readers somewhere! Wow. My favorite line: “The stone and iron gateway marking the entry wore its lichen with a sort of bitter dignity.” Brilliant.

  19. And now I really want to know why she’s headed there!

  20. Ohhh a Halloween story, complete with gargoyles and a creepy mansion? I can’t wait!

  21. Love the house! I like the description as the car approaches too. Nicely done!

  22. I liked everything about this description! You did a wonderful job of making me see the trip to the house, the entry way and then the house and yard. I loved how you used these words, “The stone and iron gateway marking the entry wore its lichen with a sort of bitter dignity.” Oh, that’s good!!!

    This was a great take on the prompt AND makes me want to read more about this story. Thanks for sharing this:~)

  23. I remember this story! I love descriptions of the homes around it, I see them against the sky, I see her crouching dow looking for that number. I can’t wait to laod my nook up with this.

  24. Wonderfully descriptive! I love your line ‘A vine-choked gothic revival mansion rose up’ this felt to me that the mansion was alive and couldnt breathe.
    awesom.

  25. A new story & your pub’ing it…wonderful! Loved the bitter dignity in, “The stone and iron gateway marking the entry wore its lichen with a sort of bitter dignity.”

  26. I love that description, and the description of ‘planting your reader’s feet in your story’. Such a great way to describe it.

  27. Cam, I love all the texture here…stone and bronze, rock and “flying buttresses of greenery. So much good stuff to sink my teeth into.

    “A vine-choked gothic revival mansion rose up out of a rocky outcropping in the landscape, deeply shadowed by ancient oak and ash trees.”

    I love the idea of timelessness and agelessness here. It’s exactly my cup of tea, and I can’t wait to read more:)

  28. Fantastic writing and so descriptive. I felt like I am there. Feels like something out of a Sherlock Holmes mystery with the vine choked gothic revival mansion.

  29. Ok I am there…where are you taking us next?

  30. Beautiful writing ! I was really in the moment … like a 3-D pic in my mind’s eye . You definitely transported me to this mysterious location !
    Thanks for swinging by and commenting on my blog .

  31. Pingback: A New Short Story: Requiring of Care | Move Over Mary Poppins!

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