Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Secret Agent #19

TITLE: Beneath the Waves
GENRE: YA Fantasy

There was someone in the water.

The towering waves lashed at the cliffs, sending a spray of water over the edge. Rika set down the protective ward she carried and stared at the blot on the surface of the ocean. No rocks were visible with the water this high, and it was too small to be the ruin of a long-sunk vessel or piece of debris, stirred to the surface by the climbing tides. And it was moving. A human-sized figure, swimming towards shore.

Impossible. The waters were cursed, inhabited only by the dead, the vaska. No one entered the waters and lived.

Rika stared at the figure. A memory sifted to the surface of her mind, as though dislodged by a restless wave.

Water. So much water. Nothing around but darkness, giving away to deeper darkness, an abyss that would rise to swallow everything. Panic rose as she realised she wasn’t breathing, but she found that she did not need to. She hovered as though weightless, as her limbs stirred the strange substance swirling around her. Her body had altered, her limbs loosening, shining with a bluish light. Her surroundings were the colour of a midnight sky, eerily beautiful and hauntingly silent.

She shook her head to clear away the memory. No one survived the water. So what approached the shore? The sun had not yet sunk, and Aeita, the first moon, had yet to make an appearance. The vaska never came ashore in daylight.


  1. There's some lovely lyricism here, and great, immediate worldbuilding. We know several rules straight off the bat: the ocean is cursed because it's full of the dead, no one ever survives swimming through it, and the vaska can only come out at night. Very neatly done.

    The only hiccups I spotted were:

    --the transition from Rika watching the human figure swimming through the waves, to then remembering being in the water/actually being in the water. I have the feeling that there's some formatting missing here, and that that paragraph might be italicized.

    --I'm also not sure on what time of day it is. "The sun had not yet sunk" makes me think it's sunset. Opening with a clear sense of time could neatly close the last two sentences so we know for sure that the day is dwindling and the person swimming to shore is on a dire timeclock.

    Aside from those tiny issues, this is a really strong start. I wanted to read on!

  2. I really liked most of this, I was intrigued immediately and wanted to keep reading. The second last paragraph really confused me though and pulled me out of the story. I loved the rest though.

  3. Agree with the others. I love the premise of an ocean full of the dead, that no one survives, and the mystery of who the person is in the water. But the flashback pulls me out. You might shorten it to one sentence: "A memory shifted to the surface. Water, so much water, nothing but darkness." Then it's enough for the reader to know something happened to Rika, but you don't take us away from the scene. Still, you have some great word choices, and I'm definitely interested in seeing what happens next!

  4. I like the idea and would keep reading. As others have said, the flashback was confusing. Formatting might fix that, or shortening it.

    Maybe swap the second and third paragraphs. Someone in the water isn't a big deal, until you hit the third paragraph and learn that never happens. That would make someone in the water more significant.

  5. The first sentence is someone is in the water, then parg 2 has Rika trying to figure out what is in the water, after we've just been told it's a person. Perhaps cut that first line to eliminate that issue.

    Then we're told no one can enter the water and live, and yet, there is that someone floating around, which creates a nice conundrum, because how can it be? But then Rika has her flashback and we learn that she has also been in the water and lived, so what she's telling us isn't true. People do come out of the waters alive.

    You've created a strange and interesting world, Perhaps patch up the holes to make it a more believable one.

  6. I love much of this. Like the voice. I have some problems, though, too.

    I like the eerie feel, the dead in the water, the one person in the water. I like the protective ward.

    I don't like that she knows the water is dangerous but when she has a memory of being in the water and not needing to breathe it doesn't bother her at all. If she really remembers it and it's not shocking, then it seems she wouldn't wonder who the person in the water is. She would know that you can be in the water. If it's not a memory she's been aware and it just comes on her in that moment, then she should react to it. Like, "What is this? Why would I have that kind of memory? I've never been in that water!"

    But she shakes her head to clear the memory and it seems that she's saying it's not a real memory. Because no one survives the water. Isn't that odd? To have false memories? Doesn't that shock her?

    So I love the voice and I would read on a bit to see where this is going, I'm a little afraid that it's not following a logical progression and that the character is not acting in a way that will make her feel real. In other words, don't let her not act logically for the sake of writing something intriguing and lyrical. Her actions and thoughts have to be motivated well.