Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #15

TITLE: Polaris
GENRE: YA fiction

I wake up to blue. Blue above me, blue around me, everything and everywhere is blue. I'm very warm, and I tilt my head back, the sun feels like an enormous heat lamp on my face. There is a schuss, a hiss, a fat slap of water against my chin, water in my eyes and nose and ears and mouth. Despite the wetness my throat is itchy and tight. My lips burn. I taste salt.

Only after the second lush slap of water do I realize I'm floating, drifting. Calm waves lift and lower me, and a rubber sleeve not much larger than I am surrounds me like a tube sock. My body is perpendicular in the water but my head is kept easily above the waves, and I bob along, a tiny human buoy, nothing in my line of sight but sea and sky.

I have no sense of myself, no sense of direction, nothing to explain what I'm doing here, floating out in the ocean. I know it's an ocean. Lakes don't taste and feel and smell like this.

A staccato of chirps, clicks and whistles pierces through the lull of waves. A dolphin, large and gray and slick as an inner tube, glides up next to me and slips through a harness next to my float, which seems to have been designed for the animal. It tugs the line and the bag rips open at the seams, rising, unfolding, and flattening itself onto the surface.


  1. I really like the first paragraph of this; possibly the second brings it into the realm of too much description (plus I'm not sure what it's like to be 'surrounded like a tube sock'?). The third brings it back to relevant information, I think.

  2. I agree about the second paragraph, but I love the first paragraph. I grew up on the beach and that is exactly what an unexpected wave to the face feels like. And accidentally in the ocean is not something you see everyday so it definitely makes me want to know what's going on.

  3. i love your writing style! you might want to get into some action/conflict a bit more quickly, though.

  4. I'm struggling--I don't know the MC, so it's hard to really care what is happening here. It feels a little like stream of consiousness. Especially for YA, you might think about starting or bringing in conflict sooner. The writing is strong, it's just the content isn't working for me.

  5. I like it! I like the style and tone and the fact that it's different. I'm guessing he's stranded in the ocean and I'm wondering why and how is it that the dolphin knows enough to pull him along and help wih his rescue--all things that make me want to read on to find out.

    You might want to be careful of the telling aspect. First person lends itself to telling so you have to work harder to show things.

    Only after the second lush slap of water do I realize I'm floating, drifting. - Cut 'only' and 'do' and you're showing instead of telling.

    My body is perpendicular in the water but my head is kept easily above the waves, -- perhaps, but I keep my head above the waves easily.

    Very nice!

  6. I'm right on the fence. Some of the language is great, creates tension and the good kind of disorientation/mystery; and some of it creates confusion of the bad variety (for instance, is the bag the rubber thingy?; does he really have no sense of himself, cuz he's pretty in touch with certain feelings...?)