Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Secret Agent #17

Title: Soul of the Sea
Genre: YA Fantasy

A wingtip brushed my hair as the gull soared past my head and swooped down over the cove. My eyes tracked his movements, every tilt of his head, each flap of his black-tipped wings as he searched the shallow waters. The bird flexed his feathers, caught the wind and turned sharply. My body twitched in response, eager to fly with him. To leave the island behind, if only for a moment.

I set to work.

My soul lay tucked deep inside my ribs beside my heart, a ball of gauzy, shimmering white in my mind’s eyes. I gathered a piece of it in my grasp then pushed that piece out, casting it into the gull on an invisible line, hooking us together.

The gull continued his search, unaware of my sudden presence in his consciousness, but now I saw what he saw, felt what he felt. With a piece of my soul inside him, I, too, was flying.

From the gull’s eyes, I saw myself standing on the beach, barefoot, the summer breeze whipping the tangled waves of my brown hair around my face. I was still aware of the strands tickling my cheeks, the limpet shells woven throughout gently tapping my collarbone, but my mind was far above me now.

The bird caught another updraft. The movement tugged on the link between us—a flare of bright pain in my chest—but I held tight.

Our island always felt too small. Viewing it from the bird’s vantage only emphasized the feeling.


  1. I love how you are using the descriptors to world-build. I know so much about the character already, and my interest is peeked. I want to know more about what she can do, and why she is on an island. I would like to feel more of an urgency, a slight clue as to what, other than the world itself, should interest me. Does she want to leave? Is her island in danger? Is there some significance to what she is doing with the seagull?

  2. You have lovely poetic language, and this is a great opening scene. I'm immediately intrigued by the main character's power.

    One suggestion: does gull vision look the same as human vision? I'm pretty sure that birds don't see the same colors as us, and I think they see differently due to having eyes on the sides of their heads. My outdated school knowledge may be wrong, but this could be a cool aspect to explore if you do a little research.

    Hope that helps! Good luck!

  3. I love this beginning. Lots of powerful imagery. I like how the character wants freedom, which she kinda gets by tying herself to a bird, but we still get the sense that she’s stuck in her body. It’s an interesting source of tension. Well done!

  4. Very atmospheric! The only very small comment I have is that I'd like more clarity on the following:

    My soul lay tucked deep inside my ribs beside my heart, a ball of gauzy, shimmering white in my mind’s eyes. I gathered a piece of it in my grasp then pushed that piece out, casting it into the gull on an invisible line, hooking us together.

    I had to read further to understand and maybe that doesn't matter, but if it could somehow be clarified, it might make it even smoother. I think it should be "mind's eye" (singular) unless this is something peculiar to the story. I wasn't sure whether to take "gathered a piece of it in my grasp" literally (and how she would do that) and so her hands thrust out towards the bird or whether she was mentally gathering it and mentally pushing it out. Also referring to "mind's eye" seemed to indicate that she was imagining her soul there, but maybe that's the point she was seeking to grasp it?

    Anyway, a small niggly point. A great start.

  5. I really like the almost wistful tone to your writing, and the way you paint a sort of picture of a quest for freedom with your words. Really well done!

  6. I really liked this. Interesting idea, and it sets up so many possibilities! I would read more.

  7. This all very lyrical prose and I really digged it. However, the small things that took me out of the reading (which I was taught, and am still working on correcting in my writing) is the use of "my eyes" and "my body" doing gestural actions. With the first person, the "my eyes" feels distant, like they are a thing of their own. I would honestly just say "I tracked its movements," and "I twitched in response." These are things the character can control, unlike "my soul lay tucked," which she doesn't control. Hope that helps. Thanks for the read and good luck!

  8. There is gorgeous imagery and moodiness here, but the descriptive language doesn’t help propel the story forward as much as I'd like. The most effective line for me is the shortest one: “I set to work.”

    I’d tighten the descriptions a bit and establish tension/conflict early. Why is the MC so desperate to leave the island? What else does the gull see that maybe clues us in to what’s to come?