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The Shimmering Waves

The Shimmering Waves

Girl meets mermaid...

2

Literary fiction


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Blueswan (United States)


The Shimmering Waves
It was a sunny day, but it wasn’t too hot. A cool wind whipped across the landscape,
messing with the tree’s hairdos and giving anyone who went outside a whiff of salty air.
So, it was the sort of day to go down to the water. Catherine went by herself every summer
weekend, so she decided to go as usual.
She had got up early that morning to invite some friends and pack an enormous lunch. She
had also brought the latest draft of a story she was writing and her sketchbook.
The beach was not too far from her house, Catherine thought. Why not wait
for her friends and family to come. Of course they would come, because it was her little
sister’s birthday (her name was Olivia), and Catherine had help plan a surprise party at
the beach.
But right now, she would take advantage of the solitude, Catherine said to herself. She
repeated the word solitude three times to herself, and sprinted into the water with all her
clothes on, something she would not have done if anyone was watching.
A huge wave came in, rumbling and rushing and glittering. Catherine jumped at it, but was
not prepared to be literally swept off her feet. The wave crashed down, and left Catherine
thrashing about in the water.
She had dragged herself back onto the beach when she heard a watery little laugh.
Catherine spun around and saw...nothing.
“I just imagined it,” she muttered, and looked in her basket for her story and a sandwich.
She flipped through her story, crossing things out, adding things in, and making notes.
Then she looked around carefully, making sure that no one was there, and started to read
aloud. But when she had finished, she heard the sound of a smothered laugh and someone
clapping. Again, Catherine spun around, and heard a little splash in the distance.
“It must be the neighbors,” Catherine thought, and went back to making her story better
than it was yesterday, with one eye on her story, and the other on the beach before her.
After a little bit, Catherine put down her writing and opened her sketchbook, leaving her
sandwich lying in the sand.
“What are you drawing?” said a voice.
Catherine jumped. Had one of her friends come down to spook her? She looked up and...
Her jaw dropped.
What she saw was not one of her friends, but a mermaid with short hair and a purple tail.
“Surprised?” said the mermaid, laughing. “Bet you are! I’ve been watching you for quite a
while, and I just had to meet you.”
“You have?” said Catherine, finding something to say. “You mean you were spying on me?”
The mermaid looked faintly troubled. “We-ell, I guess you’d call it that. I’m sorry if I...”
“No, please stay,” said Catherine, who was finding this mermaid very interesting. She had
never believed in merpeople even when she was an itsy bitsy toddler. “So, er...what do they
call you?”
The mermaid hesitated. “Well, my given name is Glitterdrops, but I hate that name.”
“I can see why,” Catherine said, laughing. “What do you want me to call you?”
“Sparksplash,” the mermaid whispered.
“Sparksplash! That’s a great name!” Catherine said. “By the way, my name is Catherine.”
“I like that name,” said Sparksplash decidedly. “I thought that story you were reading was
cool.”
“Really?” said Catherine beaming. “I wrote that!”
“You did?” Sparksplash said. “It was fabulous!”
And so the two of them dived into a long conversation. Catherine told Sparksplash about her
house, her family, her writing. She told her about Olivia’s birthday, about her friends,
about her cat, and about her studies. Sparksplash told Catherine about her family, about
her wanders, about secretly stealing up to the surface to watch people, about the time
she’d found a pair of scissors on a rock and cut her hair. She told Catherine about a
shipwreck she lived in, about her diving contests, and about her pet crabs.
“Wow. I wish I lived down there with you.” said Catherine.
“And I wish I lived up here with you!” said Sparksplash. They looked at each other and
laughed. Catherine unwrapped her sandwich and bit into it.
“What’s that? Can I have some?” Sparksplash looked eagerly at the sandwich.
“Of course,” Catherine handed her the sandwich. Sparksplash nibbled some and chewed. “It
tastes really weird.” she mumbled. “What time is it?”
Catherine checked her watch. “Drat,” she said. “You’ll have to get going. My family will be
here it any moment.”
“Oh my goodness,” Sparksplash said, “Mom must be thinking I was eaten by a shark.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Catherine said. “Can I bring Olivia? I’ll make sure we won’t say anything.”
“Yes. I’ll be here at noon.” Sparksplash reached down and untied the seashell belt she was
wearing. She slid two shells off. “One for Olivia and one for you. Goodbye!”
“Goodbye! Thank you!” called Catherine
as Sparksplash turned onto her stomach, and making little movements with her arms, slid
into the water.
Catherine turned around and saw Olivia running through the sand. In no time at all,
Catherine had scooped her up.
“There’s my birthday girl!” Catherine laughed and set her down again. She took the two
shells Sparksplash had given her out of her pocket. “Which is it, green with spots or
pink?”
“Ooo! Pink, pink!” squealed Olivia as she snatched the shell up.
Catherine looked at her shell and smiled. It was dark green with sliver spots. It made her
think of the shimmering waves.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
Lovely story! Very sweet, I found myself smiling 'out loud' as I read. The main character is appealing, sweet and genuine, as is the mermaid. I'm guessing that this is a story for children or teenagers, so I will try to review it within that context. I have a few minor editing suggestions: eg. “Goodbye! Thank you!” called Catherine (there is an unecessary enter here. There are a few others too. Perhaps it was a copy-paste error, not yours) as Sparksplash turned onto her stomach, and making little movements with her arms, slid into the water. adding things in, and making notes. (no need for a comma before 'and') And so the two of them dived into a long conversation. (probably don't need 'and' and 'so'. One or the other) I love that Catherine went plunging into the sea fully dressed. What a delightful thing for a character to do. I would like her to do more things like this so we can get a deeper feeling of her character. Give us a deeper insight into who she is. Similarly, could the mermaid have any more defining character traits? Having said that, you've done a pretty good job already, I imagine this will be fleshed out more in the rest of the story. Keep going! :-)

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
Your story was fun to read, light and real. I like that a mermaid loved your story.. I clap too for your writing.

Review 3:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • There needs to be more balance between narration and dialogue. Avoid overdoing the narrative and remember that dialogue can diffuse long claustrophobic text.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
Character conflict
  • The reader’s experience of the story is heightened when the characters’ goals, conflicts and purpose are clear. Perhaps giving this aspect of the story further attention could be worthwhile.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a difficult balancing act. Are you sure all the material is relevant to the plot, setting and atmosphere? Make sure each sentence makes sense to the reader, and each paragraph moves their experience forward.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • When writing is tight, economical and each word has purpose, it enables the plot to unravel clearly. Try and make each individual word count.
Point of view
  • Point of view helps the reader identify whose perspective we are engaging with, i.e. who is narrating the story. It can sometimes be helpful to double check that the point of view in the story is successfully handled. Ensure you consistently use the same point of view and tense throughout.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Atmosphere and description
  • A writer’s ability to create mood and atmosphere through evocative description is vital to the reader’s experience. It’s a real skill to craft out how the characters react to the setting and atmosphere and perhaps your story could go further in its description. The reader wants to experience the same sensory and poignant journey as the characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The scene needs to be vivid and realistic in order to hold the reader’s attention. Being concise and plausible at the same time is tricky. Giving this further attention could perhaps be worthwhile.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
  • Your strong opening was a promise of wonderful things to come!