Friday, April 07, 2006

Diamond Shoals, Part 1 (Fiction)

(This one is dedicated to Kelly Parra, who sent me a link to a picture and challenged me to make it come alive. Here is my attempt.)

       A roaring wind consumed the sea. Driving. Furious. Mountains of water rose from the deep and smashed the land.
       Patrick shivered. The sand rumbled beneath his feet.
       No one spoke. They stared out at the listing schooner blown onto shoals. It looked peaceful in the distance. A sleepy maelstrom of whitecaps and spray.
       "Hup!" a voice bellowed.
       Six men lifted. The grit of the gunwale dug into Patrick's palms. Muscles hardened by weather still stung with the weight of the boat.
       The gale heaved, and Patrick’s collar slapped his chin. The rain returned, pelting him sideways. As wet seeped into his shoes, rings of dry pressed the sand where he stood.
       A wave unrolled and blasted a line down the beach. They watched the sea bleed out. The foam sizzled, then pulled back. Patrick offered a silent prayer.
       "Hup ho!"
       They trotted forward. Patrick's shins banged the stern. Ahead, another boom. Spray leapt up, and the wind tore it away. He tasted the salt. Boiling water cut cold across his knees.
       The keel struck water, and the men folded in. In pairs, they rolled over the side and scrambled to benches. They lifted the oars as the current dragged them.
       Patrick remained in the surf, his first task upon him.
       Fifteen feet strong, the next wave fed on the outward rush. Patrick's grip whitened. His feet dug sand.
       He braced, and the huge wall crested.

On to Part 2


Bailey Stewart said...

I think you met the challenge quite well. This is very good.

Bhaswati said...

That's wonderful. For me, the imagery you painted with words is even stronger than the picture. I could feel the gush of water and the gust of wind. Very well done.

I am adding you to my blog links section. Please visit when you can. If you add mine, I sure won't mind. I am Sury from AW.

anne said...

Having no 'nautical' (maritime? involving salt water and boats anyway) knowledge in French, chances were I wasn't going to understand anything in English... And I didn't.
Yet it was all happening rather vividly as I was reading. Quite a feat, no? Well done.

Bernita said...

Excellent, Jason.
But "shoes?"

Anonymous said...

Eve, thanks. :) I hope it will be an engaging piece.

Sury, thanks so much for commenting and linking to me! I would be happy to link back. Great to see other AW folks here. Writing like this is a delicate balance for me. I want the scene to powerful, but it's so easy to overdo it with description.

Anne, I'm glad it had an impact for you. Maybe it'll help to give you a quick glossary: shoal=a shallow area where ships can run aground; schooner=a sailing ship with 2 masts; astern=the back area of the boat. This story is about an old-style sea rescue of a ship in trouble.

Bernita, is it the choice of word (e.g., boots) or it is that he's wearing something on his feet at all?

Anonymous said...

Anne, I forgot gunwale (pronounced gunnel). That's the upper edge of a boat's side.

mermaid said...

I just love how there is discord and harmony with your characters and Nature. In the struggle, it's hard to perceive that they are one in the same.

The picture gives us a window, a glimpse into a larger world behind the lens.

Jay said...

What a great way to get inspired.

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Yay, Jason!! Wow, you have impressed me once again! Thanks so much for using the pic, and the tone and imagery are wonderful!! =D

Terri said...

Well done matey! The writing is really vivid and that is an amazing picture.

Ann Marie Simard said...

There is a rough, strong, raw feel about this. The sea. The language. You did damn well bring it alive!

I liked your super-duper pitch at Tanya's!!! Quite a marketer too...

I made it in one. But the question hook was missing....

Take care -

Ann Marie

Anonymous said...

Mermaid, I'm sure it's no secret that I view the world/nature/environment as one of the most powerful forces which affects our lives. We only have to compare the cultures of Saudia Arabia, the Congo, and Iceland to see it. I love exploring the impact environmental harmony and discord on characters.

Miss Jay, I never tire of staring into pictures and listening to the story it evokes in me.

Kelly, my thanks for the inspiration. Sharing the creative process with other writers is such a wonderful opportunity.

Terri, although Ireland probably isn't big on sandy shores, I did have an image in mind like Ireland's coastal villages where the local men provided the only chance of rescue.

Ann Marie, thanks, my friend! The word "fatal" in your hook really caught my attention. Just the kind of suggestion which starts turning pages.

Sandra Ruttan said...

You have talent beyond measure, Jason.

Jeff said...

Great beginning, Jason. :)

anne frasier said...


wonderful, jason.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, your kind words fuel me in those dark moments when I'm convinced I suck.

Jeff, thanks. :)

Girlgrownup, since haunting you is my goal, I take that as an enormous compliment!

Anne, thank you. :D In the next part, the fun begins.

Unknown said...

Nice work. It's amazing to me how a simple picture can say a thousand things for a story. Myself, I thought of something completely different when I looked at that image... (Something with mermaids, fantasy, and other elements).

Still, you brought out the visualization of the picture and put me in a totally different mindset.

Good job. :) t

Bernita said...

Struck me as if you're describing the launch of a coast guard life boat - so "shoes" seems out of place.Sea boots of some sort?
And you NEVER "suck."

Anonymous said...

Candice, thanks! The unique perspective we all bring is wonderful. You really see it in writing challenges where a topic is provided (like the one recently on Kelly Parra's Fictional Musings--see the link to the right). I love seeing what each viewpoint and writing voice produces.

Bernita, I understand now. The launch is an small, open, wooden rowboat. An old-fashioned rescue. I did think about boots, but they would be dangerous in that context (i.e., restrictive and prone to fill with water).

Linda said...

aaahh Jason I can feel the wind in my hair and the sea splash on my face :)

Anonymous said...

BeadinggalinMS, better have a wet suit for the rest! ;-)

Cie Cheesemeister said...

I am left wondering if he gets washed away by the wave or only terrorized by it. Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

Cheesemeister, answer above! I'm afraid it's not a pleasant day for a cruise.