Tom lay on the ground under the trees, wet. Soaked to the bone from the saltwater swim.I'm confused.
“No,” Tom groaned. “No,” trying to block out the fact that he was alone.
(This is not necessarily an unforgivable thing, so near the beginning, but I'm not going to put up with much more of it.)
He knelt on the forest floor, then stood up. His fourteen year-old body felt tiny, like a matchstick in a swimming pool, dwarfed by the towering evergreens and endless seascape. The cold breeze chilled him but he barely noticed, still numb from the shock of the accident.I'm not sure I buy this description. People are often aware of the difference in size between themselves and the world, but to my own instinct, they're more likely to feel the world is big rather than that they are small. Each person is, to himself, an entire cosmos.
I still don't know what's going on here. If I were reading submissions in one of my grumpy moods, I might have stopped already.
Grey-black clouds covered the late-August sky. Rain fell lightly but steadily. Six-foot waves pounded the shore on the outer coast of Blake Island in the waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The rocky points framing the cove to the north and south were awash in a white froth, an angry sea.Oh, that would definitely be the end. The author seems to have given up working the setting into the narrative and has just plonked a paragraph of description in. Many of your readers will be giving up around now.
Eighty miles of rugged coastline separated Tom from the nearest town, plus two ocean crossings each about five miles long, possible only by boat in the frigid water.Finally! Some indication of what's happening.
Tom shivered as he stepped out of the forest. He placed his hand just above his eyes, and searched the water. A narrow strip of slanted, rocky beach separated him from the big, white-capped waves that broke to the horizon. Behind him the dark green forest dripped.
He paced the short beach, slipping and sliding on the wrack of wet sea weed that made up the strand line closest to the forest. He stopped where a small stream carved its way toward the sea.
“Dad!” he yelled. “Dad!” His shoulders collapsed. No sign of him here. Nothing. He’s gone.
Tom looked toward the water again. He couldn’t even make out the rock reef in all those waves. The reef that had turned their two person kayak into scraps of fiberglass. With the rudder they would have cleared the reef, Tom felt sure of that.There's clearly some good tension to start off this story, but you're giving up its power to compel your readers forward by burying it in a bunch of (a) setting-description that could come later and (b) obscurities about your main character.
You don't have to lay all your cards on the table, obviously. But being unwilling to admit you have any cards until the reader antes up by reading several paragraphs is no way to play.