I’ve reached the second act of this revision to The Storm. So far things have been a lot smoother than the first time I read through it, and honestly that’s been very encouraging to me. It’s important to me as a writer to feel that my work is getting closer to being finished with each pass, not just being changed for change’s sake.
Anyway, here’s a link to the previous revision of my story if you want to compare it to my work today, now I’ll get along with it.
It was very difficult to hold the boat steady in the rolling waves, but the true challenge would only begin after Harry had his end of the rope secured. Towing another boat was dangerous even in fair weather. They would have to maintain constant tension, since the more often the rope slacked and snapped taut the more likely it would break. They would have to gauge their speeds so that Harry’s boat didn’t come careening into the back of Oscar’s. They would have to account for the fact that Oscar’s boat would be riding up the crest of one wave while Harry’s was still down in the valley of another and vice versa. They would have to keep the line straight between them and not at an angle, or else they might roll each other into the drink.
This first paragraph was hard for me. In the end I’ve only made slight changes to it, but I went back and forth on each one of them. There may yet be more work to do on it.
In short, there were many things that could go wrong, that probably would go wrong, and any of them could easily end in destruction. For any other fisherman in their hamlet Oscar would have faced those dangers gladly. But for Harry?… Well, evidently he would still face them, but there was nothing glad about it.
Why did it have to be Harry, Oscar wondered. Of all the men that could have been caught out here, why did it have to be the one he could never forgive?
“Alright, I’m ready to go now,” Harry’s voice came from the radio.
“I’ll pull forward until the line gets tight,” Oscar returned to the matter at hand. “Then you throw your engine on and give whatever you’ve got to keep us aligned. I’ll do the pulling and warn you for every turn.”
“Of course Oscar. And…thank you, I really didn’t think anyone was going to come for me.”
“Don’t mention it.” It wasn’t a polite deference, it was an order. Oscar pushed the throttle control forward and the engine hummed loudly. Slowly his trawler edged forward.
As Oscar came close to the end of the rope’s length he eased back a little so that he would hit tension as gently as possible. Even so, there was a powerful jolt when the last feet of slack pulled out of the line. Oscar’s vessel shuddered from stem to stern and its boom groaned ominously, but nothing broke, and at last the boom gave a counter-groan as it settled into place.
“Alright,” Oscar said into the mic. “I’m going to bear a little to starboard here. You just follow the turn.”
“I know, Oscar. I know.”
If you know so much then why are you the only one out here with a crippled engine? Oscar thought bitterly. Sure, bad luck hit them all, but it seemed to hit Harry a suspicious amount more than any of the other sailors.
Oscar turned the wheel, swiveling his stern twenty degrees. The most efficient route back home would be to make a wide right turn to starboard, go until they were past the cape, then turn the rest of the way around until they were pointed back at the docks.
Of course making this turn meant that Oscar’s boat would be at a slant to the waves, and they were much larger than before. Each one of them thundered against his hull and drenched his deck with their foaming spray. Oscar looked west to see where the Broken Horn lay, but anything further than three hundred yards was shrouded in murky black. It was as if they had been submerged in an ink bottle.
I took out the line “alone in their own, thick darkness,” at the end of that last paragraph. It felt like a moment of me telling the audience how to feel about the situation, rather than trusting them to get that already from the visual of ink in a bottle.
Suddenly Oscar heard a reverberating whine from behind and he turned to see Harry’s boat sliding to starboard, failing to keep up with the turn and pulling Oscar’s vessel at an angle.
“I said stay straight!” Oscar shouted into the mic.
“I’m trying!” Harry’s panicked voice shrieked back. “It’s just my motor can’t keep up! It’s too much!”
Oscar gave a cry of frustration, but spun his wheel towards port. They would just have to try a shallower angle, one that Harry’s waterlogged boat could still handle. Oscar took the angle-of-attack from forty-five degrees to thirty, but the rope was still moving the wrong way, now scraping across the corner of his deck.
He reduced down to twenty-five degrees, but still no. The rope wasn’t slipping anymore, but it continually wavered back and forth.
Twenty degrees and at last the rope moved back to center.
“We’ve got it! We’ve got it!” Harry’s voice was flush with relief.
Oscar wasn’t relieved, though. Far from it. At this shallower angle it would take more than twice as long to get around the cape, meaning they’d be spending that much longer in the heart of the storm.
But he didn’t have time to dwell on that misfortune. The storm’s darkness had become complete, so that each wave was hidden behind the streaking, black rain until it was already upon them. Oscar had to strain all of his senses to guide them through every change with only a moment’s notice. He led them forward as the waves rose like sheer mountains, tipping their boats skyward and then breaking across their bows in a fury. Oscar gripped his wheel with white knuckles and locked his knees in place.
I greatly reduced the above descriptions, calming things down a bit from its original melodrama. And on that note, I’m going to call it here for today and pick things back up a week from now.