Well, I’m nearly halfway through the latest draft of The Storm. That surprises me, I feel like the plot is more than halfway through, apparently I spent longer with the sailors battling in the heart of the storm than I realized. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up cutting out a good deal, or maybe its good for such a large portion of the story to take place here. I guess I’ll see as I go.
As always, here’s the link to the latest draft if you want to reference the changes being made, and now let’s get into it.
“Now, Harry! Get back in line behind me!”
There came a heavy thud as the rope between the boats ran out of slack and the full weight of Harry’s vessel tugged at Oscar’s.
“Full throttle, Harry, full throttle!” Oscar cried, punching his own speed up to maximum. The next wave was already upon them and they would need all the speed they could muster to push through.
Oscar’s boat spun its propellers valiantly, but it grew slower and slower as it crawled towards the peak of the wave. And as it lost its momentum the stern tried to follow the path of least resistance, wanting to fall off to either one side or the other. Oscar spun the wheel back-and-forth and applied the throttle in controlled bursts, trying to counter the boat’s shying and keeping it pointed forward.
Then came a sudden blow from behind and the sound of crunching! Oscar’s boat had slowed down faster than Harry could turn out of the way, and Harry had rear-ended him!
“Harry!” Oscar shouted in anger, but then he felt the push. Harry’s engines had come to life and he still had considerable momentum, even against the slope of the wave! It gave Oscar the push he needed and he was able to steer his way through the crest of water. Then the two boats rushed down the wave’s backside, restoring both to their full and proper speed.
I like this sequence, but in my last draft it felt wordy and confusing. I’ve pared it back a good deal and think it’s looking better now.
“Alright Harry, that was lucky,” Oscar pulled the mic back to his mouth. “But you keep your distance, you hear?”
There didn’t seem to be any response, but then Oscar realized he still had the button on the radio locked down. He released it just in time to hear the last of Harry’s reply.
“–and I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want your ‘sorry,’ Harry,” he shot back. “Just competence.”
Together the two men settled in to the next dozen waves. Oscar tried to keep the two boats moving forward at a steady clip, but that meant consuming a lot of fuel, which they were running dangerously low on. Harry, who had been fighting against the storm for more than an hour longer was running particularly low on it.
“Uh-oh” Harry’s concerned voice came over the radio.
“What is it?” Oscar demanded, but then he felt the strain of Harry’s boat pulling against his own and he knew.
“I’m out of fuel.”
“I–I think so.”
“Don’t you have a spare tank?”
“Yeah, I used it already!”
They came to the rise of the next wave. Oscar’s boat started to burst through the crown, but Harry’s boat wasn’t able to maintain speed. It held Oscar’s boat like an anchor, and he felt himself sliding backward with the wave. Harry gave a cry as his own boat cut low through the wave’s summit, totally flooding his deck and threatening to smash the windows of his wheelhouse.
“You still there?!” Oscar demanded as they finally broke through to the other side.
“Run out to the front of the boat, here comes my spare tank.”
Oscar locked his wheel in place, grabbed the plastic tank from under the seat, and dashed to the back of the boat. He paused to pour a fifth of its contents into his own fuel-starved engine, then flung the canister through the air and into Harry’s waiting arms.
As Oscar looked backwards he tried to pick out the Broken Horn and determine if they were far enough away from it to turn around. That spare tank wouldn’t carry the two of them for even an hour, so did it even make sense to keep pressing forward?
And in answer to his questions he saw only blackness. The Broken Horn wasn’t visible at all. Oscar couldn’t even see forty yards distant. During this last hour they might have pushed well away from the cape, or they might have been sliding even closer to it! He just couldn’t tell. And whenever they made the decision to turn, whether now or later, they still would have no way of telling what their situation really was.
“Oscar!” Harry’s voice called through the howling wind, his hand pointed fearfully ahead. Oscar turned around just in time to see his vessel sliding up the ramp of the next wave!
Oscar muttered a deluge of insults to himself for being such a distracted fool as he turned on the spot and sprinted towards the wheelhouse. Too late, though. The wave burst across the prow of his boat and he had to grab the nearest line for dear life. His feet swept out from under him as endless gallons of water poured into his body. All the world was confusion, and all he could do was hold fast to the line and hope to come through the other end without washing out to sea!
Finally the flood did abate and he was still standing upon his deck. But he was standing sideways! For without his guidance the boat had been entirely at the whim of the wave, and was now careening far to starboard, likely to capsize at any moment!
I’ve made some little edits here and there, but just now I cut out an entire paragraph that delved more into Oscar’s fears of being swept off the boat. It wasn’t particularly bad, it just wasn’t contributing to the story and so it was bogging it down.
I often find that editing is easier with a little gap of time from when you first wrote the material. It’s hard to let go of a paragraph when the memory of the effort it took to write it is still fresh in the mind. But given enough time, anything can be cut out for the greater good.
And with that, I’m going to call it good there and pick things back up again next week. See you then!