After my first draft I felt that The Storm needed a more fleshed out body, with more obstacles to exhaust both the characters and the reader. I therefore added a great deal of material in my second draft, which I have now proceeded to trim down a great deal week after week.
I’m very curious with my next read-through to see whether I’ve retained that sense of overwhelming labor though. The best case scenario will be that I have trimmed each individual moment into its most clean and pleasant-to-read form, but that they will still combine to create a sense of herculean labor. The worst case scenario will be that I’ve polished down the individual moments to the point that the overarching pacing is broken between them.
I’m very much looking forward to finishing this draft so that I’ll be able to take it all in and see where I have landed along that spectrum. As always, here’s the link to the latest draft if you want to reference the changes that are being made, and now let’s get into it.
“NO!” Oscar shouted, fumbling hand-over-hand along the rope, trying to make his way back to the wheelhouse. The next wave would surely roll his boat the rest of the way over, leaving him hanging upside down in the water, boat suspended overhead!
Suddenly there came a great creaking sound and the entire boat was yanked back to port, returning to its hull. As the upper edge of his boat rotated downwards Oscar found himself facing the Broken Wing. Harry had moved to the Last Horizon’s side and used their tether to pull the boat back upright. Oscar gave a grunt for his thanks, then dashed to the wheelhouse and took hold of the helm and throttle.
“Are you alright there?” Harry’s voice called nervously over the radio.
“Yeah, I’m here–” Oscar said dismissively. “I was–I just had–I’m alright now.”
He released the mic and his whole body trembled. His eyes welled up in tears but he refused to let them run out. He had to suppress the emotional breakdown that was lurking in his periphery, had to push through to survive. Do that first and then collapse in a heap on the floor.
Added in the above paragraph because it felt like too drastic of a transition to Oscar deciding that they turn around. Showing that he is at his absolute limit should help to justify that decision.
“Harry, let’s get out of here,” Oscar decided.
“You mean turn around?”
“Yes. We’re taking too much of a beating. Let’s hold steady through this last wave, then turn back.”
The next wave passed without incident and the two men began the arduous process of turning around. They were not able to make the turn in a single passing of the waves, and so they had to do it in degrees, slicing up and down the crests at angles, until at last they had their backs to the rolling tide and were pointed towards the shore.
I greatly simplified the above sequence. I once again was asking the reader to get lost in the minutia of exact turns and degrees. Here I reduced it to saying that they made the turn in degrees. It is easy to think that more details will make the picture more clear, but usually they only get in the way.
“Alright, now we keep a steady pull to port!” Oscar instructed. And so, at the low point of each wave the men pulled their boat towards port, pumped the throttle forward, then straightened back out and slowed down whenever the tide rose in another wave.
“And keep your eyes open wide!” Oscar shouted into the mic as he stared intently through his own window. “If you so much as wonder whether you’ve seen the cape, you call it out!” He reached up and turned off the overhead light and covered the blinking LED on the radio, casting himself into complete darkness, the better to see through the storm outside.
The above paragraphs went from talking about looking for the cape, to how they maneuvered around the waves, to looking for the cape again. I’ve rearranged things so that we get out all the maneuvering taken care of first, and then the search from the cape is uninterrupted.
Of course they might not be able to see the cape, even if it was right before them. The storm-mist that pressed in on every side was so black and thick that it was probably indistinguishable from rock face. What would truly let the sailors know where they lay was if they saw the beacon shining from the lighthouse. So long as there was no light, they were still in danger.
One dark minute slid by, and then another. Then another three. And each one of them felt like a greater pronouncement of doom upon the lost sailors. How many minutes could they spare before they would be upon a stone-hard reckoning?
“Further to port!” Oscar commanded.
Oscar spun the wheel thirty degrees further to the left, and he did not straighten back out when the next wave came upon them. This would take them around the cape more quickly, but it also created the unsettling sensation of being tilted to starboard as they glided up the wave, then rolled to port as it left them in its wake. The boats threateningly sloshed back and forth, but it wasn’t enough to roll them onto their sides.
I’ve trimmed things down here and there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I lop off entire sections with my next read-through. With my next editing session I should be able to get right up to the door of the story’s climax, and I’m looking forward to that. See you next week!