I’m not quite to the end of this draft but getting very near. Today I’ll be covering the climax of the story, and then next week I’ll do the conclusion. Each time I’ve finished a draft I’ve been anxious to see how it all comes together with the final read-through. I don’t believe that this is my last draft, but I’m hoping to be close to it.
Here is the link for draft three so that you can compare it to today’s work, and now we’ll get started.
But Oscar did not have time to linger on being sick. His whole boat trembled from stem to stern, and he snapped his face back up to make sense of what was happening.
Try as he might, Oscar could not make sense of it though. The situation was entirely out of hand. With the two boats inverted to one another, and the next wave already rolling upon them, and the unpredictable buffeting of the wind, and the compromised rudder, and the gallons upon gallons of water rolling in their hulls, there were simply too many competing forces to keep up with! The boats swayed and pivoted erratically, they alternately dipped in the water, spiked up on one end, and spun in utter chaos!
“Come on!” Oscar snarled, desperately fighting to take control. But the more his hands fumbled over the controls, the more his boat over-corrected one way and then the other, only adding to the pandemonium.
Previously I just said there were too many competing forces, but now I’ve added the list of what they are. I think it serves well to remind the audience of how the situation has grown more and more complex and convince them that it would be totally overwhelming now.
The next wave hit, and all the world became water. Its torrent poured into the wheelhouse and slammed against Oscar, knocking his feet out from under him. He tried to get his bearings, tried to make sense of the wind and the sea, tried to figure out what way to maneuver his vessel…but he was helpless before the mayhem of the sea.
I’ve cut down out the parts about Oscar giving up hope. I want to have Harry’s confession be the final straw that breaks Oscar’s back instead. And as we come into that confession, I want to change it from Harry sounding soft and calm to sounding empty and broken.
“Oscar…” Even though Harry’s voice was hollow and quiet, Oscar heard it clearly over the storm. “Oscar, we’re going to die if we keep up like this. But I’ll bet you still have enough fuel to get around the cape…or at least you would if you weren’t towing me.”
“But I am towing you, Harry,” Oscar wrestled his wheel, trying to hold is straight as it bucked to the left and right.
“Oscar, I knew it would be you who came for me. I just knew it. The sea knows I’ve done wrong by you…and it’s brought you here to make things right between us.”
“Harry, stop. I don’t want—”
“I lied to you Oscar.”
The nose of Oscar’s boat thrust high into the air, then slapped back down with a sharp crack. Oscar let go of the mic, fastening both hands to the wheel as Harry continued.
“I told you all about that storm that came when I took your son sailing, and I told you he forgot to tie his safety line, but James was too bright for that. He secured one for himself and for me. Did it all on his own, just as soon as he knew we were in real trouble. And then he helped me dash all around the boat, trying to tie everything down. I went to the stern, and he went aft. But the boat was reeling side-to-side, and each time seemed like it would be the one that finally threw us in the drink.
“Each wave swamped us; half drowned us! I was praying and cursing with every breath I took. Some of the rigging had come loose again, so I made my way back to the mainmast and undid the knots and threw them back on. I didn’t even check what they were for, I just pulled out the slack and made them tight as fast as I could.
“Then the next wave fell on us, the biggest one yet. It was a froth! I couldn’t see. I couldn’t feel what was in my own hands. It seemed like an eternity, but finally it washed away, and I was facing towards the rear of the boat and…and I saw nothing.! James–he…he just wasn’t there anymore!
“Somewhere in the confusion I had undone his safety line, Oscar. Somehow, in all my blundering, I pulled it up with all the other knots, but then failed to secure it back again. And when that wave hit us, it took him out to sea in an instant. I–I killed him!”
Oscar slipped on the water in his cabin and fell to his knees. His head rolled back, mouth open. No sound came out, but his whole body heaved with cries too large to escape his throat. He only held onto the wheel by his fingertips.
“And I didn’t have the courage to tell you the truth, Oscar. I let you believe your son was lost because of his own mistake. But that was a lie!”
I’ve trimmed this up, taking out the descriptions of Oscar’s collapse until Harry concludes his confession. I’ve also removed imagery that was too similar to other moments of the story. I’ve come to realize that in this moment Harry’s words need to stand on their own. Everything else is a distraction.
Oscar’s heart beat like it would tear him right in two. “Oh James,” he croaked. “Oh my boy!”
“I undid the wrong lifeline that day, Oscar, and for fifteen years I’ve been waiting for someone to untie my own line because I’m too much of a coward to do it myself. So…so why don’t you go ahead and cut me loose now? Let me go and make for the shore while you still have a chance.”
The suggestion stirred something in Oscar, and he fought down the sobs, clenched his fingertips, and contracted his arms. By sheer force of will he raised himself back to his feet and dropped his gaze to the controls before him. There, on the left, was the button to release the line from his boom. He could press it right now, and it would cut the cord that bound him to Harry.
Through the climax and into the final act! Next week I’ll finish up this draft and I’m quite excited for it. See you there.