My work in progress

I’m never sure how much to share of my work in progress on my blog. I worry about boring people with it so by the time I’ve finished they’ll be already sick to death of it and then I worry about other people stealing my ideas. And there’s the problem of how much to share and how often. Surely no-one want’s to know every time you move a comma but if you start talking to people about the work you’re doing then when do you stop.

I’ve decided to experiment a bit with this idea and so in this post I’m including the first four pages of my current novel of which the working title is Dead in the Water. Bear in mind it’s only a first draft.

Dead in the Water

There was no moon that night which made the stars look bigger and brighter than Patrick Ryan had ever seen them. He felt as if he could reach up with his hand and pull them all down one by one.
“You idiot” he said out loud shaking his head.
“Talking to yourself Paddy; it’s the first sign of madness.”
Patrick looked round to see Captain George Morrison looking at him with that huge grin on his face.
“You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that Captain; it’s not polite” Patrick complained.
“I’m not polite” the Captain said.
“You got that right” Patrick agreed sending his cigarette stub over the rail in a tiny arc of fire.
The ship’s engines throbbed their endless refrain; the sea was as smooth as a mirror as the huge oil tanker nosed its way through the Indian Ocean. With the coast of Somalia only a few thousand miles away, piracy was a real danger in these waters. Patrick lifted his binoculars and scanned the surrounding water but saw nothing.
“Keep watching” the Captain said as he slapped Patrick on the back nearly knocking him off his feet. “We don’t want to lose another security guard.”
Patrick grunted by way of a response. The incident eight days ago had rattled everybody’s nerves. A group of Somali pirates had attempted to board the tanker but fortunately the state of the art radar system and the armed security guards paid for by the Arab sheiks had been enough to beat them off but not before one security guard had been shot and two of the pirates had been killed. It had been the Captain’s decision to post some lookouts on deck just in case the radar missed anything. It was an unpopular job, keeping watch because it was boring and dangerous at the same time but no-one complained.
Ducking his head Captain Morrison went through the hatch and climbed up a ladder to reach the bridge. The first officer, Richard Bradley, was checking the weather systems on the computer.
“All sunshine and smiles” he said as the Captain came over.
“At least the weather’s good” the Captain replied. “Nothing on the radar?”
“No Sir” said the crypto logic technician who was sat in front of the screen.
“I’m just going for a coffee; take over Number One” the Captain said.
“Yes sir.”
The Captain left the bridge and went down the corridor, ducking his head through the hatch that led to the canteen. The men all leapt to attention when they saw him.
“At ease” the Captain said.
The men returned to their meals. The captain signalled to the cook, Davy Pratchett, known as Crockett, to all the crew, to get him a coffee.
“One double espresso coming up.”
“Thanks Crockett.”
“I hope Bug-eyes is paying attention” Crockett said.
The Captain smiled, knowing that Bug-eyes was the nickname of the Crypto Logic Technician.
“He’d better be or he’s going to be feeling my foot on the seat of his pants.”
“I have no doubt of it Captain.”
The men who were off duty were playing cards, reading or sleeping in their bunks but the Captain could sense a restlessness in the air. It was like the electricity before a storm and it was making everyone nervous.
The first officer’s voice came over the intercom.
“Battle stations; incoming.”
There was a flurry of movement as meals, drinks and cards were abandoned. The Captain raced for the Bridge.
“Situation report” he barked.
“A small unidentified vessel approaching 25 degrees, port side” Bug-eyes said.
“Get the security on deck, all of them! Hail the oncoming vessel.”
The communications officer tried to establish contact but no-one answered.
“Fire a flare, light them up” the Captain ordered. “Keep trying on the radio.”
“The security are saying they can see shapes but nothing definite; they’re awaiting your orders Sir” the Number One said.
“Anything on the coms?”
“Nothing Sir.”
“Keep trying.”
“Security say that the flare shows a group of people in what looks like a dinghy; they appear to be wearing dark clothes and look as if they’re attempting to board; they want to know whether to open fire.”
“If they try to board then tell them to shoot.”
“Yes Sir.”
Only the beeping of the radio and the voice of the Communications officer could be heard. Then there was a crackle of gunfire. Then silence.
“Status report?” the Captain said.
The Chief Security Officer came on the intercom “Captain I think you’d better come down.”
“On my way.”
On the deck were a group of people. There was a young man shouting “What have you done?” A young woman was crying and there was a body of another woman lying on the deck. Her balaclava had been pulled off and her blond hair streamed around her face; she looked about eighteen and she was undoubtedly dead. A camera tripod was still gripped in her left hand.
“What the hell?” the Captain said.
“Murderers! Fascists!” the other young woman threw her self at the Captain.
“Who are these people? What is going on?” the Captain asked.
“EAA Sir” the Chief Security Officer replied. “We thought she was carrying a gun.”
The young man confronted the Captain.
“We are the Environmental Action Agency committed to saving the environment by direct action. You’re just not going to save the planet with a leaflet campaign. Our aims are…”
“Put these people in the brig”, the Captain said.
“Yes Sir.”
“You have no right. I know my rights. I want a lawyer. This is false imprisonment” the young man in charge yelled. The other five in the group murmured their agreement.
The Captain just walked away. He turned back.
“See she’s taken care off”, he nodded in the direction of the body.

9 thoughts on “My work in progress

  1. Wow! The scene started slowly for me (my English teacher mind was totally distracted by that first sentence that began with there — with no referent), but by the end of this excerpt, I’m completely hooked. I so want to know more about the Captain and what happens to this group of young people — as well as Patrick Ryan, who obviously will be changed the most. Write on!

    I also really appreciate your posting an excerpt from the current WIP. Bravo!

    • Thank you for your feedback Beth! Glad you liked it so far. The bad news is that I don’t have big plans for Patrick Ryan, I just stuck him in at the beginning. Maybe I should start with the Captain on deck because he’s the main protagonist? Still open to ideas on that!

    • Thanks for reading. I’m surprised how much everyone likes Patrick. I obviously slept through English class. Could you tell me where the grammar’s wrong and how I can fix it? Thanks.

  2. Hmmm, I’m not going to say you should pick the captain over Ryan for the opening, but you certainly shouldn’t switch heads as much as you do. At least give a space and an asterisk as separation so we have a clearer point for when we leave Ryan’s head and enter the captain’s. Otherwise, you could get distracted the way I did wondering if we were going to enter Bradley’s head.

    The end… well, I already don’t like our captain. Granted, he may have a wonderful reason for not being more polite to the people in the boat once he knew who and what they were…. (And being a jerk doesn’t mean he can’t be an awesome protagonist.

    There is a lot of “sleepy” language in the opening…. I think that’s good, if you foreshadow the conflict well, but at the moment the descriptions seem passive with only reader trust saying that something is bound to happen.

    I’m curious to see where you’re going to go with this,,, will the captain be some one we love or someone we love to hate? 😀 Btw, if he’s your protagonist and POV character, he probably doesn’t called himself “The Captain” (or if he does that</strong would be a cool bit of characterization there too).

    Just some quick thoughts from my very sleepy mind…

    • Am planning to do this in the third person but I’m already not sure what to refer to the Captain as. His full name is George Morrison, so should I call him George? I agree that constantly refer to him as ‘The Captain’ sounds awkward but surely his crew but refer to him that way. Hang on, I’ve just had an idea! Maybe I could get Patrick to be a first person narrator and tell the whole story from his point of view but the trouble with that is there are parts of the story where he just wouldn’t be there so what do I do then. Can you switch first person narration half way through the book and switch back again? Won’t that be too confusing? I think I need to work on making the Captain more likeable or maybe the story would work better if he is a bit of a shit? This is still very much a work in progress.

      • Even in third person, you have to consider what a character would call himself, especially if you are using third person limited (which is very close to first person).

        As for switching voices… I don’t see why not as long as you make clear delineations when you do.

        Also, keep in mind that having a bastard as a protagonist is both hard to do and really cool when it works. So if you can pull if off, go for it.

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