At present, I'm in the middle of three seperate projects. Incursion tells the story of a whodunnit in an alpine based cafe, set in Nazi occupied Austria. Black Sheep is the story of a family's dark secrets being uncovered upon the discovery of a body in the woods (written in the first person so it's a conscious experiment of whether a newbie writer finds this easier/harder than third person omniscient) , and The Bakers Dozen is the direct follow up to my first novel, Pelican Island continuing the story of already developed characters.
Suffice to say, I'm always considering (to varying levels of success) how each can both improve my own sense of prose, but also give prospective readers a very individual story with different themes, plot beats and (in the case of the Bakers Dozen) expand upon already introduced characters. Below is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of Black Sheep and is a passage I'm quite pleased with. I hope for anyone that reads this, considers it an effective passage that builds this sense of panic rather effectively. As ever, this is taken from a first draft (still in the works) so it'll never be perfect. So be kind :)
I hit the water, sharp spikes of Winter stabbing through me and the horrible shock kicking my insides. I tried to adjust myself, grasping under the tangled mess. My coat had swallowed me entirely, and I felt the panic rising as I clumsily splashed out - my struggles only making things worse. So, I kicked more. Tangled more. Until that same panic, escalating between my ribs drew into outright frenzy.
I was drowning.
I fought more. Desperate and fumbling as the water rushed my nostrils. The coat was wrapping submerging my airwaves and preventing all escape. And reality setting in.
Oh my God! You’re going to drown.
So I kick more. Tangle more. Too scared to think straight.
You're dying! You're dying!! You're dying!!!
Whether by instinct or acceptance, I found my struggles eventually dying out. Limbs growing loose. Was this acceptance? Or would I begin struggling again in one last battle before succumbing? As I floated there, starved of air, my stillness has allowed the coat to unravel. And just as suddenly, I could see again. The coat had come loose. And though the asphyxiation had left me with just seconds of air, I’d drawn a lifeline. I felt my thoughts surge. Kicking upward with every ounce of energy. Eventually, emerging with the most primal, painstaking gasp before coughing for air.
You’re okay. You’re alive.
I still wasn’t sure if I was hurt such was the consuming shock of the water, but as I crawled to the muddy embankment nearby, I noted the cuts bloody and tracking both arms. I rolled to shore, tasting the soggy mud as I tried to push myself upward. But my hands were numb. I rolled onto my back, feeling the icy cold now. And then, I heard the distant voices calling my name. Luke's nearest. Growing nearer as I sprawled there shivering. I cried back, 'Over here.'
Then, he appeared, his face quickly contorting with alarm.
'Kate!' He cried and hurried to me, his expression stretching into a mask of terror. He stooped, down on his haunches, and his gaze soaking upon the lacerations that were tracking down both arms. 'Oh my God. You alright?'
I was still hacking for oxygen but nodded. 'We were so worried. We thought something had happened.'
'Something did happen.' I gasped between coughs.
He looked at me seriously, 'Something worse.'
I observed how his expression had suddenly darkened. With my memory jogging again, I recalled why I’d tripped in the first place. I'd been sprinting. Because she’d been screaming, 'Where's Lyd?'