Leticia and the No Right Answer Monster

I just realized that I’ve been blathering on about doing revision, and I’ve never said exactly what I’m revising. Other than it’s a novel, but then, you knew that.

It’s my Camp NaNoWriMo draft from July, code-named “Leticia.” It’s a political thriller, and very hard sci-fi. I wrote a little about my main character in this post from July. Having stopped floundering, I’m now creating a scene chart as suggested in Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Revisions. It’s slow going, in part because Leticia is first-person, and Ms. Yardley’s outline allows for switching point of view. There are no POV switches in a first-person novel… and I’m using that as my current excuse.

Partly though, I’m daunted by the amount of work left to do. I’ll need some serious research–the state of the art has changed since I worked as a rocket scientist in the Dark Ages. And there are whole sections of plot and characters that are just, well, given a quick drive-by blast in my draft.

One scene at a time, Sandra… I need to focus on creating a scene chart of what I’ve got. Then I can see where I need more scenes–and I will need more scenes. I suspect I’m not going to get out of this for fewer than 100K words before cuts. Then I can revisit my characters’ motivations. Then I can realize my Martian setting more fully. And then….

Well, you get the picture, I’m sure. It’s a slog. I know some authors find this to be the most exciting phase of writing. Maybe later I’ll agree. For now, not so much.

All I can say is that I am far more impressed by published authors than I was before I started this journey. This stuff is not easy. Doing a structural analysis of a rocket engine part–that’s easy. Writing automatic exam software to accompany a textbook–that’s easy. This is hard, because there is no “right” answer. There are no written customer specifications other than what I glean from my own reading and the advice of other writers. I fight my terror of “no right answer” every step of the way.

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