Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cue the Killer Robots

It's Sunday afternoon, Ron and Benny are napping, and I'm in my home office, trying to write.

I'm trudging through the second revision of my first novel, a science fiction story. Originally named "The Wanderers" (the word "planet" Greek for "wanderer"), it is now titled "The Secret Soldiers."

The Secret Soldiers are, of course, 10,000 killer robots chasing an accused criminal named Rodney Jackson. The robots were just a neat sidenote in the original draft, but their numbers grow with every revision, and now the damn things are beeping madly all over this latest draft.

I'm almost afraid to tell people I'm doing this, since the most common (and rational) response would be "You're still messing with that thing? Get a life -- you wrote it three years ago!" Well, yeah, I know.

The thing is, I'd like to send it to some book agents, and "Secret Soldiers" is nowhere near ready for that. First of all, it's too short: 70:000 words. It needs to be at least 10,000 words longer, and unless I want to include a list of names for all 10,000 killer robots, that means I have to write.

And for me, adding 10,000 words isn't as simple as typing up 40 more pages and calling it a day. When I did the first revision on this novel, then a 50,000-word draft, I cut 5,000 words out, then wrote 25,000 more. Gives me a headache just thinking about it. I added some new scenes between Ares (my villain) and Zodiac (Earth's Supreme Chairman, don't ask). Then I gave my heroine a 20-page stop at the planet Saturn ("the slum of the Solar System").

That's another reason I don't talk about this novel to people -- it makes me sound like a complete nutcase.

Anyway, I'm determined to send it out to some agents who claim to like this sort of thing. But I need to transform these messy pages into a polished, 80,000-word manuscript. (God, just thinking about these numbers makes my head hurt.)

It all sounds slightly insane, but it's got to be easier than reading the next book on my Military History Reading List (remember that?): "The Origins of War," by Donald Kagan.


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