This morning I thought of a way to fix the tone of that story and make it more optimistic about science and progress. Which also serves to strengthen the resolution of the main character arc in the story. I hadn’t even realized that problem existed until I was in the process of fixing it. Sometimes you can get too close to a story; you already know and expect certain things about it, and so it can be hard to realize you haven’t really conveyed those things satisfactorily on the page. That’s why it’s valuable to have trusted beta readers — something I’ve been sadly lacking in for most of my career.
I’ve been going through old drafts of that novelette I plan to restructure. I did a number of drafts before I felt ready to submit it, trying several things out, and I’ve found I already have drafts that contain elements of the changes I want to make. I guess I was on the right track with certain elements but then changed my mind. Still, this saves me having to reinvent the wheel with at least a couple of scenes.
The original version of this story had a main character based on myself, since the plotline’s a bit autobiographical. I had that draft beta-read by a colleague, and she told me the main character was extremely dull and unappealing. Ouch. That’s another example of being too close to a story, or in this case a character. You automatically sympathize with yourself, so it’s hard to step back and see if you’re making the character sympathetic to others. Anyway, I merged the character with a supporting character whom my beta reader found far more charming.