Okay. Just validated my manuscript, and…I won! I won! I won! I wrote 50,000 words and won NaNoWriMo!
The dust settles, I calm down, and…now what?
One piece of advice given to WriMos is to silence your inner editor and just write. If you keep stopping to fix things, to edit, you’ll likely get stuck and not cross the finish line by November 30th.
So now, knowing you have a number of places where you said to yourself, “I’ll fix that later,” and you kept writing, per advice, you KNOW it needs editing. Or, you may be like I was after my first NaNo experience. I was convinced what I’d written was drivel and was poised to hit “Delete.” But my NaNo buddy from that year persuaded me not to do that. She said that it just needed some judicious editing.
So, I took a deep breath…unsquenched my eyes and started reading it. And you know, it wasn’t that bad. Oh, sure, there were places that made me cringe, but I thought, “She may be right. It may just need some editing.”
I’m glad I took her advice. That book is my best seller online.
You first-timers who’ve never before written a novel may be feeling overwhelmed at the idea of all the editing ahead of you. Take heart. Other writers have lived through the edit/rewrite trauma, and you will, too. But I thought I’d share some tips that might help you as they helped me.
So, sharpen that red pencil, and let’s get going.
First, if you’re not accustomed to editing fiction, you might want to get a couple of books that I found immensely helpful as I learned to edit my works. The first is “Self-editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King. The second is “The First Five Pages” by agent Noah Lukeman. There are other good books on the subject, but I found those two most valuable.
Be prepared to spend however much time it takes to make your novel the best it can be. Spend time assessing character arcs, storylines, and other underlying nuts-and-bolts issues of good storytelling. Good editing takes time. A lot of time.
Make several passes through your novel, reading it with your eye focused on one issue each time. I make passes looking for unnecessary words. And other passes ferreting out the overuse of adjectives and adverbs. And searching out redundancies. (You’d be surprised how many times you find over-used words. I sometimes get stuck on a certain word and it crops up continuously.)
When you’re sure you’ve fixed everything fixable, do another read through looking for typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes. There aren’t any of those, you say? As many times as you’ve read through it (and you’re thoroughly sick of the story by now), there couldn’t be one mistake left in it.
Oh yes, there can. And there are. Just try to make sure that YOU are the one who finds those lurking problems, not a reader.
And after you’ve done that…it’s time to discuss what you plan to do with your clean, polished, shiny new manuscript. But that’s a topic for another time…
Image © Hannah Chapman via stock.xchng