When it comes to editing and perfecting our novels, we need all the help we can get! Today, author and Municipal Liaison A.K. Child shares her advice for those NaNo novelists with a complete draft and who are wondering what comes next:
November is over, and if you were successful, you should have at
least 50,000 words of novel sitting on your computer (and on the cloud, a few thumb drives, and in a hard copy, just in case!). And even if you didn’t quite reach 50,000, you still have the workings of a draft to your name. Some of you
may have finished a novel, and
others may have been working on something else, but finishing is key.
Reaching those sweet, sexy words, “The End,” is just so
the sake of argument, let’s pretend you reached a “happily ever after,” and
you have a full draft sitting there, teasing you.
“You’ll never pick me up again,”
it taunts in its whiney, ill-formed
voice. “What will you do now?”
But that mocking pile of pages is so very wrong about your tenacity and
dedication to creativity! You did manage to finish a draft. You did get to the coveted “The End.” It
was all you. Don’t let that draft get the better of you now. Show
it you are the master of your own destiny!
time to edit!
Wait…it might not actually be time to edit. It will be soon, I
promise. First, you may want to take a break. Put your draft in the
freezer. Think about something else. Binge watch all those shows you
missed while you were writing in November. Detox from the caffeine
now that you’ve had a rest, you can start the editing. Getting away
from your piece for a little while does a couple of things. First, it keeps your mind from imploding. Second, it allows you to look at
your story with fresh eyes to see the errors you might otherwise miss. Third, it gives you some time to think about things you may
have skipped over, like names or that massive plot hole your
characters decided it was best to cover with a tarp and never speak
how does editing work? Well, that depends on your story. If you are
like many writers, you may work on different scenes in random order.
The first thing to do is put those scenes in logical order. Make a timeline! This will
allow you to see where any gaps might exist. If you’re like me and
have to write in logical order from beginning to end, you can skip
this step, unless you just feel like rearranging stuff to
procrastinate. Then go for it.
that you have your story put together, the best way to edit is to
read it. You can do this on a screen or print out a hard copy,
whatever works for you. You may want to read it aloud too (especially
in public, because that’s always fun!), so you can hear the words as
well as see them. The errors have a way of standing out if you
perceive them differently. This is neither a fun nor fast process,
but it is necessary if you expect to show your work to other people, especially if you want to publish it.
you’ve gone through your story, it’s best to share the love. Find
beta readers. Relatives are usually the worst, and friends aren’t
much better. They may not know much about writing and may not give
you critical feedback. Writer’s groups and other writers are the
best reviewers, plus you’ll be able to sell your books to your
friends and family and they can write reviews for you later.
hope this gives you a small idea on how to move forward. Good luck,
and let me know when you’ve published so I can read your
Child is originally from the West Coast but now lives on the East Coast, making a living by editing audit reports, and other writing.
She has self-published two books, Steamroller and The Scow:
Free Flight. A.K. is a regular participant in NaNoWriMo and is a
co-Municipal Liaison for the Northern Virginia region. She also
writes original graphic novels/comic books. Visit her online to learn more.
Top image licensed under Creative Commons from Sarah Browning on Flickr.