When it comes to editing, there’s no “one size fits all” approach. If you’re wondering how to get your NaNo novel polished for the presses, have no fear! Today’s post comes from Estonian participant and author Ene Sepp, who shares her advice for rethinking and revising your novel:
I found out about NaNoWriMo in 2013, and haven’t looked back since. Before then, I’d already published three books, but I wasn’t ready to call myself a “writer;” I still saw it as just a hobby rather than a career.
NaNo helped me to understand that I actually
call myself a
writer—and write a lot more than I first thought! Since 2013, three of my NaNo novels have been
published, and there is hope for the fourth one.
getting from a draft to a hard copy doesn’t happen in an instant. Sending out your very first NaNo draft as is won’t get you a publishing contract—if you’re lucky, you’ll get some very polite rejection letters. No publisher
wants to dig through a story with tons of
grammatical errors but no logic.
For me, the second draft is as important as the first. This is the only
way I can actually make my story good enough to share with other
The very first
thing I actually do is print my story out. It may seem like a waste of
paper, but for me it’s become an essential part of my writing
process. I print the story and, scene by scene, cut it to pieces. After
I have a pile of scenes, I place them on my living room floor
(praying there is no gust of wind), rearranging if needed.
I absolutely hate
scrolling up and down in Word, to find a more suitable place for some
lonely scene. Although I’ve moved on to Scrivener, playing
around with my scenes on the floor makes it a lot easier—and fun! When I am
happy with the new layout, I just retype everything. It takes a good
amount of time, but I can already clear out some grammatical errors
and make sure that everything is in order and sounds logical.
“Every editing session gives me the idea how I want to write my next book.”
scenes that need some fact checking. I try to do it while writing,
but if I can’t then it’s better late than never. This is also the
time where I think about potential beta readers. I start the search early so that when my story gets to the beta-reading-phase,
I can just send it on its way.
For example, my
latest book, I wrote about horses and riding—so I got in touch with
teenagers who ride in order to make sure I got my story right. In my fifth book, my main character had to deal
with her mom coming out of the closet, so I found people from the
LGBT community who could read the story and let me know if everything
was realistic. For my fourth book, I needed details about how a huge
lottery win is handled. I gathered up my courage and sent an e-mail
to the company that is responsible for lotteries—lo and behold, the answer I got was
very thorough, and so it found its way into the final version. Sometimes all you have to do is ask!
Every editing session gives me the idea how I want to write my next book.
After NaNo 2016, when my story was a huge mess (I’ve since found I cannot be a pantser) and I spent way too much time making it readable, I promised that I would start to put more effort toward making the editing process smoother!
And then… after
re-reading and rewriting the story, I can send it off to the publisher
and hope they are actually interested in publishing the novel I
worked so hard on.
Young adult author Ene Sepp started writing her first book when she was 14 years old and it was published couple of years later. By now, at age 26, she has published 6 books that have been very well received by the readers. She is published in Estonian but as she spends part of the year in New Zealand and USA. Ene is preparing to get her work translated and to start writing in English. Visit her online on Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Top photo licensed under Creative Commons from Mike Pratt on Flickr.