Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The End of NaNoWriMo is Just the Beginning

So it's November 27th and there are three (including today) days left in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  You are probably getting toward the end if you aren't there already.  Personally, I'm at 54,615 and I'm sticking a fork in it and calling it "done."

So, we hope, you have pounded out 50,000 words (at least) by Saturday (I know, it'll be hard tomorrow; why they put NaNoWriMo in November with a major holiday in the U.S. I have no idea).  So now what?

I hate to tell you that you're maybe about half-way done with the work.

At the beginning of NaNoWriMo you signed an "Agreement and Statement of Understanding" which states, in part:
During the month ahead I realize I will produce clunky dialogue, clichéd characters, and deeply flawed plots.  I agree that all of these things will be left in my rough draft, to be corrected and/or excised at a later point.
But I think a lot of NaNoWriMo participants forget the last part: "to be corrected and/or excised at a later point."  They hammer out a first draft and think they are done.  They aren't.

Here's what I plan to do with my NaNoWriMo writings:
  1. Let it sit a bit and "fester."  At least a week (the longer the better).
  2. Re-read and proofread and edit.
  3. Let it sit a bit and fester some more.  Another week, at least.
  4. Re-read, proofread, and edit.  Yes, again.
  5. Get as many people as I can to proofread and edit it for me.  They will see things I won't (if you read this blog you know what a lousy proofreader I am!).
  6. Have it read to me.  This is a great way to hear bad writing.  Make changes as you go.  (Also, the person reading will also see typos that were missed before.)
  7. Edit it again.
  8. Send to betas and incorporate any suggestions they have you think is valid.
  9. Smile, because now it's done (three or four months later).
If you are planning to self-publish, you might want to after step 8 have it professionally edited by someone you pay (yes, you have to pay).  If you have a publisher, they should edit it.

But please do not think that after hammering out 50,000 words of "clunky dialogue, clichéd characters, and deeply flawed plots" you are done.  That's the easy part.  If you want to be a writer, you have to finish the work and do it correctly.  The end of NaNoWriMo is just the beginning of your work.

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