After NaNoWrimo – Editing Part 1


So how we all feeling this morning? Any Wrimo’s take it to the wire last night? We had one lady on the Kent FaceBook group who finally hit the 50k at just before 11.30pm (UK time). I couldn’t go to bed before she’d finished and validated.

So that’s it, my official ML duties are over! Awwwww, it’s been fun, but now this is where the real work starts. We have our 50,000 words, so now what? The theme this month on the old blog will be editing, and to start us off, a guest post by Bridget Whelan who teaches Creative Writing. I think this will be very handy 😉

After NaNoWriMo
Three bite-size guides to editing and revising your NaNoWriMo novel.

PART ONE

Write drunk, edit sober – Ernest Hemingway

The relief is wonderful. Nanowrimo is over, done and dusted for another year. You have so much freedom and so much time to do other things. Some of you may even have a NanNoWriMo certificate to prove you took the challenge and won and – as long as you didn’t write your name over and over again – you should be proud of yourself. Very proud.
​Of course, some of us didn’t mange 50,000 words, but as long as you have more words written now than you did on November 1st you’ve made an important step in your development as a writer. And you know that yourself until a small steely voice sounds in your head and says, it’s all rubbish. And the bits that aren’t rubbish have been done before.
​That’s the voice that stops you writing. That’s the voice that NaNoWriMo silences with a frenzy of activity. That’s the voice of an editor. It’s a mean-spirited companion, dismissive of hard work and effort. It won’t offer any rewards for sticking with it, reaching goals and staying up late. All it cares about is what’s on the page and when you come to look at what you’ve written during NaNoWriMo, that’s all you should be care about too. Even when it means blood on the floor.

Three things to do before you pick up a red pen or press delete

1) Rest and Recover. You wrote in a fever. You need the story to settle in your mind and you also need to create some distance if you’re going to listen to that editor’s voice. How long? At least two weeks.
2) Read. Anything except your NaNoWriMo novel. Read poetry for the language. Read cheap trashy novels you hate to learn what not to do. Read cheap trashy novels you love to learn how they captured you. Read action novels for pace and crime fiction for suspense. Read horror and speculative fiction for imagination and fairy tales for permission to push the boundaries (A brother and sister abandoned by their parents and enslaved by a female cannibal? Did you go as wild during NaNoWriMo as Hansel and Gretel?)
3) Watch the video of Kurt Vonnegut describing how to plot a best seller. It will have you laughing and thinking.

Four things to do when you read your NaNoWriMo novel again

1) Breath deeply. Dive in. If you can, try to read all the way through in one sitting. Ignore your emotions: horror, embarrassment, mild pleasure, surprise. Read with a pen in your hand and summarise every chapter (or five thousands words if it isn’t broken down into chapters yet). No one will see these notes so they can be as clunky as you like. Stick to about 100 words for each summary – these are working notes and shouldn’t take up too much of your writing time
2) Imagine you are being interviewed on radio. How would you describe your main character? What does your main character want? No waffle: be specific. The radio audience won’t like vague phrases about rites of passage or someone finding themselves.
3) Even if you have written The End in big bold letters and drawn a line underneath it, consider possible alternative ways of resolving the issues in your NaNoWriMo novel.
4) Ask yourself if you want to spend a lot of time living with this story and the people who inhabit it. Vikki described herself as being haunted by the story she was trying to tell in first Nanowrimo writing. That’s a very good place for a writer to be.

Coming up in PART TWO (tomorrow) five ways of editing that first rough draft.

A great article Bridget, I will definitely be following your advice 🙂

Please leave a comment for Bridget with your thoughts and opinions, or pop over to Bridget’s Blog to say Hi

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