NaNoWriMo 2013 is officially done and in the past. Sure, it’s only been two days, but I’ve been enjoying every moment since. Not having to write and regaining some of my lost sleep has been amazing. I actually slept for 11 hours yesterday and it still didn’t feel like enough. But the creative drain that is the month of November is officially over and I completed the task at 150,370 words. I wrote a contemporary fantasy to completion and just under half of a soft science fiction novel. But with all those words behind me, it is time to start looking ahead.
Just because you wrote all the words in your novel, doesn’t mean you are done, especially if you followed the tips that some NaNo participants provide to help you boost your word count. I hope you didn’t because when it comes to editing the lump of words waiting for you it’s going to be a lot of work. The large segment of your novel that you just wrote could shrink exponentially, just by cutting out the crap and nothing more. I’ve never been a big fan of rework, so even during my first year, I didn’t try things like giving people long names, or using people’s tweets or facebook statuses. I did, unintentionally, write without using contractions. Turns out, it is a bad habit, I’m still working to fix to this day. By only creating as many possible contractions as made sense, at the time, my word count dropped 11k. I hadn’t even fixed anything yet.
The process of editing is long, hard, and annoying. There is no way around it. However, the likelihood of any of you producing a novel at a publishable level from a NaNo first draft would be astonishing. Chances are, the novel will need several rounds of edits before a beta should even see it. And then at least one other round of edits. Yes, this could take months, heck, even years. Not to mention, if it is your first novel, it may never be good enough (there is still a chance it will). Editing can be even more draining than the process of writing, but it is just as necessary, even more so. Good editing will make a novel shine.
Well, obviously the next step is editing, but jumping into it immediately isn’t always the best idea. Personally, I like to take a month off from the novel to let it simmer in it’s own juices. It also gives me a chance to forget my own novel. Sure, I know the general plot line still, but all the nuances and little things I added in fall to the wayside. With all forgotten, I’m able to cut unscrupulously and identify where things need to be adjusted. I don’t like dealing with absolutes because everything is different for everyone. However, there is one absolute I believe in: You need to love your manuscript, but never get too attached. This is because if you get too attached, you won’t see the obvious flaws and if you can’t see the flaws, it will never be as good as it could. Not to mention there is always the chance that it simply needs to be scrapped, for a short time or forever.
How did NaNoWriMo turn out for you? What are your next steps?