Of Writers and Prose: After NaNoWriMo. Now What?

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbWell, I did it. I completed the National Novel Writing Month goal with a total of just over 51k. I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not, but a mad dash of writing 5k during the final week and I caught up and crossed the goal line a day early. I’m still not finished my story though. Just a couple more chapters and it’s done, but I accomplished what I set out to do.

 

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

It’s been just over a week now since the end of the competition. Some of you might feel a little drained (like me), and some of you might still hold that excitement. The fact you’re one step closer to accomplishing your goal in incredible. You’ve come a long way, so trust me when I give you this little piece of advice.

Put it away. Don’t look at it, work on it. Nothing. Trunk that puppy for at least a month, and by all means DON’T SEND YOUR NOVEL OUT TO AGENTS OR PUBLISHERS!

I can’t stress that last statement enough.

National Novel Writing Month is a bit of a miss-labelling. It really should be called National First Draft of a Novel Month, because what we’ve accomplished isn’t anywhere near ready to be called a novel. Sure, it’s over the required word count, but it needs revisions, and edits. Please don’t think your novel doesn’t. All authors, even the well-known ones, understand that a novel only comes about after revisions and edits are made. Plot elements that need to be tidied up or flushed out, dialogue made better, prose tightened. Some people like to start on it right away, but I suggest you let it lie, so to speak. Give your mind some time to relax. It doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about your novel, just the opposite. If an idea comes to you, jot it down. If a good conversation pops into your head, jot it down, but don’t work directly on your novel. Put it away, enjoy the holidays, and start with a fresh mind in January.

Enjoy the holidays. Relax, spend time with family and friends, because come the new year, we dive into revisions and edits, and if you think NaNoWriMo made you anti-social, just wait until you’re deep in revisions…

Of Writers and Prose: Reaching the daily NaNoWriMo word goal.

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbWe are just over one week into National Novel Writing Month, how are you doing? If you’re an old hat at this, you’re probably whipping off the required 1,700 or more daily word goals like a pro, but for the newcomer or casual writer that can be a little more difficult.

Don’t beat yourself up. That’s a lot of words. It can be challenge to stretch a scene out, but I have a trick I use—dialogue. It’s great for exploring the relationships between characters or exposing some hidden plot twist. It doesn’t matter if the conversation wanders a bit. Remember, NaNo is about getting the FIRST draft written. No edits, no revisions, just sitting down and writing. If you’re an outliner (like myself) it’s okay to stray off the jotted path and explore. You never know when a plot bunny or intriguing scene might suddenly appear. Organic (pantsers) know what I’m talking about. That freedom to just let your fingers do the typing and see where it takes you. NaNo is really the only time I ever let my fingers do the walking, so to speak.

Kind of like what I’m doing with this post. 😛

Basically what it comes down to, is that it doesn’t matter how you get the words down, just as long as you get them down. Remember, turn off that inner editor and just have fun with it. As for me, I’m pushing along. My idea of reaching a 3k daily goal was sidetracked almost from the beginning when I did something to my back. I can’t sit for long periods of time and I had to give up the comfortable place sit in to write, but stretches seem to be working so I’m hoping to get back to some kind of high word count this week.

So tell me, how are you doing keeping up with your daily NaNo word count? Any tips to stay on track?

NaNoWriMo Goal: – 90,000

Total words so far: – 13,578

Ever wonder why some agents stop taking queries in December?

One of the best feelings a writer experiences, is that moment when they can write the words The End on their manuscript. A warm, fuzzy feeling takes hold and it spreads to every part of our body. It’s a feeling of accomplishment. After all, writing fifty-thousand words in thirty days is a tremendous feat, and you should cherish every bit of your accomplishment. Congratulations, you have the start of something beautiful, and that’s a lot more than many writers can say.

So now what? Once that giddy feelings subsides, that dream of becoming a published author is one step closer to reality, but don’t jump the gun. Resist temptation and put that manuscript away. Let your brain rest for the month of December. Enjoy the holidays but don’t touch your novel. Write something else if you have the urge, AND under no circumstances should you even think about submitting your novel to an agent or uploading it to Amazon and Smashwords.

Why? Because it’s not a novel. Not even close. Not yet.

Right now, what you have is fifty thousand words (or more) of a potential story. There are grammar mistakes and spelling mistakes. The plot probably wanders off a few times, and you characters are two-dimensional with dialogue that is weak and flat. Is that what you want people to read? Your novel needs revisions, edits, and more revisions. It needs the plot holes filled and all plot bunnies put to rest. In other words, it needs to be the best it can be. Yes, there are some writers who can send out their first draft, but you’re not one of them. Besides, those writers have honed their skill for years, maybe decades. They know how to craft a story, but even then, they’ll hold back and do revisions and edits as well.

You want to be one of those writers. The ones who take the time to learn how to write, to create stories that keep readers coming back for more. That is how you become successful. That is how you become a true author.

The Great NaNoWriMo Debate

November is a special time for writers, as the awesome NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins. People from all over the globe participate. I did back in 2008. It was my first year and I completed it. I wasn’t very successful the following year, though and I haven’t participated since, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s a great tool for writers; new and established.

I’ve heard the nay-sayers split hairs and say that a novel can’t be written thirty days, but NaNo isn’t about what it isn’t, it’s about what it is. Sure, at the end of the month you have 50,000 words of crap, but it’s the foundation to a story, and that’s a lot more than what you had at the beginning of the month, right? Note I said FOUNDATION. A NaNo story is the base outline of a future great novel. Please don’t embarrass yourself by sending it off to an agent/editor. It’s a start, not a completion.

The best thing NaNo gives a writer–apart from the first draft of a novel—is discipline. In order to complete you must write at least 1,666 words per day. This may mean you’re writing when everyone else is asleep, or maybe you skip that family outing. Your next chapter, scene, sentence has to be at the forefront of your mind. When I did NaNo, I was thinking about dialogue and scenes while eating dinner with my family, grocery shopping, even when we visited in-laws for our weekly outing. Being a serious writer means spending some serious time with you projects, and NaNo helps the budding author learn the discipline it takes to conquer procrastination and finish the WIP.

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