So, you ‘won’… Now comes the hard part…

I’m both a participant in, and proponent of, National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) and I talk every year about preparing and taking part in the event. Well, today we’re talking about the other side of NANOWRIMO.

About this time of year, I do a lot of explaining to some of my friends (and a few other WRIMOs…) that winning NANOWRIMO gives you a complete draft of a book and some nice goodies. It does not give you a finished book. And, it definitely doesn’t give you a published book. There’s still a lot of work to do.

This year I’m in the happy position of having written a manuscript inspired by both events in a world I’ve created and what a publisher said they wanted. I’ve got a manuscript that’s in the realm a publisher specifically asked for, but I still have a lot of work to do. And, so does every other NANO winner who hopes to be a published author with their manuscript.

It’s time to get to work, but we’ll get further if we work smart… The first step is to read what we wrote{link}. This step is vital, but occasionally painful (there’s nothing like finding out you kind of wrote a chapter backwards…).  The initial read-through helps you build a plan; it helps you figure out what you really need to do.

Then… it’s time to cut. Novice writers might want to add a bunch of stuff to ‘fix’ problems. And, we may add some things (I have a whole new chapter 1 on the list for next week…). But, adding things without preparation isn’t a good way to go. We need to get rid of poorly written material, things that don’t belong in the story, and other ‘wonky bits’ right up front; then we can write the new parts we need to and reshaping the stuff we want to keep.

If we add more words, they’d better have purpose and impact. There needs to be a good reason for any addition (if you’re stuck in the mud you don’t get out by adding more mud…). These things need to be thought out carefully, and possibly even discussed with others…

And then once we get the new writing in, we’re back to cutting. It’s the nature of things in writing that a good finished piece is shorter that the draft that preceded it. We’ve done the work; we’ve figured out how to say thing better.

The truth is it will take more than one edit to get things right. After we finish an editing pass it’s time to read it again, and figure out what needs to be done to improve that draft. The time will come when the project is done and ready to publish but that takes time, and usually several additional sets of eyeballs and minds reading the work.

And, if we want the whole thing to be published there’s a whole separate task/decision list regarding publishing, and another about marketing (but those are stories for another day (and probably better suited to my FMP blog…)).

Going from first draft to finished book is a big effort, even for NANOWRIMO winners. And, I’d better get back to mine. It is possible to turn a first draft into a published book (I’ve done it… And I will do it again). If you have the desire and the will, you can do this dear reader!

And, either way, see you next post!

 

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