Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Nanowrimo - What Now?

Okay, so you survived! Or maybe I shouldn’t make any assumptions, there.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say you survived and now have a rough draft (maybe very, very, very rough draft) of about 50,000 words.

What next?

Well, first of all, did you write to “The End”? Because if not, then you may have survived, but you’re not done. You must get through to The End, no matter how rough it is (rough meaning the process AND the pages…). If you did not get to The End, I would strongly urge that you NOT take a break, no matter how tired you are (well, maybe a day). You can slow down your schedule, set a lower per-day word or page count, but do not stop. Write every day, or every other day if that’s your schedule, but get the sucker done.

You may end up throwing away most of what you write, but it is a really, really, really bad idea not to get all the way through a story. That is how most books, scripts and probably most all other things in life worth doing are abandoned.

Conversely, if you DID get all the way to “The End”, then definitely, take a break. As long a break as possible. You should keep to a writing schedule, start brainstorming the next project, maybe do some random collaging to see what images come up that might lead to something fantastic - but if you have a completed draft, then what you need right now is SPACE from it. You are going to need fresh eyes to do the read-through that is going to take you to the next level, and the only way for you to get those fresh eyes is to leave the story alone for a while.

I am tempted to jump write in and post the blog I am thinking about on a process for reading and revising, but I will resist, at least for today, so that you really absorb what I’m saying.

1. Keep going if you’re not done –

OR -

2. Take a good long break if you have a whole first draft, and start thinking about another project.

And in the meantime, I’d love to hear how you all who were Nanoing did.

(Myself, I decided not to do the 50,000 words last month, because I was still in the outlining stage of my Nocturne book, part of The Keepers trilogy that comes out in Fall 2010, and I just knew I’d write a better book if I spent all the time I needed outlining. So I now have a 35-page outline, including some whole scenes, and now that I’m writing, seven pages a day on that one is a piece of cake, and much more fun.). It’s looking like I’ll have a first draft by New Year’s Eve, no problem! and I’m still having time to get a few pages a day in on my YA.).


Win three signed hardcovers!

Dark Scribe Magazine is running a contest and giving away signed hardcovers of The Harrowing, The Price, and The Unseen. Enter here.


The Unseen has been nominated for a Black Quill award for Dark Genre Novel of the Year! I'm thrilled to be in this company:

* Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan (Harper)
* Castaways by Brian Keene (Leisure Books)
* Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Shaye Areheart Books)
* Drood by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown and Company)
* The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Riverhead Hardcover)
* The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martin's Press)

Full list of nominees, here.


Greg James said...

Hi Alex,

Congratulations on being nominated for the Black Quill.

Currently slogging through the revision of my manuscript. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Lori said...

Hi Alex,
I finished NaNoWriMo in 19 days - once I got going, I was like a locomotive. ;)

I haven't looked at my draft since 11/20, though. I am definitely taking some time away from it and will get back to it in January.

It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I'm a scientist by training; I'm thinking this has been of my most interesting experiments to date!

Contrats for being nominated, too. I hope to be cool like you someday.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Greg and Lori.

I LOVE revision. Anything after the first draft is okay by me!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Whoa, Lori, 19 days - that was some blaze of writing.

Very glad to hear you're not touching it until January. That really is a good length of time to wait, when you can.

Mayra Calvani said...

Congrats on the nominations, Alex!

I have been following your nano posts with interest, even though I wasn't able to join the 'madness' this year. :-)

But I have done nano twice in the past and it was a thrilling experience.

Thanks for all your great posts!

Bobby Mangahas said...

Congratulations on your nomination, Alex.

As far as Nano, I didn't do it this year. For some reason I just couldn't get myself into the swing of it.

Angelia (Texas) said...

Congrats on your awards! How exciting.

My daughter and I tried Nano but didn't get through it. She is only 15, and I thought it was great experience for her. I just started writing after 20yrs, so I wasn't prepared at all.

I'm not giving up! I'll keep striving.

My friend Spot recommended your books and site. Can't wait to read them.

Unknown said...

Alex, you do a great job with NaNoWriMo help. This was my fourth NaNoWriMo. I topped 50K but still have maybe 10K to go before it's a complete draft.

Anonymous said...

Better late than never................

laughingwolf said...

grats for the noms, alex!

i'm in like flint, as they say, in the three-book contest :)

and your writing advice continues to be as sage as ever, thank you!

still plugging away at my 55ers, and adding an additional 5 for 'wicked wednesdays' in december on my blog... keeps me in practice, at least ;) lol

Wordly said...

Congratulations on your nomination, that's awesome, and good luck.

I won the nano, and had a wonderful time. Well, not so much during the Middle that Is Made of Muddle, but mostly :). A few days, anyway, and I did write "The End," at the end, though the middle more or less turned into a series of lumps and bumps more than a story, on the 29th day I wrote a big climax and on the 30th, an ending.

I was so surprised how much the story changed from my outline. It grew bigger and deeper, outline characters I thought were wonderful turned into ciphers and little, throwaway things ballooned into massive arcs.

I was stuck at one point, and maybe it was you or maybe it was just on one of the (awesome) threads at the nanosite, but I started writing sex and violence. Even though it was completely embarrassing at first, it really turned into a lot of fun and stacked up words, which gave me new heart. I've never written much of that before, but it was fun writing. Funny how it goes, but I was very grateful :).

This draft, yes, is set to self-destruct should I die, but I would not have traded the experience for the world.

Your posts were always very positive, though, as were emails I got from fellow nanites to give boosts, you know?

Anyway, I've gone on way too long, but it's really nice to talk about the experience :) Thank you so much!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Angelia, that is terrific that you did it with your daughter. Good for both of you!

Paleocon, wow, 50,000 plus - that's amazing.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks LW! Um... what are 55ers?

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks for such a great recap, Wordly! Yes, absolutely, when in doubt, sex and violence.

I bet there's more there than you think. Give yourself some time before you read it.

sanjeet said...

Currently slogging through the revision of my manuscript. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

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