Monday, December 03, 2012

NaNoWriMo Now What?

YAY!!! 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 breakAs 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 if you MUST think about writing, maybe start thinking about another project.

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

Me? I bashed my way through a second and third draft of Blood Moon, my sequel to Huntress MoonOf course it's not as done as I want it to be, but I managed to get through that "I will NEVER finish this bloody thing" stage into the "Wow, I may not be done yet but this is way too good to abandon now" stage, which is not exactly the home stretch yet but it is a major corner to turn.  A good month!

- Alex


The writing workbooks based on this blog, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors and Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, II, are available for just $3.99 and $2.99.

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If you're a romance writer, or have a strong love plot or subplot in your novel or script, then Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks II is an expanded version of the first workbook with a special emphasis on love stories, and more full story breakdowns.

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Sarah W said...

I ended up writing two completely different things, as I couldn't push the first one any further without major research. So I outlined what I wanted to happen for the rest of it, wrote a one-sentence linking hcapter ("Meanwhile, on the other side of Sarah's subconscious . . . ")and started my second Nano choice.

I have no idea if that's cheating or not, but fifty-thousand words were accomplished on page or in pixels. And I had fun doing it.

So, as you advise, I'm taking a rest on the first half and I'm plugging away at the second, which is eating what's left of my brain.

Thanks for all your encouraging posts along the way!

Unknown said...

Although I did not finish this November, I have a great start on a WIP.
I would like to thank you for posting all the excellent free resources for writers before it started. Merci beaucoup!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Sarah, I don't think it's cheating, I think it's good sharklike behavior. As in - keeping both projects moving forward. Good for you!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Patricia, you're very welcome! And I think it's next to impossible to actually FINISH a book in a month. Unless it's pulp style. But what a great jump start.

Cynthia Luhrs said...

I finished NaNoWriMo and went on to complete a very rough first draft. Great advice, I'm walking away from it, working on my idea for book 2 since it's gonna be a series and then will start the editing process. I'm taking this puppy all the way and going to epub it!

Chemist Ken said...

I only made it about halfway through. Five days into the story I realized much of the premise had to be changed and that set me back too far to finish in thrity day. However, I now have the outline for a much better story. Glad I tried NaNo this year.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Cynthia, good for you! You're in warrior mode, I can tell just by the energy of your words on the screen.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Ken, an outline IS writing! You didn't just try Nano, you aced it.

Ellen said...

These are great successes and strategies! November is one of several months when it's impossible for me to write more than a post-it, so I don't even try to NaNoWriMo (although do my own version two other times of year). COGRATS to all who churned out some writing!

Now, Alex, a Q for you: how have you picked/acquired your Beta writers? Sheer instinct or strategy or both? Any wisdom to share?

Katie said...

I made it through and wrote just a little over 60,000 words for a YA fiction novel. This is my first ever attempt at Nanowrimo and I loved it! I'm now editing and will query agents. Thank you for your advice! I will be following your site often.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Ellen - I just saw your question on beta readers. For my first few books my beta readers were my critique groups (including one I had with your friends and mine, Jess and Franz!). But with my last couple of books I've realized that for me at least, the more beta readers the better, and I'm really lucky that my a lot of my regular readers are very happy to read the books in earlier stages and give me notes.

So my suggestion to you specifically is - ask everyone! (Including, obviously, me... ) Writers and non-writers. Some people will have time when you ask, some won't, so you're better off casting a wide net. You really can't know who will be most helpful.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Katie, wow, 60,000 words? You ROCK!!!