So it’s official. November has come and gone and with that, another year of NaNoWriMo is over too. To everyone who participated, congratulations! Even if you didn’t hit the 50,000 word goal target, you’ve still created something, which is the core of what NaNoWriMo is striving to achieve. So kudos to you!
With that said, I’m sure you’re feeling a lot of things right now. And you all must equally have just as many questions. The biggest and most common one? Now what? Now that I’ve written a novel, what do I do?
The answer? Whatever you want to. Now, I do recommend taking a well deserved break. Go celebrate, you deserve it! Enjoy the fact that you’ve just created something! Go out and have some fun (because if you’re anything like me you pretty much have been living under a rock for the past 30 days and haven’t really seen the light of day much).
There are a few things I do suggest you do now that NaNo is over.
- Write down any further thoughts you have on your novel (if it isn’t complete, or even if you know certain parts need some major revision). Just jot them down so you’ll remember them later on.
- Set it aside! I know this many be hard for some (you have just dedicated the past month of your life to this thing!) but you need to take some time away from it. Keep those notebooks or computer documents and files closed for some time (at least a couple of weeks) and don’t go anywhere near them. You need a break from your world and your characters.
- Once thoroughly rested, pull out your manuscript and read it over. Don’t edit it, you read. This is important. For this, you are merely a reader. You are not a writer or creator. By removing yourself from that role, you can view the manuscript as a whole – and probably will see it through a much more critical eye. Watch – you’ll find yourself catching mistakes or plot holes you didn’t see when you were writing and creating this masterpiece.
After this is done, the hard part begins. Here is where you have two different options, and they will entirely depend on whether you finished your novel’s plot during NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t, this is the part where you need to dig in and finish it. If you’ve skipped over filler or boring scenes, guess what? You have to write them now. If you still need your climactic ending? Look what you have in store. It’s difficult, I know – trust me, I’ve been there MANY times – but you need to do it all now before moving onto the next step. It’s important. You may never finish your novel otherwise. Take it from someone who’s had this happen to them.
If you were lucky and managed to finish the whole plot to your novel during the month of November, you get to move onto something else entirely. Get ready. It’s going to be a doozy. The first edit. Now, I’m not going to go into this topic into detail, but if you want to read more about it, I did another blog post about it in the past which you can find here.
Beyond the first edit, and the subsequential rewrites which will follow, I recommend letting a close, trusted friend or writing partner read your manuscript over. If you feel comfortable with it, maybe even give it to a few different people. A beta reader (or two) is always something you should consider when you’re moving down the stream towards publishing.They can help catch things that you might not see anymore due to the close relationship you share with both the characters and plot. Having someone read your work that hasn’t seen it before will help catch unwanted errors you’ve become unfazed by.
Following beta-readers comes another few rounds of editing. Eventually, you will come out with a polished manuscript ready for the publishing world.
Publishing (and all the different routes involved with that) is where I shall leave this particular blog post. I feel that’s a topic that needs to have a dedicated section (or at least an article) all to itself. Another day, another time.
As always, happy writing everyone, and congratulations once again to all the Wrimos out there! Win or lose, you all achieved something wonderful this past month!
Until next time.