After NaNoWriMo - What Do I Do Now?
NOTE from FHP: Thank you SO much to Gie for sharing this awesome blog post with us! If you were brave (read INSANE haha jk) enough to attempt NaNo and were a superhero enough to finish your goal - GO YOU! No, seriously, the maddest of props to you for your grit, determination, and passion.
But what are you supposed to do with this mess of words now!? Well, Gie's got some great advice just for you. Read her tips below and feel free to leave us a comment to let us know if you have any tips and tricks for whipping your NaNo manuscript into shape! And you can always click on the image below to visit Gie's website for more writing wisdom and general fantasy fun!
Pick up Self-Editing for the Fiction Writer by Renni Browne and Dave King (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, GooglePlay).
Read through it.
Take a pass through your manuscript with special attention to the areas mentioned in the book.
Next, find a critique group or beta readers. I always recommend staying away from the impulse to let your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ parents/ siblings/ best friends and anyone who has a vested interest in telling you what you want to hear.
Ask them to look at areas of opportunity for improvement, such as weak plot, repetition, vague main character Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts.
Review the critiques you get back and implement those you think will make the story better.
Do a read-through on your own. For every chapter, list 1-10 things the story SAYS and 1-10 things the story DOES:
For instance, in chapter 1 of Harry Potter, what the story says is: a young boy from the Wizarding World is orphaned and dropped off to live with muggles;
What the story DOES is: creates sympathy for Harry, provides backstory, introduces us to the Wizarding World, gives us glimpses of some of its inhabitants like Hagrid, McGonagal, and creates mystery.
Look for areas of repetition in your What it Says/What it Does outline.
Eliminate those areas.
Seek out craft books that help with any weaknesses you've identified (e.g., weak plot, repetition, vague main character Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts).
Read those books and fix those areas.
Spellcheck and grammar check.
Repeat steps 4-5 (and 6 if needed).
Only after you’ve done all this should you spend your dough on a reputable editor. Only AFTER you've done all your editing should you query agents and publishing houses. These folks aren’t looking for rough manuscripts. They’re looking for a mss that’s AT LEAST 95% of the way there.
As always with any writing advice, this is just a guideline. Some of these techniques may work GREAT for you, while some won't. Individual mileage may vary.