Now that the elation (and adrenaline rush) from successfully completing a 50,000-word novel in a month has worn off, you’re probably wondering, Now what? Don’t pop open a bottle of champagne or start querying literary agents just yet. Remember: what you have in your hands is actually a rough draft. It’s the first draft of many, and you’re going to need to edit and re-edit before your manuscript is ready to be sent into the world. Here’s how to get the best results when editing your NaNoWriMo book:
How To Edit And Make Your NaNoWriMo Novel Submission-Worthy
1. Put your NaNoWriMo manuscript away. You’ve spent the past thirty days eating, sleeping, and breathing nothing but this novel. You’re completely engrossed in it. In order to edit successfully—and gain objectivity—you first have to distance yourself from it. So focus your attention on other projects for the month of December (or however long you feel you need). The busy holiday season will make it easy to take a break!
2. Proofread carefully before making any serious edits. During your month of furiously fast writing, you probably made a few typos. So when you finally return to your manuscript, it’s important to read it through at least once for proofreading only. Check for spelling and grammar issues and familiarize yourself with your story again. Once you’ve finished basic proofreading, you might find it helpful to read your manuscript out loud to catch any awkward phrasing or missing words.
3. Edit your manuscript’s content—and seriously revise. Once you’ve cleaned up your manuscript, you can move on to the more in-depth process of editing the content. Consider each element of your novel—premise, plot, characters, narration, world-building—and don’t be afraid to completely rewrite long passages. Your NaNoWriMo draft may be the basis for your finished novel, or it may turn out to be the starting point for something totally different.
And the final step…
Repeat the first three steps as often as necessary! Just as you can’t expect your novel to be perfect after your first NaNoWriMo draft, you can’t expect it to be doctored and polished after just one round of editing. It may take months or even years before your NaNoWriMo draft is ready for submission to literary agents.
When you are ready to submit your novel to agents, you’ll be undertaking another huge project. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone! Writer’s Relief can help you make targeted, professionally prepared submissions to literary agents and editors to maximize your exposure and improve your acceptance rate. No submission spam, ever!
QUESTION: Do you have any tips for editing your NaNoWriMo draft after it’s finished?
Great article, and so true! I have poured out several books over the past five years due to my mind filling up with ideas and words. It became so full they needed to be poured out.
Then after the pouring out came the “taste test”. This may require taking out many ingredients, and adding more precise ingredients to bring the drink to a smooth but powerful taste where you can’t get enough! This may take years before the drink fulfills the thirst of the one drinking. It is worth the taking out and putting in of the right ingredients to fulfill the drinkers thirst, and if it is right they will never get enough!