Missing Nanowrimo? Feeling adrift and abandoned now the camaraderie has dissipated? Wondering what on Earth you should do next with your book? Have no fear, it doesn’t have to be over.
Consider this a necessary part of the revision process. You may not be banging out 2k words per day anymore, but your subconscious is still ticking away, working on that novel.
Step back. Stop fiddling with commas and minor corrections. They should wait until later. First, you need to follow a few crucial steps towards knocking your story into shape.
Take time to reflect and learn.
This is the period you can boost your knowledge about novel writing so that you can tackle your revision with more confidence and focus. I’d say start with story structurebefore anything else (three act structure). You need to understand what your novel should be doing and where, so you can get the pacing right, and all the details in the right order, especially any foreshadowing.
2. Plan to revise your novel in mid-January.
Not the beginning – everyone’s still adjusting after the Christmas holidays. Give yourself some time to refocus and adjust. The distance you’ve given it will pay off dividends for gaining a fresh perspective, and if you spent December learning about story structure, you’ll have more of an understanding of where scenes need moving around and what tone is required.
3. Spend the first two weeks of January reading what you wrote in November.
This is to re-familiarise yourself with the story.
4. Create a spreadsheet with your book title. In the left hand column, second cell down, write POV. Starting in the second column, in the row above POV, fill in all of your chapter numbers across the top.
At the end of reading each chapter, write down the major story points for that chapter, each in its own column, until you reach the end. You want to keep it brief, so use bullet points. Also note any major details that are relevant to the emotional progress of your characters, any major clues or details of background that fuel the plot. If you have chapters with alternate POVs, insert an extra column next to the relevant chapter to accommodate it. Keep all scenes/chapters in linear order.
5. Once you have completed the spreadsheet, step back and consider your character's(s') emotional journey(s).
Who are they at the beginning of the story and who do they become by the end? If they don’t have an identifiable change from the beginning to the end then you need to address this, because their beliefs at the beginning of a story should oppose what they come to believe by the end. It could be that they believe they are no good at anything, and by the end realise they can do anything if they put their mind to it. Often, this is why beginnings get rewritten after the whole story has been laid out in a first draft.
So, those are your first steps. In part two,we'll look at how to identify your main plot points and how overall structure begins to come into play.
For anyone who’s seeking writing buddies to revise their novels alongside one another, please share your Twitter profiles in the comments below. Come January, I’ll be posting tips and updates on social media in what I’m coining #JaNoEdMo. There's no need to face revisions on your own - plenty of writers out there are looking for support to get that novel finished to perfection.