Monday, December 12, 2011

This past week has been a lot of firsts for me...

First flat tire
First time eating at Five Guys restaurant (most awesome burger place ever!)
First time seeing Muppets Christmas Carol
First time editing a first draft from a printed version

I've had first drafts before. I can thank five years of doing NaNoWriMo for that. But this is the draft that has gone further than all other drafts, and so I feel it's a new level of editing for me. It's also the largest first draft I've ever written, which makes the task that much more exciting and daunting.

I outlined this novel for a long time and planned out every process of how I was going to write it. And the planning worked well. But now I'm realizing I have not planned out a single bit of how I'm going to go about making it better.

After doing some research online and listening to some friends' advice, here's my battle plan:

1. Read through casually without making any editing marks, but take notes on my most common mistakes.
2. Come up with a way to remedy those mistakes and write the second draft focusing only on those.

Do any of my readers have experience with editing first drafts? Got any advice for me?

I'll let you know how it goes. Also, even though some people might argue that editing manuscripts is the same on a computer screen as it is on the printed page, if nothing else having my entire novel printed out somehow seems empowering. The words are there, unchangeable. My story is now permanent. Looking at printed pages also enables me to make notes with fancy calligraphy pens. That's something you can't do on a computer screen.

Jo's Finished Manuscript
(This scene from Little Women is what I've always dreamed my manuscript would look like one day)

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'd like the feeling in my bum back, please...

It's been five days after the end of NaNoWriMo, and I think I'm just now recovering. It sure was one exciting month.

There were really two goals I was aiming for: 80k words and finishing the actual story line. I didn't make the second one. There are still three chapters at the end of my plot line that are only outline stubs. I hope to fix that in the coming weeks.

But the first one, I definitely made that goal.

On the last day, I managed to set a new personal record for how many words I have written in a day, at 18,216. That was done at the fabulous write-in at Dunn Bros coffee house in Eden Prairie. It was a LOT of sitting still while drinking caffeine, and having word wars every half hour, and writing straight for about six hours without stopping. In the craziness of it, I didn't bother to switch scenes at all. My characters ended up in a subterranean secret labyrinth navigating their way through using an audio-guided tour that says things like "This tunnel was dug in 1872 just before the Steamclot mining company went bankrupt. Please move to the left to avoid being impaled."
I also made up a mythical creature and put it in the labyrinth, because all labyrinths should have some kind of mythical creature stalking them, right?

Though it gets wacky at times, I am so happy about my book. And proud that I pushed myself this year to go above and beyond what I thought I could do.

My final word count? 102,173!

Thank you to everyone who has cheered me on, supported me this past month while I let things like housekeeping and phone calls slip away from me. This was very important to me and you all got that. I thank you very much for the freedom to do what I love to do with complete abandon one month out of the year. It's not everyone who gets to do that, and YOU made it possible!

Congratulations to all NaNoWriMo participants and winners! Remember, if you didn't make the word count you were hoping for, at least you wrote more words because of NaNo than you otherwise would have written, and that makes you awesome. :)