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Life after Nanowrimo

I've heard it said that Literary Agents (capitalized to give them their due status as Gods) groan at the beginning of December, because they know that they're about to get inundated with scrappy manuscripts created by excited writers during Nanowrimo. I daresay Amazon data would bear out a similar pattern when it comes to self-published ebooks.

But while you may be excited, even euphoric, about having completed the first draft of your novel (and you well should be - it's a great achievement) try not to damage your chances of becoming a succesful author by jumping the gun.

At the end of nanowrimo, you do not have a complete novel.

I repeat - you do not have a completed novel.

What you do have is a first draft.

This could be the first draft of a novel that will be published one day and become a bestseller - you wouldn't be the first.

However, there's a lot more work to do before then.

There's no set number of drafts that you have to go through before your novel is finished, but a realistic expectation would be to have at least three more iterations. Here is a brief overview of what you might want to focus on while redrafting your masterpiece.

Second Draft

If you carried out your frenzy of writing by spinning ideas from thin air, without any kind of plan or outline, then now you'll need to go through and dig out the good bits of your story to see where the plot is.

However, if you did the planning we recommend before you began, then your first draft should be reasonably robust structurally, without too many gaping plot holes.

Once you've had a once over of the high level structure, now is the time to rewrite each scene while considering: sentence structure, balance, pace, vocabulary and style.

Third Draft

By the time you get to your third draft, your novel should be in pretty good shape. You might have seen some themes start to emerge and your supporting characters may have insisted on their own sub-plots. Now is the time to consolidate and fine-tune these, and well as thinking about foreshadowing, symbolism and making sure your characters' relationships are nuanced and multi-layered.

Final Draft

The final draft isn't really a single thing. It's more an extended period of tweaking, polishing and perfecting. You need to go over every word with a fine-toothed comb, stitch up a thread here and bite out a loose fray there. You know you're done when you absolutely can't bear to look at it anymore and wish you'd never started. Until that point - keep editing.

If you've made it this far, you might be ready to submit to agents or self-publish.

You can read a far more detailed account of this drafting process here.

You might also like:

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Surviving Nanorimo - 30 tips for 30 days

How to kick ass at Nanowrimo – 9 rules for success

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