What Are You Doing Now?

Half-way into January, so more than a month and a half after NaNoWriMo finished. So, how did you do? Did you manage to reach your goal? To win NaNoWriMo you have to write 50,000 in the month of November, a really good amount for a first draft of a novel. Did you make it? If you did, kudos to you because although thousands of writers start hopefully on the 1st of November, a great many of them give up part way through the month.

National Novel Writing Month started in 1999 with only 21 participants, and offered the daunting challenge of having to write at least 50,000 words of a new novel during the month of November. NaNoWriMo is now a non-profit organisation that believes your story matters. They offer a wealth of advice and encouragement before, during and even after November each year. The organisation seems to want its members to succeed. And many do.

According to one source, in 2018, there were about 450,000 participants
of whom 53,000 completed the 50,000 words during November
That’s approximately 11%, which is about the average percentage each year.
So, what about you? Were you one of the elite 11%? As I said, kudos if you were and I hope you celebrated. 

I certainly did!

Whether you ended the month with 5,000 words or 5,000 words, you started a novel, so what are you doing now? Whether you wrote the first draft of your novel or the first chapter, you have started something amazing. Let’s get it finished.

January could be the month you pick up momentum again, get back into your story and develop your characters. There is a reader out there waiting for your novel.
So what will that involve?
Firstly, you need to finish writing the first draft, then the editing starts. 
Having given yourself permission to write a dreadful first draft, you now need to give yourself permission to make it better: to change what doesn’t work; to correct mistakes; fill plot holes; develop scenes and characters, and make your story stronger.

Next, it’s time to get outside help. 
If you belong to a writing club, online or off, it’s time to ask someone to beta read your work, tell you if it works, what is wrong if it doesn’t, and how to make it more appealing to your potential readers.
Caution is needed at this step.
You want to choose beta readers who enjoy books in your genre, and who will be honest with you. This is not the time to be looking for praise and wonder, this is the time to seek help. Help comes in honest, non-judgemental critique. Note: critique – not criticism. We are not seeking discouragement, we are seeking help to make our novels better.

What’s after that?
Well, back to the computer for another round or two of editing, followed by a round or two of proofreading.
Yes, you can do the first round of proofreading, indeed you should, but then you need to let someone, preferably a professional proofreader, have a look at your manuscript because you will have done your best, but the brain can trick you into reading what you meant to write, what you thought you’d written, rather than what your fingers typed.

So where are you at in the process?
Me?
Well, I finished that all-important first draft, a round of editing to make it better and sent it out to beta readers. So far, I’ve had one helpful critique back and have done most of the editing that required. I say, ‘most of’ because there is one scene I would like to rewrite after reading the feedback and I don’t want to rush it.
After all, the goal is not just to make it different, but to make it better.

I’d love to hear where you are in the process.
And, if you’re a reader rather than a writer, I’d love to hear your views on whether you’ve ever read a book you wish had gone through these processes, but had been rushed to publication too soon.

Joys and Reassurance of Beta-Reading

Thanks, Amanda Staley for a very helpful Beta Read.

 

Amanda Staley

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Sometimes it’s refreshing to put down your own work-in-progress and help someone else on theirs.  Other than the obvious benefit of feeling great from helping someone else, there are other benefits to beta-reading.  If you are having one of those moments when you don’t think your work is very good, beta-reading can be a real self-esteem booster.  You can look at the other persons work and realize how similar your own writing is.  You can help them on the parts that you do better, maybe you are an excellent writer of dialogue.  You can give that person pointers and idea to make their dialogue less flat or help it stand out a bit more.  They on the other hand are fantastic at describing setting.  You can learn from them and incorporate a little bit of that into your own writing.  Beta-reading is the writer’s equivalent of seeking counseling or getting…

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