Nov 30, 2009

Pens Down

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo - The month of novel writing, where authors and would-be writers frantically try to complete a minimum 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I planned to keep writing till the last day, even when I passed my 50k mark a week early. But when I found my story finished just over 60k, I felt a little flat. I still had several days to go but did not have the urge to write as frantically as I had been.

I think you need to take time to celebrate that feeling of being 'finished'. Of course there's gaps in the story that need filling, extra scenes you thought up later and a whole lotta editing to do. But I just wanted to sit on that sensation of finishing this book. I hadn't finished a whole novel before, although I'd started plenty.

Finished your NaNo novel - what now?
If you still have time to write, then write. I took one day off. This was not easy. For some reason my mind finds tormenting me a great lark, it kept suggesting writing ideas and scenes for the book that wouldn't come when I needed them earlier.
The next day I wrote a short story, in a genre and style that is completely different from my novel. The old 'change as good as a holiday' routine. The fast pace of NaNoWriMo can leave you feeling a little burnt out from writing this one novel, so why not start a notebook, forget the NaNo novel for the day and just jot down weird and crazy ideas for other stories instead.

Then what?
My tact on approaching what comes after NaNo will be two steps.

1. Leave it alone for two weeks.
I'm going to print my manuscript, save it in a million different places for safe-keeping and let my mind lose the attachment to each and every word. This is the only way I'll be able to approach editing.
I won't stop writing though, whether it's ideas, dialogues, blogs, working on other WIPs (I'll be writing up the final chapter to Dog Show Detective and starting that book's edits), the idea is to keep the imagination cogs oiled and moving.

2. Read, a lot.
Prior to November, I took on the task of reading books in the genre I wanted to write. This gave me a feel for the common language used and understood by the readers and writing devices used for the narratives. Time now to return to that task before I edit the book. My NaNo novel is YA fantasy, so I'm reading similar novels to look for the type of character arcs, the places where the narratives reach a climax and what stands out from each novel. I'll keep notes on this too.

For example.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak: Tells a story set in Nazi Germany, but manages to find a new angle, the story is narrated by Death (whom we learn is a very sensitive being).

The Alchemyst - Michael Scott: (I'm now on the second book, The Magician), There are immortals, mythical creatures and magic. What stood out for me with this novel was the magical creatures were all from historical legends and mythology, some will seem familiar and some, I hope, will have the young readers jumping on the internet to research the stories surrounding these myths.

Malice - Chris Wooding: I haven't read this one just yet, but what excites me is that the narrative is about children being taken to another world that exists inside a comic book. The novel is a combination of text narrative and intermittent comic graphics. When students struggle with reading, English/Lit teachers can sometimes encourage them with graphic novels. There is however a gap then in getting students keen to move to text narratives, and easier text usually means a less mature plot. I would love to see more novels like this one to help move students gradually from experiencing success with graphic novels and moving onto text novels. There's a niche out there author/illustrators!

Magyk - Angie Sage: During November, when I wasn't writing, my eyes were usually too tired to read. So, I downloaded this book from iTunes. You can listen to books while driving, doing the dishes, hanging out the washing or walking the dog. I also downloaded some writing style books this way. This narrative's best feature was the action. It started early and kept at a fast moving pace.

My hint on audio books - listen to the sample, a good reading voice makes a difference, one Podio (podcast) book I'm listening to now features a guy who sounds like he's trying to sell me a set of steak knives).

I have also discovered Amazon Kindle for PC. How did I not know about this sooner?!
It's great. I download books straight to my PC.
Being in Australia and having books cost so much over here, this is fantastic, not only are the books cheaper, but I have no freight costs. So far I'm finding I prefer to read non-fiction online and still like a hardcopy book for reading fiction. But the application is free so give it a go!

I'm looking at a few books and sites for editing your story.
I'll let you know what I find and we can start slashing and rebuilding our novels!


  1. Congrats on finishing NaNo! I finished last night and all of today I was feeling antsy; I think it's NaNo withdrawal. My plan is similar to yours: keep writing and read lots and lots. Enjoy!

  2. Thanks Anna, and Congrats right back atcha!

  3. Congratulations on finishing. You're right in that taking time off after 'finishing' is really important because if you just dive straight in you miss things or worse, you get sick of the project and quit before it is done. Looking forward to what you find out about editing.

  4. Great post - there's a lot of good stuff in there!

    1st: congrats on NaNo!

    2nd: reading a lot sounds like the perfect respite after so much writing.

    3rd: Great book suggestions! :)

    4th: Wow! I didn't know about Kindle for PC. Thanks! Good luck finding great editing tools, and do keep us posted!

  5. Hey, Charmaine! I'm passing along an award for you and your blog. Stop by Book Dreaming and see what you've won! :)

  6. Cassandrajade - thanks, editing a novel length manuscript is new for me, so will enjoy sharing tips and resources with everyone.

    Shannon, aww shucks, what can I say - you are just beautiful, loved your post, I also carry 'Mandy', 'I Write the Songs' and 'Can't Smile Without You' on my iPod - I will see your Barry for embarassment and raise you a Kenny Rogers. Yep, nothing shames me. Thanks for listing me amongst such great company on your site, I'm having a ball visiting the links :-)

  7. I'll match your Kenny Rogers - LOVE HIM! "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly is one of my faves (one of many!) I have no shame, either, I guess. ;-)