NaNoWriMo Novel: Trash or Treasure?

Hands collaborating in co-writing or co-editin...
You may feel like the writer and editor in you are two different people. Image via Wikipedia

If you’re like me, you decided to put away your NaNoWriMo novel as soon as December 1st dawned. I needed a little distance from my frantic efforts to come up with a specific amount of words. Whenever I finish working on anything, I like to put it away for a while so that I can come to the proofreading/editing with fresh eyes and a little distance.

Through the magic of time, your novel may begin to look very different to you. If you actually have the goal of turning your novel into something an editor and publisher could love, you find yourself in the difficult position of proofreading your novel for a different focus and purpose than it was written. The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that the emphasis is on writing–as much as you can, as often as you can, whether it’s something you can use or not. Now, you find yourself more¬†interested in the story–what advances the plot, what develops the characters, what’s weighing the piece down. You may find you have a lot of superfluous material in some areas while not having enough material in others.

So what do you do with your novel now? How do you know when you have the makings of a good story and when to shove your efforts into the trash before they start to smell? How do you go about editing and proofreading your first draft?

I found a piece of my NaNoWriMo novel far away from where I’d stashed the rest of my manuscript. Reading that one wide rule sheet of paper, front and back, I fell immediately back into the story. There’s something there, something I want to put out into the world for discussion and for people to relate to. It may be a lot of work to finish the piece and edit all of the NaNoWriMo out of it, but the story connects to something in me that says it’s worth pursuing.

Have you looked at any of your NaNoWriMo writing yet? Is your novel trash or treasure? What’s new on the writing horizon for you?

3 Comments

  1. I don’t worry too much about word count because I know that if I have a solid story, the words will be there. But distance is really important. I wrote a partial second draft of last year’s NaNo novel, and it’s been sitting since then. I’ve also written parts of two stories that are basically spinoffs. While I was computerless and had time to think, I realized that the two stories want to be part of a trilogy, and that means changes to the original novel that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. You never know where a story could go if you just give it enough time.

  2. 2blu2btru

    Exactly! You have to come to it with fresh eyes to see the possibilities sometimes. I had to grow up before I could continue writing one story–I had to have my own hard times and growing pains before the dialogue and fiction was believable.

    Good luck with your trilogy! How good is it to spend that much time with those characters/in that setting? I’ve always wanted to have “sequels”; haven’t succeeded yet.

  3. Each of the three stands alone, with different characters. There will probably later be a mention of some characters from the first novel, but the theme that connects them is what they are, an outcast subspecies of humans.

    I have an almost-finished short story using the same characters as Boundaries, which was my second novel, and have been thinking about another possible spinoff about one character’s early days. Staying with the same characters could be very interesting, because you get to know them in more depth.

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