Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Life after NaNoWriMo: Ready to Revise

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Ready to Revise

We stopped at Target yesterday for some other stuff, and I just had to stop in the notebook aisle (I always have to stop in the notebook aisle). I had a mission other than browsing, though. I purchased a binder and some post-it notes, and now I am ready to revise! Well, I’m not actually ready in a writing sense. But I have the stuff for it! Awhile back, I read Rachael Herron’s blog post about revising, and I liked the idea of the post-it method for keeping track of stuff as you revise. Now that I’m so close to the end of my novel, I’m itching to print it out, 3-hole punch it, and stuff it in a binder to start paging through! I love having Scrivener, but I need physical copies of things when I really need to get down to work. I don’t know what it is, but being able to physically flip pages, whether it’s a textbook or a piece of writing, helps me to visualize things better. I am looking forward to this phase so much that buying the binder and post-its is like a little extra incentive to keep going and finish the novel. I have a problem, though. It has to do with my process during NaNoWriMo.

My NaNoWriMo Process

I never plan ahead for NaNoWriMo. At least not on paper. I usually get some sort of vague ideas, maybe scribble down a few brainstorms, but I don’t outline or anything. I’m not really an outliner anyway, but it could help me if I did tried it. More than usual, NaNoWriMo snuck up on me this year. In October, I was in the middle of singlehandedly starting up an afterschool program that was brand new to our school. I had to recruit and train volunteers, organize all of the classes, promote them at conferences (in which I sat at a table until 8pm 3 different nights and nobody came), organize all the signups, send home signup confirmations, find out how to deposit and then access money gotten from donations to my little startup program, and so on. Since one of my afterschool classes was NaNoWriMo, and I was teaching it, I couldn’t let all this being busy stuff let me off the hook for NaNo. So, when November rolled around, I had already had a couple of prepping for NaNo classes with my two groups of kids.

They may have been ready, but I wasn’t. So, my “novel” during November, or my “word count” as I should probably call it instead, ended up consisting of a lot of brainstorming, freewriting sessions about the story, and not so much scenes from the story itself. I’d say maybe a good solid half of my wordcount was actual narrative text, and the rest was character sketches, settings sketches, and just me talking to myself in general about what my story was about. Planning stuff. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if I were to do all of that kind of writing BEFORE November, then I would probably get a whole lot more actual novel written by the end of November.

What this all means is that, while my novel is definitely going somewhere now, and knows a little bit more about what it wants to be, it didn’t know that in the beginning. The beginning has gaping plot holes, scenes that haven’t been written, and characters who have changed gender, geographic location, circumstances, and motivation. The type of magic my world uses has evolved and developed its own set of rules that I now have to go back and make sure it follows. It’s supposed to have been winter for half of the book but I keep forgetting to describe scenes as if there’s snow on the ground, breath freezing in the air, or any hint that my characters get cold when they go outside. Maybe that’s just a symptom of our own practically snowless winter up here in Duluth, where we’re normally buried this time of year.

So, revising is going to be a whole lot of fun. I say this with the sincerest of smiles, I assure you. Still, as soon as I write that final scene, I’m considering the rough draft all roughed out for now. I’m going to print it out and slap it in that binder, then worry about the fixups. I may take a break and write a short story. They say it’s good to do that. Take a break between the rough draft and revising, I mean.

And while I worry about that, Tashi has occupied my sweater.
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