I'm bound and determined to finally finish my first draft of my very first novel, you know, the one I started in 2012, by December 1. (Picture me rolling my eyes at myself.)
I'm still going through it and editing what Ihave, refreshing myself as to what I have written so far so I can remember what scenesI need to write.
I would like to continue this process while still adding to it during NaNo. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to proceed? I'm starting to feel nervous about this. I've currently got about 55K words in the story and it of course needs A LOT of work. A LOT.
Even if you don't have any advice how do you think you would proceed from here if you were in this position?
If I was in your situation, I would make a story bible for the first 55k of the novel. It would include a list of every character named in the story so far and any details I knew about them, from their looks to their personalities and personal histories. I would also make a quick outline of everything that happened in the first 55k so I could look back at it during November to see if I really did include that one scene or if that was just in my head and to see the order of how things played out.
After that, I would create an outline for the rest of my story. Personally, I know I am much more likely to finish a story if I outline it first and I'm much more likely to like my story if I fixed my biggest problems in the outline as well.
Historically, the NaNo folks have always recommended shutting off your internal editor in November asitwould be doing editorial type things--getting you to change your wording, deleting paragraphs and even scenes and chapters as you polish your work. It can be difficult to get back into the writing frame of mind when your internal editor is actively trying to get you to edit.
I have also heard from some that editing can involve a lot of writing.Sammight have some words of wisdom to share--I think he edited a novel during NaNo one year. I've only once ever written and edited at the same time (writing the first draft and then editing (lightly) each chapter before sharing it with an extremely appreciative but tiny audience).
There are still a few days left; if you could identify those sections of your novel that you need to write,you might just treat this as a (somewhat normal) focusing of your writing on top of an existing work. I can imagine that this would be mentally "easier" to do (you could keep your internal editor off).
I've done my fair share of editing, but for NaNo....
As you've already started the process of refreshing yourself, I'd make note of what you want to change. Switching a character's arc, inserting more foreshadowing, inserting a bonding scene. Then, start out just writing those scenes. Worry about stitching them together later (editing vs writing), and instead for NaNo focus on what you need to add or rewrite. It might also be helpful to start working on marketing/querying materials, simply because a synopsis of various lengths(250, 500, 750) are good summary and outline exercises. Also try exploring exercises - side stories of your characters of events not in the novel, writing up the history and culture. They'll definitelyaffect your greater story, knowing that extra information will only help your next draft.
'Course, your NaNo goal doesn't have to be 50K new words. In the past, people have made their goal a finished second draft and I've done that myself for Camp NaNoWriMo. And I have a habit anyway of adding words between drafts. 1 was 62K, 2 was 76K, 3 is 82K. But my editing cycle is very fluid - I often am editing chapter 10, while my crit group is reading 8 and then making edits on 8 before moving on to 11.
Along the lines of what Tim and Jenny already wrote, I identified missing sections of my draft or sections that I felt needed complete rewrites and wrote this during Nano.
You can look at Nano as your time to get your most pressing writing project done and use the write-ins and other resources to help get that accomplished. There have been writers who spent Nano editing. I spent one Nano building my crazy wall to fund the links between my seven BarnYard Heroes novels.
I don't know if you still need suggestions for this, but what about writing a series of spin-off stories based on characters or plotlines that won't make it into the final story? Read through your latest draft for inspiration, and when you come across one of your 'darlings' (a la "kill your darlings = edit out bits of writing you love that just don't fit"), take it and run with it!
Like, I don't know... say you're editing a scene where a character is acting extremely stubborn about something - write a spin-off slice-of-life 'backstory' story showing a scene with this very stubborn child, that contributed to their becoming a very stubborn adult. Or a 'behind-the-scenes' of something very important & central to the plot, that can't actually be shown in the novel because it has to stay secret until a later point? Or a written-out blooper reel, from when your book gets turned into a movie. Or taking a character who's supposed to appear very opaque and mysterious to the reader, and expounding on their motivations and what's going through their head at key points in the story?...
Thanks Sam. I'm for sure keeping track. That's why I wasn't sure the best way to do it while trying to edit. I like the ideas of starting to fill in the scenes I know I still need and go from there. I love the idea below to write some scenes I know won't make it too. I think that will help me get back in their heads a little easier.