We’re checking in as fall quickly approaches to give a writing update and talk about NaNoWriMo 2017 prep. Did you meet your writing goal last November? If so, have you stuck with your project and continued to write and/or edit since then? We wanted to see what progress our readers (and fellow writers!) 🙂 have made and to share a little about how our drafts are going.
Here are a few questions we each answered about our projects. Please comment and let us know your answers to these questions or share any information you would like about your project.
Did you meet your 2016 NaNoWriMo goal?
Sara – Yes! I gave myself the standard 50,000-word goal and I made it.
Stacy – I set a modified goal of 30,000 words because I wanted to challenge myself but keep my goal realistic. I ended up with a November word count of 31,340.
Have you since completed the first draft of your manuscript? If so, what is your final word count?
Sara – Yes, I finished my manuscript in the six months after NaNoWriMo 2016. The final word count of that draft was 122,558.
Stacy – I have completed my (very rough) first draft. I had already started my manuscript before NaNoWriMo 2016 and worked on it for many months afterward, finishing up near the end of May. My word count upon completion was 125,852.
What have you been working on since completing your rough draft?
Sara – The first thing I did after finishing my first draft was to go through and fill in any gaps I had intentionally left open. I also had pages of notes full of things that needed to be added to earlier chapters. I tackled the easiest of those. After that, I converted my draft to an epub file and sat down with a nice cup of coffee and my iPad and read straight through my entire novel. As you can imagine this took several hours but when I was done I had a new set of notes to work from and an excellent picture of my novel as a whole in my mind. There were many glaring problems that I am working through. I’m in full-on editing mode now.
Stacy – I had quite a few minor characters I hadn’t named. I was surprised how many people showed up for a scene or two to whom I needed to assign a name. I just skipped over those character names as I was writing and searched for names en masse a couple weeks ago.
I also needed to fill in blanks in my story, those detailed descriptions I didn’t want to take time out to think through at the time. I found myself just wanting to barrel ahead plot-wise instead. These depictions mostly relate to food and clothing, often my favorite parts of books and thus super important to me in my manuscript. 😉 I have recently completed these descriptions, and it was so much fun to invest the time to brainstorm about and then flesh out these details.
Where do you plan to go from here?
Sara – I’m working daily on editing my manuscript. I decided on an entirely new starting point which picks up a little later in the story. Now I’m finding new ways to sprinkle that needed backstory into the current draft. I will admit that editing is taking much longer than I had imagined it would. I had planned to be ready for beta readers before NaNoWriMo 2017 but now I’m not so sure.
Stacy – My next big project is double checking timeline-related things. You know, making sure those ‘yesterdays’ and ‘last months’ and ‘three years agos’ are correct. After my timeline is checked and I make sure all blanks are filled in, I’m going to read through my draft as a reader. I’m not going to allow myself to make any corrections grammar-wise as I read. I want to read for content, continuity, and plot holes. I hope I can objectively ask myself ‘Does everything make sense?’ and ‘Does this story progress properly and flow well?’ as I read. After this read-through, I’m sure I’ll have many notes about things which need work. After those corrections, I plan to do another grammar check.
Then I want to pass my manuscript on to Sara to read. We have read portions of each other’s stories, but this time I will send the full draft to her for a read-through. I have a couple other readers I hope to pass it along to after Sara and know I will have many comments, suggestions, and critiques to work through with each successive reader. Someday I hope to have the manuscript tidied up enough to start querying for an agent. But from where I sit right now, it seems like that time is WAY in the future!
Do you have any tips for fellow aspiring writers, especially those planning to participate in their first NaNoWriMo in a few months?
Sara – I am planning to write during NaNoWriMo 2017 but I haven’t decided what, exactly, I will write just yet! My advice to anyone planning to participate would be to do a little prep work (maybe an outline) before hand, set your daily or weekly goals and don’t get behind, and get ahead in other things in your life in October (for me, that meant making lesson plans for my high school graphic design class a month in advance).
Stacy – Are we really less than two months away from the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2017? I can’t believe it! I’m not sure if I’ll write during NaNoWriMo this year. I assume I’ll still be knee-deep in editing this draft. Maybe I’ll be able to start a draft during NaNoWriMo 2018. But from what I learned during my 2016 experience, I have two main suggestions for NaNoWriMo newbies to help the process go smoothly and to help you achieve your goals:
(1) Have a fairly detailed outline prepared before you start. Things will come up and you will likely make many plot changes as you go, but it is very helpful to have a sketch of the overall story arc before you begin to write.
(2) Decide on a daily or weekly schedule and keep yourself accountable. I made a spreadsheet of my daily writing goals and made myself type in my actual word count each time I finished writing.
Again, let us know how your writing is going. We’d love to hear from you! And good luck in your current project and as you plan for NaNoWriMo 2017!