Friday, February 26, 2010

Rewriting the NaNoWriMo Novel

It hardly seems like it's been three months since I was cranking out 5,000 words a day to finish NaNoWriMo on time. But now I have a little more perspective about my novel and the pros and cons of writing a first draft during NaNoWriMo.

First of all, I knew there was a lot of junk in the novel. The needless lists and random song lyrics are all part of the NaNoWriMo ethos. Get that word count up by all means necessary. And in revision mode, that's an easy fix. Just delete. Done. No damage to the actual story.

And all the "something something to be filled in later"s were another easy fix. Now I've been able to go back and do the time-consuming research that I skipped over during that crazy month of November.

Much of what I skipped over were little personalization touches, the kind that can consume me because I need to get it just right. I knew that in an important scene, one of characters was wearing a band t-shirt. But which band? That can says tons about the character, especially in a YA novel.

During NaNoWriMo, I skipped over it with "he wore a BAND t-shirt" and carried on. And I was right to, because I spent at least half an hour investigating different t-shirt websites until I found a band t-shirt I liked.

But as I dig deeper in the manuscript, I'm seeing bigger problems. Don't get me wrong, I still love the story & the characters, and I think the overall manuscript has good bones. But the last third of the novel seems underwritten. I tell instead of show. Conversations happen in vacuums because I don't tell the reader where/when they're taking place. Scenes just end without having a point. It's easy to see that I was tired of writing.

So very tired.

These aren't the easy fixes. These are the hard fixes that will make me want to scream and eat too much chocolate and wake me up at 2 am because I just a had an idea. But this, for me, is the core of writing. This is part I have a co-dependent relationship with because I can't leave it no matter how much grief it gives me. This is where, when I get finally get it right, I feel like a freaking genius.

So for now, I continue in rewrite mode. Please send chocolate.

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