Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Editing after NaNo

I've been experimenting with different ways to write a book the past couple years. Way back when I started a story by taking two interesting characters (like Nixie and Julian), sending them charging into each other (like the Large Hadron Collider) and seeing what happened. It makes for some great interaction but is tough on plots. So I got Scrivener and used Jim Butcher/Jack Bickham's scene/sequel building blocks and a story arc to construct plotted stories. Along the way I took a class on a really awesome way to conceptualize a whole story on a single sheet of paper: The Blob technique by Vickie Taylor. From Holly Lisle I learned never to send a novel out without printing it out first.

And there lies the rub.

Fast forward to last summer. NaNo Camp (thank you Mrs!) let me knock out most of the basis for the novel Alphas Don't Wear Bows. I put it aside to rest and worked on two other stories including Beauty Bites (Biting Love Book 6). Then I took Alpha up again and finished the first draft. After that I did a read-through for timeline and continuity. So I've visited this novel at least three times and felt pretty good about the story.

Then I printed it out. And started to edit. (Insert screaming author here.)

I don't know why, but I see things in paper form I don't see in electronic, no matter how many different fonts or page sizes I use on the computer. But here are two classes of problems I have with NaNo-written books that I don't see with my more organic products.

1) Continuity sucks. When I'm in regular creation mode, I read through yesterday's writing before starting today's. That gets me in the flow, reminds me of who the characters are and what they were doing (and I get some light word-flow editing in too). But to push NaNo wordage through, I was hitting the ground running, trusting to memory to get the characters and plot right. Worse, I might come up with a neat side plot one day...and totally forget about it the next. I came across a whole lot of half-finished ideas that would have been nice to follow up on, had I the time.

2) Wordy wordy wordy. Like, whole thickets of brambly words. When I'm pounding out word count for word count's sake, if I repeat something three different ways to get it right, that's a good thing. Coming at it with the idea of clean story-telling though, well, it's like building a wall with three or four of the almost-right kind of bricks--the only way to fix it is knock out that portion of the wall and rebuild. Very irritating.

So while I'm grateful for the freedom NaNo imposes on me to ignore the strict mental editor and just write, there are drawbacks. I love NaNo and will continue to do it! I just think I'm going to insert that daily reread/preread from now on.


  1. LOL! I am editing my NaNo craziness right now too. I printed...cried a bit...and then took out the red pen. My poor novel is a slasher film in the making. I think if paper could feel pain, I would be torturing mine. Glad to know I'm not the only one trying to bandage my story right now. ;p

  2. Red pen! You are brave. I use pencil :) I told my husband about the slasher film (in a tough announcer voice: in theaters now--Manuscript on Elm Street) and he laughed out loud. This is part of the process but sometimes it's easier and sometimes it's harder, isn't it? Although I do have to admit it's satisfying to rearrange the bricks of an almost-there paragraph and have it ker-chunk into perfect place :)